Your Questions About Solar Powered Generator

Betty asks…

Are solar power panel arrays and a wind turbine generator practical for residential use?

I ran into a “pitch ad” for a way to not only get “off the grid” at my residence, but actually have the electric company require sending me a small check for adding electricity to the grid. Is this stuff feasible or fantasy? I do have tools and could install the panels on my garage roof in chicago,IL.

ssadmin answers:

It is entirely feasible, but the solar panels are expensive, and so is the necessary DC/AC converter. It is not a “do it yourself” job, it must be installed by qualified licenced technicians. You need at least 8 panels, (1.1/2 kwh which would give you a maximum of 9 kws a day.) to be worthwhile, depending on your power usage.
Unless you have wind all day every day, a wind turbine is next to useless, and also needs the same qualified installation. Power companies will only buy the power from you if you can supply the correct installation certificates, they will not accept DIY for any part of the installation.
EDIT.
Seems a lot of people know nothing about this and yet make negative comments. I just noticed you live in Chicago, so maybe you had better forget about it, you may get a lot of wind, but you need the sun all year round, which you would not get. Batteries are usually only used in areas that don't have mains supply to give a 24 hour supply. For that, you would need at least 4kwh, ar at least 25 panels, and they would cost around $25,000. The payback depends on the Feed in tariff the supplier would pay, if it is only the same as you pay for grid power, then that is also not feasible. You need at least double the grid tariff for your feed in to make any money, and it may take you 30 years in Chicago to pay it off.

Mary asks…

Are solar power panel arrays and a wind turbine generator practical for residential use?

I ran into a “pitch ad” for a way to not only get “off the grid” at my residence, but actually have the electric company require sending me a small check for adding electricity to the grid. Is this stuff feasible or fantasy? I do have tools and could install the panels on my garage roof in chicago,IL.

ssadmin answers:

It's entirely feasible, technically anywhere and administratively at least in many places. Solar panels are less troublesome than wind turbines. You should check with your own electricity provider, that it will accept your power inputs before you commit any costs.

Its commercial viability is doubtful. You probably won't make any money for a long time due to the capital cost of the installation, but this situation is steadily improving.

You can connect your panel to the grid and your own generated supply will add to your export / import balance automatically. If you end up supplying an export surplus, then you will receive a cheque. You will also suffer no power shortage during darkness – no need for batteries. So you don't want to off the grid – rather to remain connected and able to supply into it at any time.

If your provider supports this, you must clarify (maybe even negotiate) the rate of payment for the energy you supply. Complete this also (with an agreement for several years on paper!) before commiting anything!! A friend in Switzerland gets the same rate for buying and selling! I think you won't do much better than that.

Donna asks…

As hydrogen powered cars give off water vapour as a by product, could this technology be used to irrigate land

I have noticed that hydrogen powered vehicles give off water vapour as a by product and was wandering if this technology could be modified to irrigate farm land where water is scarce. You could perhaps place hydrogen powered generators over farm land, each one spaced a km or so apart. The water vapour would condense and form water droplets, which could be collected in some kind of tank. From there it would then be possible to pump the water out and irrigate the land. The generators could be solar powered as these dry areas would get plenty of sun. The biggest problem may be transporting the hydrogen to these generators. That said the farmer could have a underground tank that could be filled up on a weekly or monthly basis. From there it could be transported via a tractor with a tank in tow. I got the idea from watching a documentary where they showed you NASA testing the shuttles engines using hydrogen as a fuel source. After the test was completed rain fell.

ssadmin answers:

Not a bad idea but for rain to fall you need to meet some physical parameters within the atmosphere – pressure and temperature need to be such to allow for the condensation out from the atmosphere of water vapour – in other words, if its too hot and too dry clouds won't form and therefore rain can't fall. So it's unlikely to work in the Sahara Dessert to make the dessert green, but as places with clouds generally have rain it wouldn't be need in Washington State for example as it never stops raining there.

Daniel asks…

Do they make solar power generators?My husband says it's impossible!?

ssadmin answers:

Yes, there are photovoltaic solar panels which convert the sun's radiation directly into electricity. This technology is over 100 years old.
Http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Photovoltaic#Overview

There is also concentrated solar thermal energy, which concentrates the heat of the sun onto a small area. This heats a fluid and causes it to expand, which drives a turbine, similar to most other forms of power generation.
Http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Concentrated_Solar_Power

Again, another very old technology. Your husband clearly has no idea what he's talking about.

Sandra asks…

Could we use solar panels to power a car?

Since gas prices are going up, we need more ideas for more gas efficient cars. I know they have already made electric cars, but could they put a solar panel on the top so you could have a self energized car? If you needed to drive at night you could have an extra battery and/or have extra stored up energy in your car from it being out in the daytime. Could this be done? Can there be other power generators such as mini hydro-electric generators? Or is there problems with using these generators?

ssadmin answers:

There are some cars that already do this, but it is not piratical for commercial uses.

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