The California State Legislature recently passed a law that after 2020 each new home needs to have a solar panel power source.
A typical medium-sized home needs about 14 panels with a total of 6 kilowatts rated capacity. Don’t let the word rated fool you. You only get 6 kilowatts when the sun shines at high noon and it stands directly above the panel.
The facts are different. At dusk and dawn you may get only 3 kilowatts and at night time none at all. This brings the average daily output per panel down from 0.350 kilowatts per hour to 0.130 kilowatts per hour.
Now, you need a battery since you need a night light in case you need to go during the night. The battery will store extra wattage in order to help here. The problem with batteries is they consume power, meaning for every watt you store, you only get back 0.75 watts.
Contrary to Mr. Thomas Alva Edison’s wishes, the U.S. decided to use alternating current for our appliances. This means, you have to have a converter in order to convert the direct current (DC) from the solar cell and the battery to 110 Volt alternating current (AC).
This again consumes about 90 watts for every kilowatt you use.
Now let’s add up: Average solar cell output equals 3.15 kilowatts per day (0.130 x 24 hours). The battery (assuming only used 30 percent of the day) equals -0.24 KW/ day.
The DC/AC converter equals - 0.29 kilowatts per hour.
Total net usable power equals 2.62 kilowatt per day and per square meter of panel space.
Assuming further that 40 percent of the days are cloudy or rainy. This whittles the actual power available down to 1.57 kilowatts per day.*
Now, if you typically use 24 kilowatt hours in the course of a day, then you need 15 square meters of solar panels (about 150 ft2 or a space of 10 x 15 feet, which might be problematic for small houses).
The average cost of such a 6 kilowatt rated solar panel installations after tax rebates is $ 14,000. With an implied savings of otherwise purchased electricity of 1.57 kilowatts x 15 x $ 0.15 / kilowatts equals $ 3.53 per day, you will need 11 years to get your money back from such savings.
According to Wikipedia the average timeframe for getting your money back is $15,000 is 13 years.
But wait, if one has to take a bank loan to pay the installer. At 4.5 percent of interest, that adds up to $ 4,000 of interest charges to the bill. This is an extra item the solar panel salesman never tells you.
Well, after you consider the added maintenance costs, insurance premiums, dirt on the panels from pesky birds, leaky roofs, and windstorms, you are glad you at least have done your good deed to fight global warming.
I surmise that the real purpose of this California law was to give a boost to the flagging solar panel productions of Mr. Musk and his liberal friends.
*WIKIPEDIA states that a typical 1m2 solar cell produces 444 KW hours of electricity a year, or 1.210 KW per day which makes my estimate of 1.57 KW optimistic.
Hans Baumann is a licensed engineer in four states and a member of Sigma Xi, the Scientific Research Society. He is an adviser to the dean of the University of New Hampshire Business School. Dr. Baumann has published manuals on valves and was a contributor to many works including the "Instrument Engineers' Handbook" and the "Control Valves Handbook." He has also published several books on business management and German history, including "Hitler's Escape," which suggests that Adolf Hitler did not commit suicide and survived World War II. In his latest book, "Atomic Irony" he proves that the Hirshoma Atom Bomb contained captured German Uranium. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.
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