Solar Energy -  Some Facts
A study by Ham Radio Operator Curtis Anderson,  N4ON
Summery:  There is one market that solar energy can be successful.
That market is any off-grid low demand need electrical power.
Click on each image to enlarge.

First Transistor - December 23, 1947
The invention of the transistor , and the research and improvements that soon followed produced the first
 practical photovoltaic cell ( PV or photo cell) and was publicly demonstrated on 25 April 1954 at Bells Laboratories.
Integrated Circuit technology later, lowered the production cost greatly by the 1970s.
Unfortunately the PV is a low voltage, low current device. 

Today's news is promising, but very misleading.   The first time I was able to get close to a working solar panel system,
the math did not add up.   Simple ohm's law, V = I x R  (Voltage = Current multiplied by Resistance)
and the formula for Power,  P = I x E   (Power = Current multiplied by Voltage) still remains true.
However, a quick look at the electrical panel, and reality sets in quickly.  So I begin my personal study for the FACTS.
My study begin in California and ended in Montana.   I would later prove my case on the internet.
FACT:   The solar industry, the business world, and the general public are more optimistic than I am
when it comes down to cost savings.    Environmental, we are on the same page.
Remember to Click on each page to enlarge.

Researching the internet, and driving around Northern California, I stumbled on the latest solar technology.
I visited the company and those in the area that sell and install solar systems for homes.
Next I visited a California resident who allowed me to tour their home to help me in my study.

This was the moment my eyes were opened.   Twelve solar panels, and you only get one 220 Volt circuit breaker rated 15A.

Solar panels produce direct current, DC.   Homes are wired for alternating current, AC.
 A power inverter is required.  One large unit, or multiple units for each solar panel.
Lets do some math.  Five to six hours of productive daylight on a clear a day, a few leaves or bird droppings, and even the best invertors are affected.
The resident I visited would not provide me with a recent energy bill but indicated that his home cost much less now to operate
than his pervious smaller home that had no solar system.  In California, electrical customers without a solar system subsidizes
customers that have a solar installation.

The  resident who allowed me to tour his solar installed home had a 2.5 Kw system on a 15A circuit.   Double the number of solar panels and factor in the invertor(s) cost
to get a full 5Kw 20A 220VAC circuit.   Add the additional cost for batteries if you want the system to function on cloudy days or at night..
FACT:  The fine print.   The cost of a residential installation, maintenance, some unrealistic assumptions, and the savings look impressive.

Next, I visited a place that was 36 miles off the grid.   This was a restaurant with a bakery in northern Montana, 
just 12 miles from the Canadian border and a long way from a hot meal.

I spoke to the restaurant owner and the indicated they also have 3 electrical generators, a 10 Kw, 20 Kw, and a 30 Kw diesel 
that is used depending on the need at the time.   The solar and battery storage system handles the lights and small electrical
needs of the business.  Last year they lost their single power inverter and it cost about $10,000 to replace it.

More fine print.

FACT:  To make a solar installation cost effective, the usage must be greatly limited.
Try this......count the number of circuit breakers in your electrical panel.
A solar panel system installation with 17 roof mounted panels will provide one 220V 20A circuit,  5-6 hours on a clear day.
A working system will take about 20 years to pay for the installed system.
If you consider places like Kenya, Ethiopia, and India, where there is little to no power grid system, the cost of
solar makes since over the cost of installing a grid system, if you only need lights, a fan, TV, and cellphone.
FACT:  If you have easy access to a grid, a heavy demand, the cost to install, maintain, and recover the
initial cost of a solar system is in terms of decades.  Most homes today do not have the space or the
ideal solar location to go off the grid.
Copyright 2016 - All rights reserved.  Disclaimer.
N4ON -  Active Ham Radio Operator "Curt"
GPS Location: Latitude: 37.2759 Longitude: -77.379
Grid: FM17hg