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I have to admit, that I am one of the worst do-it-yourselfers on this green earth. Put a hammer in my hand if you want me to break something, not build something. So when I came across this video series on how to build your own solar panels, “Home Made Energy,” I had two thoughts. First, does homemade solar power really work? Next could I do it? I had a fleeting third thought, which was, if I built it would the completed project look like the flux capacitor from Back to the Future? I was relieved to see that the finished product from Home Made Energy looked every bit as nice as those from a professional solar panel installation company, at about 5 to 10% of the cost.
Candidly, my interest in solar panels has been around since they first came out 20+ years ago. I knew this was the way of the future, I just didn’t know how far in the future it would be!!! Back then, a good solar array (a technical name for many solar panels wired together) could power a flashlight and perhaps have enough left over energy for a transistor radio. Battery technology had not improved to the point where energy could be stored for future use, so the power generated by the solar panels had to be used instantly and fluctuated with every passing cloud.
The technology improved dramatically, most of this improvement occurred in the last 24 – 36 months – and the output continued to improve. At some point, the cost / benefit equation switched for many home owners around the world. With government support in the form of tax credits and rebates, in many cities, solar energy became less expensive (over the long run) than drawing energy from the grid. In fact some astute people are actually making money with their solar energy by generating it during peak times (think middle of summer, hot day while they are at work) and selling it to the utility at high prices. Then buying it back at low prices later when they come home and the sun is going down.
With the cost of energy continuing to skyrocket, it is likely that electricity prices will not come down anytime soon – in fact my view is that prices will only go up over the next 10 to 20 years. Why do I say this? Most electricity in currently generated from three main sources: nuclear, coal, and natural gas. Nuclear is the most cost-effective, but given recent events in Japan, combined with the fact that there has not been a new nuclear plant built in the US in over 30-years, price relief does not look likely from this avenue in the short or even medium term (i.e. next 10 to 20 years).
What about coal? This is the electricity-generating workhorse in many countries, including the US. Coal generation is reliable and cheap, but there are two main problems with coal, and both of them mean that your electricity prices will likely go up:
1) Coal has a bad image, particularly around pollution and mining accidents. As a consequence, legislation is getting tighter around this sort of energy production. Higher legislation usually translates into higher costs. The most likely increase in your electricity cost will come in the form of a carbon tax. This is a tax placed on the electricity generator to offset the pollution generated. Who pays for this? You, in the form of higher prices;
2) Coal deposits are finite. Once they are used, they are not coming back. Think I’m mistaken? We are facing this problem in the world oil market. We have had to go offshore to find oil, because traditional sources can’t support demand. Further, many oil deposit are drying up. This was not the case 25 years ago when gas was $0.50 a gallon.
Natural Gas – this is currently the most expensive form of regular electricity generation on the grid. Utilities turn on their natural gas generators after they have maxed out their other generators. Consequently, if natural gas is the most expensive to an electric company, it’s also the most expensive to you.
If we ignore the obvious benefits to mother earth from solar panels (deep down I’m a softie for that sort of stuff) and look at it from strictly a financial aspect. A good solar array for a reasonable house costs about $10,000 from a reputable solar panel installation company (don’t worry, I’ll show you how to build a homemade solar power array for about $200 in a minute, if you use the Home Made Energy solar array). This number could go up or down depending on the vendor, the square footage of your home, where your home sits in the country, how much “south facing” clear sky you have, etc., but assume $10,000 to start.
Financed over 10 years with nothing down, at 8% per annum, this is about $122 a month. Assuming that the solar array will not likely cut your costs down to zero, but for argument’s sake let’s say to 50% of the original, then if your electricity bill is $245 a month or higher you come out ahead. Assuming electricity prices don’t go up.
Here is the most interesting part…
Solar Panels are Made From Sand
Solar panels are made from monocrystalline silicon, or to us non-technical folks… sand. Sand is one of the most plentiful raw materials on the earth. Because of this, the actual cost for the parts of a good solar array, assembly ready, is about $150 -$200. If you know where to find them and how to assemble them.
This is where Home Made Energy comes in. Home Made Energy will show you how to find all the material and assemble a homemade solar power array in an afternoon. In other words, your home could be solar-powered next weekend.
When you click on the link to this 6-minute video, you will see how to assemble an entire solar array for your home for less than $200. For the minor cost of the information (less than $50), you walk away with a system that will run for decades and costs less than one month’s electricity to acquire.
If nothing else you’ll enjoy the passion of the narrator – he has a lot of energy (no pun intended)! Click Here