Do-it-yourself solar power for your home

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"Imagine outfitting your house with small, affordable solar panels that plug into a socket and pump power into your electrical system instead of taking it out.

That's the promise of a Seattle, Washington-based start-up that is working to provide renewable energy options -- solar panels and wind turbines -- for homes and small businesses. The panels cost as little as $600 and plug directly into a power outlet."

more here:

http://www.cnn.com/2010/TECH/innovation/08/17/plug.in.solar.energy/index...

rostasi
Joined:
Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm

Comments

Nice... Very good price, reasonable ROI, and built in cut-off. I am a little concerned about how they prevent reverse flow into the grid, but they seem to have covered all other issues. Products like this would make home grown electricity practical, I hope it takes off.

Paleo-con
Joined:
Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm
I am a little concerned about how they prevent reverse flow into the grid...

They don't, unless the grid fails. The concern isn't about providing power to the grid, that's what your surplus power is intended to do, it gets sold back to the power company. What the concern is is the safety of utility workers. It's called anti-islanding, as it prevents a home from becoming an island of power in a failed grid. Read Evaluation of Islanding Detection Methods for Utility-Interactive Inverters in Photovoltaic Systems for a review of the technology involved.

jeffbiss's picture
jeffbiss
Joined:
Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm
Quote jeffbiss:

They don't, unless the grid fails. The concern isn't about providing power to the grid, that's what your surplus power is intended to do, it gets sold back to the power company. What the concern is is the safety of utility workers. It's called anti-islanding, as it prevents a home from becoming an island of power in a failed grid. Read Evaluation of Islanding Detection Methods for Utility-Interactive Inverters in Photovoltaic Systems for a review of the technology involved.

I am already familure with islanding as I am already a solar energy producer. The vendor in the article addresses the solution to islanding, so is not of any concern. Since my coop does not purchase excess power, that is also of little concern.

My concern for bleeding power back into the grid is based on teh quality of my coop. For lack of a better technical term, the coop sucks. Brown-outs are common. Durring a brown-out, electrical power is not actually lost, just reduced. The vendor in the article did not address the situation. During a brown-out, I would prefer to boost my own electricity needs, not my nieghbors.

Paleo-con
Joined:
Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm
My concern for bleeding power back into the grid is based on teh quality of my coop. For lack of a better technical term, the coop sucks. Brown-outs are common. Durring a brown-out, electrical power is not actually lost, just reduced. The vendor in the article did not address the situation. During a brown-out, I would prefer to boost my own electricity needs, not my nieghbors.

Then it appears that this solution is not for you. From Clarian Power's Web site:

"Can the Sunfish provide backup power in the event of a power outage? The Sunfish is not intended to provide backup power when there’s a power outage but can provide backup power in conjunction with a certified back-up power system since the safety features built into the Sunfish prevents it from generating power during a complete power outage. "

Which, although they don't spell it out as explicitly as you'd like them to, intimates that droop on the line may cause them to stop producing power above the level of a brown out. Now that you mention your specific use, it would be interesting to find out what brown outs mean to their PVs. My feeling is that they would follow the droop so as not to draw too much current when the outside world fails to hold up its end of the bargain. I've emailed them for this situation and will post it when I get a reply.

jeffbiss's picture
jeffbiss
Joined:
Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm

My concern for bleeding into the grid is not a show stopper. I still think if this gadget works as advertized, it is a tremendous and practical deal for the price. I would buy the three recommended. I don't mind being a bleeding edge adapter of new technology, but I will probably only buy one to start. Just to make sure it actually works before investing more.

What I have now has cost much more and returned much less. Maybe this new product can clear the sour taste I have towards solar generated power. I look forward to seeing their reply.

Paleo-con
Joined:
Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm

BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO.

I tried my hand at being a union solar installer and was beated up preety bad...The drive to the bottom of the wage rate destroyed a fine and growing business climate in my state and now it is being done by guys working at just over min wage with no benifits..The only thing this is just more jobs being lost...I have to wonder also how safe this will be..There are certain rules how these are installed to have them remain safe and to help prevent mass damage from storms.So what your doing is plugging in a panel that produces nearly no power and backfeeding an outdoor power outlet that is connected in who knows how?

Liberal Man's picture
Liberal Man
Joined:
Aug. 12, 2010 1:59 pm

Geez, I've not heard of clarion solar power. Oh, the thread was back in 2010. The one who is in the game for this kind is Enphase. From engineering standpoint, I like their approach. I'm much more fond of distributed sytem over massive central system. Properly designed distributed system can tolerate failures far better than a central system.

I really do not want to see DIY home installation of solar panels. Wind loading can easily rip the panels off the roof and turn it into a very heavy flying panels. to hot system when it is supposed to be powered down...

And home owner plugging into to an outlet... I can just see...

If you want cheap scalable solar PV system check enphase.com

But if you want faster ROI on solar power, go with solar water heating system. In norther latitude, you use evacuated glass tube system. In lower latitudes, you use flat panel collectors. My greenhouse in Portland area will be heated with evacuated glass tube system. Solar thermal storage is just a big water tank so that at 5:00AM, I can still dump heat into the greenhouse. There are several companies supplying the tubes. Most are manufactured by sunRain.

smilingcat
Joined:
Sep. 23, 2010 8:14 am

for best power production, you want to face it south east or better yet is to track the sun. The reason for south east is that you will have much higher power production when the panel is cold. Solar panels are nothing more than a pn junction whose open circuit voltage has around -2mV/C temp coefficient. So during afternoon, the panel may have an open circuit voltage of around 625mV where as in the morning, you might get 700mV and your MPP may be that much higher in the morning.

Just a minor correction from a former detailed royal pain in the arse electronics engineer. These days I'm just a stupid farmer and quite happy about it since I've been put out to pasture from the hi-tech electronics industry.

smilingcat
Joined:
Sep. 23, 2010 8:14 am

Tesla's home battery (Powerwall) is a game changer in the electric power industry. People will be able to disconnect from the grid. With solar panels charging the batteries on a daily basis and a back up generator for cloudy days you could get rid of the electric utility. You could even set it up so that backup generator kicks on when it detects a low battery and nothing from the solar panels. In the sunny southwest it will be on every home. Also companies will be going solar. Sell your stock in the electric power companies. With $200 a month electric bills you could pay off the system in a few years.

Legend
Joined:
Nov. 27, 2012 6:46 am

PV panels are coming down in price, its what around $1 per watt just for the solar panels. then you need to add the inverters, chargers and battery bank. Pay back is not in few years I'm afraid. Back up power generator isn't cheap either, especially for those on auto-detect/start such as Genrac for home use. Starting price for those are around $10k. I've looked into one of those for my farm.

But grid-tie PV is pretty good intermediate step.

smilingcat
Joined:
Sep. 23, 2010 8:14 am

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