Harness the sun’s energy to heat your home

When you think of Seattle, solar power might not be the first thing that pops in your mind. But, harnessing the sun’s energy actually does work around here.

This Saturday from 11 a.m. to noon, Sunergy Systems will be holding a “Solar Power 101” course.

  • You’ll learn the energy issues facing our nation today and how solar power plays an integral role in the solution
  • Learn how a solar panel actually converts the abundant light from the sun into usable electric power
  • Find out how well solar power works in the Great Pacific Northwest
  • What’s new for 2010
  • How to take advantage of solar before the start of the “Solar Year”
  • The free seminar will be held at the Sunergy Systems office at 4546 Leary Way NW, Seattle, WA, 98107. Parking available on NW 46th St & 8th Ave NW. Space is limited so if you’re interested, sign up here. (Sunergy Systems is a sponsor of MyBallard.)

    9 comments on “Harness the sun’s energy to heat your home”

    1. I've thought about investing in Solar panels for a while, but I recently did the math and it just doesn't make economic sense until the cost of the technology comes down more.

      Looking at http://www.pugetsoundsolar.com/starthere.html you can see that you can produce 1200 kWh per year for every 1000 watts installed. It also says that it costs $6 to $10 per watt installed. Thus, it will cost you $5 to $8.33 in installation costs per kWh produced per year. Once installed you can sell your energy back to the state at $0.15/kWh. At that rate, it will take 33.33 to 55.56 years to recoup your costs of installation. After that amount of time there are sure to be some repairs and upgrades that need to happen to maintain the system, so the time to recoup your costs may be pushed out further.

      In the meantime, I can continue to pay Seattle City Light around $0.044/kWh (not the $0.15/kWh used above) while I wait for the technology to get cheaper.

      Seattle is not a good place to invest in Solar right now, because of two things. First, is the lack of bright sunshine that everyone is aware. Second is the abundance of cheap electricity we have from all of the hydro-electric dams working 24/7 around the region. The cost of solar technology will have to come down a lot before installing solar in Seattle starts to make economic sense.

    2. I am not an expert on this… but i have sat through one of these before, and the lack of bright sun really isn't an inhibitor, as would make sense. i am not saying it is the same as southern cal or anything, but you can produce more energy than you might think on a overcast day.

      i also heard there are off the shelf panels that are starting to show up in home depot etc. the cost of install on those is supposed to be MUCH easier with only about 2 hours of an electricians time to hook up to your box, and then every additional panel bought, attaches to the original install. not sure the quality… but i think solar energy will make dramatic gains in the next 10 years.

    3. Disclaimer: I work for Sunergy Systems.

      Dave, you bring up some really good points that I would like to address because they are common misconceptions by people in our area.

      There are a host of other incentives in place besides the production credit that bring the cost of installation down further and have been shown to decrease payback time down to 10-15 years depending on the size of system, your utility rates, etc. Plus, don't forget, Seattle City Light just announced a 14% rate increase over the course of 2010-2011. Which will decrease payback times even further. Washington made products will help to reduce that time even more if those costs come down.

      Your misconception about the lack of “bright sunshine” is a common one as well. We have great mild temperature summers here in the Northwest that allow for some great production of solar power during the late spring, summer and early fall months that help to compensate for lack of production in the dark winter times.

      I would encourage anyone who has had these types of questions or any others to attend the next Solar U. We will touch on them all as well as many others.

      Dave, if you do come by, please say hello. I'd love to meet you in person.

    4. At one time (several years ago) there was talk of getting paid up to 65 cents a kWh if the panels and inverter were produced in Washington State. Did that go away?

    5. Solar PV isn't the only technology. What about Solar hot water? Doesnt' that make sense too?

    6. If you have Washington made equipment the incentive goes up to $.54 I believe. That is definitely in play as I type this.

      Yes, Solar Hot Water is actually even more efficient at using the sun's energy for heating your water. Thermal transfer is one of the most efficient ways of transporting energy. A typical residential Solar Hot Water System would produce the equivalent of having a 2 kilowatt PV system on your roof in a much smaller footprint.

    7. It would be great if they could come up with some solar solutions for apartment dwellers.

    8. Generating electricity from the sun to power the home is another good act to save energy and the environment. Though installations takes a lot of money and effort, it has future benefits. It is one of the proven solutions in the quest to look for alternative forms of energy.

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