Forty years ago, it was about flower power.
Today we welcome the wonderful world of sun power.
Regardless of the cost you incur when you install PV's, the feel-good part is priceless.
And if you can combine solar and a plug-in car of some kind, you will feel even better and increase your return by the amount you save on gasoline.
I have solar water and power on our home.
The power panels were installed at the end of 2003, and reduced my power import by 50%, and saved me $600 per year. But I also add $600-800 savings on gasoline, as I drive my neighborhood electric vehicle about 2000 miles per year, and my gas-powered car gets only 10mpg with cold starts in the city.
I have two meters on my house. One gets standard 3-phase power (220 volts) and still powers my HVAC and electric oven. My average bill from the standard meter averages about $50/month. My house was a duplex when first build is the reason I have two meters.
The other meter is a time-of-use meters that measures net energy usage and instantaneous power readings into or out of the grid.
I do not have the Fat Spaniel Technology on my system for online monitoring, but if you like to see lots of data, go for it. Here is a neighbor’s link if you want to see how it works:
I have 36-100 watt panels on my roof, facing southeast on a 4x12 slope. The incentives from CA Energy Commission were better than they are now, but still worth getting. The State is getting the peak power it needs, right where it's needed so the tariffs are generous for peak of day export to the grid, over 30cents per kwh, while off peak rates are abut 8.5 cents/kwh
The result is I build a credit of about $100 during the period from May-Oct, which pays for about the first 1000 kwh that I draw from the grid during evenings and winter. I usually use about 600 kwh in addition to the first 1000kwh, which costs me $5/month, which happens to be the minimum amount billed each month by PG&E.
Hopefully, my experience will help other reach a positive decision to install PV's and maybe even a solar water heater. The EV options may not be what you'd like for transportation, but I have found the GEM good enough to get me going and works great as a vehicle to use in downtown San Jose.An update on solar power in the Economist published 04/15/10 is available here.
To read more about a plan to convert 100% of the US electricity to solar by 2050 click here and then scroll down and click on Grand Solar Plan under further reading.