Solar Power : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

I heard part of a news account this morning about solar cells embedded in roofing panels. It sounded as though this new product replaces your roof with roofing slats that include solar power cells and that an entire house can be powered by this method on sunshiny days while remaining connected to the grid for backup (whenever the grid is up.) Does anyone have any information on this product?

-- John Hubert (John@John.gone), September 23, 1998


I've read about solar shutters and portable solar units are listed in catalogs, but don't know about solar embedded in roofing panels. Would be rather difficult to steal, wouldn't it?

-- Sylvia (in Miss'ippi) (, September 23, 1998.

These solar cells are made by uni-solar, is the size of a shingle. Each one puts out 17.3 watts, costs $140.

They do blend in, but are expensive.

You can look them up in the catlog at:


-- rocky knolls (, September 23, 1998.

Solar power is great, but there seems to be a widespread misconception that you have to have actual sunshine to make it work. That isn't so! In the Northwest, we often have days that are overcast, and you can still get a sunburn, which means the energy is getting in through the clouds anyway.

Solar is a good choice for heating, especially if you think in terms of an attached solar room (think 'greenhouse'). Think of your car and how hot it gets inside; that's solar energy in there. Pipe that into your house from a solar room or greenhouse, and you're in business.

-- Karen Cook (, September 24, 1998.

Rocky, Hi!...That should be Great site, BTW.

\/\/illis in OKC, OK @ 1:55am cdt 09/24/98

-- Willis Thomason (, September 24, 1998.

For maximum efficiency in solar panel useage, the panels should be oriented to the south at approximately the angle of 90 degrees minus your latitude - ie. flat to the average sun. If you are in a climate where you use more power in the summer than winter, you might want to flatten that angle somewhat, if you use more power in winter that summer you want to raise it. If you are planning on pumping power back into the grid you must contact your local utility and get information on whether or not they allow this (all the ones in CA do, some other places require it, some don't, and policies in different parts of the country vary by company) and you must use the equipment they specify to convert the solar DC to AC and match the phase to the line current. Finally, they will hook up a separate meter to measure the excess power pumped into the utility line. They won't pay over half (most cases are less) the amount you pay for power - its called makin a profit! Still, it can be done.

-- Paul Davis (, September 29, 1998.

For info on photovoltaics check out Home Power Magazine at and the Midwest Renewable Energy Association at

Home Power publishes real life experiences of sustainable/renewable energy visionaries who have actually done it. It has lots of ads - from supplies for the do it yourselfer to complete service (analysis and installation). Each summer MREA sponsors the Midwest Renewable Energy Fair - billed as the biggest and best renewable energy fair.

If you decide going the PV route, you may want to try to combine your purchase with others shooting for volume discounts. In the current market, where electic hookups are available, PV has a very long rate of return - i.e. the cost is hard to stomach. However, in an unregulated marketplace with potential for shortages, PV could prove to be very affordable. As far as byback of the energy you produce, I believe a number of states have NETTING requirements - your production offsets your usage dollar for dollar. (If you live in a "normal" American home - odds are you won't be replacing all your electricity with PV. Cost of production generally considered too great until you have gone on major energy lifestyle change. Compact flourescents all round and big time energy miser appliances (Sun Frost or similar super efficient refig etc.).

You are on the right track though. Imagine what would happen if every roof had PV shingles. Whenever there was light, all this energy would be produced. Utilities would have plenty of capacity because everyone would approach some level of self sufficiency.

'Truth in advertising' disclaimer: I am not involved in either of these sites. Two months ago I subscribed to Home Power and had planned to attend the renewable energy fair this summer, however, circumstances prevented me from attending. I have replaced more than half our incandescents with compact flourescents (fixtures are the problem on the rest)and am seriously considering an efficient refrig and photovoltaics as a power source for 2000. Unlike generators, all PV's need for fuel is light - so unless the sun goes out you can get power at least some of the time (battery banks can see you through the night...)

Good Luck in your research - if you want to go with it you may want to get your order in prior to 2nd quarter 1999 (to be safe, in case demand really does outstrip supply but given the cost, I suspect that manufacturing capacities can handle a what I suspect will be a modest incerease in demenad. However, I've noted one company was already starting price increases.)


-- john hebert (, October 06, 1998.

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