Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Going solar

Solar power, I'm told, is actually a viable option in Alaska. Jim Sykes' place in Palmer is powered with the sun (Sykes, if you didn't already know, is a frequent Green Party candidate in Alaska and one of the party's founders in this state), so I know from personal acquaintance that it's possible. I edited the third edition of the Solar Design Manual for Alaska, and it was an interesting job; lots of good information in that book. The main problem with going solar is that the initial outlay of cash is hideously expensive for those of us with tight cash flow. So I doubt our house is going to get solar panels any time soon.

However, the Republic office may have the option. There's a handy hole in the roof (former stovepipe) that could fit a light tube, and since the office doesn't require much electricity (enough to run the computer, monitor, printer, scanner, and lights), the business may be able to afford the ghastly amount of moola I'd have to shell out. I'm checking into electric load and system prices now. One nice thing about having a business is that one has business expenses, and these aren't viewed by the IRS in the same way that plain old household expenses are.

It's still pricey, though. A solar panel that would do the job is going to cost me $650 to $1000 smackers, and I still have to get the battery and converter and all that. I'll keep you all updated as I find out more.


Anonymous said...

In a nut shell, A quality automotive inverter, one that would plug into a cigarette lighter, would be powerful enough to run a computer system. Hook it up to a good car battery and hook the battery to whatever you have left over to spend on a solar panel. The whole shabang shouldn't cost more than maybe $500.00
At the very worst. You might have to switch over to the grid every so often while you wait for the battery to charge back up.
With this approach your capital cost will be just a fraction of a full blown system and you could start enjoying guilt free electrical use a lot sooner.

Deirdre Helfferich said...

Cool! Maybe this won't be so financially scary after all.

Anonymous said...

This inverter is only $39.00 (http://store.hutshop.com/xpin40012wap.html).
A car battery, a really good one, will run you about $120.00.
This solar panel is $269.00 (http://www.batterystuff.com/solar-chargers/BSP3012LSS.html).

Anonymous said...

The only other thing I'd recommend is that you continue to leave your computer hooked up to a battery back up and plug the back up into the inverter. It's not very effecient but you shouldn't risk the safety of your system to a weak battery.
Infact, if you go for it, you can borrow my old computer to torture just in case I'm as stupid as a post and it would be my computer getting "Liberty" fried instead of your bread and butter.