Just A Nice Perspective On Solar Power

Submitted by Charles Frost on Thu, 04/26/2007 - 08:26.

PV Panels Being Installes On A Workshed Roof


****(....this is part of a series of articles, and the author is just finishing up the building of his workshop)****


"As my workshop was nearing completion, twelve solar panels arrived for the photovoltaic (PV) system. Six boxes—with two flat PV panels in each box— contained the entire electrical generation system for the house. The whole array would then be mounted on the roof. These panels do not burn any fossil fuels. They have no moving parts, and are therefore totally silent. Electricity is generated simply by sunlight falling on the roof—an elegant, uncomplicated process. Something is amiss in our world when such a system is not widely appreciated and utilized. Solar power makes a coal-fired or gasoline-powered generator—with its noise, fossil fuels, oil, and fumes—seem downright barbaric.

I always find it interesting to imagine the chronology of our power-generation technology being reversed. I envision a scenario in which photovoltaic panels were invented before the traditional generator that is powered by fossil fuels. Thin, light, quiet PV panels around the world are generating all the electricity we need, and the excess power is stored in some form of battery for later use. A logical, workable system. Then—for reasons we can only imagine—someone invents a mechanical generator with hundreds of moving parts. This power generator runs on a substance—coal—that must mined from deep with the earth. The coal has to be transported hundreds of miles to the generating stations. The extraction, transporting and burning of all this fossil fuel create a multitude of environmental problems. One wonders, in fact, if the poor, hapless inventor would be exiled from the planet!

Of course this scenario is greatly simplified. What it illustrates, however, is our unquestioning acceptance of using technology simply because of its familiarity and availability to us. We don't stop to think that maybe there is a better alternative.

With the photovoltaic panels on the roof of my workshop, the inverter (which converts the DC power to AC), battery charge controller, and battery inside, I now have my own power-generating station. The sun-generated electricity will be used to not only run all the power tools needed to build my house, but will also supply one hundred percent of the electricity to power the home for decades to come. The standard method of supplying power to a construction site is to have the local utility company install a temporary electrical meter on a pole. If that is not possible, some people rent gasoline-powered generators.

We are all familiar with photovoltaic-powered calculators, gate openers, and lighting fixtures in gardens. We simply need to take this familiarity to the next level. Imagine if you could purchase a PV-powered washing machine, television, lawn mower, hair-dryer, toaster, power saw, or cement mixer. You can. If your home runs off a photovoltaic system. Then all your appliances run off the power of the sun. Even better, you won't be paying a dime to the electrical company.

In case you're wondering if you need to buy special appliances to work in conjunction with your PV system, the answer is no. Regular, everyday toasters, hair-dryers, televisions, etc. that are AC-powered can be purchased from your local store, brought home and plugged in. Simple as that.

It is spring and on Saturday mornings in my neighborhood I can hear the drone of gas-powered lawn mowers, weed-whackers and leaf-blowers. As I turn on my electric weed-cutter, I get a feeling of great satisfaction that I am beating the system. My home and all my tools run off of canned sunlight. The price of utility-generated electricity does not affect my bank balance because I locked in the cost of my power for years to come by investing in a photovoltaic system. The entire system cost me ten thousand dollars. Not cheap, to be sure, but much less expensive than what some people spend on granite countertops for their kitchens. It all comes down to where you want to spend your money. The PV system will pay for itself over time, saving money and saving the planet. The countertops will not. (By the way, I have nothing against granite countertops—this is just an example of what things cost)."

From: http://www.treehugger.com/files/2007/04/building_green_13.php

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here comes the sun

Two nights ago, I turned on the television (already set to PBS) and caught this show: Saved by the Sun.

So I have to wonder about the local businesses and commercial building owners -- the guys in our region who are sitting on the cash. Why haven't they begun at the top? Why haven't they caught on to solar panels, solar shingles, small wind and green roofing?

Ok, well thanks for leading by example, Bill. I challenge our elected officials to install and run our government on solar and wind power and our "you must be green to get our money for your capital project" foundations to lead by example, too.


I met a roofer this weekend from Northcoast Roofing.  He mentioned that their biggest customers are the hospitals with their flat roofs.  By the way, did any one catch the newest member to login? Motorwavegroup

motorwave on Lake Erie

Thanks Laura, I just watched this video. I thought about the turbines on the lake and wondered if this might not be another method for our lake to provide us energy...

I know about the power of the open sea from growing up on the coast of North Florida where the riptide can take you quickly out to the greenbank or along the shore to a neighboring community. I also visited Cabo San Lucas where you cannot enter the Pacific due to the waves and riptides there. Lake Erie seems calm in comparison until a strong wind comes along. I have experienced an almost instant change in the weather on the lake while sailing in a Highlander. The change in wave height was dramatic.

So Mr. Gambarota, any interest among Cleveland funders for your innovations?

wind and waves

Hi Suzan


For a place like Lake Arie i have designed a special one .

Motorwind turbines are design to work with any fluids(air or water ) .

and since they are very light weight they can be floating .

The one i have designed is a floating structure with turbines on top collecting wind  energy and underwater more turbines collecting water current energy .

very efficient machine ,that i never have the time to test but could do the job .

the only problem with very cold lakes is ICE formation in winter .

Ice will block the turbines .with global warming maybe Lake erie will be Ice free

in the coming years (if not already).

If there is local financing it can go fast on assembling a project ,if not ,need to wait until

we have generated enough profit from the sales of turbines.

(Motorwave cant work over there.there is not enough waves energy).

best regards




good point Lucien

OK, good point about the freezing. Yes, Lake Erie still freezes and thank goodness it does. The freeze apparently kills off some of the growth in the lake which is part of the dead lake syndrome. It is a very shallow lake which is apparently part of the lake effect. If only we could find a technology that would harness some of this Alberta Clipper over the lakes energy. Frozen water will be one of the factors in the region's plan to install turbines in the lake. There are concerns about what the turbines will look like, but perhaps more importantly, how will we get them installed out there and how will they winter when the lake is a big ice cube. Jeff posted about this here. Still, we are interested in your innovation and any ideas you may have for our climate, natural resources and geography would be most welcome. We have freshwater, so we don't need desalinization, but we do have to clean the water that comes from the lake.

Last night I watched a program called Modern Marvels and learned about this: Invent Now Challenge. It seems restricted to inventors from within the US, but maybe someday they will see the light and realize that a good idea is a good idea wherever it comes from.  So Lucien, "keep on rockin in the free world" as we say here in rock and roll town. And we will be glad to have any info and ideas you may add to the discussion of our region's efforts to be a green city on a blue lake. Oh and you might want to check out that blog, too. www.gcbl.org The discussion there has plenty of info on our region and its attributes.

Po Toi looks beautiful. It made me think of the Shiants off the coast of the UK. Wild, barely habited -- totally off the grid and owned by one man. The ocean can get pretty rough there, but no freezing that I am aware of. This is a cold place, no shorts wearing there. But Europeans are innovative and looking for answers to climate change issues. Not like our government who has not signed the Kyoto Protocol.

Here's a picture of the Shiants.

How's that for PV on a flat

PV on a flat roof

How's that for PV on a flat roof?

PV Membrane Roofing

Rolled up in the factory during production...


Arranging the PV membrane roof

Moving the pieces into position:



Adjusting the final positions before heat sealing the seams

So can this solar roof go over existing roof?

The Hough Bakeries complex has lots of flat roof surfaces - much already needs to be repaired. I'd like some of the new Hough roof to be green - gardens people can use and enjoy while keeping the building cooler - and part should be solar. Could this roof material go over an existing roof or do you do a tear off first? What is the cost/sq.ft. and how much energy do you get per sq.ft. in Cleveland climate conditions?

Disrupt IT


Norm, notice all the warehouse roof photos are in SoCal.  Several reasons for that: 1. Calif offers state economic incentives to offset more than 1/2 the cost of the installation.  2.  lots of  sun.  3. Lower latitude allows effective and cheaper flat placement of panels.

So what is the green strategy for the Hough Bakeries

Okay Jeff (and others who have been there), what are the alternative energy ideas for the Hough Bakeries building? I see there being some wind - perhaps the micro turbines from Lucien's company - perhaps some prototypes from the CSU professor. How about solar? Is their a good solar product for use in this facility, and for what? Geothermal?

We'll plan a roundtable on-site at the Hough Bakeries building this spring to figure all this out - in the mean time, feel free to brainstorm on this here.

Disrupt IT

Motorwave - Motorwind - NEO is interested in your tech

I saw that gambarota had set up an account - and the same day I posted the first reference to his technology... these search engines are really getting fast. I'm ready to sign up for small wind turbines, but the numbers don't quite make sense so I want to learn more... would be great to dig into that here. And I too am curious if the motorwave tech would work here on Lake Erie.

Disrupt IT

Using Solar energy for

Using Solar energy for electrical works is really a good deal. If you are willing to do this than you must use the services of electricians for electrical works. I would like to recommend Raleigh electrician for electrical works. They are cheap and are high professionals as well.

Wow, A Cheap High Professional - Just What I Was Looking For!!!

The next time I am in Raleigh and buy a house in need of electrical work, the last thing I will want is an electrician on a cheap high.

I once saw one of those dancing on a ladder because he closed the live 110 volt lighting circuit he was working on. He was subsequently kept away from the 220 volt and the 440 volt work for some reason.

solar panels installers

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