The case for solar power…

Solar power is here to stay and getting more efficient and more affordable all the time. “Going solar” has a three-fold advantage;

  • Electricity is cheaper than what the power company charges.
  • Cost is immune from fluctuations of the energy market.
  • It’s clean, renewable and does not pollute the environment.

Now, this is all well and good but using solar energy is not a small undertaking and needs to be thoroughly evaluated to ensure the best results. I am not a solar energy expert, but I know arithmetic and worked out the math below.

  • The average Californian household uses 575 kWh (kilowatt hours) per month. At current rate, this works up to roughly $75. Read more… If we multiply this by 92 units, we collectively consume about 53,000 kWh per month.
  • The average solar panel is about 20 square feet and produces 0.20 kWh of electricity. With current technology, 25 panels will cover the needs of one household in an area where we (conservatively) get at least 5 hours of sun per day.
  • The total area covered by our carports is about 30,000 square feet. If installing solar panels, we will be able to use 70% of the surface or roughly 20,000 square feet.
  • 20,000 square feet will accommodate about 1,100 solar panels, therefore producing power for 44 units. That’s about 1/2 of our electrical bill FOR FREE! And we could also use our roof, which is at least twice the size of the carports to install more solar panels.

As I wrote earlier, I’m no expert and there are many options that can be considered for installation (purchase, lease, etc…).

One of the simplest options seems to be feeding our solar electrical output into the regular power grid (which will make our electric meters go backwards) then So Cal Edison will bill us for only what we use or even “buy back” the excess and pay us every month.

In short, we can save money and even maybe make money that could be applied to reducing our HOA dues. I think it’s time we start taking our condo complex into the 21st century!

Quick update: See what Walmart has done in the parking lot of their Huntington Beach store. Yep, the new carports have been built for the sole purpose of supporting 100s of solar panels! We ALREADY have the carports, what are we waiting for?  😉


One comment to “The case for solar power…”
  1. I was asked about price of solar panels. If purchased, they cost roughly 80 cents/Watt (or about $180 per panel), note that this is retail pricing. Per Deustche Bank report, prices are expected to fall under 50 cents/Watt as production is ramping up. At retail pricing, the cost for 1,100 panels I mentioned in my article would be about $175,000 but the panels would return over $70,000 in electricity value per year. Solar panels usually carry a 30 years warranty, so they would have plenty of time to pay for themselves times and times again. As I mention above as well, purchase is not the only option. The State of California and Federal Government also offer some tax advantages to give people as incentives to convert to solar.

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