Sunday, February 8, 2009

Slowly Going Green


I bought a 1 watt solar panel for 30 dollars, tie wrapped it to the end of a long PVC pipe with T connector end, sharpened the other end into a point with a hacksaw, and finally drove it 1 foot into the ground in my backyard, where it will tap the sun's free energy and supply power to my small battery / inverter setup.

Considering that the assembly produces only 1 joule per second and there is only 12 hour sunlight exposure per day (multiplied by the squareroot of two divided by 2 - to obtain the average intensity), only 30,547 joules per day of energy are extracted. Now also, assuming that the price for electricity is currently 13.5 cents per kilowatt hour (in my area) or 1 cent for 266,667 joules, the solar panel would have to gather sunlight for about 71 years before the enough money was saved to justify paying the 30 dollar panel price. Since 71 years is far beyond the expected lifespan of my radiant energy to electricity converter, no profit will ever be provided.

The lesson?... Do not buy 1 watt panels for 30 dollars. While there are much better solutions out there, such as more space efficient models, higher wattages, and longer functional lifetimes, they still seem to be too expensive for the majority of us energy users. Apparently, 60% efficiency has been developed but isn't readily available at the moment and also requires a more intense light source to reach it's peak performance.

Since 130,131,352,486,171,736 watts of sunlight are available on Earth at any particular moment, sunlight will inevitably become our primary source of energy.

3 comments:

tashabud said...

Hi Jesse,
Thanks for sharing your findings on solar energy.

So, did the solar panel able to provide enough power for your project?

Tasha

Jenai said...

Wow congratulations on going Green. I am passionate about Green and hope one day when I have my own place I can do that too. I have a green blog too.

tthrash said...

ok... How about this. Take the voltage from the Car Batt 12v @ 50 +/- 10v. Step the voltage up to several thousand k using a osc of some sort(a sine wave osc.. or ramp) and Ignition coil could work or HV Transformor hv ballast. Then you can halfass rectify that voltage (You dont want to full wave rectify due to, you want to keep that same freq..) then have it charge a series parallel set of caps that then discharge to a step down transformer then rectify the voltage.... then bam.. your using max amount of current in a series of HV discharges.... Then you use neg. feedback to govern how much voltage you wanna use to trickle charge the car batt. You will be to power alot more applications of that batt There is a special type of air coil that can be used for this application to step the voltage down.... but in some case you made still need to use the Solar panel to help charge.... but the solar panel doesnt have to be big. I ve done it with a 12v 800mA panel before. Check it out. i have some files for you to look at i have to grab them from my comp. at my moms.. but you'll like it... Check it out... _Travis Thrash