A man's home, they say, is his castle. It also can give you insight into his mind. We drove out to Lee Bristol's home (almost not making it because of an unexpected road block) expecting a routine interview about solar power. He is, after all, a co-founder of Standard Solar, a seven-year-old company that engineers, designs, and builds solar electric solutions for homes and commercial concerns.
It turned out to be anything but. We pulled into Bristol's driveway on a sunny warm fall day and immediately noticed two men standing on the roof. One was waving at us the other was filming us. "Come on up in the back!" came the cry from on high.
We walked around the house, with high-pitched A-frame design, and we noticed a set of homemade stairs jutting up from the back deck all the way up the steeply slanting roof. The stairs ended in one of the most interesting rooftop deck designs I've ever seen: He actually has fashioned a deck, perhaps 10 by 20 feet just behind the peak of the roof, overlooking lush farmland and his solar panels.
We came to find out that that design was evidence of Bristol's unique career path and approach to technology -- fascinating and unconventional.
For further reading
To keep up with our Chevy Volt coverage, go to Drive for Innovation and follow the cross-country journey of EE Times' EE Life editorial director, Brian Fuller. On his trip, sponsored by Avnet Express, Fuller is driving a Volt across America to interview engineers.
I don't know why I bother to waste my time but ... MTBE is a very real problem, if it were not, the EPA would not be going to such great lengths to keep it hidden and pretend it doesn't exist. Genetic mutations in plants, widespread neurological and mental disorders in humans born post MTBE and increased health problems across the spectrum in areas where MTBE contamination is highest.
After all these years there still isn't one single person who can present just one justifiable argument for using more energy and generating more emissions in the production of ethanol than are countered by said ethanol. 20% less energy per gallon than gasoline and 65% increase in the production of repair/replacement parts for existing equipment ... just like all the others, you choose to ignore the facts but ignorning the facts do not change the facts. If you weren't so quick to engage your sales-hype, you'll note the damage to my chainsaw engine is only on the face and exhaust side, anyone with even the slightest knowledge of 2S engines knows that a lubrication failure will not be limited to one portion of the cylinder surface and would have no effect on the combustion face. Now go on back to driving your coal/oil-fired hybrid.
MTBE is an industry scare issue, if you are so knowledgeable then why do you buy into it? High performance aircraft engines use water, methanol, and ethanol injection for peak power, as do race cars. I have worked at an Industrial Testing Laboratory and been deposed in several engine damage lawsuits. As a knowledgeable person you would know that modern gasoline is no longer isooctane, is no longer made for carb'd engines. Gasoline is now a "blend" ranging from butane to diesel that is cheap to produce and works well enough for fuel injection. The only weakness of ethanol is water solubility, Germany in WW 2 fermented to Fusel oil. BP owned stations get water/rust crud at the bottom of their tanks (partially due to EPA fume recovery; actually BP's lack of maintenance policy), it will clog your fuel filter or destroy your engine if you don't have one (it's a chain saw). Ethanol does not interfere with mixing of higher grade two-cycle oil. Several lawsuits were two-cycle chainsaws using inappropriate oil (ruled user error). Since chainsaws aren't very green (copious polluters) it is probably fortunate your chainsaw died.
We use oil and electricity to generate heat from making hot water to making cement to cooling (e.g. propane fueled refrigeration). Solar water heaters (low tech using black PVC tubing) works on cold overcast days and snow. Mirror farms to make concrete and melt metal are low tech and can be built in third world countries. A heat source can be used in place of mechanical compression for refrigeration. Electric car advocates foolishly disregard electrical losses in our country's aging electricity generation systems, making hybrids generate less carbon dioxide per mile than pure electric cars.
I don't know how you're calculating but it's not for a southern home. Minimum battery bank is 16 units, bare minimum Ah's that's $3800 just in batt's. For good high-load batteries you're looking at $7400. At the very best, they may last 3 years, and 3 years is pushing it unless you climate control the battery bank containment which increases the load demand and adds $4500+ to the costs.
Maintenance ... again, southern application, you're maintaining the battery electrolyte levels at least once a week and cleaning connections at least once a month, With all the organic growth in these parts, you're cleaning the panels & mounts and checking for bug/rodent damage every 2-4 weeks.
Tack on the inverters, additional wiring, protection devices, engineering plans, building permits, inspections, installation labor and so forth...
Ethanol in this country is a complete boondoggle designed for nothing more than political profit! It takes more energy to produce ethanol than it provides, increases food costs and destroys machinery. How much are we saving the environment when adding ethanol to gasoline has resulted in a 65% increase in the repair/replacement of engine-driven equipment? Here's the piston from my Stihl 044 chainsaw that was destroyed in less than a year because of ethanol in the gasoline - how much energy are we saving having to produce and ship a new piston and head assembly? How is this helping me when I now have a totally unnecessary $300 replacement parts cost?
Bought any food lately? Notice the massive price increases across the board thanks to the exceptionally inefficient ethanol production driving up grain costs for both human and animal feed?
Obviously you don't know much about refining oil either because there is zero waste, every single bit of oil is made into a usable product. If you want to argue about gasoline, why not argue the point of going to rotary or opposed piston engines that are >35% more efficient than the junk we've been running for the last century? Why not argue about the cost increases and efficiency reductions caused by the useless blend regulations ... the same type of useless regulations that now has nearly all the fresh water in the USA contaminated with MTBE.
Before you go off halfcocked, you should take the time to learn the facts and it wouldn't hurt for you to get a couple decades of experience in the coal and oil industries.
Yes Lowes has them when I asked locally but was about $6/wt and really no reason they should be over $3/wt retail. .
Personally I'm too busy to do this as I'm getting 2 composite unibody/chassis EV's and a 2kw windgen ready for production. But someone could make a good business buying panels, inverters, etc and making a prewired kit you just fold out or bolt together with included mountings. The parts are under $2/wt in decent quatities so selling about $3/wt FOB could be nicely profitable for a few yrs until the big boys wake up.
If I was a PV maker I'd do this to move product or build PV plants and sell the power in this over supplied market.
Personally I don'y buy Chinese products for many reasons of dumping, quality, US jobs, much of the money support the Chinese gov, etc. US products are only slightly more expensive but better quality, jobs, standards easoly make up for the small difference.
Same reason I went EV as I was tired of supporting both sides of the oil companies, oil wars, oil dictators and terrorists.
Sorry your customer and apparently you don't know how to shop or if getting ripped off, can't just contract your own work. Sunelec.com and apparently a poster here has panels for under $1.50/wt, many much less. No?
And that is why I back plug and play PV units as it cuts the large install costs.
PV maintaince? Washing the panels every couple months is about it. No? Just what are you talking about? Or just putting up red herrings?
Storage costs little. A well shopped $1k lead battery pack of Golf cart batteries would do fine offgrid, last 8-10 yrs and cost about the same as a gridtie inverter at $.60/kw of rating. Rather than have a huge pack on should just have back up power. Things like making electricity first before using it's waste heat, etc.
Did your customer first reduce their useage/waste? The most cost effective power is that one doesn't use.
As for knowing about coal my numbers come from multiple studies by quality researchers, including the EPA. I believe nothing the MSM or anyone else says until verified.
Now talk about being conned by media, big oil hype, Ethanol isn't the bad thing you say that is propaganda by big oil.
For instance the other products from making ethanol have as much value as the ethanol , cutting it's cost by 50%, No? Facts are the corn oil, dried mash, both of which are far better foods than the corn it was made from. Plus value of the stalks, cobs. Now take that into account as one must to be honest, Ethanol has created quite a few jobs and cut oil imports by 20% creating more jobs. It's also kept oil prices lower along with making us more energy independent.
Now let's rate gasoline the same way you rate ethanol. You need 2.5gal of oil to make 1 of gas so your version of ROI would be 40%. But that's before processing energy is put in like the 3kw/gal of electricity required and much other costs of production, traportation and refining. All taken into account gasoline has an ROI of 25% about.
And no I don't work for ethanol people as I drive my EV's at a fraction of a similar ICE's running costs. And on the 3kw of electricity to refine a gal of gasoline my EV can go 30 and 60 miles ;^D.
Just because you can't handle things or know how to shop well don't tell us that do we can't. And don't assume as you know what that means. And apparently I know more than you based on your post.
Have to agree aboiut garbage as it has higher value than most mine ores plus energy.
Maybe next time instead of attacking, you could ask why your prices were so high. Can't really blame you about your ethanol statement as big oil has really did well at anti ethanol propaganda that most everyone believes it. But facts, numbers clearly say ethanol is better than oil in so many ways from cost, energy indepemdence, jobs, lower balance of payments, real ROI.
Your right, the grid-tied inverters have the anti-island feature to them so they won't product output current without seeing voltage from the grid. So that part is okay.
The idea has many upsides, that is not the problem. I just try to play out in my mind all possible senarios where it could go wrong. That way there is no problem for the end user when they get their hands on it. As you know Americans love to lawsuits...haha
On a serious note, what happens regarding the metering? Is there none? If thats the case then you would need to use the power as its generated or it could potentially be given back to the grid for free. Good for the planet, bad for the owner.
I have a question...since I don't live in the USA currently. Lowes sells this type of PV system that plugs into the electrical socket? My brother and I have been talking about this idea for years now, wondering when it would happen. Has it?
I currently work for a solar manufacturing company in China. I did the business development with Enphase energy here and getting the two technologies together is challenging but not impossible.
I installed the integrated junction box microinverter from Enphase at our testing lab and it works seemlessly. And It could plug directly in to a socket, easily, like you said. Just wonder the legality of it all. Really this part always seems to be the biggest trouble. Just a thought.
Let me know if your really going to do it. I have many contacts here that could help you. Just another thought.
Geof, You already answered your own question, mircosine inverters, have been doing just what I said for over a decade, No?
What gridtie inverter can work if the grid goes down? Even if it didn't automatically shut down as designed, the load of the grid will either pop the breeaker or burn up. No?
An 120vac US outlet by easily.can handle 1500wt input or output. So a 1kw PV plug and play unit can safely plug into any outlet and can handle a standard portable heater. Or one can of have it wired directly.
And finally drop by your local Lowes and You'll find them asking at the order counter, just way over priced. So just what part of your post other than the first line is correct?
Home Cooling: I like the idea that in a residential installation, on a hot day the solar cells would be powering the air conditioning among other things. The power does not to travel very far to get to its destination. The panels also prevent much of the heat from entering the home... This seems like one of the best uses for solar technology.
A group of researchers at the Seoul National University have discovered a way to take material from cigarette butts and turn it into a carbon-based material thats ideal for storing energy and creating a powerful supercapacitor.
In a line of ultra-futuristic projects, DARPA is developing a brain microchip that will help heal the bodies and minds of soldiers. A final product is far off, but preliminary chips are already being tested.
Focus on Fundamentals consists of 45-minute on-line classes that cover a host of technologies. You learn without leaving the comfort of your desk. All classes are taught by subject-matter experts and all are archived. So if you can't attend live, attend at your convenience.