The truth about solar energy

solar panels

solar panels (Photo credit: spanginator)

I hope for a day that I can live “off the grid.” The sad truth about it is, the technology just isn’t there yet. You can live “off the grid”, but not with all your modern conveniences. Conveniences like, a dryer, curling iron, and microwave. Now as usual I will explain myself.
How does solar power work? You have to run power to your house using batteries. Batteries like golf cart batteries or 18 wheeler batteries. You take a converter that converts battery (AC) power to (DC) power. Now that you have power and its converted to DC the batteries will run down, unless you use solar panels to charge them. So you take solar panels and run them to a battery charger, that slowly charges the batteries throughout the day. Sounds simple enough right?
The average house uses about 31kw per day. It takes roughly 30 golf cart batteries to run the average house. At a cost of $250 per battery that’s $7500.00 initial cost just for batteries. Ok that’s a little crazy, but hey its green energy. Now you need solar panels. 120 sqft of solar panels will charge 1kw. So for 31 kw you will need about 3,720 sqft of solar panels. Solar panels for a system this size will cost around $16,000.00. The upside is, the solar panels should last you 20-25 years. The down side is, the batteries have to be replaced about every 3 years. There is constant maintenance on the batteries also.  Like replacing the electrolytes in the batteries.
Now I’m sure I have made some mistakes with this, solar energy isn’t this cut and dry. I’ve done research and this is the easiest way I can explain it. I’ve read about solar panels that are better and more efficient.  Just not enough to live the way we live on a daily basis.  The technology just isn’t there yet. I wish it was but it’s not. For example, with the system I explained you can run most of your house. The items you can’t run off these batteries are, your air or heating unit, cloths dryer, oven, curling iron, microwave, power tools, stove, and vacuum. Any item that pulls 1500 watts will ruin your batteries, which is a lot of items. I would love to live off the grid, but with solar energy it’s just too costly. I hope you find this informative and useful.

Which way do you face?

English: Green window

English: Green window (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It would be ridiculous for me to say that all houses face East or West, but a lot do.  Just look around, which way does your house face?  Now I have researched this and I cant find any reason why it is this way.  I am not an engineer or an architect, so I don’t know if this is done for a reason or if this is just the way it happens.  Today I’m going to explain why, what way your house faces, has to do with your electric bill. If your house faces West (and mine does) this is the worst position for your house.  Why is this bad? Because your house has the most sun exposure to the hottest part of the day.  So the second worse position is facing East.  Although not as bad as West there is still a lot of sun exposure.  So what can I do about this, you ask?  You can rotate your house 90 degrees or you can cover your windows.  Now let me elaborate a little.  The sun pumps UV rays into your windows heating your house.  If you don’t believe me just stand in your window facing the sun and see if you get hot.  You have a couple options when it comes to covering your windows .

  1. Some really good blinds or shades.  This helps but only a little.  The UV rays are still getting into the “envelope” of your house.  This is a decent option just not a good one.
  2. 3M Window film.  This is your answer. According to 3M using the window film to block the UV rays can help reduce cooling cost of your house by up to 30%.  Even if they are wrong (I doubt they are) and its half that 15% is still a substantial savings monthly. Other good qualities of this product is it reduces fading of carpet and furniture by up to 99%.  It also reduces glaring in the windows.  They also have a crime prevention sun control line.  I wont get into that today but trust me you wont get through that glass.
  3. You can replace your windows with better newer windows with UV protection.  There are some amazing new widows on the market now and I will get into those on a different post.  The average cost to replace 1 window in your house is close to $300.00.  I try to give you low cost ways to reduce your bill and this doesn’t quite fit.

This 3M window tint or window film isn’t like what you put on your car window.  You can get the smoke tint or mirror tint from 3M but most people like the window to look natural so the film is clear and isn’t noticeable.  3M website has tons of technical information on how this works on their website feel free to check it out.  I wont bore you with that.  http://solutions.3m.com/wps/portal/3M/en_US/Window_Film/Solutions/Markets-Products/Residential/Sun_Control_Window_Films/Prestige_Series/

3M company has a reputation that stands for itself so you know their product is good.  I am a DIY kind of Guy so I rarely pay someone to do some thing I can do my self, and I know how to tint windows. I say that to say this, You can buy the film from 3M and do it yourself. However for this product to work properly it needs to be done right and to have a warranty it needs to be done by a trained professional.  So you can do this yourself I just wouldn’t recommend it.  If your like me and your unfortunate enough for your house to face west then call or look up 3M window film.  If your building a house face it a different direction.  So how many windows do you have in your house? and what direction is your house facing?