'Brilliant tricks' with D cells and electromagnets save 70% on your electric bill

You know, marketing is sometimes ridiculous, and this one is no exception. I spotted this ad over on the Sierra Club website that was obviously targeted for “low information voters”. Why? Well if you’ve any basic 4th grade science you’ll recognize this photo used as part of the ad to suck people in to looking at some solar panel scheme:

It’s a D-cell wired up to a coil of wire to create a weak electromagnet. 


Some trick.

That ad links to this page, which then goes on to tell you about another, totally unrelated, ‘brilliant trick’.


Right. What they don’t mention is that while you might save 70% on your electric bill, you’ll probably pay close to that (with some smaller savings left) to pay for the solar panels that company installed. You’ll swap one payment for another, but you surely won’t get the full 70% in savings.

‘Caveat Emptor’ – let the buyer beware.

369 thoughts on “'Brilliant tricks' with D cells and electromagnets save 70% on your electric bill

    • What you save on Electricity costs you have to pay out in D-cells, because that wire coil is close to a dead short, and you will be needing a hell of a lot of D-cells to keep it going.
      I assume that you use this ” trick ” to try and slow down your electric meter.
      You can ask PG&E where is the best place to attach this to your electric meter to reduce the amount of electricity flowing into your house.

      • Ahh… But if you just wire the coil up to a small DC transformer, then you will have created a perpetual feedback loop of free clean energy you can then sell back into the grid!… Or start a fire? Or maybe open a tear in space time…

      • Why did he want to attract cows to his electric meter, Paul?
        Or was it a negative cow magnet…keeping them away?

      • Well cow magnets have a plus end for the females, and a minus end for the bulls. In the picture, the plus end of the electro-magnet seems to have the least lead inductance going to the coil and a big long lead inductance going to the minus end.
        So I would expect that all you will get out of the minus end is a load of bull**** ! !

      • DC transformers are just fictional. They only operate at frequencies, down to, but not including DC.
        Just think about it. If you can turn it on, or off, then by definition it cannot be DC.
        After all v(L) = L di / dt) which is zero if you can’t turn it on or off.

      • I wouldn’t dare to try that experiment, I still don’t understand why the cell doesn’t burn immediately!

      • I seem to recall creating an electromagnet back in 2nd grade using a dry cell battery (remember those?) and a large nail and a piece of wire.
        Before me and the other kids in that learning group were done, we had installed doorbells, lever disconnects, a pushbutton switch, and a little light bulb onto various configurations with that dry cell.
        Do they still let kids play with that kind of stuff when they are still young enough to have brains made of memory foam?

      • Just think about it. If you can turn it on, or off, then by definition it cannot be DC.

        Never thought of that! So AC/DC is a half fictional band?
        In physics, there is a lot of fictional stuff anyway – like weightless, one-dimensional strings, perfect resistors, frictionless surfaces, point-like horses, aeroplanes in vacuum, stuff moving at the speed of light, inertial coordinate system sitting at the surface of Earth, etc etc. I think the worser part is still the non-fictional stuff, like Hamiltonians, spinors, metric tensors and so on.

      • There is no suggestion that this device was supposed to work. It was a marketing device to draw people to a website, but apparently only people with little knowledge of physics would follow it. That would seem counterproductive to me.
        As for DC (all currents/potentials in the same direction) of course you can switch it off. Like you can stop or park a car in a one-way street.

      • “””””….. I think the worser part is still the non-fictional stuff, like Hamiltonians, spinors, metric tensors and so on. …..”””””
        I think you have it bass ackwards Hugs. Hamiltonians, spinors, and tensors are all creations of mathematics, which we know is all pure fiction.
        Mathematics is not science, it is an art form. We made it all up in our heads out of whole cloth. NOTHING in mathematics can actually be observed or measured in the real Physical universe, so if science is the study of the real observable universe, it is totally exclusive of anything mathematical.
        x^2 + y^2 + z^2 = r^2 may define a sphere in mathematics, but no how can you explain 8km high mountains on the earth with that equation. There are no points (specially in Heisenberg’s universe), no lines no planes, or any of the other trappings of Euclidean geometry.
        BUT !! those things explain very well, exactly how OUR MODELS of the real physical universe behaves; and we try to fine tune our models to more closely emulate what we MEASURE the real universe to be doing.
        So mathematics is an essential tool of our science modeling, but mathematics and science are mutually exclusive.
        You can make up your own mathematics, by just stating some AXIOMS, which by definition are unassailable truths (in the realm of your new math), and create some rules for manipulation of the elements of your mathematics, limited only by the absolute requirement of always complying with ALL of the defining axioms.
        Doesn’t have to make any sense at all, or be useful for anything.
        Kurt Gödel asserts that any such mathematics system, always has questions that are legitimate, within that universe; but which can never be proved true within the confines of that mathematics. He called it the “principle of undecidability”. (I think I have that correct). And of course, mathematics outside the confines of your axiom set, are illegitimate in that universe, so they cannot be used to prove the conjecture.
        If you have never read ” Gödel, Escher, Bach ” it is almost a must read; a fascinating and thought provoking book.
        Gödel’s ” undecidability ” is NOT the same concept as Heisenberg’s Principle of Uncertainty ( Izzat ” Unbestimmtheit ” ?? ) I gessat’s a noun so it should be capitalized, (I think)

    • I always preferred Jeff Lynne’s version: “But a fool and his money soon go separate ways (And you found a fool lying in a daze)”

    • I always heard that “A fool and his money are some party”, especially true when the taxpayers are hosting the party….

    • No discussion of solar PV for the home is complete without a link to Tom Murphy’s site at http://physics.ucsd.edu/do-the-math/tag/solar/ Murphy is in the Physics department at UCSD and has a working PV system. However, and even though Murphy is a fan of solar, reading his material is enough to jar most readers who think they want PV in their home into substantial second thoughts about whether they want PV now with current technology.

      • “If I instead cycle at 50% and get 575 full-cycle equivalent outlay at a de-rated 1.5 kWh/cycle, the cost is about $0.28/kWh. Since my system uses the battery for half its energy needs, the effective cost of electricity for battery replacement alone is about $0.14/kWh, which is pretty close to the utility rate in San Diego. – See more at: http://physics.ucsd.edu/do-the-math/2012/09/blow-by-blow-pv-system-efficiency/#more-1219
        This is what we found. It isn’t the solar panels, it is the batteries that are the killer. In effect the batteries are the “fuel” that gets consumed producing power. And consumed quite rapidly.
        I don’t agree with his reasoning that the batteries cost 50% less because they are only used 50% of the electricity needs. 100% of the electricity comes from the PV panels, mostly during a 6-8 hour window. The batteries are supplying power the other 2/3 to 3/4 of the time. So the battery cost alone, ignoring the substantial cost of the other components, is significantly more expensive than mains power.

      • Interesting link. He calculates the cost of batteries at $0.14/kWh or about the same rate for electricity from the utility company. And that is just the cost of traditional lead-acid batteries.

      • Sorry if this is covered later, but the picture is of a solar water heater not a PV panel setup. Look at the water heater tank. It is not an inverter and a bank of batteries. Maybe the 70% savings is all due to not having to pay for electricity for water heating. BTW propane or natural gas is usually cheaper.

      • I have 9 kW of grid connected solar PV, plus a solar water heater and 80 gal insulated water tank. My utility company does net billing. I generate above 90% of my electricity needs, which are already reduced by the solar hot water and good insulation. My energy bill is less than 10% of what is typical in my neighborhood. there were rebates, mainly by the utility company, that reduced original cost, and the gov’t provides a 30% tax rebate. I was able to refinance my mortgage to cover my net cost, and the energy saving more than covers the incremental mortgage payment, and pays back the incremental down payment in 6 years. After 4 years of operation, there has been no decline in energy provided. Utility company provided rebates as they were lower cost than building, fueling and operating a new peaking plant. Everyone wins. You guys who are so dead set against solar need to think a bit deeper.

    • First of all – let me say that I am certainly a Sceptic when it comes to the alarmist nonsense.
      However – we all need a dose of financial reality here. Last December i paid £6400 for a 4Kw Solar panel array. To date the Kw’s generated stands at 3914. I have just read the meter. We also had a neat little widget that as soon as we start to export power is diverted to our electric immersion heater so that we have constant hot water apart from on very dull days when our gas boiler cuts in.
      We secured a FIT of 14.8p/Kw and an export FIT of 4.77p/Kw on 50% of what we generate – this is RPI linked and payable for 20 years. If I sell the house or rent it out, we still get the FIT – the new owner/tenant simply gets the benefit of the electricity produced.
      The crazy system here in the UK does not have meters to measure exported power, so they assume 50% exported regardless of the fact that with the water heating widget – we rarely export anything LIKE 50%.
      So what have I received so far from the UK FIT system – well in the last 10 months it has generated 3914Kw’s – and that amounts to a payment of £575 plus £93 for the assumed exported power.
      So that is £668 in ten months. Or £66/month. If we assume we will get another £100 over the next two months (I am being pessimistic even for English weather!) that equates to £768 for a twelve month.
      Add to this the fact that based upon the first six months – my regular estimated electricity usage has dropped by £40 a month and my gas bill by £15 a month. So that is a further net gain in income (and yes – I do appreciate that without the FIT subsidy – this £55 a month represents the REAL financial benefit of my Solar panels – but hey! – I didn’t make the the stupid bloody rules!!!
      So my return in total is circa £66/month for total FIT plus £55/month actual energy savings = £121/month
      Or £1452 a year.
      This represents an annual return of £1452/£6400 x 100 = 22%.
      Now I pay my Broadband, Phone, Electricity and Gas via one provider – Utility Warehouse – Some months the FIT and energy saving is such that we have NO BILL AT ALL FOR ANY OF THE ABOVE – and in fact we get a credit in our bank account.
      And thanks to the stupidity of the UK Government – this return is guaranteed for 20 years and RPI linked to boot!
      So who the hell is the fool?

      • As one of the taxpayers who is having is money taken under threat of bankruptcy and imprisonment to fund your fraud I demand you return the money forthwith.

      • Doug, The fools are the people on low incomes who cannot afford to install solar panels and who are subsidising you. I don’t blame you for taking part in this outright reverse Robin Hood scenario, as you say you didn’t make the rules and you have to put you and yours first. I do find the whole scheme utterly repugnant however, as it is a de facto regressive taxation on the poorest in our society. My better half won’t have solar panels on aesthetic grounds – she says they spoil the look of the roof FFS.

      • @ bertief
        I am looking at three green lights – which means I am making money – bugger the looks of the things mate!
        I am quids in
        Can I take this opportunity to thank you and your good lady for your generosity.
        I mean no disrespect – but my view is that if Government wants to be THAT STUPID! – then take them for all that you can.
        Like I say – exactly who is the “Fool”?

      • @ Me
        Typical wooly minded thinking here. And sadly it is coupled with the sort of implied threat so much loved by the Climatistas – stop it Me! – Please!
        There is no room here for that sort of childish nonsense.
        There is no fraud – just a tax regime that you either take advantage of or not.
        If you are facing bankruptcy – whilst I am sad about that – I fail to see how my receiving a FIT on money I had to save up for is in anyway different to getting pension tex relief or investing in an ISA where no income tax or Capital Gains Tax liability is incurred

      • It demonstrates the policymakers and their green supporters have no knowledge how technology and financing works. This is a serious problem at this point in time.

      • So who the hell is the fool?
        Well that’s hard to say. The giverment giveth and the taxament taketh….
        You think your FITS are guaranteed for 20 years? Maybe so… Zero taxation status is not, nor is council tax….stick every solar panel equipped house into a higher tax band ? Why not?
        In essence your financial benefit depends on the politics of Green: if Green/Climate Change/Renewable falls out of favour when it is discovered it’s all a total scam, then I wouldn’t give tuppence for your guarantees.
        Just look at what Merkel did to the nuclear industry when it was politically expedient…

      • @ JJM Gommers
        Spot on
        Agree 100%
        All sensible people can do is capitalise on their stupidity. Let’s USE our better knowledge of things financial and things technical to beat the system.
        What the hell is the point of saying “I will not benefit from a 20%pa Government backed investment programme because i don’t like what the government is doing”?
        Take the money and use it to TELL them how stupid it all is.

      • And here we see the problem with socialism.
        In theory, everyone is going to willingly contribute what they are able to for the greater good and the system will be run by select few who will always act like angels. People like Doug UK prove exactly why in reality, socialism will never work. Because when he and other like him smell “free money” in the wind (actually taken from his next door neighbors), they pounce on it like sharks being chummed in the water. Very short sighted and selfish if you ask me. But they have in their minds that it’s free money and no one is hurt. Nothing could be more wrong. Those less well-off are definitely hurt in this unicorn energy scam. That money that Doug UK and others like him are taking would be put to much more efficient use by those who earned it, rather than being redistributed to those select few connected to the angels in charge. Plus there’s the issue of destabilizing the national power grid.
        Doug UK, you are coming across to me as a selfish SOB. Unfortunately, I have a bunch of fellow US citizens that think the same selfish way. Very sad.

      • Just think what you would make if you lived where the Sun actually shines. You would be a zillion-aire!

      • Doug UK, there is a fraud because he is being paid for something he is not delivering. It gets even worse in here in Ontario where “green”: energy providers are paid for what they are theoretically producing, or even paid not to produce.
        So-called renewable sources aren’t and they place a burden on a stable generating system. The instability of supply is the biggest problem for these wind and solar. They are only useful in remote, off-grid situations.

      • The unit of consumption is kWh, that is 1kW flowing for 1hour: kW is a unit of energy.
        The subsidy you receive is not from taxes but paid to you out of an increased charge on energy bills paid by other customers. People are paying higher bills so you can enjoy lower bills.
        You are the in receipt of property (in this case money) taken from others which in the absence of legislation they would not willingly hand over.
        You are right Government legislaion makes it ‘legal’, it is a gift horse, yes, yes.
        But Government legislation at other times in other places made it ‘legal’ to expropriate property from others, the Jews in Germany, for example, nd to own a Human being, slavery in the Caribbean Islands and American Colonies/USA, another example.
        Legislation does not absolve us of having a conscience.
        How you view the morality of taking advantage of other citizens and making them poorer to make yourself richer because the Government sanctions it, is a matter for your conscience.

      • Fair play to Doug for spotting the opportunity and taking advantage. i would be concerned that the government guarantee is solid given that trusting governments is rarely a wise thing to do. I would be happy to make money from solar schemes that pay a better return than banks but as we have seen here in the UK, the subsidies can be cut without warning and you are left holding a bond that you can’t offload easily with a declining return. Look at the mess Drax has got into by believing the government and converting to wood chip to take advantage of subsidies but then lost out. To be fair, the government is planning to close their business generating electricity from coal by 2030 so they may not have had much choice if they don’t believe that reality will stop the removal of 70% of our generating within 15 years.

      • Doug
        I only pay 10.1p/kWh without solar panels, so you are paying 4.77p/kWh extra to start with. I don’t know how this affects your figures though.

      • The crazy system here in the UK does not have meters to measure exported power, so they assume 50% exported regardless of the fact that with the water heating widget – we rarely export anything LIKE 50%.
        so all you have to do is install the system, and you will get 50% of the name plate capacity, even if the panels are producing zero. people in the UK should be stampeding to install these panels, even if they install them in the basement, or underground parking lots.

      • I’m with Doug UK. If the government is handing out “free” money, complaining about the government is unlikely to have any effect. However, if everyone in the country lines up for the “free” money, the government will stop handing it out quick enough.
        Actions speak louder than words. Hand outs to special interests groups exist only so long as the special interests groups are “special”. Once everyone joins the group it becomes a common interests group, which governments are not keen on supporting.

      • @ Ferdberple
        “Actions speak louder than words. Hand outs to special interests groups exist only so long as the special interests groups are “special”. Once everyone joins the group it becomes a common interests group, which governments are not keen on supporting.”
        Thank you – that is how I see it.

      • @ Leo Smith
        I don’t give a toss what Merkel did to the Nuclear Industry in Germany – I have not been a fan of Nuclear ever since Welsh Lamb got bits of hot Chernobyl in it.
        As for a change of taxation for all houses with Solar Panels – errrr duh!
        Try thinking things through – they are bolted to the roof. I could take them down if the economics changed.
        I also am a caravanner for my sins (and according to some I have far more than I ever realised ;0) ) – so I regularly charge up two leisure batteries which we use when camping where there is no electric hookup. These batteries last a long time and are trickle charged by GUESS WHAT! – a couple of portable Solar Panels on the roof.
        Clearly there is no hope for me at all – I have sinned against the minority belief system that all energy technology apart from the traditional technology is “Bad” – and that we should all pay far more tax than the system requires because that way we will make a better world, end poverty and bring about World Peace.
        Hang on a mo – Am I actually on WUWT?

      • ferdberple October 9, 2015 at 6:21 am ” However, if everyone in the country lines up for the “free” money, the government will stop handing it out quick enough.
        Actions speak louder than words. Hand outs to special interests groups exist only so long as the special interests groups are “special”. Once everyone joins the group it becomes a common interests group, which governments are not keen on supporting.”
        Governments are very interested in everyone joining the group. In this case they want everyone to be a greenie and have solar panels, but whatever it is, government loves everyone thinking the same way, even if the way they think is stupid. If it socialist, communistic or nazi government the sooner everyone gets on board the better it will be for everyone. Resistance only will make it harder for you, get on board now, before big brother has to force you.

      • It takes a special kind of twit to condemn western nuclear plants because of what happened at Chernobyl.

      • Let me add to the chorus giving props to Doug UK for retrieving some of the revenue which his government has forcefully taken from him. To add to What Bob Armstrong said, Ayn Rand would be congratulating Doug UK for helping show the stupidity of the socialistic policies which create such structures.
        We need more people with the courage to step up and demonstrate the stupidity of our governments as Doug UK has published above.
        Good on ya’ mate!

      • Doug,
        You are not taking the government money. The government has no money except that it extracts by threat of imprisonment by taxation. You are taking from your fellow taxpayers.
        Good for you if you got in on the scheme early. It doesn’t scale out.

    • Unfortunately, in this case, a fool and MY money are soon parted. After his subsidy is paid for with my tax money, his “excess (unusable) electricity” will be purchased by my utility and the cost will be added to my bill.

      • @ Sal Minella
        So someone who has the foresight to take a tax break – available to all is somehow a fool?
        I meet this wooly minded thinking occasionally.
        For a start – I pay the same taxes as everyone else. So how can I be taking your tax £ as opposed to simply getting some of my own back?
        The only thing I and other people with solar panels here in the UK have done is to look a government ‘gift horse in the mouth’ and then taken the tax man for a ride on that same horse.
        Rather than blame everyone else for your not having the acumen to grasp this excellent financial opportunity with both hands and get some of the tax you pay back – I suggest you ponder your own inability to recognise a “good thing”.
        We often say of the Alarmists that they are blinded by their own dogma.
        Sadly – that same problem exists on both sides of the AGW debate.

      • @ AC Osborn
        Again typical juvenile reaction to a truth that you find hard to deal with.
        As I said to sal below – your silly comment only works if you pay tax and I don’t.
        I pay tax – lots of it sadly.
        But I use the system to get some of mine back.
        Whereas you call people names and no doubt stamp your foot in a tantrum.
        Well I hope you feel better now.

      • >> simply getting some of my own back
        Exactly. Doug UK, please ignore these anti-science idiots. They have fallen prey to the lunatic fallacy of concluding that since they are against AGW, they are against everything AGW advocates mention, including scientific models, solar energy, electric motors, etc.. They can’t understand or believe that AGW can be false, and yet solar energy can be a good thing.

      • VikingExplorar, it is precisely this kind of fraud that the global warming scam has been created.

      • VikingExplorar, it is precisely this kind of fraud that the global warming scam has been created to perpetrate, There are many freeloaders, scam artists and politicians raking in our money, all in the name of “saving the planet”. Do you think Enron was a good role model?.

      • Ah yes, the old variable motor scam. Doesn’t matter that they cost twice as much and last half as long. They save one or two percent on energy usage, so they must be good.

      • @ Viking Explorer
        Thank you for your comments
        @ Robert of Ottawa
        Exactly! – The FIT’s are a nonsense – they are barmy – they give free money back to those that have Solar panels!
        What is wrong is the scheme – NOT those that chose to use the scheme.
        As others have said – if everyone jumped on the bandwagon – the government would far sooner cut the funding.

    • The phrase “Literally zero” was:
      a) Not to be taken literally.
      b) Not referring to the actual number zero.

      • Looked into this…
        Solar Panels $1,150 ea x 33 panels = $37,950
        Support structure (they can’t go on my roof) $25 – 35,000
        Misc hardware and electrical connection controls $5,000
        Installation labor $$$???
        $78,000 in material costs to save $240 per month in electricity
        If you add $8000 for labor
        $2880 per year would take 30 years to break even

      • After just 20 years the panels are almost shot and replacement would be more than the original $37,950. Endless feedback loop saving you nothing, unless you start this project at age 10.

      • would take 30 years to break even
        no company in its right mind would invest in a project with a 30 year payback. too much risk that conditions will change before then, making the investment unprofitable. Much wiser to invest in projects with a shorter payback.

      • Installation, yes, but I am very handy, and since I design, install and repair electrical machinery and control circuits for as living, I am sure I could do everything but the final connections myself.
        And those final connections are little more than a service call to a licensed electrician.
        I am just looking at this the way I do everything…doing my own homework, not taking what anyone else says as gospel, checking prices for stuff, and being skeptical.
        Those panels look cheap.
        I think I could run as fountain feature I am building on solar and use a 12 or 24 volt DC pump, for less than I could run power over to it. 100 feet or so…maybe 200, depending on where I place the pump.

      • I am wondering now if maybe it would be a big problem to make household stuff that runs directly off of the DC power of the cells?
        We use the voltages we do because of transmission issues, primarily.
        DC lights, motors, and other stuff are already readily available.
        Hmm, wonder if that changes any of the math?
        Just a thought.
        Definitely for a medium sized water feature it is the way to go if no power is nearby.

    • Then there’s the expense that came out of “the other pocket” – in taxes….so people pay for these things twice.

  1. Those of us do not participate in the solar power scam are funding, via tax credits, those who want them.
    You cannot get as much energy out of a solar panel as is put into their manufacture if you normalize the cost in equivalent barrels of oil.
    They are great in space, remote locations, and very sunny places, but otherwise, short in lifespan, weak in power density, and unreliable. Burn oil. Or better, burn wood if you can.
    The Sierra Club…. jeeeese. Did you hear Aaron Mair droning “Landru-Landru” in his exchange with Ted Cruz?

    • I submit. I bear myself to the will of Landru.
      Honest to Gosh. When I watched Aaron Mair of Sierra Club, I was reminded of that zombie mind control / intractable / nonsensical mantra. It was creepy.

    • When the government makes rules we’re all expected to abide by them. I voted against the government scams every way I could. I was out voted. Voters with a head on their shoulders are not responsible for those who are dumb enough to vote for supporters of bad science, bad policy, and outright scams.
      Since I pay a healthy amount of taxes every year there is no wrong in getting some of it back. If others who could but don’t take that advantage that is their decision and their loss.
      The money spent on solar panels, green subsidies, and other nonsense may amount to millions, even a few billions. That is literally meaningless when you look at overall federal and state spending. The country is slowly going bankrupt run by imbeciles in office who are doing it at every level.

  2. but don’t forget – as here in the Green Mountain State, if you install those solar panels then through the miracle of net metering, you can have your neighbors pay your electric bills

    • Yep! – happens in the UK too – here in the UK there was a green energy tariff of 9% of whatever your energy bill is. This tax was then used to pay people like me who paid for a solar Panel array.
      I got a perverse pleasure in telling my neighbour (who tried to tell me that they were a waste of time) that the return for me was over 20% via savings and FIT and that I am very grateful to him for paying me to do it.
      There is a lot of fingers in the ears La La La singing on here about the financial benefit of Solar Panels.
      YES! – the subsidies are crazy
      YES! – the UK Government has at last seen sense and reduced the FIT such that Solar will now have to stand on its own!
      But – some of the costings for solar as cited above are crazy.
      If we are going to have a sensible debate on energy – then PLEASE do not allow your argument to degenerate into the sort of nonsense the Alarmists use.
      If the FIT are available then many people who are finically aware will look at these in the same way as they look at the tax advantages of a pension contribution.
      I had a choice – I had £6400 of capital
      I could invest that and get a current single digit return with no guarantees
      Or I could purchase a Solar Panel Array and secure a very handsome double digit RPI linked return guaranteed for 20 years.
      All I am saying – is that to call those people who have Solar Panels “Fools soon parted from their money” is so off wack as to be stupid.
      And it makes those that make such statements look stupid to those of us that jumped on the (admitedly) crazy bandwagon.

      • @ AC Osborne
        Financially challenged proctologists dream.
        Do you want to continue with the name calling – or would you like to get an education?

      • I tell you what Doug, you could look a real fool if your panels broke. Then you’d have to pay a fortune to have them replaced. What’s the working life-span of those panels?
        You’d also look a fool if a govt legislated to remove/cut back the FIT. That’s what I’ll be lobbying my MP about.
        BTW If you spend an evening running your mouth off in your local pub about how much you’re profiting from other tax payers you might just get a pint poured over your head.I know I’d be the first in line to do it.

      • @ David Smith
        If the panels break – I will replace them – The panels are cheap – 14 x 285’s including fitting was £6400.
        The life span of modern panels is far greater than the old ones. And the price is plummeting all the time.
        i said no to an insurance policy to “protect” them because – like white goods – the cost of replacing one is less than any sort of repair costs. With the feed in tariff and the savings i make – If they last 10 years I will still be far better off having them than not. 15 years – 20 years if they last that long – who cares????
        As for the government trying to reduce the FIT for those in receipt of it – best of luck with that. The Coalition Government tried that and failed. So as I very much doubt you or your MP will have any better luck. But do by all means try – I like a good laugh the same as the next bloke.
        As for my explaining how the system can work to a persons financial advantage – I do that regularly – I get a very good response. I have yet to have anything thrown at me other than thanks for the “heads-up”
        Why is that? – because only the intellectually challenged mentally myopic cannot see that it is not “other peoples tax” I get back – it is a tax saving on the tax I too would have to pay if I had not been astute enough to understand the scheme.
        And If drinks get thrown in your local – I very much doubt I would drink there.
        On a serious note – your post is akin to worst excesses of the raving Alarmists who threaten anyone with views differing to their own.
        You are a disgrace to the very idea of the true scientific sceptic.

      • >> your post is akin to worst excesses of the raving Alarmists who threaten anyone with views differing to their own. You are a disgrace to the very idea of the true scientific sceptic
        I agree. I am amazed that some of the anti-AGW people here have become exactly what we have been criticizing: anti-science, reactionary, political agenda masked as pseudoscience, leftists.
        Doug UK, you are morally justified in paying as little taxes as possible. Only a leftist could think you have a moral obligation to pay more in taxes.

      • A sensible debate on energy would be in a world without the poor subsidizing the well-to-do. Yes, this debate does get polemical, and with good reason. A moral and financial fraud is being perpetrated.

      • Your average person who lives on welfare feels exactly the same way.
        And I feel the same about both.

      • @ MarkW
        So just because some people are on welfare I somehow should NOT use my savings to make my finances more tax efficient so that I can put more money BACK into the economy as well as having more money and time to help others?
        Oh! – but hang on – I forgot………….
        In the eyes of the the more rabid amongst us – if I am taking more out of the tax pot than they are then I cannot possibly have any sort of moral compass whatsoever.
        THAT moral high ground is for them and them alone.

      • Doug UK, I have heard that here in the US many fire departments will not even try to put out a house fire in a home that has solar panels on the roof, because there is no way to cut off the electricity flowing so freely from those panels. How are fire departments in the UK handling house fires, where there are solar panels on the roof? Did your installation perhaps include fuses that could be blown from ground level, to disconnect the panels? Not trying to editorialize, I am just curious.

      • Janice, with respect, you have mngled the details of the fire department story. They are obligated to put out fires. What about the houses next door?
        Anyway, these panels have been built with no way to turn them off, but they are low voltage. I see a business opportunity…magnetic covers that unroll onto the panels to block out light, thus ” turning them off “.

      • MeNicholas, here in NM, there have been several stories about a fire department having to allow houses to burn down, because of solar panels on the roof. They are careful to protect the houses on each side. And, I believe they have now developed some protocols for dealing with this situation. I am simply curious about the protocols or actions of fire departments on the other side of the pond.
        New technologies nearly always spawn derivative technologies, which help to protect us from the original new technology. Some dangers are not recognized as such, until people are injured or come close to injury. I work in an industry where, after writing up our documents and figuring out all the possible ways that things can go wrong, we have to go through a further review, called Unreviewed Safety Questions. I generally call these reviews the “What Do We Do If An Asteroid Hits Our Building” Review.
        A solar cell is similar to a battery. If there is light, the solar cell has the potential for supplying energy. And, as anyone who has shorted something across a car battery can attest to, that supplied energy can change the status quo very quickly.

      • @ Janice the Elder
        The system shuts down in the event of something going wrong – The Fire Brigade not wanting to put out fires on Solar Panelled houses is one of those urban myths that wanders around
        I cannot speak for the USA – but here in the UK – no problem, no issue, – it’s what we call a “Red Herring” this side of the pond ;0)

      • The fire depts. protect the houses next door by spraying them down until the fire goes out.
        The panels are not low voltage, most of them put out around 400VDC.

      • @ Mark W
        Oh dear! – you really are confused – Not sure how else I can say this – but I PAY TAX TOO!
        Therefore by applying for and getting a tax break is NOT stealing – only a total idiot would try to claim that.
        You are applying the same dubious tactics as the Climatistas use – I hope you are proud of yourself
        Tell you what – you have missed a trick – why not extrapolate to say that because I pay less tax and get a FIT tax rebate I am “stealing” from the Overseas Aid Budget!
        That way you could accuse me of being a racist thief rather than just a thief!

      • @ Janice the Elder
        Just to confirm – all UK based systems must by law have a DC isolator activated independently or via the AC isolator.
        There is obviously a potential for an electrical fire by having these things installed – but again herein the UK – you have to have a safety certificate before the installation is signed off and the FIT granted. My House Insurance provider requires regular checks and wanted to see all the certificates before cover would be granted.
        So there are lots of system checks to ensure things are done properly.
        I have no idea of the installation standards for the US – but here in the UK – the Fire Brigades are not stating that Solar Panels makes the house less safe. I think there have been some concerns about where the wiring goes in a house as a Fireman needs to know where they are. This is as a result of a tragedy in Southampton England, where two Firemen died when electric cables that ran round the ceiling behind the Coving fell down and entangled the Firemen.
        Terrible tragedy. But nothing to do with Solar Panels as the cables were normal electrical ones in the block of flats
        Obviously if you have Solar panels then the emergency services will be mindful of the extra cables present.

      • MarkW October 9, 2015 at 10:20 am
        “The panels are not low voltage, most of them put out around 400VDC.”
        Not strong on irony either I see !

      • 400 volts?
        Not here in the US.
        Household power is 120/240.
        My understanding is the panels are 12 or 24 volts.
        Here is one small self contained system for off grid use, 400 watts, about $825, includes controllers and everything, free shipping:
        There are about ten thousand other smaller and larger systems, and that is just taking a quick look at a retail site:

      • Menicholas,
        Let’s not mix up AC and DC. US AC grid is 3 phase where 1 phase-neutral = 120V, and 1 phase-other phase = 240V.
        Solar panels produce a DC voltage. In the example you linked to, each panel optimally creates about 18 VDC. One could connect 22 panels in series to result in 400 VDC.

      • Yes, Viking, Thank you.
        I troubleshoot and repair electrical machinery for a living, T/S, repair and design control systems, and teach electrical safety.
        I have never wired up a rooftop PV system…are they typically connected as you say, or are they done in parallel, creating higher amps but maintaining the same voltage in the circuit?
        I would think it was done in parallel, for reasons of safety, expandability and flexibility, as adding amps to existing controls is far less problematic than increasing voltage, and that if batteries are installed, they can be charged directly.
        But I am not sure…please inform me.

      • menicholas,
        I’m not involved in either design or implementation of solar rooftop systems. However, I believe that the configuration depends on the design of the system, especially the inverter. I believe that it’s not all one or the other, but rather a combination of the two. A string of series connected panels to get a DC voltage that is appropriate for the inverter, and then as many of these strings in parallel to get the desired total wattage.

    • Assuming a good single crystal silicon solar cell panel (only kind I would even give the time of day to), the optimum power output cell voltage is 0.5 volt at full sun. If switched off from the load, the full sun open circuit cell voltage would likely be 650 to 750 mV per cell, so it would take 800 cells in series, to give a 400 V DC source.
      You might go that high if you are going to run that into a switching AC inverter for maybe a 240 V RMS AC line, or perhaps half of that for a 120 AC system.
      But if you were going to go the batteryized LED lighting way, then I wouldn’t run a big long series string. Perhaps 24 or 48 Volts would be as high as I would want to go.
      High voltage series battery strings are a big problem, reliability wise, because of cell reversal problems on discharge.

      • Matthew W:
        No, other people paying through their taxes is how croney capitalism/ green scams work.
        And you knew that.

      • Actually chaps, it’s how EVERY system which involves any level of government expenditure works. Governments don’t have any money of their own, they collect it or steal it (depending on your views of taxation) from individuals, either directly (income tax, sales taxes) or indirectly (company taxation passed onto consumers through the pricing mechanism).

      • @ Mr Green Genes
        Agree 100%.
        So what can we do?
        Stand on our moral high-ground and say “I will NOT take advantage of stupid government!”?
        In which case I admire the morals of those individuals but despair at their lack of financial acumen.

      • So what can we do?
        I learned a very simple rule years ago. When someone gives you a problem to solve, ask how many people are involved. If there is more than 1 you probably cannot solve the problem by trying to make it better. The problem likely exists because those involved cannot agree, and if you try and step in the middle you will be blamed for their lack of agreement. It is a no-win problem.
        So what you do is invoke the Ronald Regan space invaders solution. You make the problem worse, forcing the other people to band together and agree to solve the problem so that you will go away and quit causing problems for them. For as Regan observed, if the US and Russia were threatened with invasion from outer space, they would put away their differences and fight to defeat the common enemy.
        Solar panels on one person’s roof is the government patting itself on the back for a problem solved. Solar panels on everyone’s roof with guaranteed FIT’s is the equivalent of space invaders, a problem the government has no idea how to solve, except they know they have to make it go away.

  3. Yes indeed! Please beware. I went to one solar company’s website and ran my utility bill numbers and house location/square footage through their calculator and discovered I would get a $4 return on my investment at the end of 20 years. A whole $4! Which I am pretty certain does not account for maintenance and/or parts replacement costs over the 20 years.
    I am certainly not against solar and the ROI begins to look much better if you have a large home and large monthly electrical bills. Just do your homework before you sign on the dotted line.

    • Forgot which calculator I used the first time to get the ROI of $4, so just ran the PG&E calculator and my ‘Years to Payback’ is calculated at >26 years!

    • Bruce – the figures stated for a US installation seem very high. As I said earlier I had a 4K system installed for £6400 last December. (If you have greater than 4Kw in the UK you go on to a commercial tariff which is lower than the sub 4Kw domestic FIT.)
      Even with no FIT – my savings are circa £50 a month – so that is a 10%pa return. That would mean after circa 10 years the system would be paid for.
      The FIT doubles the return to over 20%pa which equates to a 5 year re-imbursement period.
      And as I “get my tan from standing in the English rain” – I find the figures cited re the USA strange to say the least?

      • @Doug UK – Guess it depends on your requirements. I am assuming you are looking at the return on the feed in and reduced consumption so you still require lots of grid power. A 4 K system would only run my water to water heat pump – in the winter with only about 3 hours of effective sunlight at my latitude. I need another 4 K to run my well pumps and other mechanical devices. Then add in my welders, refrigerator, deep freeze, etc. I have a neighbour with a 10 K system and it covers less than half his farm power requirements. I suppose if you have LED lights and just need to run a refrigerator, maybe a 4 K system would be ok. And I suppose it the subsidies work and you get a return, good for you. (I have solar panels for some uses on the farm.)

  4. Big Solar’s and their government allies have been pulling this one for years. In my mountain community the local electric co-op and and solar provider put on a real nice show a few years ago. Much better than a D-cell and some wire. I plodded through it to get the few numbers I really wanted to know.
    After rebates from the co-op and state and federal tax credits, My average usage of 1 kilowatt costs about $1000 a year, or maybe a bit more with the warming pause and all that. For about $20,000 after the rebates and credits ($40-50K before the discounts, I recall) I could get a solar system that would reduce my $1000/year electric bill to the $100-200 base charge.
    If I put that $20k into a 4% account I could pay my current bill from that, and not worry about installation, wind or hail damage, or depreciation (when does it just wear out?). So it’s kind of a break even, but the hassle of covering my roof with selenium and silicates tips it in favor of good ol’ coal.
    Now, if the solar provided power when the grids down after a storm, the backup capability would be a big selling points and I’d go get a solar. But it doesn’t work that way. It feeds directly into the co-op power grid and then to my house. If the grid’s down, the solart doesn’t work.
    So the simple arithmetic leaves me with our reasonable coal-fired grid power, and saved the other taxpayers of the USA about $30k.

      • Municipal Bonds are paying 5.5% tax free. Just don’t buy NY, IL, CA, or PR. Stick with VA or TX.

    • Is it true that rooftop solar will not power your home when the grid is down?
      What about if you have a transfer switch. I am going to get a whole home propane generator ahead of next year’s la nina hurricane season anyway, so it seems to me rooftop solar could use the same switching.
      BTW, if you are real handy, which many are, and you do the labor yourself, and particularly if you have yard space to place it, and install tracking, then the cost goes down substantially. Just a quick check on my fav o rite interwebs retailer shows that one can get 1000 watts of panels for just over $1000, with a charge controller.

      • If your rooftop solar system uses a grid tie inverter, yes, when the grid goes down, your system is useless. You’d need batteries, charge controller and a standard inverter to have the system work without depending on the grid.

      • No of course not, buy a home in some remote place and install solar, the nearest power pole might be 10 miles away or more.

      • There is none of that here in Florida. Rates have been the same for many years… Roughly speaking.

      • It is troubling to me that climate skeptics here just say things off the top of their heads that are simply not true…not every. And not every statement… But a lot of them.
        Quotes given of panel cost are off by a factor of ten.
        Am I the only one that can get a price for something in about a minute of searching?

      • @ menicholas
        Agreed – the prices and installation costs cited by some are simply nonsense.
        I am not sure who they think they are fooling but it certainly is not anyone, anywhere, anyhow – who has the ability to check out reality for themselves.
        I find this all rather depressing because I started to question AGW Alarmism when my own checking/research clearly showed that the truth was a casualty of the Alarmists dogma.
        And now we see the same verbal abuse, the ad hom attacks, and the overstated facts.
        I really am disappointed in some on here – I suggest they need to reconsider their actions.

      • The range is based on several factors. What type of panel you have. How good you are at keeping the glass from getting scratched when you clean it. Whether you have active mechanisms for preventing the panels from getting too hot when the sun shines on them, etc.

      • My total house LED lighting runs 200 watt, if I turn everything in the house on; and my wife sometimes does. But half of that is most common situation. I know where all the light switches are.

      • If they are good single crystal silicon cells (which is the only kind I would even consider), then the actual cell degradation rate is nowhere near that high.
        Now the power could be degraded by optical losses in any cover window, so that is a cleaning issue.
        Residential air can be very dirty in ways that can fog up solar panel windows.
        Polycrystalline silicon cells will degrade over time; not sure how much, but I will try to find out current thinking next week at the SF solar symposium. The grain boundaries of the polysi would tend to develop point defects that will lose photo-electrons, specially in locations where the Temperature range is high, and no IR blocking windows on the panels.
        As for crud like CIGS, all bets are off if you choose to go cheap and low efficiency.
        II-VI compound semiconductors don’t like H2O. That was part of the Solyndra boondoggle, which was a technology travesty, before it became a funding and political scam.
        The deliberate doping impurities in silicon solar cell diodes, are foreign atoms, (maybe boron and phosphorous, but could be others); but those atoms that are active in the diode physics processes, are atoms that are locked into the crystal lattice where they replace silicon atoms. So that does distort the lattice a bit, locally, because the dopant atoms are either smaller, or larger than the silicon they replace; but those dopant atoms do not move around.
        Now in the processing, whether by diffusion at higher Temperatures, or ion implantation at lower Temperatures, there may be other dopant atoms that are in the crystal intersticially. ($3 word for reside in the spaces between the lattice atoms.)
        Usually, a known amount of dopant atoms are injected into the wafer surface, either by shooting them in like bullets, in an ion implant machine, or else they are driven in from a surface deposit, by thermal diffusion. A lot of those atoms will start out interstitial, where they are electrically inactive. But there is usually an annealing process at some high Temperature in which the lattice atoms agitations are big enough for the dopant atoms to shoulder their way onto a crystal site, and settle there.
        These annealing steps occur at temperatures much higher than any possible operational junction temperatures, so there is no wandering around of lattice dopant atoms. Diffusion rates tend to go exponentially with Temperature, so things that might go quite rapidly at 600 deg. C (a relatively low diffusion Temperature) may take centuries at 120 deg. C operating junction Temperature (that’s hot).

  5. Shrugs, my solar power system cost about 10000 (including batteries) and saved 30000 in hook up costs to the grid. Plus no bills (yes there are maintenance costs, about $500 py). Really sometimes this site’s knee jerk anti solar attitude is a bit pathetic. It is a technology that (a) works and (b) is getting cheaper. It should be part of a spectrum of solutions, ideal where grid power is not available and the sun is.

      • As they used to say in Beaver College, PA. – “Lights out at 9 PM, candles out at 11:00” They now changed the name to Arcadia University, due to the name of the all girls college…too many jokes about it…
        (that’s where most of the power at night goes – lights out, refrigerators off, electric heaters off, or air conditioners off)…I guess unless you have a great bank of charged batteries or a back-up generator.

      • People will slide into this solar net metering scam when they refinance for improvements… have their shingles replaced by ‘smart’ shingles which incorporate solar cells. Then in a devastating flurry of bank foreclosures, rent-to-own house flippees and general financial ruin, lapsed maintenance contracts, burnt capacitors, lightning strikes, shrugging electricians, roof leaks, owner angst, replaced again with… shingles. There will be
        (1) a closet full of corroding electronics,
        (2) taped off wires in the main panel that used to go to “that thing”
        (3) a silent control panel on the wall in the kids’ bedroom that becomes the instrument panel of a spaceship.
        If the presence of that silent control panel helps kids to dream of going into space again, it will all have been worth it.

    • More details man, where do you live, how often does the sun shine, do you live in a democracy or are you ruled by a dictator, how much of the load are taxpayers paying for, and do you think it might work in the squaller of an intercity ?
      Most importantly, how is the unicorn herd doing.

      • Yes here in SW Florida it only takes one hurricane to destroy your panels. Also, panels probably void any roof warranty you have left.

      • Here in SW Florida, how many hurricanes have hit directly in 59 years?
        I have something called homeowners insurance too.
        And no roof warranty.
        My roof is cement tile, 23 years old and good as new.
        BTW, two hurricanes in that time. None very strong.
        Anyway, I bought a place with seven lots so I would have space for stuff.
        No reason for me to put em on my roof.
        The negativity is breathtaking on solar
        I am taking notes on who seems in objective here. And who remains reasonable.

      • Perhaps your personal situation is OK but it is not the norm. Homeowners insurance will go up if you add the solar panels to the policy. I do not see anyone counting that expense.
        As for hurricanes, none lately but even strong tropical storm winds can damage the panels. If they are not on the roof, perhaps vandals and thieves can get at them. Lots of upside for sure in the right situation, but lots of downside that a lot of people don’t consider. Besides, SW Florida has so many deed restricted communities it only takes one ahole on the board to nix any approval of solar on roofs.

      • “Perhaps your personal situation is OK but it is not the norm. Homeowners insurance will go up if you add the solar panels to the policy. I do not see anyone counting that expense.
        As for hurricanes, none lately but even strong tropical storm winds can damage the panels. If they are not on the roof, perhaps vandals and thieves can get at them. Lots of upside for sure in the right situation, but lots of downside that a lot of people don’t consider. Besides, SW Florida has so many deed restricted communities it only takes one ahole on the board to nix any approval of solar on roofs.”
        Just as I would not leave an expensive car in my driveway with a storm approaching, I would not leave my windows uncovered, or leave anything else that could be taken care of…might we assume that some account for this is taken by regulators and homeowners ?
        Re HOA restrictions…there are some things that they are not allowed to do, and I think this is one of them. I would never live anywhere with an HOA, and a rule where any one board member has veto power for the whole community seems outlandish. I do not know why anyone would put such a rule in place…usually majority has to rule on some things, super majority on changes to bylaws, and some things cannot be restricted…local ordinance, state or federal law takes precedence.
        Of course, anytime you have something expensive added to your house, or to your property that you wish insured…your rates will go up. No one would expect differently.
        From what I have read, when certain people have averred that hail will destroy them, they are not so fragile as that. It takes a real hit to blow out windows or break glass…and these are not a isolated sheet of thin glass I do not think…anyway if it was that easy to ruin them, we would have heard about it by now.
        Protecting rooftop PV sounds like another business opportunity, and I doubt it is overlooked by installers seeking to make a profit.
        Backyard mounting seems to eliminate a lot of these problems, and would simplify the whole process…no homeowner wants to attach anything to a roof or even go up there if it can be avoided.
        My guess is that they would tend to cool an attic…energy is being diverted after all.
        Solar City is a huge corporation installing these things for no charge upfront, and instead collecting a monthly fee. If they did not have a way to protect them…there whole business would be wrecked by a storm.
        I think it is solved…just not personally aware of details.
        Of course, a storm that destroys a home will destroy any thing attached to it, unless it is just ground level flooding.

    • Greg, You make a good point about an off-grid installation making financial sense. You obviously did your homework. It seems that the elephant in the room for you was that incredible $30,000 hook-up charge. Wow! That number is mind-numbing. However, I ran your numbers for 10 years and get about $125/month average cost, which for me would be almost $100 more per month than my current electrical cost (fortunately, I am on a grid and not having to face that particular elephant.) Seems solar ROI is also about location, average current monthly electrical costs, and access to grid (or not). Your experience shows that there are many factors to take into consideration before each person decides which solution along the spectrum makes sense for them.

      • Matthew:
        Sorry, more than $25 monthly actually. I rechecked my bill and see I pay more for electricity than natural gas, which I had thought were about equal (wife pays the bills…). Total bill averages between $40 to $60/month, with electricity about 80% of total (stove, frig, and oven are all electric). Still low when comparing to solar payback. We do receive something called conservation incentive of just over $10 last bill. We have no air conditioning and have gas dryer and furnace.

      • I paid $80 back in 1982 at my first apartment when I was in college.
        I do not think I have ever paid less, since then.
        My current house is far higher, but I have a pool, and a well, and keep lights on outside all night, and a few acres that need irrigating, plus air conditioning is not optional here in Florida in Summer… Your walls will mildew if you tried to do without it. Plus I would never sleep with dew point in mid seventies at a minimum from May until Oct.
        But still…for a whole house, 40$?

      • Crickets…
        40 dollar electric bill is outside of credibility for an entire house…unless you swelter in Summer and freeze all Winter.

      • Menicholas, here in southern Vermont you don’t need A/C in summer, and you don’t need a blower for moving heat from the woodstove in the celar (heat rises all by itself).
        Yes, $40 monthly electric bills are common in these parts.

      • I live near San Jose, CA where the climate is mild and we do not need or use much heating during the year. We have also began replacing our light bulbs with LED and are conservative with our energy use. House is a 1961, 1500 sq ft, wood-frame construction single story. Of course, our meager energy bill is ‘somewhat’ offset by local housing prices (and subsequent mortgage payments). To make a 20% down payment in even these old neighborhoods now requires $200,000 or more in cash. You can guess what mortgage payments are like here. Talk about the elephant in the room!

      • @Steve Jones — Dang – $40 per month!! My MINIMUM monthly charge is more than that even if I use NO power. Guess it depends where you live. My smallest bill in the last two years was June 2014 at C$171.43 for 1154 kWh (variable rate set by Utilities Commission). The generating charge was $88.69 The rest was for transmission, administrative add ons and taxes. My winter peak usage is between 3500 kWh and 4500 kWh depending on how cold the winter is and how much wood I burn. And I have one foot thick well insulated walls. Guess when you live in a cold winter climate, you pay. Thinking of installing a propane powered boiler as electricity costs have about doubled since I installed the electric water to water heat pump and propane prices have dropped to 1/3 of what they were a couple of years ago. Sometimes wonder about running my propane standby generator more often. 🙂 Just kidding, 12 kW isn’t enough for the whole house plus fish pond aerators.

      • I’m paying about $10/month at my all electric apartment. Will be interesting to see how much it costs during the fall when I don’t have to use the AC much.
        400 sq ft, with only one outside wall. But still, the stove and water heater are electric.

      • I pay about $75 a month for gas and electric combined. Hot water and winter heating are gas stove is electric (radiant). NO AC. 4 adults + 2 TVs

      • This month’s bill: $225.
        A shockingly large percentage of that is because our utility has a giant wind farm about 70km away from the city, with all shiny brand new transmission lines and poles leading to it. They use that as a stick to beat us with.

      • I have never lived further north than Philly, and evidently heat cost way less than AC.
        Electric heat is a very inefficient process I think…compared to nat gas, or propane, or even fuel oil…in which all the heat of combustion is inside your walls, and only heat wasted is what goes up the flue.
        These days, with the fracking boom, nat gas and propane are very cheap on a dollars per BTU basis.
        One thing I have written and railed about is that there are large parts of the country with no piped in natural gas. For cooking, heating hot water, winter heating…gas is so much cheaper…i wonder why no one is proposing a modern day nat gas equivalent of the Rural Electrification Act!
        make it mandatory to have gas piped to every neighborhood, and phase out inefficient electric heat and hot water.
        That should be an infrastructure jobs project that a lot of us can get behind…no?

      • My electric bill has been between $200 and $300 per month over the past year…but I could save money of I wanted…I like to keep my spa hot, my pool well circulated, and I pump a lot of water for irrigation of my landscape…i am a plant collector and have a lot of rare trees and shrubs.
        My previous place had city water and sewer, and that was about 80 per month…which I now pay to the electric company since I have a well and a septic tank.
        Over the past several years here in SW Florida, there are areas, like Cape Coral, where almost every house used to have well and septic, but now they are going block by block and installing sewers and city water. They are charging a one time assessment of around $5000.00 per lot, after which you pay a monthly fee instead of what you used to have…free septic and well water which was cheap as electricity.
        It hits a lot of people very hard, as many homes are built on multiple lots…and these pay the same per lot fee.
        My place in other part of Lee County is on seven lots…if that ever comes here…I am screwed.
        Aint life grand?
        I know people who are of the opinion that no one really owns anything…because looks what happens if you do not pay tax…but he refuses to acknowledge the social contract we all live under.
        Anyways, like they say…if you think no one cares about you…try skipping a few payments.

    • I have a solar fence charger and am very happy with it. Except, of course when I come in contact with the fence and it induces Tourette syndrome behaviour…

      • Electric fences don’t use much power. High voltage, but next to no current, unless someone is interested in inducing Tourette syndrome behavior.

    • Greg,
      My response is hardly “knee-jerk”. It is informed and has its foundation in actual cost. My heating costs are $3500 per year (oil) and my electrical costs are $2500 per year. I would love to make those costs lower. I am not a greenie but if I could get “free” energy I would do so.
      The trouble is I simply can’t and I have a 1.5 pitch roof facing south. Every couple of years I get quotes from the local passive solar panel company and the NEVER beat oil. Photo-voltaics are worse.
      If I burned wood, I could lower heating costs but wood is getting expensive too.
      Now, I would edit your comment to reflect most people:
      If solar is a technology that is both where the energy consumers are and where the sun is, then it may be useful and practical. Then, if the technology functions, is competitive with oil/nat gas/coal, then it should be considered in the spectrum of solutions.
      Since solar energy is nearly mutually exclusive to dense populations, and 95% of people don’t live where solar power is most efficient (deserts), and solar only kind of works and and is more expensive that oil/coal/nat gas, then it should be absolutely excluded as a solution and the government should not be creating a false economy by offering tax credits for its use, so a parasitic few can leach off the many.

      • >> should be absolutely excluded as a solution
        I’m offended by this totalitarian attitude.
        >> government should not be creating a false economy
        I’m more against government interference in the economy than anyone, but I’m also amazed by the selective outrage and hypocrisy displayed by this comment.
        I love nuclear fission from a scientific point of view, and from a consumer POV. However, it’s the purest example of a government created false economy.
        >> so a parasitic few can leach off the many
        this comment is fubar. It’s been explained to you that Doug is only getting his OWN money back, which the totalitarian-like state has absolutely NO F’ing right to have.

      • Huge numbers of people live in Florida, Texas, California, New Mexico, and Arizona. Many more live In Georgia to Louisiana.
        I think one big issue may be contractors who are charging way too much for installation.

      • menicholas,
        In a free market, they have the right to charge as much as the market will bear. If you’re correct, then they are subject to being undercut by a lower cost competitor.

      • Very true, and I do not disagree that they can charge what they want.
        In some markets, there is not enough competition to induce competitive pricing.
        Swimming pool service used to be like that, or so I hear. People could do very well servicing pools, but then a lot of people found out how easy it is, and the price went way down…from what i have heard it costs less now than in the 90’s, not even taking account of inflation.
        Many places, like here in Florida, are not open markets when it comes to trades like electricians…you need to be sponsored by an existing electrician to get a license.
        They charge ten times what my company bills my time at…and we charge about what an auto mechanic does per hour.
        In fact, I have strongly considered a career change back to being in business for myself…but I am getting close to my goal of retiring and building another tree farm/plant nursery…so I am kind of torn. I also want to go back and get another degree or two.
        I think I would enjoy being an epidemiologist.

    • ” It should be part of a spectrum of solutions, ideal where grid power is not available and the sun is.”
      Yeah, DUH !!!
      But the green scammers are trying to convince the exceptionally dim that it should replace all realistic forms of electrical production based on the lies that it is cheaper (only when factoring in taxpayer funded subsidies and the LIE that we need to reduce carbon.)

      • Matthew this is true, but it does not justify the level of one sided bias against solar on this thread. The majority here won’t get solar even when it’s far cheaper then buying off the grid, because they are just dead set against it, no matter what.

      • menicholas
        Unsubstidized solar is never cheaper than power off the grid. And subsidies come to an end when governments, even socialist governments, figure out that they cannot afford to keep them up. Look to Europe for examples, I believe Spain is one.

      • The price may not be done falling.
        I recall about eight years ago buying a flat screen TV, and thought about $1000 for a 36″ 720P set was a steal.
        Then i thought it was amazing that I could buy a 65″, 1020i resolution set with internet apps and wireless internet, for about $1600.
        Now, you can get an 80″ LED backlit 4K resolution set for about $1500 at Sam’s Club.
        I would not be shocked if solar winds a fraction of the current $1 per watt retail price. At 10 cents a watt, what would you say then?
        How about when we can spray paint PV onto surfaces out of a can? (OK, that may take a while)
        I am an optimist.
        Not my job to make everyone else one…but I highly recommend it.

      • Hey look, I am not beating any drum for subsidies (I disagree with them), or for any one source or method.
        I am just advocating being very open and honest with ourselves and everyone about true costs, increases in affordability and efficiency, and not sugarcoating or unreasonably bad mouthing anything based on ideology or preconceived notions.
        Anything wrong with that?

    • I agree–I have two solar homes–one on grid and one off–I would never go on grid again becasue of the “fees” you are charged for making your own electricity and when power goes down you can’t get your own electricity. The off grid system was half the cost of what they say.The solar companies are mostly scams becasue they up the price of installation and parts about the amount of the rebates. So if you see how much it cost with rebates–that is what a resonable price would be if the solar companies were not scamming you. And yes, it does indeed cost $30,000 to hook to the grid in some places. My home was only 3/10s of a mile from the transformer and Rocky Mountain Power was going to charge me that 8 years ago for the pleasure of paying them every month. My complete system (with a back Onan generator) cost $17,000 and Rocky Mountain Power doesn’t get that pleasure– so yes it cost that much to hook is. Solar is a viable alternative.

    • This is a silly comment. Nobody suggested that solar PV could not be cost effective for situations where there is no grid connection. The post was about grid connected solar which is usually reliant on heavy subsidies.
      Here in the UK we are paying solar farms 10x the market rate for their electricity.
      There are several solar farms in my area receiving this subsidy. 43pence/kWh when the market rate is less than 5 pence/kWh
      Add to this outrage, the additional infrastructure costs and the 2010 solar boom looks like a bonanza for those who cashed in, and a disaster for the ordinary working poor who will be expected to pay through higher bills.
      They might be theoretically cheap.
      But, I prefer to check with the reality of what has happened in countries where they have been installed in large numbers. And what has happened, is costs have risen, for the ordinary Joe.
      P.S. connecting my house to the grid would cost about £80,000 , so I suppose that I could offset that figure against pretty much any technology and claim a massive saving.

    • About the only place where solar makes sense is places that aren’t connected to the grid and hook up charges are high.
      Now for the other 99.9999% of people living in the developed world …

    • Greg, is it possible to have a work-shop with normal power tools, using solar/batteries? I’ve never lived off the grid, and I’m just curious if there are trade-offs in terms of type of equipment you use, and how you balance that out.

      • I know someone who set about creating exactly this kind of set up. He needed reliable power for a workshop and lighting. He installed a wind turbine and solar panels. And also has a diesel generator as back up.
        He first started spending money on this ambition several years ago.
        Last time I spoke to him, he complained to me that the wind turbine was out of action, again. And the words that he used were, “it has all cost a small fortune”. Much of his expense has gone on batteries and problems with charging regulator.
        AND – he has actually managed to keep some costs down by breaking almost every regulation that currently exists.
        For example, he did not even apply for planning permission for his turbine. And so, he has avoided having to pay for a “bat survey”, in which local experts analyze the potential impact of the turbine on bats…etc.
        Games for rich people, in my view. Or people who romanticize about living in a hut with one LED lightbulb.

  6. That D-cell battery brings to mind a book (gadget) that my uncle had in the 50’s. It was a device that looked like a book and had only a D-cell battery inside (maybe 2). When you opened it it gave you an electric shock!!!
    When I saw the lead photo, I thought they were going to recommend a d-cell battery contraption to charge up your phones and laptops, etc…

    • When I was in grade school, the custodian had a big mogul-base light bulb he had put a flashlight bub and battery inside with a contact soldered to the tip of the base. when he rested it on our heads it would light up and he would declare how bright our minds were.
      He’d probably get in trouble for that nowadays.

    • Take a used up trigger type butane fire place starter, remove the quartz electric spark mechanism, use the wires for contact and snap the device trigger……

  7. Solar or wind will NEVER be cheaper (until good storage solutions can be found) because they also require a full time plant (coal, natural gas, nuke, hydro, whatever) to be installed to cover 100% of the expected max capacity for those times when the sun doesn’t shine or the wind doesn’t blow.
    I live in SE AZ–perfect spot for solar. AZ requires power suppliers to have 15% of their power from “renewables” by a not too far away date (Can’t remember). Our local electric supplier, a non-profit co-op, pushed solar to customers. So cheap, what with the government rebates and such. Now, the electric company is requesting a sharp increase in rates to cover the costs associated with maintaining the grid. The rate increase will be from the current minimum of $20-ish to over $70-ish PER CUSTOMER per month. Turns out they, and all other AZ utilities, protested the scheme because they knew it wouldn’t cover their costs. The regulator (AZ Corporation Commission) “encouraged” them to come back later and apply for a rate increase rather than charging a fee to those who wanted to hook up with solar.
    Needless to say, those who installed solar because it was so “cheap” and because it was “green” are, shall we say, annoyed. The letters to the editor of our local paper reflect their anger.
    The local utility is Sulpher Springs Valley Electric Cooperative in Cochise County, AZ.

    • same boat here….i live in southern nevada. clear skies & high sun makes solar actually pay off. yes, the tax breaks and net metering help a lot, but it would be ok even without (or at least in the last couple years since the glut of cheap chinese panels). about $20k for a 5kW installation, runs without a hitch. no battery here since we’re on the grid and they have net metering, but if they cutoff net metering or go to time-of-use charging (which they should do, actually), then i’ll throw another $10k in for a battery storage.

    • Willy,
      We installed a small solar setup (Sunpower, c. 2KW) in our home in Azusa CA, a little over 3 years ago. So far, it has produced about 250 kwh more than we have used. Since it seemed to be paying off, I sprung for an installation on my mother’s roof in Sierra Vista, AZ (also with Sulpher Springs). The price of the panels had dropped so much that the Sierra Vista contractor bid at about half the KW capacity rate that we paid in California just months earlier.
      I notice that some very big AZ utilities are building utility scale solar installations. In my NSHO the utilities are trying to kill residential generation by demanding far more for distribution costs than is justified. And you all have been paying for years for some of these incentives through monthly charges on your electric bill. Yeah, the system is scamming ratepayers who lack the resources to take advantage of solar. If government insists on continuing to ‘prime the pump’ it should do so on public buildings where all taxpayers benefit.
      But solar itself is presently economically competitive and will probably become more so. Hopefully the day will come when battery technology will enable regular homeowners to totally disconnect from the grid.

      • Many of the people writing here have evidently not checked to find out how much panels cost today, not five or ten years ago.
        It also sounds like some installers, who no doubt pay less that retail price for panels, are charging triple to quadruple what the parts cost… for the installation fee.

      • The law requires the companies to have a set percentage of their power from renewables. That is why they are building those plants, not because they make economic sense.
        BTW, if solar is economically competitive as you believe, then there is no need for the subsidies that cover 1/2 to 3/4ths of their costs, depending on where you live?

      • Mark, I do not know whether is economically competitive or not I’m still trying to figure it out I’m just pointing out that a lot of people here are using faulty numbers, faulty logic, and making incorrect statements

      • MarkW, the government does not subsidize putting glass windows on the south side of buildings. The solar heat gain from these windows has worked well ever since the invention of glass. Works well here in the cold of winter.

      • Solar heat, especially passive heat has always made sense.
        However electric and heat are two completely separate issues that have no bearing on each other.

  8. Of course , as Hayek would emphasize , it’s the loss of information due to political market coercion that makes it difficult if not impossible for any of us to make rational economic choices . It effectively dumbs down the population .
    The system in the picture looks like a water heating system which I believe is more rational in more places than far chicer and more heavily lobbied photovoltaics .

  9. Amazing coincidence, my daughter just showed up this afternoon and asked my opinion whether she and her husband should buy a solar system for their house. I think I poured enough cold water on the idea that she will give it up. I brought up the facts that despite what a lot of people think we have a lot of cloudy days her in North Florida. Also that the loan was for 30 years but what made her think that the solar installation would also last that long? If not the panels then the converter and battery system certainly would not survive for even 15 years.

    • Most solar PV installations these days do not use batteries, they utilize a grid-tie inverter. Inverters generally will last indefinitely, because the only moving part is the cooling fan, and the electronics in them don’t wear out.
      Lastly most panel manufacturers provide 20 or 25 year power warranties, so all told, the system would easily last 20 years, if not more.

      • The supply of the typical desktop computer doesn’t have any “moving parts”, yet they often fail.

        • I’m a RVer and RV’s have converters and inverters and I can assure you that they don’t last forever. It’s a fairly frequent question seen on RV forums: How do I replace my converter/inverter. And most RVers only use their RV for a month or two a year so the system is not running 24/365. ]
          Does your computer monitor last forever, mine don’t. They have no moving parts at all. Not even a fan. And for that matter how long does a notebook computer last?

      • My point is simple, you said of the supply…… “yet they often fail.”

        Yes the cheap stuff often fails. If you want quality, purchase the supplies of higher quality, and don’t pinch pennies.

      • agesilaus, as with any piece of electronics, running them 24×7 is key to longevity. Thermally cycling the active components in any device is what shortens their life.

        • That is a perennial discussion when applied to computers and has never been decisively answered on either side. Of course computers have HDD and they suffer the most stress when powering up, but most newer systems power down idle drives whether or not you shut the computer off. And of course monitors have zero moving part and they certainly wear out. I’d guess from personal experience that 5 years is a good run for a monitor of the modern panel types. Capacitors and other components are known to suffer damage over the long term by a number of different mechanisms just by being kept powered up. Look up wire whiskers: Form Wiki whiskering article
          Metal whiskering is a crystalline metallurgical phenomenon involving the spontaneous growth of tiny, filiform hairs from a metallic surface. The effect is primarily seen on elemental metals but also occurs with alloys.
          The mechanism behind metal whisker growth is not well understood, but seems to be encouraged by compressive mechanical stresses including:
          residual stresses caused by electroplating,
          mechanically-induced stresses,
          stresses induced by diffusion of different metals,
          thermally-induced stresses, and
          strain gradients in materials.[3]
          And there are other failure modes.

      • Errr….”And of course monitors have zero moving part and they certainly wear out.” Be careful when you say that, as that statement does not apply to CRT monitors. Most folks have discarded CRTs for “newer” (i.e. LCD/plasma) monitors, not because they failed. Nobody really knows how long the CRTs would last, Biggest failure point for “modern panel” type monitors is the back light system.

        • That’s why I specified the monitor type, I think have an old NEC CRT under the stairs that probably still works. But I’ll stick with my triple 24″ panels.

      • i design electronics — you choose a lot of tradeoffs at design time, trading margins of lifetime, temperature, overvoltage tolerance, etc against cost. computer power supplies are cheap commodity items, expected to be thrown out in a few years. solar power inverters sit at elevated temperatures in less accessible installation, and are designed for longer life. most of the better ones on the market (especially the microinverters) do very well indeed.

      • Thank you Jeff.
        You are spot on about the “quality” (i.e. cost) aspect of power electronics. I don’t have any experience with the micro-inverters you mentioned because I have a single large unit that is mounted in the cool environment of my cellar.

      • I have been running my house off an inverter and batteries for over a decade.
        It is an ex-server APC unit. And cost me 99p on eBay.
        I bought a spare, just in case it ever failed.
        But the spare is still in storage.
        The original unit is still providing the power that is running the computer on which I type this message.

      • I have a solar array on my roof, and one of the mictoinverters failed after only 2 years. The installer says I can expect more failures every few years. DO NOT BUY MICROINVERTERS!

      • Steve Jones: Power supplies have hard disks in them? Who knew.
        I had to replace my last computer when the power supply died, it was less than 5 years old.
        Those warranties are always pro-rated, so that if the supply dies in the last few years, you get next to nothing in payment, assuming you can find the original receipt and are the original owner. Fail either of those, and you get nothing.
        You sure are a trusting soul.

      • I don’t know about reliability of grid-tie inverters, but electronics certainly do wear out and fail over time. It all depends on how they designed. Maybe good one lasts 30 years, but I wouldn’t count on it.
        I don’t think that comparison with old CRT electronics is fair – people were seriously overdesigning things then. Given today’s razor-thin profit margins and competitive pressure from China, contemporary designs are unlikely to last as long.
        And last thing – well designed mechanical systems with moving parts will last for very long time. Clocks and watches would be one example of such mechanical systems, something that is reliably working for hundreds of years 24/7

      • All of my flat screen monitors are still working…I have a closet full of stuff that still works but I replaced because I just wanted newer, bigger, brighter screens. The ones I am using now are like 22″ and are seven years old…my stuff never breaks.
        I attributed this to not having kids around, and being careful when moving stuff.
        Plus, have plenty of surge protection.
        Redundant surge protection.

    • She might want to look into solar hot water rather than solar PV. It’s relatively uncomplicated, and might work OK at your latitude. My parents installed solar hot water in a fairly cloudy location in Southern California that had fairly expensive electricity and no access to natural gas. It worked OK with essentially no maintenance. Not sure how much money they saved, but they had plenty of hot water and no aggravation.

      • Heh, another coincidence. I have a book sitting in my book case on solar hot-water heaters. I had just recalled that I had it a few minutes ago had decided to call her and suggest a home built unit. You can run black plastic tube back and forth on a roof and with some simple plumbing and maybe a small pump come up with a recirculating hot water system that will cut your power bills substantially.

      • She might want to look into solar hot water rather than solar PV.

        Well it’s really funny that you should suggest that but this is exactly what the add that is the subject of this post is offering, but virtually no one here has noticed in their haste to start the usual anti-PV knee-jerk ranting.
        So congrats Don. Good idea. Thermal solar if very efficient. My home made system converts 70% of the incident radiation into stored heat ( ie measured IN the water tank ).
        I invested about 100 euro-bucks in copper at the scrap yard and bought a new DC hot water pump for 120eb. That being most likely reliability weakness. All the rest was made from recovered materials. Now in service for > 6years.
        Never mind all the 1960’s black pipe tricks, The most efficient absorber is a recovered heat exchanger from a used AC unit. ( Chose one with large bore pipes and fairly well spaced fins. )
        Annealed copper pipe can be rolled around a large bottle or PVC pipe to make a good heat exchanger to go into the water tank.
        that site is in French but select ‘images’ on the menu and you get lots of details on construction of the panel and tank conversion.
        There’s a schematic for a simple $10 pump control circuit too.
        BTW it is possible to run without anti-freeze but requires careful design. The panel must cool and freeze in a uniform way, ie without freezing at the extremities whilst still liquid in between. I have built two systems that run on tap water and have survived winters with nights that occasionally drop to -15degC. ( -18 F ) . Use silver solder , not lead-based.

      • BFL: I’d recommend draining a solar water heater once the temperatures start falling. The amount of energy you gain from them drops rapidly as the winter months approach anyway. First less sun, even when it’s up, then the cooler temperatures will increase radiation losses, and finally, once it starts snowing, they become useless anyway.
        Anti-freeze in the lines will require you to maintain a dual loop system that uses a heat exchanger to transfer the heat from the outside lines to the water heater lines. That will dramatically increase the cost of the system, not to mention requiring a second pump.

      • Yes , thermal solar can be useful . In fact materials have be constructed with amazingly high solar heat gain — ratio of absorptivity over the solar spectrum to emissivity over the IR . TiNOX , http://www.almecogroup.com/en/pagina/53-tinox-energy-cu , has a ratio of about 2.21 , capable of boiling water in direct sun .
        The proof that Venus’s extreme temperature cannot be due to a spectral “greenhouse effect” is that it would require a solar gain of about 2.25 while having a reflectivity in the solar spectrum of about 0.9 versus TiNOX’s 0.05 .

  10. Year ago, I got hooked on the idea of being my own utility, i.e. supply ALL of my home energy needs from the solar source. I designed a quite elaborate multi-technology solar powered house.
    The design included PV electricity for lighting and a combination of solar thermal collection systems that could maintain a Silicon Valley CA. home comfortable for about 10 days of cloud cover. (no sun)
    So I had solar hot water, home heating; even cooking, with a variety of concentration ratio technologies.
    Of course it was all 100% off the grid, and conformed to MY home construction design as well. Yes it was fully earthquake tolerant, except for the big one.
    And I used to relish the thought of getting out my chain saw, and whacking PG&E’s gas line and electric cable to my house, and telling them to come and plug those.
    Well of course, all the cockroaches have surrounded themselves with their laws to prevent you from doing your own thing. Can’t have a thermally efficient house that doesn’t contain a gas heater or two phase 240 volt AC mains.
    My point is, that in good locations, you can design a completely solar powered house with at least a week tolerance of no sun.
    But the regulators won’t let you do that.
    So that’s why a good percentage of the vendors in the field are basically ignorant, or charlatans, or both.
    But also there are some competent folks doing a relatively good job in their over-regulated business.

    • C’mon George. If you didn’t want to have those utilities in the “ON’ mode, nobody would bother you. There aren’t any laws which force you to pay a bill for utilities you don’t use. Perhaps they require meters for gas and electricity, but you can leave them off.

      • There are laws that dictate what your house has to have to be able to legally sell it to somebody else, if you wanted to.
        My ‘ other ‘ house has a perfectly good self contained cottage in the garage. Can’t legally rent it, because it doesn’t meet ‘ code ‘ whatever that is for rental units. So I can’t count it as a part of the value of my property (as having a rental unit). My renter, who currently rents the main house, would like to use that cottage. I can’t legally allow her to do that and charge her for the extra space.

      • Hi George,
        You say, “There are laws that dictate what your house has to have to be able to legally sell it to somebody else, if you wanted to.”
        There may be new laws since I took down my real estate broker’s shingle, but I think you can sell your house in any condition. The buyer just has to accept it as is.
        As for your renter, I would never suggest anything illegal, immoral or fattening. But there are probably folks who could tell you how to arrange things so a renter can legally make use of the cottage. ☺

    • The same thing happened here in the UK.
      When solar was turned into a subsidy based scam, they also brought out a specific law that prevented non-accredited individuals from wiring up solar panels. It is called Part P.
      Prior to that, I could have legally installed panels on my own home.

    • Why not just use your air conditioning compressor to heat your water and lower your A/C costs as well, as the fan does not need to run. Simple and no moving parts.

      • When I lived near Atlanta, the power company ran a special one year in which they would install one of those for free. I was supposed to get a new extra large water heater as part of the deal, but they were out of those when my turn came for installation, so all I got was the heat exchanger.
        The temperature out of that thing was way higher than I usually kept the water heater.

  11. I thought that batter connected to 14 AWG wire was a hand warmer. Why would that have anything at all to do with solar?

  12. It’s hard to tell from that picture, but it appears the “wires” from the roof go into a dual source indirect water heater. Suggesting that solar thermal is supplementing the boiler, and not generating electricity?

    • Yes, it’s a schema of a solar thermal system as simple-touriste mentioned above. These web guys just grabbed some eye stopper they could get for free. Like Anthony said, targeting low information consumers. If it didn’t work, these marketing prospectors wouldn’t be in business.

  13. It’s what I thought it was. The Finance Standard is one of those web outfits that market HARP and other governmental programs. They get paid for prospecting. The nationalsolar.com URL in the ad just redirects:

    Home Solar Rebates connects homeowners to qualified solar contractors in their area. Our screening process ensures that consumers get only the highest quality contractors for their solar jobs. If you need a contractor for solar projects, we can connect you to the best.

    By the way, the ad understates the savings. One of the linked pages suggests solar PV can reduce your electrical bill by up to 80%, increase the value of your home, protect against inflation & rising energy costs, make you smarter and taller, heal furuncles, etc.

      • No, you are not SOL. Most homeowner’s insurance covers damage from hail. Unless of course you don’t have insurance.

      • On insurance, you forgot about the deregulated industry these days which means your rates are probably going up and you will pay for the damage on the time plan.

  14. Too bad about the Sierra Club. At one time it advocated for the environment and most especially wilderness, at least locally in the club chapter I was affiliated.

  15. We have several islands that are off the grid….they all use some combination of solar and diesel

  16. Solar panels, my Aunt Fanny. We just had almost a week of rain, rain, and more rain, and almost NO sun, here in central Virginia. I can’t imagine how useless solar panels would be further north and up in the mountains, since they’re pretty much useless even here.
    Sure, they’re useful for remote locations with no other power, and in mostly sunny areas such as Phoenix (except for summer A/C, I’ll bet), and I’ve had a solar powered calculator for years, but what about the real world of refrigeration, heating, cooking, etc.?
    I’ll take good old fashioned ELECTRICITY, preferably from a coal-fired power plant. F*ck the EPA.

  17. Got the ad in the mail today. I wondered what they were about. Even offered a free meal to listed to the sales pitch. We have a triple-wide mobile home. Can’t put solar on the roof. Guess there is no reason to go.

    • Solar PV is cheap enough now to mount flat on the roof. leave about 3-4″ air gap and it will help keep the place cool in summer. Get youself a set of ex-service fork-lift battery cells ( they are usually replaced since they can no longer lift 400kg but they will give years of service as battery storage ). You can pick them up for scrap metal prices.
      1 m^2 of thermal with integrated tank would probably be a good choice for hot water.
      I doubt the promo is worth anything and probably does not apply to your situation anyway.

  18. @Steve Jones – balderdash. Ask any MacBook “expert” at the Apple store. Average life about 3 years. I have had three Macs in the last 8 years, no moving parts but also no fan like my 10 year old PC’s. Used to leave them on all the time but apparently Apple products don’t like that – so no – electronics don’t last indefinitely. (And no, it is not the disks that fail.) Just got my last Mac back from the repair shop. Video circuit failure. I could give you a long list of reasons why, but clearly you wouldn’t believe them anyway. I used to subscribe to the same theory based on 20 year old IT recommendations, and for some products and well conditioned power supplies, it may still be true. But most residential power supplies are not well conditioned – and yes, my computers are almost always protected – they still fail – so I do daily backups. Can you say “low voltage”?

    • Wayne, when you buy junk, you should expect it to fail. Don’t for a minute think that the high price you paid for the Mac or other consumer-grade computers means you bought something of quality. For example, rarely does a Sun Microsystems machine (now Oracle) fail, nor do IBM unix servers fail, even when run in a common office environment with low quality power. The problem most people have with their computers is that seek out the least expensive gear, and they are getting what they pay for.

      • Do most people keep their systems at 55 degrees or colder like server farms and do most system have elaborately filtered poser with refrigerator sized UPS?

      • Having worked for IBM in testing computers (8100’s and 3745’s) as well as operating and programming them (VM/MVS), I can assure you that even in air controlled machine rooms (Constant 55c temp/45% humidity) they do still fail. Disks usually, but power supplies too. So no matter how much stuff costs, it will fail, eventually. And don’t be fooled by the MTBF figures.

    • “So no matter how much stuff costs, it will fail, ”

      I guess all the extra money you pay for ECC memory, and RAID5 disk arrays, and software redundancy keeps the systems running. Heck, spend the money and do clustering, so you can smoke an entire CPU yet continue to run. Hot standby protocols etc, etc, etc…

      • In my time working with computers (From 1983), I’ve seen ECC memory fail. I’ve seen RAID 1, 5 and 10 enclosures fail. I’ve seen CPU clusters fail. I’ve seen multiple redundant systems fail. Yes, you can mitigate against potential failure, and most of the time they work, but sometimes they don’t. And I’ve seen some of the simplest unplanned events cause significant damage and outages. And it gets worse with virtualised server farms.

      • And if you are interested how the unexpected can happen with computer systems, not hardware failures, have a read here;
        I spent 6 days working, non-stop, 24hrs every day recovering from this event. And then I spent 3 months working 70hr weeks rebuilding the network after that. And It was all due to human error, actually a workmate. But it was not a “patch” as described. It was SCCM and OSD and an untested SQL “script” that triggered the whole thing. You may even be able to recognise my two posts.
        So you see, hardware failures don’t always have a massive impact. This “patch” (Sorry, I have to laugh every time I hear that. And every job interview I have been on since then, I get asked the same question) rebuilt ~5000 PC’s and about ~1100 applications servers including SCCM servers deploying the OSD package.
        Ah, how I howl and hoot about it now!

  19. Actually, I heard that if you hook one of those up to your home, and then wire your electricity around the electric meter outside, you save 100% on your electric bill!
    Until they catch you, of course. Then I think you have to spend some time in jail. But, they pay for the electricity in jail, so you’re still saving money. It’s win/win!

  20. Leasing a solar system will save you a little money but lock you into the lease for a long time while all your neighbors are installing the latest higher efficiency systems.
    Current wholesale cost of panels is about $0.75/watt. Elon Musk thinks he can get it down to $0.55. 1kw average is 24kwh. Here in California you’d need a 4kw system, so $3k for the panels. Add $1k for hardware, cables, etc., maybe $1k for the inverter, and $1k for installation, total: $6k. Add a little more if you have a Solar Contractor install it for you. Install all LED lighting and high efficiency appliances and such and you’ll probably only need a 2kw system.

    • Higher efficiency remains a dream after 20 years of trying. The lease I was offered would have cost me money at this point, since the amount you paid increased by 3 percent a year. In ten years that would be 30 percent. The first year would have saved me $26. The next year would have cost me more than the electric bill. Extreme heat and cold will drop the efficiency and even with state and federal subsidies a financed 7.5K system would not have paid for itself in ten years. I don’t think the system would be operating at the same efficiency in ten years. I went for new gas-filled windows, led bulbs, and high efficiency appliances, instead.

    • Notice in your picture the windows? Solar works very well as long as the windows are on the south side of the building. When the sun shines thru the windows, you get heat.

      • If that is typical weather for that region, the building was badly designed. Far too little roof slope.
        It may of course be exceptional weather in which case the comment is irrelevant.

      • I find it fascinating the way so many people try to bring up solar heat when we are discussing solar electricity.
        It’s as if they don’t understand that there is an actual difference between the two technologies.

      • I’ve measured 109 degrees (f) on my tan carpet at solar noon in Chicago in mid-winter , southern exposure of course.
        The furnace hardly runs on those clear yet frigid afternoons.
        Night-time is another story, so you close the blinds to hold in the heat.

      • And be sure to be careful when cleaning all of those off of the panels, even a little bit of scratching will reduce your efficiency dramatically.

    • We got this thing called a sunbelt on the hot side of the planet. It is also the fat meaty portion of the Earths land surface, so there is still a little room when you get sick of freezing your nuts off.
      If you can get used to shoveling snow from your roof, you should be able to adapt to coming home from work and diving in your 90 F pool in January with a bit of effort.

      • Most people do not realize it, but Florida is BIG.
        Times Square to FL state line 912 miles.
        Key West to Pensacola, 830 miles.

      • Florida is terribly hot half of the year and we have bugs like you wouldn’t believe. Snakes, spiders and poisonous fish. Don’t move down here…..

      • Hey I’m trying to discourage the snowbirds from moving down here, we have too many people here already and when they move from the socialist states they bring their voting practices with them. They’ve taken over Dade and Broward county already

  21. I believe I can explain it all with this 2014 article I found
    Scientists in the U.S. discovered a virus that actually makes people more stupid.
    It’s called ATCV-1 and was initially only known to appear in algae, but now researchers believe the virus may be transferred to humans through DNA.
    James Van Etten, William Allington Distinguished Professor of Plant Pathology and a co-director of the Nebraska Center for Virology, says the green algae is ‘very common among inland bodies of fresh water such as lakes and ponds.’
    This is the first documented instance of the DNA of algae traveling to another biological kingdom.
    Scientists conducted a study with 92 participants. Forty tested positive for the virus and they did worse on cognitive and intelligence tests giving a 97% consensus that the disease is real. DNA from the algae could be found in throat swabs from healthy humans.
    When tested on mice, the contagion broke through the barrier between blood and tissue, altering the activity of genes in their brains.
    One of the genes affected the most were those that produce dopamine, which influences memory, spatial awareness, emotion and pleasure. Also effected were heavily Democratic and Green voting patterns.
    Nuff said

  22. Steve…
    You mean like a greenhouse effect? Open your windows in winter but leave the doors and windows closed so the co2 accumulates and adds to the heat…Sort of, like…A greenhouse? Save on heating bills and stuff? Why don’t more people know about this? It would save on a lot of heating bills.

  23. I’m sure a lot of environmentalists would love this new way for heating their homes in winter. Economical and ecological. The sunlight enters the closed windows, transforming the co2 into micro molecular heating units, radiating heat around inside the house and we don’t need to worry about coal or nat gas heating. If you have a bathtub, fill it and the extra heat can be stored in the water and used at night? Maybe?
    I wonder how long the infrared absorbed and emitted and reemitted would last? It should just bounce around from one co2 to another unlimited, right? Until we opened the doors and windows and let it out. Right?

    • Dahlquist, about that bathtub and storing heat: The extra heat would get stored there, but only at the very bottom of the tub.

    • And how many realised that this was about thermal solar water heaters and NOT about PV ??
      I think I got to three. ..

  24. Anthony, there is a thousand fold more of that perpetual motion slight-of-hand stuff on YouTube. It is counterproductive to call attention to it.

  25. In some locations the electricity rates change during the day. If the price tends to peak when the sun is out and it gets very hot, an individual whose house has been equipped with those solar tracking panels, and keeps the panels clean and dust free, can make money by shutting off his/her AC and using a fan to get by. This allows him/her to sell electricity at the PEAK feed in tariff. My analysis shows this can return 7 % on the investment.

  26. I often tease Warmists by asking them this question.
    If CO2 at a concentration of 1/25th part of one percent in the atmosphere is capable of trapping enough heat to cause CAGW….why don’t we simply fill tubes full of pure CO2 (which is cheap and plentiful) and use these in a solar type array to trap massive amounts of heat which could then be used to drive turbines etc….?

    • (because vacuume is a better insulator and the glass-reflection of infrared doesn’t need CO2 in the first place)
      Randomly couldn’t sleep, just wanted to see if anybody else knew the answer.

    • I’ve made similar comments when people claim it’s pressure which is the “cause” of the greater heat lower in an atmosphere . I suggest filling up scuba tanks and then getting perpetual heat from them .
      But that is closer to the mark . I just failed to consider it is the cause of the increasing pressure , gravity , which is the “source” of the increasing temperature and makes the gradient stable .

  27. You’d save more money putting that weak magnet up against the power meter to make it missread as long as you got it out of the way at inspection time.

    • You need the patented ‘MBP invisible magnet’ we sell them on our website, we also deliver immediately them through teleport.

    • “You’d save more money putting that weak magnet up against the power meter to make it missread as long as you got it out of the way at inspection time.”
      How do you know it will not misread on the high side?

  28. Meanwhile in the UK the solar companies are up in arms against the government scrapping the subsidies … ‘how are we supposed to make a profit?’
    Answer: Run a proper business, not one that depends on getting subsidies in order to stay afloat, imagine if every business relied on subsidies ……. … /whinge

      • Just make sure you get the right sort of nails.
        If they are for a floor, do not get the ceiling nails…the have the point on the wrong end.

  29. The latest innovation from electric utilities and their purchase of excess home- grown power from solar, wind or whatever, is a “surcharge” added to the monthly bills of owners of solar/renewable installations, claiming that the net- metered installs don’t pay their fair share for grid maintenance.

    • “The latest innovation from electric utilities and their purchase of excess home- grown power from solar, wind or whatever, is a “surcharge” added to the monthly bills of owners of solar/renewable installations, claiming that the net- metered installs don’t pay their fair share for grid maintenance.”
      It is more than a claim…it is the truth.

  30. I see that some people here are proud of the fact that they took government incentives and made the rest of us pay for it. I submit to you that good never comes from evil. Karma will get you in the end.
    The government is a gang of thieves writ large. The human race if far worse off because of governments than if we followed the near anarchy of Ireland that lasted for at least 1,000 years and maybe 10 times that length.

  31. Solar energy subsidies are on their way out because they are unsustainable in the long run.

  32. I worked on a contract regarding solar power and I can tell you this industry would not exist without the subsidies, justified by global warming.To cynically say “I will take the money from the poor suckers” is to commit a fraud and further impoverishes the poor. Oh, but you don’t give an eff, do you Doug?
    I await the pitchforks or a large hailstorm.

    • A previous employer was developing equipment to automatically turn off solar panels when a short was detected. Apparently they have been having trouble with buildings burning down because of shorts in the high voltage wiring.

    • Here in the US, half the population pay no taxes on income at all…in fact they get “tax credits” just for breathing.
      Poor are not paying a nickel here.
      Which is wrong IMO…everyone needs to have some skin in the game.

  33. The picture shown is a solar water heater. Those can be effective if you live far enough south.
    They will only save you electricity if your water heater is electric.

    • CORRECT!
      A neighbor who had a Gas furnace and gas hot water heater installed a Solar W Heater back in the 80’s. A few years later at a community barbecue, (and a few beers) I learned that during the summer his gas bill was only 1 to 2 dollars less than before he bought the system. He seems to have learned about the minimum payment on gas. My HW is gas and with only two of us in the house it is never above the minimum in the summer. So in essence I get FREE HW.

      • Around here they have a fixed charge that everyone pays, about $6/month, and you pay for all the electricity that you use. You would probably pay less under such a system, as it is, when your usage is below minimum, you are subsidizing someone else.

  34. Unfortunately, the joke is on the American people since the joke marketers are operators of the puppet strings for this puppet Prez and the puppet agencies channeling hundreds of billions into marketing scam policy. And the meek excuses and deflections given on the back end with the exposed failures also matches marketer reactions. It’s easy to look the other way as though this money does not concern you, but then you and your community are also bombarded by the reality of failing schools, poverty, failing road systems, failed regulatory agencies, and failed trust in areas that have not even been exposed yet.

  35. If you want to see how some unsubsidised folks keep the energy flowing check out otherpower.com and notice how they use a variety of systems (wind, wood burning and solar). They are “miles from the nearest power line and ain’t moving to town” so they have to be creative. That they are. The way they keep their capital costs down is to build the stuff as much as possible from scratch. Turbine blades and generators are made so the installed cost is 1/10th purchasing commercially.

    • I ask again…what happened to the Rural Electrification Act?
      I thought the power utilities were obligated under their PUC commission to put electric every where there is a where?

  36. It is obvious why all of the people Pushing the Solar Scam are rich and those buying it are poor.
    Do some simple investment analysis.
    The Musk Solar City/Powerwall propaganda is based upon 1200 sqft and is over $30,000 for that home. For 2400 sqft they want $50,000 (plus installation). If that cost is added when you build a house as an “option” that amount will be added to your home mortgage payments – for as long as you own the house. Using the calculator on Calculator.net for loan payment, you will pay $299.78 more each and every month to pay off that extra $50,000. It has to be added to your home loan as you do not get the rebate until you own the solar system and you get your income taxes back. In some cases that could be a year. Property tax must also be considered, they could add $50,000 – $100,000 to the value of your house (in most states) increasing your taxes by about $300 to $500 per month. Don’t forget insurance, Or are you going to just buy a new one? Your Home insurance will be based upon the Appraised value and will be $50,000 or more than your neighbor who does not have a Solar panel. Some insurance companies will then add a premium for this high risk attachment and “replacement cost” increases added to that. another $100 to $200 per year. Don’t forget Maintenance That will be at leas as much as you pay for your furnace/AC, about $250 a year average.
    So add up your “hidden” costs (annual): Mortage + $3600, Taxes + $200 Insurance + $100 maintenance +250 —- Total = $4,150 or more a year which is $350 a month to save $200 a month in electricity costs. (and many of these hidden costs will go up at about the same rate as the cost of electricity and then again when you replace the old broken unit.)
    And yes I know if you buy and build and install your own, you might do better. But you rarely ever reach the REAL break even point. I know, I have one it does not work out when all hidden costs are added. The only reason I am “saving” money is because I know where to get the parts @ wholesale, and do all of the maintenance and repair my self.
    Better yet, if you had invested that money, then using the rule of 72 for future value of an investment $50,000 would be over $200,000 in 30 years at 5%, (a doubling about every 14 years). and quadruple that amount if you invested all of the hidden costs each and every month to the investment. So you gave up a $1,000,000 ++ retirement nest egg for imaginary savings on your electric bill.

  37. Well, maybe if a wire a giant inductor in parallel with my solar panels, I can capture me some of that “free energy” 24x7x365. Oh, that and, I just need to go convince 10 suckers … I mean, friends, to go sell cheap substandard household goods … then I can GO DIRECT!!!! / sarc

    • You stumbled onto an inconvenient truth. A colleague was responsible for “riding the fences” for a power company, looking for farmers who strung fence wire on big insulators (not the electric fence kind) parallel to their power lines. He came across one who had sucked out enough of the electric field to light his hog barn.

      • This is just an urban legend.
        The fact that there are two wires on power lines that carry current in opposite directions means that mag fields from the two lines almost exactly cancel out.
        The magnetic field drops off at the 4th power from the center line between the two power lines.
        If this were true, you wouldn’t need to string a new line, just use the barbed wire on your already existing fence.

      • @MarkW I will gladly buy you an insurance policy, payable to me, for $100,000, If you will agree to grab hold of the wire I string beneath a high tension line, the power lines hanging on large insulators (about 2 feet long) on poles more than 30 feet high.
        Still doubt it? Then look at the lineman’s safety book. You will see that the wires they are working on are grounded at both ends, and several places in between the breakers supposedly removing power from the wire. Then look closely at the Cyclone fence surrounding any power substation near you. You will see Heavy braded copper wire grounding every fence pool, every piece of fence spread between the poles, and often a ground cable wove in the fence near the top of the fence.
        It is not a myth.

      • @MarkW – Read this. https://electricalnotes.wordpress.com/2012/02/17/effects-of-high-voltage-transmission-lines-on-humans-and-plants/
        5) EMF Effects on Pipe Line/Fence/Cables:
        ◾A fence, irrigation pipe, pipeline, electrical distribution line forms a conducting loops when it is grounded at both ends. The earth forms the other portion of the loop. The magnetic field from a transmission line can induce a current to flow in such a loop if it is oriented parallel to the line. If only one end of the fence is grounded, then an induced voltage appears across the open end of the loop. The possibility for a shock exists if a person closes the loop at the open end by contacting both the ground and the conductor.
        ◾For fences, buried cables, and pipe lines proper care has been taken to prevent them from charging due to Electrostatic field. When using pipelines which are more than 3 km in length & 15 cm in Diameter they must be buried at least 30 laterally from the line center.

  38. Scams use partial truths (lies) and outright falsehoods (damn lies) to deceive and defraud. The lies used to promote AGW, similar to those used for solar-power schemes, are world-class scams. I will get my solar-power system on my roof when I benefit, not when there’s profit in it only for manufacturers, contractors, utility company, and government. Similarly, I will concede carbon taxes when hell freezes over.

  39. In order to partner up with Big Green and their government-and-ratepayer-funded schemes, it helps not to have moral scruples.

  40. I made a circuit that looked a lot like that in the mid eighties to get free HBO. It had a homemade coil around a nail, and a capacitor and it filtered out their jamming of those channels and cost about a buck in materials.

  41. Actually, they used to make a similar electro-magnet that did indeed save 70% on your electric bills. On the old ‘rotating disk’ electric meters, it was possible to stop the disk rotating, and therefore stop the meter counting.
    Would never have dreamed of doing such a thing myself….. 😉

  42. ‘Brilliant tricks’ with D cells and electromagnets save 70% on your electric bill

    Speaking of saving batteries, here’s a real sciency sounding site that might be worthy of the Sierra Club or the Union of Concerned Scientist. Click on the 9 volt battery icon 2nd down on the left.
    (The others are worthy of SC and UCS also.)
    PS This guy means all this as humor. (That was for all the trolls.)

  43. These things are up all over my neighborhood. Every year or two I check into the cost of installing some of these. Every year it is the same. Without subsidies, the system pays for itself in about 60 years.

  44. I am willing to have a solar energy system installed on my roof as long as:
    I do not have to pay for it.
    After it is installed I own it free and clear.
    It will provide my home with power off grid if need be.
    Someone else will maintain and repair it for free and upgrade it to the newest technology when it comes along for free as well.
    If I at any time do not like it any more it will be removed for free.
    Any damage to my home as a result of such a system will be paid for by the installer.
    I like the idea of solar power but I cannot afford to pay anything for it.

  45. Actually I am willing to pay for anything if it is free.
    Unfortunately anything that is sold as free (like solar subsidies) usually isn’t.

  46. Solar panels also have to be cleaned regularly due to bird droppings and other stuff that collects there. Direct solar power is a loser from the start. Nature provides the solution directly – fossil fuels, which are essentially stored solar energy. Except for the abiotic sources of gas and oil.

  47. West Oz tried to default on their FIT, which was set at a crazy level. Very difficult for a govt to get out of its insane arrangements though.

  48. If you put a $10,000 solar system on your roof, your local government will raise your property value which raises your taxes more than what you would save on your electric bill making a solar system a never ending loss.Here in Illinois, a 10K solar system would raise my taxes approx. $500 per year. I don’t have money to throw away.

  49. I saw on an old episode of “I’ve Got A Secret” recently an engineer who had created an electromagnet that could support 250 lbs that ran off a one D cell battery. Is that not really possible?

  50. I get a great kick out of the idiots buying meter shields to put over their new digital electric meters to “protect their families from utility radiation”, the disguise nonsense for trying to cheat their utility out of reading the meter by the networking between the meters.
    My neighbor had one on his electric meter about 12 feet from my 2 kilowatt ham radio antenna. I didn’t point that out to him or my pinned irony meter. We had it out a couple of years ago when the RF from my licensed FCC transmitter got into the tractor-trailer jumper cables hooking his stereo to its speakers, which made a great antenna for my signal and a horrible noise in his stereo.
    The power company let it slide the first month but when they came the second month they removed their electric meter from under his meter basket, leaving him in the dark. It’s illegal, you know, to tamper with your power meter, right there in your signed agreement to get electric power in the first place. They took their time putting the meter back after he paid the steep reconnect fee….(c;]

  51. It’s similar to what British Gas do here:
    They service the old back boiler then they are required by BG to tell me about a new central heating system.
    “You will save £300 per year with a new system” (true, the old one is 60% efficient, the new ones are 95% efficient)
    BUT – a decent new system will cost around £3000 – so that’s TEN years before you see those “savings”.
    And I was warned, off-the-record, that the new systems are more prone to failure – valves and computer circuit board failing. The Baxi back boiler pretty-much never goes wrong.
    End result?
    Just becasue it’s new and/or “green” does NOT make it worthwhile.

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