Home & Garden Do It Yourself

So, What’s all the Excitement about Solar Electricity Generation?

I didn't start out worrying about renewable energy sources. I've read all the usual literature, shook my head at the politicians and the Copenhagen debacle, and listened to lots of friends talking about.

Then I began to think about all the things we are currently doing to help the planet without even thinking about it. Like turning off electrical appliances when they aren't in use, paying attention to recycling of garbage and driving ur cars a bit more conservatively.
And you know what? I started to notice we were saving money.

Add that to the positive contribution to the planet and I started to look at other ways to help the planet and help myself.

I have an electrical/electronics background and this lead me naturally to electricity. I quickly learned there was money to be saved by using the sun's energy to generate electricity for our home.

But - I had real trouble starting as there's plenty of solar panels on the market but they're expensive and there was no one who I could find who could really advise me.

You see, I'm a practical person and I ask lots of questions. It occurred to me that if I had these problems maybe others did as well. AND, maybe we could all help each other.

So, I decided to analyse the solar panel market and find out for myself how complex it is.

Here's my checklist of things to do and consider:

Solar panels, Windmills or Both?
That's easy.
It's generally too hard in the cities and towns to get a permit to build a windmill tower.
And the neighbours probably won't like the noise. So, I focussed on solar panels.

Roof or Ground Mounted?
Again, for me this was easy. I don't have a big yard and there's not a lot of space. And my wife wasn't impressed!

Will my Roof Take the Weight?
Panels aren't that heavy in fact.
Depending on how much electricity you want to generate, you can use as a rule of thumb 3.5 lb/fte² (16kg/m²). When you apply for a permit your local authority will be interested in the total loading per square foot.
That's for the panels, racks and standoffs. Generally your roof will be ok without additional strengthening.
BUT, do ask your local permit issuing authority.

How do I connect the Solar Panels to my house wiring?
Short answer - you don't, unless you are a qualified registered electrician.
Your solar panel generates direct current at either 12 or 24 volts. This passes through a control unit to batteries which you can locate anywhere. They are heavy so locating them at ground level is best. The batteries are connected to an inverter which changes the battery output to your home alternating current voltage.
An electrician MUST do this last piece of work.

Do I need to advise my electrical supply authority?
We recommend you do.
They may need to install a different meter - the cute thing about this meter is that it measures electricity in BOTH directions. If it's coming into your home, you pay. If it's going into the grid, they pay you.

How do I decide if it's worth doing?
The question is "how long a payback period are you happy with?" This is the cost of the WHOLE project divided by the money you will save.
It should be 12 - 18 months.
If you can't achieve that with commercially available panels we strongly urge you to consider making your own panels.

What are the issues?
There are none really. Just the desire to save money AND help the planet.

So there you have it. We have done the homework on solar panels. Check out our free newsletter at [http://ubuildsolarpanel.com]

Thank you for reading our article. We trust you are ready to move towards your own solar panel project.

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