The principle of Photo-Voltaic or PV power (converting light into electricity) was discovered in 1839 by French physicist Antoine-César Becquerel when he found that sunlight striking a surface can emit electrons^. Some substances emit more electrons than others, and todays PV panels are made primarily of silicon, which is the major component of sand. If 1% of the worlds deserts were converted from sand to solar panels, we could replace all the power supplied by fossil fuels.
It matters: In the USA, more than 70% of electricity is produced by coal, natural gas or oil^. Every home in North America that uses a PV system to supply electrical power removes about 4.3 tons of carbon dioxide from the air each year. That is roughly the same as removing one car from the roads^.
Help, don't Hoard: There are two basic types of home PV systems: ON-grid and OFF-grid.
PV is FREE! The cost of converting a home to ON-grid PV power is effectively zero. After state and federal rebates, the value of the home is increased more than the cost of the system, and given a reasonable interest rate to finance the cost, the loan payment will be less than the utility bill savings^. The maximum "bang for the buck" comes when a system is sized so that it does not completely eliminate the power bill, but rather reduces the net energy use into the lowest (and cheapest) tier.
The time is NOW! The price of electricity has increased substantially in the last few years, after holding steady for almost a decade^. If this trend continues, and it seems likely to, PV systems begin to make even more financial as well as environmental sense:
A case study: My own PV system
"Fear" says: "On cloudy days I could get much better performance from my panel with two mirrors set up as above. I still didn't max out my panel, but maybe with more mirrors I can. "
Great care must be taken with mirrors to ensure that sunlight is never concentrated on any of the following:
Basic Solar Power Generator
5-8 hours to charge a dead battery; 1-3 hours to top off a weak one. It will run radios, fans, and small wattage lights all night, or give you about 5 hours of continuous use at 115 volt AC, or about an hour boiling water.
Comment on the statement, "Because batteries must be replaced regularly and contain very toxic materials, the OFF-grid systems probably do more harm than good in the long run. Until battery technology catches up." Look at Thomas Alva Edison "Primary Battery" patent of 1906. It is the Alkaline battery using Nickel/Electrodes. I can provide an article that tells how to collect the pieces and build it. Some are claimed to have worked for over 80 years. Minimal emmisions. Only needs water top-up approx. each 3 weeks. Electrode replacement approx. 10 years. Made from readily available, locally purchased parts 1.5 volts DC per cell. 10 cells=12VDC. 20 cells=24VDC. 40 cells=48VDC. Will completely discharge w/no damage. Will take fast charge without damage. Each cell housed is cheap ex-chemical containers of 20 USGallons. I have complete instructions in MSWord format.
James Newton of Massmind replies: I would REALLY love to have and publish those instructions. Please email them to me?
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