Residential Solar Power - Fiberglass RV


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Old 10-04-2006, 09:44 AM   #1
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From today's New Orleans Times-Picayune online, an interesting article about a family residence that primarily uses solar and/or wind generated power.

If they can do this with their whole household, seems like we can do it with our itty bitty trailers, no? (I just threw that comment in to keep the relevance to camping.)

See An $8 bill from Entergy? Solar power does the trick.

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Old 10-04-2006, 10:14 AM   #2
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with my huge 600 sq ft house, I could probably get away with it.

Initial investment will kill ya tho.
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Old 10-04-2006, 10:35 AM   #3
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Yeah, they covered that, though:

Quote:
He estimates that outfitting a home for solar costs more than $25,000 at today's prices.

"That's not a lot of money once you consider that's what a car costs," Denice Petit said. "A car only lasts for few years. With this, it's money in your pocket every month."
So, see, all you gotta do is trade in one of your cars on a solar outfit!
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Old 10-04-2006, 01:02 PM   #4
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$25,000 doesn't seem out of line if your electric bill runs $700 or $800 per months.
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Old 10-04-2006, 01:47 PM   #5
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In California, there are big rebates; up to 50% on new installations. I have a friend that installs Geothermal heating and A/C and claims to see paybacks in less then 5 years. This is in areas where natural gas is not available.

In my previous house I had a 120 gal. solar water heating system and it dropped my bill from $200 per month to $60 per month. Think Showers, Baths, Dishes, Laundry for a family of all boys.

The biggest cost savings comes from insulation - more is better.
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Old 10-04-2006, 02:23 PM   #6
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Woohoo! I posted something to which Nick was compelled to respond!
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Old 10-04-2006, 07:16 PM   #7
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Twenty or thirty years ago, solar panels were on a lot of houses. Back then, when electricity was cheap, people couldn't see the future of it, it seemed like too much expense, for the return on their money. Solar powered houses were hard to sell. Now, with the rising costs of power, they are in demand again. Also bermed houses.
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Old 10-04-2006, 08:36 PM   #8
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We have an Aunt and Uncle whose house is off the electric grid. Last year they installed solar...I didn't ask what it cost...I was afraid of the answer. They are very happy with how it works.
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Old 10-04-2006, 10:04 PM   #9
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We don't get enough sun in this part of Oregon to use solar well, at least part of the year. Now WIND, that we get plenty of...November-March. I know wind farms are now a popular "crop" up the gorge. I think someone should invent wind turbine propellers about the size of a kids pinwheel toy, we could have a bunch on the roof of the house....wah-la instant power

Okay, who wants to buy my idea
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Old 10-05-2006, 07:33 AM   #10
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Okay, who wants to buy my idea
I don't want to buy it but I can just imagine your house with pinwheels on the roof... Or, maybe even

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Old 10-05-2006, 09:28 AM   #11
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The solar cells generate 3,500 watts of power a day, enough to run the household, with the exception of air conditioning.
Our non-heating/cooling electric bill is about $60 a month. Let's say their's is the same. $25,000 / $60 = 400+ months or 30+ years payback, not counting battery replacement every four years or so, and other maintenance.

Clearly going solar is not an economic decision, but more of a hobby or social decision. Supporting the costs with tax rebates is merely transferring wealth from taxpayers to the solar users to support their hobby.

As you can see, I'm not a big supporter of solar on an economic basis, but certainly support it as a hobby or experimental platform to prepare for the future 500 years from now when we're out of oil, gas and coal.

And of course to facilitate boondocking!
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Old 10-06-2006, 03:27 PM   #12
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That line in the article about the energy generated should presumably have been "3,500 watt[b]-hours of <strike>power </strike>[b]energy a day", which would be expressed as 3.5 kW-h if they weren't trying to downplay how little they are getting from their $25,000 array. At $10/(peak watt), that would be 2,500 watts at peak, which fits with the problem of real-world versus ideal output. At best it might be 3,500 W peak, which would give a few kilowatt-hours per day (not conceivably as much as 20 kW-h), but I think they just missed the "hours" part.

Quote:
But the power isn't enough for a traditional home with central air conditioning, which might burn 20,000 to 30,000 watts per day, most of it on cooling.
This quote, from page 2, confirms that the writer was sloppy, and suggests that the solar people get 3.5 kWh/day, versus 20 to 30 kWh/day for the people with big bills. I think Patrick has nailed the economics, although I think he's optimistic regarding acceptably usable fossil fuel supplies.

Yes, the solar power information from residential applications has some application to our trailers, but I think the comments about [b]highly efficient appliances and lighting are alo relevant, and are useful regardless of the energy source.

It would be interesting to see how their [b]geothermal and solar-powered air conditioners work; presumably they are both driven by heat, and could be applied in an RV. If solar collector panels are too bulky (which is likely the case), perhaps a propane-fueled version would be of interest: it might be better in some way (perhaps just quieter) than running an electrically powered A/C from an engine-driven generator.
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Old 10-06-2006, 04:04 PM   #13
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I had the only permanent roof top solar panel of all the 100 trailers at the Bandon, OR rally this summer. Hope I didn't miss one.
Works great!
Had estimates for my house in CA for solar but the two of us don't use enough to make it work. I would have to switch to electric stove, water heater and maybe heating.
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Old 10-22-2006, 07:09 PM   #14
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The best payoff in solar comes with hot water installations, which run around only $3,000 installed. I had one for 20 years, and it worked great in my sunny climate.

I've been shopping for a photovoltaic system, and it's right up there on the home improvement list. Certainly the payback is better than for a spa or a remodeled kitchen. It ought to add to resale value, but if you're not satisfied with the offer, you can simply take the PV system with you, since most of the value is in the gear itself, not the installation. I held off on the PV for this year, though, when I considered the efficiency benefits of replacing some of the dozen single-pane, aluminum framed windows I still have. I think it's always true that efficiency measures beat home power production on the cash-o-meter.
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