Solar Panels

There is quite a bit of interest in “alternative” energy sources such as solar.  In fact, the federal government is offering a tax credit for the installation of solar panels on homes.

However, before installing solar panels, it’s worth asking if it’s worthwhile.  The Street has an article entitled “Solar Panels Don’t Work” that anyone who is planning to make a major investment in solar panels for their home or business should read.  Some of the reasons for skepticism:

As one solar company after another goes out of business, here is what investors do not know and promoters will not tell you: Solar panels do not work that well.

Sometimes not at all. But for several years, most solar systems, big and small, were so heavily subsidized, they were practically free. So lots of people did not really care.

Not enough to check the output of their systems. The few who did often had a big surprise.

  • Dirt is No. 1. Google was among the first to figure this out, maybe because Google was among the first to do a large-scale solar array.  Unlike the owners of most solar systems, Google was eager to learn about how its system performed. Six months after installing its system, Google learned it was only getting about half of the power it expected.
  • Lousy panels are No. 2. Remember Solyndra? Before its well-publicized collapse, Solyndra was well known for its tube-shaped products that were supposed to collect solar power directly from above, and indirectly, reflected from below.  In all the stories about Solyndra, no one talked about how shadows from the tubes cut down on the power.  They found out the hard way in Livermore, Calif. There a movie theater got a lot of attention for installing a roof top solar array — first of its kind when it was installed in 2009. A year later, technicians found out the system was producing 25{030251e622a83165372097b752b1e1477acc3e16319689a4bdeb1497eb0fac93} less power than projected.
  • No. 3 is this: The darn things don’t work — at all. In San Diego, the local Space theater and museum asked some people to check its panels. As usual, they were installed with lots of fanfare.  But one year later, they were surprised that squirrels and trees had reduced their solar output to zero.

Read the whole thing.

Very few homeowners have the ability to monitor how much power is actually produced by solar panels.  It’s easy to check how many miles you get per gallon of gas in your car.  Most modern cars will actually show you how efficient your car is.  Before you spend thousands of dollars to have solar panels installed, find out how you can determine their effectiveness.  If you can’t, you may be buying an expensive roof ornament.


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