pr barnum?

Hello,

Yes, my username pretty much sums it up. "Buy a DIY solar system for $200 and save 90% on your electric bill". Is this someone's idea of a joke or is it just one more scam? Visiting the web site suggesting the fantastic savings shows various DIY kits, but not one of them lists the capacity in terms of voltage and/or watts provided from the kit.

I view this pretty much like the TV ads showing the energizer bunny powering a city. But in defense of EverReady, at least it was meant to be funny?

Can anyone tell me exactly what kind of capability is available in any of these DIY kits?

Living in Michigan where the sky is gray a good part of the year, what kind of economic sense does it make to invest in any kind of small system? I'd appreciate any input in the form of realistic numbers.

Thank you and maybe you'll change me from skeptical to a believer.

Comments

  • icarusicarus Solar Expert Posts: 5,398 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: pr barnum?

    To answer your own question, spend five minutes reading around this forum, particularly the grid tie threads.

    Grid tie PV solar runs ~$5-10/watt installed, off grid about double that. Unless you have very high electric rates, good sun, and time of day metering, Pv solar is still more expensive than grid power on it's face.

    Given rebates and tax credits, the pay off can be much shorter.

    As we always suggest here, PV solar should come only after every attempt to conserve. A rough number is every $$ spent on conservation will save ~$10 in Pv

    Tony

    PS, isn't that supposed to be PT Barnum?
  • dwhdwh Solar Expert Posts: 1,341 ✭✭✭
    Re: pr barnum?
    Thank you and maybe you'll change me from skeptical to a believer.

    No, we won't.

    Around here, DIY means installing good quality commercially made gear yourself.

    As for making your own PV panels, you will find VERY few people on this forum that have any interest in it.
  • WindsunWindsun Solar Expert Posts: 1,164 ✭✭
    Re: pr barnum?
    Hello,
    Can anyone tell me exactly what kind of capability is available in any of these DIY kits?

    Not much. While the DIY solar panels might be fun and educational, that is about as far is it goes. While a few people have done it, I cannot think of any real success stories. The reliability of the panel is the major issue. And you don't save much -if any - over buying a commercial panel.
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 29,833 admin
    Re: pr barnum?

    Since I still have the link in my paste buffer:

    Panel Fire Question

    That was a DYI panel--possibly made at a factory overseas. Lucky it did not burn down the home and kill somebody (somebody saw the fire and called the fire department which was housed nearby). The system was (apparently) installed by a contractor and inspected by the City.

    DYI Wind Turbines are a possibility (if you have a few acres of land to fly one).

    www.otherpower.com
    www.builditsolar.com (and other Solar Projects)

    DYI Solar Thermal is probably the best project for around home--and can actually save some serious money.

    Solar Shed and other Solar Thermal Links

    And there are some neat home-brew stuff where you can really modify off-the-self items for really nice solar based projects. For example, converting a chest freezer in to a chest refrigerator can save upwards of 3/4 of the energy used by a standard upright fridge/freezer.

    Chest freezer as a chest refrigerator

    If you want to study the electronics... Rogue 30 amp MPPT Solar Charge Controller can be purchased with schematics or even in kit form. A few reports here say it works very well (unlike many other MPPT charge controllers out there).

    In the end, a GT Solar PV System with Net Metering by the Utility Company can be a good investment if you are in a state where the power charges are upwards of $0.25-$0.35+ per kWhr. You may break even or make a little bit from state/fed tax credits and rebates that can push the GT PV System costs down to the $0.14-$0.30 per kWhr range.

    Off grid solar (solar panels + batteries + inverter), no matter how you slice it, will cost you around $1.00-$2.00+ per kWhr (assuming 20+ year life). Batteries don't last forever, the electronics probably need replacing every 7-15 years, etc.

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • mike95490mike95490 Solar Expert Posts: 8,500 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: pr barnum?
    Can anyone tell me exactly what kind of capability is available in any of these DIY kits?

    They are supremely capable of transferring money from your bank, to theirs !!
    Powerfab top of pole PV mount | Listeroid 6/1 w/st5 gen head | XW6048 inverter/chgr | Iota 48V/15A charger | Morningstar 60A MPPT | 48V, 800A NiFe Battery (in series)| 15, Evergreen 205w "12V" PV array on pole | Midnight ePanel | Grundfos 10 SO5-9 with 3 wire Franklin Electric motor (1/2hp 240V 1ph ) on a timer for 3 hr noontime run - Runs off PV ||
    || Midnight Classic 200 | 10, Evergreen 200w in a 160VOC array ||
    || VEC1093 12V Charger | Maha C401 aa/aaa Charger | SureSine | Sunsaver MPPT 15A

    solar: http://tinyurl.com/LMR-Solar
    gen: http://tinyurl.com/LMR-Lister ,

  • System2System2 Posts: 6,290 admin
    Re: pr barnum?

    Yes, it is PT. Those two letters happen to be next to each other and my fingers are fat, hence I "fat fingered it"

    Thanks everyone for the replies. Having been around the block a few times, the idea or something for nothing sounded like a scam but I thought i'd ask some people in the know.

    Your combined advice clearly points out it is not economically feasible for me to do anything with solar. The gable end of my house is south facing. Trees block the sun on most of the exposed eave side on the SW side. My garage roof is gabled into my house and the garage eave gets the most sun, but it is very visible from the road and yes, I am concerned about the asthetics of panels on the roof.

    My home is in a residential development where there is some green space but certainly not enough for any wind mill. I saw some pictures of a barn/shed, but it appeard to be ten time bigger than the shed I keep my lawnmowers, etc.

    It now behooves me to continue supplimental heating with a wood burning stove. No, this is not one of those outside furnaces. It is an inside parlor stove that is very efficient. Yes, it probably adds polutants to the air, but my goal is to save money, not save the planet. Sorry if that offends anyone. There may come a day when legislation will outlaw wood burners but for now, I will use mine.

    Hopefully, for the next 5 or 10 yrs, I'll continue to have enough physical strength and stamina to cut my own wood.

    Thanks for the advice again.
  • icarusicarus Solar Expert Posts: 5,398 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: pr barnum?

    A good wood stove, especially an EPA rated model, burning well seasoned, dry wood is not much of an air pollution problem, and is by and large considered carbon neutral. (especially if it is a properly insulated structure).

    To a great extent it depends on the source of the wood. Salvage wood that would otherwise go to waste from sawmills, or landscape maintenance are pretty "green sources, as are blow down trees.

    I have never been an advocate of wood as a panacea for all the energy issues we face, but clearly in the right situation it is fine. I always get a chuckle out of urban dwellers who have to buy wood, and then truck it in from miles around. When they figure the cost per BTU into the room (which is really all that counts if money is the issue) their cost is double what they would pay for gas, or oil etc.

    Tony
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 29,833 admin
    Re: pr barnum?

    If you have the wood and an older stove--take a look a the new, cleaner burning ones. Much more efficient and less smoke.

    In our area, they have already banned wood burning in anything but an approved wood burning stove in our area (San Francisco Bay Area) during still air days in the winter. They ask people to turn in their neighbors.

    Otherwise, keep on the road of conservation. A Kill-a-Watt meter is really nice to check/monitor plug-in 120 VAC 15 amp appliances. You can find others, like the "TED" for whole-home use.

    Using more modern appliances (energy star rated), using appropriate devices (laptop for web-browsing vs a desktop computer), and lots of insulation all help.

    Even adding a power strip to turn off DVR's and and entertainment centers when not being used can also help.

    Heat pumps, ground sourced heat pumps, heat recovery ventilators can all help too.

    We are big on conservation--because man of us here are CHEAP! ;)

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
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