Thursday, May 10, 2007

It's Electrifying.....

This morning on my way into work I heard a commercial for professionally installed Solar panels. They stated, " is actually possible watch the power company's meter run backwards". Little background, I've been interested in solar power stuff for a while now. It's continuous energy, all you have to do is collect it. Now living in AZ, the sun shines what seems like 360 days a year. You'd think this would be a easy fit down here. Well, solar is just not there yet. Back to the commercial. So I went to their website. The cheapest system they have they claim produces something like 295 Kilowat hours per month. Sounds like a lot. Well checked my Electric bill and the smallest amount of electricity demand I used in one month was 1100 Kilowat hours. Yeah I could cut some corners here and there, and bring that down, but that's besides the point. The numbers speak for themselves...

Now the amount of electricity coming from the panels would be generated during peak usage times, so my house would be eating up all that juice while it's being generated. I could get bigger systems but again lets stay with these numbers for now. Let's say the electric company would give me full value for this electricity generated. I look at my bill and I pay (because of the plan I'm one) $0.04765/kWh, that means with this system I'd make $14/mo. using this system. Let's say I drop the plan I'm on and start using the most expensive on peak kWh plan. The plan that has the highest cost/kWh is $0.18200/kWh that's the summer rates so this is the most I'd ever be able to make using a solar system. That equates to $53.69/mo. Now we're talking. That can do some damage to my bill. Then we look at the cost of installing the system. To install it costs a little over $12,ooo. This system has a "10 year SMA inverter warranty and 25 year solar panel warranty". OK lets say that everything lasts for 25 years, and by some miracle the electric company gives me that high rate/kWh year round. Also that this system will consistently produce the stated 295kWh/mo. for the entire 25 years. That means every month this system pays me $53.69/mo. How long would it take for me to make back that $12,000? Now the site does state that the state government would give me a rebate of $3,000 and that the Fed would give me a 30% rebate. So if I get all that it would bring the cost of install down to $5,400 for the install. At $53.69/mo that makes $644.25/yr. That all means that it would take a little over 8 years for the system to pay for itself, and for me to actually start making money while using it. In reality though, I wouldn't be getting that high rate year round. It actually drops to $0.10918/kWh during the winter, so that's only $32.21/mo during the winter (Summer=May-October, Winter=November-April). After all the calculations, that means $515.40/year or it would take a little less then 10.5 years for the system to pay off. By then I'm sure there will be much more efficient panels, this also assumes that I'll be living in this house for that long. It also assumes best case scenario for everything. It just doesn't add up yet. One of these days, this will all work.

By the way, a system that would meet my lowest month electrical use would cost $46,400 before rebates. It would take 52 panels with each panel measuring 5x 2.5 ft that's 130 square feet. I think that may be a hard sell to my HOA. I really wish that solar was a little more efficient and not so costly to implement. It seems like such a great way to get electricity. I think that the cost still has to drop in half for it to really start taking off. These are much better numbers then it was when I first started looking into it. About 5 years ago, it think I calculated that it would take between 15 - 20 years for it to start paying off. So maybe in 5 more it will finally get there. I've heard some good rumblings about newer panel types that have much higher efficiencies, being made cheaper productions methods using a die. So maybe just maybe...

Friday, May 4, 2007

Clearing the air

On May 1st the Arizona smoking ban went into effect. Smoking is now banned in all indoor public places. Most of the bars were making a big stink (kind of ironic) stating that they are going to loose a lot of business because of this and may end up going out of business.

On Wednesday the home town Pro. Basketball team the Phoenix Suns were playing game 5 of a possible 7 game series in the first round of the playoffs. They were up 3-1 in the series and if they win they would move to the next round. This game was shown on TNT. With most people having cable the game would be viewable by most people. I having a TiVo and Wednesday being a particularly busy night for TV shows. I would either miss some of the shows I watch or miss the game. A third option however would be to go to one of the local sports bars and watch the game, allowing the shows to be recorded for viewing later.

The first place we went to (Buffalo Wild Wings), was packed, with standing room only available. Many people chose to do just that, stand. BWW had always been non-smoking as local city ordinance had already passed a no smoking ban.

We decided to try another bar that we liked a lot but stopped going to as the smoke was just too much, Uncle Bears. I must be getting old, as it was so bad most nights that I had to shower when I got home because I just couldn't sleep from the smell still hanging on me. This place was also packed, although not as much as BWW. BWW was always a more popular place, as most chain places are. So this wasn't a surprise that there were less people here, that's why we liked it and why we thought we had a chance for a seat tonight. They've updated things big time at Uncle Bears (by the way it's named after the owners dog, which is also their logo, a yellow lab with a handkerchief around it's neck) They've always had a lot of TVs but now instead of the old big screen big box sets, they now have a bunch of plasma and LCD screens. It was so much nicer in there now.

I think we'll be going back much more. Then I'll be able to gage how much the ban is effecting them. To be honest, I don't expect it to mean that much. With the old city by city ban I can see how they may be effected, as people would just go to the next city and smoke. With the whole state having the ban there's no where to go but outside. There's a couple other places too that we had the same issue with, and now may be revisiting. It's nice to have choice again. Oh, and the Suns won...hehe