Your Questions About Solar Panel Efficiency

Charles asks…

How much would it cost to install a solar panel capable of creating enough fuel for your car?

I just want to know if it's feasible, maybe someone who reads this
knows something about it. In a suburban environment of say… Boston MA, USA how much money would someone have to spend to install a solar panel that could generate enough hydrogen and oxygen from the electrolysis of water to power the average car that had a 64% efficiency overall (80% fuel cell, 80% efficiency of motor/inverter)
Could this also be done in less sunny but windy places with vertical wind energy collectors? At what price?
Oh uhh.. if you dont want to do the calculations does anyone have some numbers? Like the cost/watt of solar panels or the watts/hour of them. Perhaps even compression of gases.
Assume 35% efficiency of solar panels, and PEM fuel cells (guess that doesn't help)

ssadmin answers:

You do want to assume a lot, like your efficiency numbers. The lowest cost photovoltaic panels, without any control modules etc, cost about a dollar per watt, fob factory, not installed.
Now they will give you 8 watt hours of power per day, or let us say you would need $120 for panels that would give you 1 kWH per day.

I think you could create a completed installation for 400 per kWH per day assuming you use your car the same amount each day.

Now electric ‘cars' can be anything from a converted hummer that would go round the block on a kWH to a 4 wheel electrically assisted bicycle that might go 100 km with passengers pedalling. So decide how many times $200 your daily habit sould cost you.

Understand that you would be unwise to buy this for just your car. A big part of the cost is going to be batteries that will be needed to store power, or to power your home.

Those most economical PV cells are not anywhere close to 35% efficient. Try 9%.

Donald asks…

Efficiency of Solar and Wind Energy?

We've bought some property in West Texas and it is completely off-grid. Exploring the options for water was easy…but power is very confusing. We are not really building a house. We have a 30×10 travel trailer and we're going to build a 30×10 cinder block room/building…all covered with a nice sturdy roof. As far as power usage…I like electronics…but keep in mind they wouldn't all be used at once! LOL
There are 2 of us…so, 2 lcd tvs (26in and 32in), various game consoles (ps3, wii), 2 computers (1 desktop, 1 laptop), 2 of those small fridges, 1 small deep freeze and 2 or 3 window unit air conditioners and I would PREFER an electric stove (or hot plate), and while my water will be heated with electric, it's one of those that heats the water as you use it. Also could possibly be a well pump. And you know…other electrical things you find around all houses…lights, fans, microwave, etc. We were thinking we would put solar panels on the roof and maybe install a turbine, so that we would generate power 24 hours a day. The question is…how many panels would we likely need? Would just 1 turbine be useful? And most importantly…ABOUT how much would we be looking at? I just mean like a ballpark figure..20-30K…50-60K….what? I know the area gets on average 330 days a year of at least 12 hours of sun…and being it's a valley, the winds run almost constantly at 6-8 mph in the day and up to 15 or so at night.
Also, would we need batteries? And if so, how many and how much would that add?
I would REALLY appreciate some help! And I don't mind if you're a salesman…I tend to remember those who help me! 🙂
Sorry I rambled a bit…but just adding things as I think of them.
If there's any other information that would help you to help me…PLEASE ask! 🙂
Thanks for reading!

ssadmin answers:

It sounds as though you are pretty handy, so tackling the task of building your own solar and wind energy system might appeal to you and could save you a good deal of money.

There are several guides around online but many are complicated or incomplete. The consistently most popular over the past couple of years is by Earth 4 Energy which you can check out at the following link:

Hope this might help you and good luck out there in the boondocks 🙂

Mary asks…

How would I go about installing solar panels on my '95 Grand Cherokee?

I've seen a few pick-up trucks around where I live with solar panels on top, similar to the ones in this:,simg:CAISEglJBZVM-ZcfXCHpeVC_1vWs09Q,sit:o&um=1&itbs=1&iact=hc&vpx=109&vpy=112&dur=2031&hovh=179&hovw=282&tx=159&ty=105&oei=iexPTc6-INL3gAeuj9nZDw&esq=1&page=1&ved=1t:722,r:0,s:0

Would it be possible for them to lay flat on the roof of a car and still have the same efficiency?

ssadmin answers:

That picture is hysterical! Clearly, it is photoshopped, you cannot drive around with panels sticking up like that. However, it is very common to mount panels flat on an RV to charge up batteries to power appliances without having to plug in at a campground. They have some that tilt up, once you are parked, so you can increase the efficiency over just mounted flat. Http://

The size of the panel needed depends on how much you are trying to power.

William asks…

Solar Panels Question?

Im trying to work out the area of solar panels at 40% efficiency that would be needed to power the whole of the UK, i have found the consumption of the UK is on average 6500000000w but i don't know how to work out the input into the Solar panel in order to work out the output.
well logie ogie just in case you were wondering im not really planning on doing it… -.- and im not sure my science teacher would be too impressed if i wrote that in my essay…

ssadmin answers:

You need the average Insolation in the UK (‘INcoming SOLar radiATION'). This website has figures[1].

Take the London figure, roughly 2.6kWh/m^2/day. At 40% efficient solar panels, a metre squared will get 1.04kWh per day.

6.5GW average (GW means GigaWatts, which is a billion watts…) is a daily power use of:
6.5 x 24 = about 156GWh (GigaWatt hours)

Divide total demand by amount per metre-squared to get the area needed.

156000000/1.04 = 152.9 million square metres.

To get an idea, that's just over 0.06% of the UK's land area, or 7.6 square metres per UK household. We could probably theoretically fit all of that on roofs and the side of buildings.

Linda asks…

Solar energy; cost, efficiency, plausibility?

hey, so i was thinking of buying a huge plot of land in the Regina area of Alberta Canada, and then filling it with solar panels, and selling the energy to the province/government. obviously i wouldn't do everything all at once, but i figure in the future renewable energy will be in high demand because of population growth and the reduced use of oil and coal. so if i start out with just a few panels and then work my way up to a whole plot of land filled with them, then eventually i should make a profitable amount of money. but my biggest worry is that if i get this all done, that i wont be able to connect/sell my system to the energy grid.

so my question is: how plausible is this, how much money would i need to get this started, and how many hoops would i need to jump through to sell my energy to the grid?

(by the way, i also posted this in the Business section)

ssadmin answers:

If you intend to power your entire household using a commercial energy system, it can easily set you back by $30000 to $50000 as a ballpark figure. You'd have to talk to the gov't about selling it. You'd prolly need a lot of permits and then the government would basically own your land.

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