I hate generators, or at least the cheap piece of crap made in China ones. And yet, I love made in China solar panels. I had just got done buying two more panels as back-ups at $98 with shipping each ( if anyone is charging you for shipping, a 30 watt panel is a whole five and a half pounds-so be wary of charges that seem unreasonable ) and lo and beyond the seller, Amazon, has the exact same panel now at 10% less at about $87 with free shipping. Yes, I was a bit bummed- but it also means my next batch will be cheaper than my last one. Again. Of course, this must also come with the warning that if your stupid ass doesn’t buy the needed panels now, prior to the petrodollar crash which brings a screeching halt to all goods into America, don’t say I didn’t warn you. They also are selling a 100 watt for $150 ( just beware all your eggs in one basket, or all your watts in one panel-for reasons of manufacture quality crapshoot, theft issues, a flying rock thrown by a punk ass kid, etc ). Butt I’m going with the $1.50 a watt delivered to compare to a generator. My advice is to run screaming from a gennie and wrap your arms around a stack of panels and give them a big wet sloppy kiss.
A panel lasts 20 years. A generator lasts 1,000 hours ( the Japanese one might last much longer-I’ll give you ten years worth at an hour a day to be fair ). And even if gasoline prices are frozen in time, it will still need $1,500 in juice to run it. I know a generator is supposed to be a back-up for your panels. But if you have twice the watts in panels you need every day, they do charge under cloudy conditions and that will get you through till sunny conditions return ( some places such as coastal Oregon might be the exception ). A $150 generator and $150 in gas will give you six months of 1,000 watts a day. $300 in panels, in the winter, will give you about a thousand watts a day ( six hours at 160 watts [ you don’t get the full 100 watts per panel per hour ] will allow for some clouds each day ). For twenty years. Not six months. Now, if you are building a home and use a gennie and have it left over to use, you are STILL paying more after only one year at current gas prices. I scoff at the notion that gas prices will hold after too much longer ( remember our previous talks of 2016 frack decline and the same time frame import decline of oil due to increased domestic use because of population growth at the same time of production declines averaging 8% a year? ). Solar is THE way to go, and I would not wait forever. Prices can’t remain all that low for all that much longer. And even if they do, I can easily remember when $8 was normal. That might even have been on sale. And now, even if you don’t buy the larger panel, you can still buy just under $3 a watt after shipping. You can never beat utility power rates of a nickel a kilowatt, but we are talking about energy independence here. Surely, worth a small investment now?
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You make a good case for solar James, but what about if you add in Deep cycle batteries and inverters?ReplyDelete
I'm assuming batteries and inverters either way-the hour a day gennie is running high watt stuff as it charges batteries.Delete
I bought a 1kw genny for £25 off ebay a while since, would do about 800w continuous, but it was a bit too small for my needs, many power tools run about 17-1800w, so I traded it for a rotovator.ReplyDelete
Bought another for £45. This one 2.5kw (2.3kw continuous) engine fires up great, but it doesn't produce power. Give it the once over, and windings seem fine (Thankfully) but the solder on the 2 diodes on the armature has all melted. In other words it's been thrashed pulling out too much power. Got a load of replacement diodes and it's not much of a job to replace.
Solar's not really much good round these parts, (53 deg north) They seem to be throwing them up on every rooftop round here, but I'm not convinced.
I'm on the look out for a genny about 4-5 kw, and will fit a gas (LPG/NG) conversion on it. It would make running costs so much cheaper with gas (petrol) running about $7-8 bucks a gallon here.
I also reckon that they'd run ok on kerosine, once warmed up (They being low compression engines), so would have to be started on gasoline.
The mono panels seem to be great for cloudy power generation. I can still get my batteries charged at the end of the day, even while snowing ( if I keep the panels cleared ).Delete
Not just yes but hell yes! I've some 20+ year old panels that work fine and look almost new. Picked up a 30 watt panel for the sailboat and it really extends my time away from a marina. Just installed a 105 watt panel for a shed 350 feet from the main house. No trouble keeping the battery charged.ReplyDelete
I had solar when a big ice storm hit. After the first day or two all the generators were out of gas. I didn't have to brave ice roads to hunt for an open gas station and fuel.
When gas was a buck and solar was $10 a watt, this decision was easy. Now that gas is $4 and solar is $1.50 a watt AND the types of panels are better for low light conditions, the decision should be easy as well.Delete
I've mentioned this on other blogs but I'll mention it here as well (even though it flies in the face of His High Hairness's repeated warnings to ditch the car and buy a bike). If you're like me and you own a vehicle YOU ALREADY OWN A GENERATOR! Don't bother buying another unit that you have to maintain, just buy a small inverter and your good to go. You're going to need an inverter to change your 12v batteries and solar panels into 120v AC household current anyway. I splurged and bought a 2000W unit from Harbor Freight for under $200 (I think it was $159 on sale). I actually connected it to my car and ran my sump pump for 6 hours straight during Hurricane Sandy's power outage and deluge. INot recommended but kept my basement from flooding.ReplyDelete
This sounds like the guys neighbor in the "Homesteading For $5,000" book who used a good engine but trashed car body to charge his battery bank instead of using solar. Now, can you tell us how many watts you are going to be able to use with the car?Delete
It also sounds similar to what Phil Garlington did in his desert homesteading book Rancho Costa Nada. I remember that he drove a small fuel conserving Geo Metro, and charged a separate battery while he drove it on errands.Delete
I actually installed a larger alternator so I know the amp rating was 150. At 12v that gives me a peak output of 1800w. I don't know how many watts it takes to run the car but I shut off all the lights and the radio and anything else that would draw excess power so it should be minimal.Delete
The biggest advantage is that I already pay to maintain the car. I know I'm going to use it daily so if there are any problems I don't have to wait for an emergency to find out. I'll be repairing it quickly so I can keep driving.Delete
True dat. The differance being the panels keep going long after your commutes end. Course, on a limited budget you do what you need to do.Delete
No doubt that panels are the way to go long term. I'm just pointing out the obsurdity of buying a generator if you already own a car.Delete
Sorry, I guess I wasn't picking up on that? My bad. Obtuse- a way of life!Delete
Jim, my first try didn't seem to take. So this may be a dup.ReplyDelete
Would you feel comfortable specifying the panels you get on Amazon? This was very timely as I am in the market for panels and dont want Harbor Freight. The things I have to worry about in NW Arkansas are hail and ice storms. Would a tarp protect?
Oh--sorry. Fabulous hair, Jim!
Instapark is the brand. The mono panels aren't glass, but I have no idea how hail would degrade performance.Delete
Some of the hail that they have there is pretty serious! As in punch a hole right through a solar panel serious. I'd plan to have some sort of storm cover for the panels during the stormy season.Delete
Do you always get enough warning?Delete
In regards to using a Harbor Freight Generator as an inverter--there is a whole how to here: http://www.ush2.com/11012012.htm . The audio is from thesurvivalpodcast.com May have linked in wrong. Tired as hell. Basically, google steve harris 1234. This guy has some great stuff on alternate energy systems electronic and communications stuff. Easy to geek out over Well worth the time. Even though I think he and the Divinely Coiffed one would disagree on some stuff....ReplyDelete
Butt simple stuff is his specialty.Delete