My First Acquaintance with Solar

My first acquaintance with Solar P.V., was back in the late 1970’s, early 1980’s. I purchased 14 Solarex 330 panels (each panel had an output of about 150 watts peak. It’s a little difficult to remember that far back; however, I think my 14 P.V. panels cost in the range of about $9,400.00).

I erected a structure over my front patio, made out of galvanized H beams, angles; and t lengths. Back then panels did not have microprocessors affixed to the panels. I had a 2000 watt D.C. Inverter, that was mounted in a box in my basement. The inverter was a “GEMINI SYNCHRONOUS INVERTER that I purchased out of Mukwanago, Wisconsin. I ran the wiring from outside the house, through a crawl space (the house had 1/2 crawl space and 1/2 basement) into the basement, where the inverter was located.

I built the structure, mounted my own, panels; and did my own wiring. I had the panels wired in a series-parallel combination. Each group of 7 panels was witted in series; and, then each group was wired in parallel. This boosted the overall D.C. Voltage and made the system more efficient (efficiencies improved the closer you got to the maximum input of the D.C. voltage side). The solar installation was my second alternate energy endeavor. I started back in 1976, building a steel tower for my Jacob’s designed, D.C. Electric generating windmill. The windmill had a peak output of 4000 watts, in a 27 M.P.H. It was composed of three blades; and, had a blade span of 14 feet. The windmill withstood a maximum -ever wind gust of 106 M.P.H Energy Smart is Australia’s #1. It was connected to a separate

“GEMINI SYNCHRONOUS INVERTER”, rated at 4 K.W. output. The inverters need electricity from the electric company to operate. You don’t need (or want) any batteries. When you produce D.C. electricity, it is used by your home. Any excess flows back to the electric company. You are credited for the excess back to them, at the same rate that you are charged, for any electricity you may use from them. The inverters have a safety feature. If your A.C. Power goes out, they shut down automatically. Otherwise, you would be powering the A.C. Lines; and, possibly “FRY” one of their repairmen. The inverters are a great plus. They are microprocessors that eliminate the need for expensive (AND DANGEROUS) batteries. This keeps the cost of these systems to a minimum.

Recently, N.V. Energy was purchased by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire-Hathaway Corporation. This is good and bad. This means that Mr. Buffett will come in and modernize N.V. Energy, which is good. The bad part is that modernization costs money, which will be passed on to the consumers. For those that already have P.V. solar, this is a great thing. That means that whatever money you spent/spend on your system, the return time/ breakeven point is reduced. Your system pays for itself that much sooner. Also, having solar P.V. installed on your home increases its worth; and you’re selling cost, to any prospective buyers, should you ever decide to sell your home. Keeping a year’s worth of your electric bills are a good selling point, with solar P.V.

The rate increases haven’t kicked in yet; however, last month, with the increased sun angles, my 37 total panels put out enough electricity that my N.V. Energy electric bill was $11.80 for one month. I produced just 3 K.W.H. short of all the electricity that I used. My bill was 10.00 for the connection charge, about $0.54 for electricity; and the remainder were for all sorts of taxes and fees (which seem to be increasing every year. Since Nevada doesn’t have a state income tax, they’re going to get their money any way they can, more than likely increasing these items every year. Let Mr. Buffett and Governor Sandoval raise these things every year. It just means break even to those of us that have solar P.V., will come that much sooner. In future articles I will tell you about my experiences in the “Pioneer Days” of alternate energy; and how these systems work, in easy layman terms. My credentials are that I am a high school graduate.

I occupied classes in college for two years that were leaning toward engineering. I had a 30 year career as a steel worker in the Midwest. I moved out to Las Vegas in 2003, with my late wife (she wanted to follow the sun; and, thought Las Vegas would be good for my health.