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Old 07-05-2012, 10:56 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cittic10 View Post
That's an expensive way to get air conditioning and if you're in a multi-family dwelling your neighbors won't appreciate the noise. Those things are LOUD. They'll appreciate it even less when you're the only ones with lights, TV and a/c.
While running it for AC might not be justifiable unless it's unbearably hot out running it for lights, refrigeration, heat certainly is. Frankly I would care less what the neighbors think, that's not my problem but if your neighborly you might want to offer to help them if it's long outage.


Having said that we live in an area where the houses are on at least 2 acre lots. It's more rural and if there is power outage it could be a very long time before it comes back on after a major storm and they are working at restoring power to the more urban areas. Having a generator is common here.
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Old 07-05-2012, 11:01 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jambo101 View Post
I posed a similar question some time ago in the Florida section, you might gain some info by going over the topic
I came away with the idea that solar power for now is not cost effective,

Why no solar power
I'm sure it's been thought of before but if the common power outage is from storm damage (e.g. hurricane damage) a solar system is going to be susceptible to the same damage.
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Old 07-05-2012, 01:29 PM
 
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In a solar powered house wouldnt the power be stored in underground batteries and hot water cisterns.
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Old 07-05-2012, 01:40 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jambo101 View Post
In a solar powered house wouldnt the power be stored in underground batteries and hot water cisterns.
That would be very short term if the system that produces more power/hot water is damaged.
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Old 07-05-2012, 01:59 PM
 
Location: Interior AK
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Oddly enough, there have been several instances where tornadoes, hail and hurricanes destroyed or damaged nearly everything except the solar panels. In the majority of cases, if the glass is broken/cracked/scratched or a couple of cells are damaged, the rest of the panel will still generate electricity (just with reduced efficiency). So, with storm damage, I'd say the only way this would really be a significant issue (i.e. a total loss of power) is if the panel itself took a trip to Oz or the wiring between the panels and the house was torn away or damaged (just like when you have wire damage in a grid system).

As for the cost-effectiveness of PV... that gets a little more tricky and there really isn't a true apples-to-apples comparative study for analysis. With a PV panel, you have a high upfront cost for the equipment, but minimal operating expenses after that, panels don't expire they only become marginally less efficient as they age, sunlight is free "fuel" that requires no effort to collect so it really doesn't matter that you can only get 20 or 70% of the electricity from it. With a combustion or steam generator (including grid power), you may have lower upfront cost for the equipment, but you have continual operating expenses, the equipment can wear out, and the fuels are typically not free and require moderate to significant effort to collect. It's more accurate to look at it as pay more now once, or pay less now but pay continually.

There isn't any full-spectrum data about the entire costs of mining/acquiring, refining/processing, transporting and fabricating the raw materials necessary, or the full costs of constructing and operating the manufacturing facilities for either system... so it's hard to tell which one really costs more to make. It's not just as simple as how many cents per kwh, it's about how many cents per kwh over the entire operable lifecycle of the equipment when you also factor in the full costs of manufacturing the equipment, constructing and operating the facilities, acquiring the necessary fuels, and any disposal or environment costs.

In any case, I fully support hybrid systems containing multiple generation equipment and "fuels" because this allows you to fine-tune your generation to your needs, using "free" or renewable fuels when you can, and using bought and finite fuels when you need the extra power. With such a hybrid, you have backup for your renewables and you can use less non-renewables (they'll last longer and produce less possible pollution)... it's a happy medium that gets the job done. It might not work on a national scale in a huge distributed system from a centralized generation point; but it works exceptionally well on a homestead scale in a small distributed or direct system from multiple generation points.
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Old 07-05-2012, 02:50 PM
 
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Originally Posted by thecoalman View Post
I'm sure it's been thought of before but if the common power outage is from storm damage (e.g. hurricane damage) a solar system is going to be susceptible to the same damage.
There are somewhat portable systems sold as solar generators which would be of some use. These are easily brought out once an outage has occured. You are looking at upward of $3,000.00 for a 180 Watt all inclusive unit (two 90 W panels) to run a refrigerator for about 10 hrs./charge (under optimal solar conditions) if I understand one of the retailers correctly.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MissingAll4Seasons View Post
.............In any case, I fully support hybrid systems containing multiple generation equipment and "fuels" because this allows you to fine-tune your generation to your needs, using "free" or renewable fuels when you can, and using bought and finite fuels when you need the extra power. With such a hybrid, you have backup for your renewables and you can use less non-renewables (they'll last longer and produce less possible pollution)... it's a happy medium that gets the job done. It might not work on a national scale in a huge distributed system from a centralized generation point; but it works exceptionally well on a homestead scale in a small distributed or direct system from multiple generation points.
Agreed. This falls under the "one is none and two is one" rule. Redundancy increases the odds of success.
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Old 07-05-2012, 02:57 PM
 
Location: Interior AK
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In the instance of an urban dwelling power outage during a heat wave, I would give the same recommendations as for a power outage during a cold snap... shut down the majority of the house and condition only one or two rooms with a smaller unit that requires less power/fuel.

While room A/C units are slightly less efficient than whole-house units, they require less power overall because they are cooling and moving less volume of air. Many of these room units in the 5-8,000 Btu range require less than 1kw to operate, ultra-efficient models can be less than 500w. These wouldn't require a huge bank of panels or a big loud diesel generator. If you also have an ultra-efficient fridge/freezer (under 500w), a laptop, and a few efficient lights, you could easily meet your power needs with a 2-3kwh quality "suitcase" gasoline or LP/NG generator (under $2k) that is much quieter, or a bank of ten-300w PV panels (about $3k if you install them yourself).

With any self-generated power, you can either spend the money to grid-tie them and store the excess on the grid, or spend the same money to keep them stand-alone and store the excess in a battery bank. There are very few local regulations that say you MUST grid-tie your generation equipment, they only require you to have specific compatible equipment and professional installation IF you do decide to grid-tie. It is relatively easy to wire a cut-over standalone circuit for critical appliances that is independent of your home's grid power circuits.
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Old 07-05-2012, 03:07 PM
 
Location: Interior AK
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lifelongMOgal View Post
There are somewhat portable systems sold as solar generators which would be of some use. These are easily brought out once an outage has occured. You are looking at upward of $3,000.00 for a 180 Watt all inclusive unit (two 90 W panels) to run a refrigerator for about 10 hrs./charge (under optimal solar conditions) if I understand one of the retailers correctly.

Agreed. This falls under the "one is none and two is one" rule. Redundancy increases the odds of success.
And multiple smaller redundant and extensible units are often less expensive than a single larger unit with no backup.

A tip on panels... the higher the wattage, the less cost per watt. I could get at least 2kw (with accessories) for that $3k, and only slightly larger/less portable . Properly installed panels (roof mounted or frame/pole mounted in the yard) are extremely resilient, I'd worry more about the cables being damaged in a storm than the panels themselves (so bury them!).
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Old 07-05-2012, 03:17 PM
 
Location: Interior AK
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BTW - most panel manufacturers will allow you to return a panel with broken glass or damaged cells and either refurbish it or replace it at no or low cost depending on the warranty. Many manufacturers and dealers will also accept damaged panels (from any manufacturer) as "trade-in" against the purchase of new panels because they can be recycled. Most homeowner and renters insurance also cover repair or replacement of damaged panels, and/or provide a low-cost add-on rider for panels/turbines/generators.

All that is after the fact of course, since a damaged panel will still provide at least some power during the emergency unless it is entirely GONE or the cabling is damaged or missing.
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Old 07-05-2012, 03:26 PM
 
Location: Interior AK
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The benefits of LP/NG generators -- if your house is already plumbed for LP/NG, it is very easy to get an additional line plumbed for an LP/NG generator, and some of these models will automatically kick on if there is a power failure. If your house isn't plumbed for LP/NG, it is still rather simple to run an LPG generator (and LP appliances) from propane bottles... they aren't just for the barbecue There are also several multi-fuel generators that will accept LP (plumbed or bottled), plumbed NG, and gasoline so you have more choices if a fuel becomes unavailable in your area (or you run out of one waiting for services to be restored). LP/NG and the gasoline multi-fuel generators are much quieter and have more selection of smaller/portable sizes than diesel. Diesel is durable and usually slightly less expensive fuel-wise, but they do tend to be big and noisy.
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