Is solar energy worth it in low sun/cold climates?

Discussion in 'Green Energy and Sustenance Living' started by dave42, Aug 4, 2009.

  1. Aug 4, 2009 #1

    dave42

    dave42

    dave42

    New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 4, 2009
    Messages:
    2
    Likes Received:
    0
    I live in Monterey Bay, CA, where we aren’t particularly known for sunshine. Would it be worth the money to invest in solar energy? Do cold temperatures affect how efficient panels are? I'm not really knowledgeable in solar energy so any information would help out a lot!
     
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2009
  2. Aug 4, 2009 #2

    kok328

    kok328

    kok328

    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2007
    Messages:
    2,755
    Likes Received:
    249
    The payback time to realize a savings is too long. You'll be long gone by the time the panels pay for themselves; let alone provide you and energy credit that will pay for the panels, battery banks, switching hubs, S&H, installation and maintenance.
     
  3. Aug 8, 2009 #3

    go sunny

    go sunny

    go sunny

    Member

    Joined:
    Aug 6, 2009
    Messages:
    9
    Likes Received:
    0
    Solar energy means save money and save our earth. Solar Heater DIY is obviously simple to do and safer to implement. To pursue my green living, I have read several online books and guides about teaching people how to have Solar Heater DIY. I found that Solar Heater DIY is the most practical way to implement, thus easy to follow.
     
  4. Aug 10, 2009 #4

    Doorman

    Doorman

    Doorman

    New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2009
    Messages:
    1
    Likes Received:
    0
    If you don´t have much sunlight where you live I would definitely not recommend solar panels. I´m sure you have high bills over there for heating in winter etc so probably best to stick with electricity unfortunately. It should be quite cheap where you live though...
     
  5. Aug 11, 2009 #5

    sundance

    sundance

    sundance

    New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2009
    Messages:
    1
    Likes Received:
    0
    Actually, solar power is just as efficient in colder locations. Articles have mentioned that solar panels convert energy more effectively in colder climates even. I think the science behind it is that the colder the material is, the better conductor it is for electricity. San Luis Valley gets freezing winters but they have some of the best solar resources in Colorado.
     
  6. Aug 13, 2009 #6

    dave42

    dave42

    dave42

    New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 4, 2009
    Messages:
    2
    Likes Received:
    0
    What you guys are saying makes sense. Maybe solar power isn't the best option for me. Even if solar power isn't ideal for my home, I'm still interested in it. Can anyone recommend a good web site on the subject so I can educate myself?
     
  7. Aug 13, 2009 #7

    kok328

    kok328

    kok328

    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2007
    Messages:
    2,755
    Likes Received:
    249
    I will have to clarify my statements after realizing what other are saying in their post and perhaps should have asked for clarification on the original post. I worked for a solar panel manufacturer and was aware of the cost versus payback time period. This knowledge was what my statement was based on. However, due to my background, I totally forgot about solar heating versus solar electricity. I will have to defer to the group when it comes to solar heating. However, as far as solar electricity, the performance is in the battery bank not the panel but, the panel itself still has a 20yr. payback time frame and they do degrade over time.
     
  8. Aug 15, 2009 #8

    dennisprange

    dennisprange

    dennisprange

    New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 15, 2009
    Messages:
    3
    Likes Received:
    0
    If your on the grid, the utility company is the battery, Monterey does not have cold winters and has natual gas anyway.
     
  9. Aug 22, 2009 #9

    Irish1970

    Irish1970

    Irish1970

    New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 22, 2009
    Messages:
    1
    Likes Received:
    0
    Hey Dave,

    Where I live in South Carolina, solar panels are definitely a good investment and the payback is really quick. If you aren't sure about your area of Northern California, I suggest you check out websites that specialize in solar panels. There are some companies that even sell DIY Solar Panels kits that are pretty easy to install.
     
  10. Aug 22, 2009 #10

    Nestor_Kelebay

    Nestor_Kelebay

    Nestor_Kelebay

    Emperor Penguin

    Joined:
    Mar 29, 2009
    Messages:
    1,844
    Likes Received:
    2
    It'd be great if Obama put some stimulus money into a "solar panel" and "wind energy" program for the US besides his "Cash for Clunkers" program. It's investment by both industry and the public in these technologies that drives research and development, and research and development in turn results in higher performance and lower costs.

    Here in Manitoba, we keep hearing that switching to Compact Fluorescent lighting and shutting off lights at night or the TV when no one is watching is good for the environment. I still can't figure out why. ALL of our electricity is "hydroelectricity", meaning that it's produced by water flowing through turbines which turn generator shafts. So, it's not like we have to burn coal or diesel fuel to produce that electricity. If I were a sceptic, I'd believe my government was lying to me about CF lights being "greener".
     
  11. Aug 19, 2010 #11

    nma

    nma

    nma

    Member

    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2010
    Messages:
    12
    Likes Received:
    0
    At the moment it totally depends on the type of system (water or pv) and the incentives available in your area. All other things being equal though, you should spend money on efficiency and insulation until you have run out of projects to do, then put a solar array on the roof. Having said that, incentives in my area were so good last year that we did it, and the payback time will be in the single digit years.
     
  12. Aug 19, 2010 #12

    nma

    nma

    nma

    Member

    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2010
    Messages:
    12
    Likes Received:
    0
    I agree, there could be more, but there is quite a lot of this available already, some federal, some state, and some utility funded.

    Well, these kinds of public service announcements are targeted at the general public, there will be some fringe cases. If all of your power really is hydro, then you're not contributing to greenhouse gasses, although hydro power does still negatively effect ecosystems. I'm not sure why the government would want to lie to you about cfls.
     
  13. Oct 7, 2010 #13

    carnuck

    carnuck

    carnuck

    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Oct 7, 2010
    Messages:
    103
    Likes Received:
    19
    {4 letter word} the CFLs! They have mercury and are supposed to be disposed of properly when they burn out and require Hazmat to be called if they break (at some companies employees have been fired for NOT calling them).
    I suggest that if you haven't done CFLs yet (I already did, and yes they have paid for themselves with the gov't incentives, but that doesn't mean I like having a possible poison bomb ticking in my house) leapfrog over and go to LED replacements. CFL starters use lots of energy just to fire the lights up so turning them on/off uses as much energy as running them a few hours.
    LEDs use 1/5th (going from memory) the energy of CFLs and 1/10th that of incandescents (which are being outlawed for sale in the US very soon) and last almost forever, plus they are almost infinitely variable for adjusting light levels (unlike most CFLs) Just watch the color you choose (some are very hard on the eyes due to the wavelength)
     
  14. Oct 7, 2010 #14

    nma

    nma

    nma

    Member

    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2010
    Messages:
    12
    Likes Received:
    0
    They don't require hazmat treatment. That is ridiculous.
    "CFL starters use lots of energy just to fire the lights up so turning them on/off uses as much energy as running them a few hours."
    That is completely untrue.
     
  15. Oct 8, 2010 #15

    carnuck

    carnuck

    carnuck

    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Oct 7, 2010
    Messages:
    103
    Likes Received:
    19
    CFL Bulbs Have One Hitch: Toxic Mercury : NPR

    Hazmat is only required to be called now if more than 5 or 6 are broken. (like if you drop a case, but not just a single bulb although you do need to take precautions not to breathe in the mercury vapor)
    The company I used to work for based their policy of "call or be fired" on this incident:
    http://www.maine.gov/dep/rwm/homeowner/pdf/prospecthistory.pdf

    The current batch of CFLs use less energy on startup than earlier ones (with electromagnetic starters)
    The more often they are switched off, the less time they last. Many of mine have been burning for more than 5 years of average use (exterior light has been on 5 years except during power outages)

    As for going to LEDs rather than CFLs
    http://www.earthled.com/evolux-led-light-bulb.html

    (I have no stock or interest in the company selling/making them)
     
    Last edited: Oct 8, 2010
  16. Oct 8, 2010 #16

    nma

    nma

    nma

    Member

    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2010
    Messages:
    12
    Likes Received:
    0
    This is nonsense. There is some mercury in CFLS, and broken cfls should be cleaned up and the area vented, but the total amount of mercury added through cfls is far less than the total saved by the reduction in coal burning mercury emissions. The whole mercury hazard thing is largely an urban myth.
    The idea that they use more energy on startup is a myth. Please do some basic reading on electricity before you post misleading information.
     
  17. Oct 10, 2010 #17

    carnuck

    carnuck

    carnuck

    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Oct 7, 2010
    Messages:
    103
    Likes Received:
    19
    I did read up and aside from flickering, the early CFLs magnetic starters used enough energy to operate a CFL for about 10 minutes. (early tube florescents used more than that because the ballasts were always powered up, which is where the idea of less energy by continually running originally came from)

    As for the hazard of broken bulbs, I didn't write info on these websites (including the EPA's own admission that 1 broken CFL releases enough mercury vapor to render a room up to 300 times the allowable exposure limit)

    CFL Hazards

    Shining a light on fluorescent bulbs - U.S. news - Environment - msnbc.com

    Compact fluorescent lamp - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    I'm not being a doomsayer. I use them still myself, but plan to change them out for LED lighting as it becomes economically feasible.
     
  18. Oct 10, 2010 #18

    nma

    nma

    nma

    Member

    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2010
    Messages:
    12
    Likes Received:
    0
    This is nonsense. No modern CFL draws more power on startup than at any other point. I have no idea where you got this incorrect idea.
    You are misquoting from the EPA site. Please don't propagate incorrect opinions on this.
     
  19. Oct 17, 2010 #19

    carnuck

    carnuck

    carnuck

    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Oct 7, 2010
    Messages:
    103
    Likes Received:
    19
    Talk about coincidence! Today I got a flyer from Lowes today that says NOT to throw CFLs in the garbage because it's illegal to do. They will take them at the store for proper disposal.
     
  20. Nov 1, 2010 #20

    Suzienatural

    Suzienatural

    Suzienatural

    New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2010
    Messages:
    2
    Likes Received:
    0
    I think the answer to that needs to be based on your individual situation. Start by asking yourself a few questions - What is my current energy use? How much space do I have available to place the panels. What is my personal objective with regards to installing panels? What can I afford?
    You may find it helpful to visit with a knowledgeable, reputable solar installer in your area - someone concerned with helping you make an informed decision 1st and selling you a system 2nd. You might be surprised to learn what the average hours of available sunlight are in your area and how that figures into deciding if it is right for you. There are also tax credits available - both at the federal level and specific to your area.
    As you can tell, I don't believe that question has a simple yes or no answer.
    Good Luck!
     

Share This Page