if you must use solar, consider this option

animus_divinusJune 6, 2012

first of all, for renewable energy i much prefer the use of wind.. its cheaper, easier to build, more reliable, more efficient, and all around superior to solar panels... downside you may live in an area that wont allow you to have such a structure, as it would require a chunk of land to yourself...

solar panels are very inefficient, and fragile, not to mention incredibly expensive... so an alternative to solar panels for solar energy is what ive been working on building myself

this structure for myself is a 15' wide satellite dish shaped structure, the inside of the dish is made up of mirrors, these mirrors collect on the collector, and reflect to a single point in front of the dish (such as the LNBs on a satellite TV dish)... however, where the sunlight collects is a stirling engine mounted on the arm... the sunlight heats one cylinder of the stirling engine causing the air inside to expand, using the heat of the sunlight itself to create power

benefits of this system is its a lot more durable, more reliable, more efficient, and cheaper way of creating electricity from sunlight

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Solar power system is a reliable, clean and efficient energy system generated converting energy from sunlight into electricity. The initial solar setup can be quite expensive, which is why many people choose to use solar electricity in conjunction with existing grid power

    Bookmark   June 7, 2012 at 2:18AM
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How many KWH per day can it produce?
How do you keep the mirrors clean?

    Bookmark   June 7, 2012 at 9:35AM
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I am a bit of a lurker, but must say to animus_divinus's opening statement that my husband works as a project manager installing HUGE solar arrays all over the country and says the EXACT same thing. You are completely right. He has been given permission to purchase piggy backed on top of these massive orders a couple of panels for our own home and even at the rock bottom at cost pricing, we have held off considering the fragility of the panels. Although I do believe this year we will do so. You are right, some are not in a position to be so lucky to have land enough for wind turbines and certainly most don't find a deal like we have found on panels.

I look forward to seeing pics of your set up. I fear the technical specs wouldn't mean a whole lot to me, but my husband would find them extremely interesting.

Good luck,

    Bookmark   September 17, 2012 at 10:12AM
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the beauty of solar is the fact that it's silent, and has zero moving parts. those two issues are HUGE drawbacks to wind turbines. moving parts eventually STOP moving. or moving as they should. take it from one with firsthand experience living completely off grid, on a 45 acre island, population TWO, for fifteen years. turbines go katti-whumpus at the LEAST opportune time. they make plenty noise right up until they fling themselves to death.
one can be as crunchy and granola as they wish. the r.o.i.for any/all alternative energy just ain't there if you have even the most inefficient, expensive grid to tie into. now, if there is NO other option, alt energy is the mutts nuts. i'll take fifteen kilowatts of solar over a small diesel any day. alas, the perfect system consists of all three--solar, wind, and diesel backup. when the sun aint shining, the wind's usually blowin.
i've installed and LIVED with seven stand-alone systems, all consisting of the above, each ranging from ten to forty-five kW.

    Bookmark   December 24, 2012 at 7:39PM
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In response to Animus: You have a good idea and it is growing in popularity. This is a form of solar energy production called concentrated solar power (CSP). There are large commercial plants being built around the world utilizing this technology. There is not much available for the small residential user yet, but a really smart guy in Israel is working on it. I wrote a feature post about David Faiman and his work with Zenith solar. They are trying to bring their technology to the masses at an affordable price. Check out the article..you will find it interesting.

Here is a link that might be useful: solar energy break-through

    Bookmark   May 10, 2013 at 10:57PM
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For energy saving off course Wind is the best. it comes from atmospheric changes; changes in temperature and pressure makes the air move around the surface of the earth; all of which is triggered by the sun. So in a way, wind energy is another form of solar power. A wind turbine captures the wind to produce energy. And its the ultimate solution of all...

    Bookmark   July 28, 2013 at 10:34PM
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I agree with allahkbbq here. PV is the most popular renewable for many reasons. Not sure why some describe it as fragile. Its the most robust, and maintenance free power system available. Grid-tied systems are cheaper than ever with the panels themselves being incredibly affordable and resilient. What other power system can you throw up and have 50 years of maintenance-free electricity?

Wind is great but as mentioned, requires LOTS of maintenance. Micro-hydro is even cheaper but arguably requires even more fiddling to maintain. The biggest problem with both is the extremely limited useful locations. For wind, you need an average yearly wind speed of 14 mph. Micro hydro needs a year round creek with 40' head. Both are great to have but extremely uncommon for most homeowners.

The sun shines everywhere and with grid-tied systems you dont need batteries or generators. Grid-tied PV is extremely useful to power companies because most energy is being generated during peak-demand hours which reduces the need to build new power plants and infrastructure.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2013 at 2:05PM
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Everyone is talking about electricity. Solar hot water heating is a great "first step" into alternative energy. Sunlight can easily be used to generate heat without using expensive photovoltaics or losing energy on conversion of power from one form to another. One drawback my parents have had was finding people who knew how to maintain the system and finding replacement parts when the system malfunctioned after a decade.

    Bookmark   October 10, 2013 at 11:23AM
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If you want to cut down on how much energy you're using while getting some more solar power you can look into a heliostat. I know it's a bit off the wind vs. solar issue but we save lots of money on our electric bill. All it does is reflect sunlight inside so you don't use as much electricity. I think it's nice to change our habits of usage rather than just how we compensate for it!

    Bookmark   April 2, 2014 at 2:03PM
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There are a number of Stirling engine programs underway which utilize solar concentrator techniques. One of the benefits, besides some fairly good efficiency, is that the systems seem to be fairly reliable, thus cutting down on maintainance issues.

    Bookmark   August 20, 2014 at 1:34PM
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Wow! I'd heard of the satellite dish style concentration of sun rays but thought it was only done for very large commercial applications. Never knew something like this was achievable as DIY. Wish animus posted a follow-up on this.

    Bookmark   October 24, 2014 at 7:19PM
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