Solar limitations
 
Private solar power systems do have limitations, but they are by far outweighed by the benefits....

Initial Outlay
Much of the reluctance that people have is down to the economics. Solar systems are expensive in the first instance for the electricity you gain. Most people would rather not pay thousands of pounds for their electricity up front, when their next bill will only be a few hundred. The fact is though, whether you like it or not, you will be paying for electricity probably for the rest of your life.

Most panels that you can buy now are quoted as having 20 - 25 year lifespans. In reality, this is when the power levels will start to dip. There is a fair chance that they will continue to work for longer if they are kept in good condition.

After 5-12 years, depending on your location, you will start to profit. At some point, the electricity gain will all be free. That may still sound like a long time, but don't forget that that is 5-12 years with constantly generated power, so your bills will dip straight away. This also doesn't take into account that energy prices will rise with time, so the realistic end gain is even higher.

If you have the money up front to buy panels it is worth it, but I have heard of a number of people who have taken out loans to pay for their initial setup and been able to profit, by having bigger gains from the electricity selling it to their electricity provider than the repayment of the loan. As an example, I know that in France, the electricity company EDF are paying way over their own prices for the electricity you sell them. They sell to you for €0.10 and buy off you for €0.60. They will also sign a 20 year contract at that fixed price, such are the pressures surrounding green energy these days.

In my experience, it is best to start small and gradually build your system, then you do not feel the outlay as much. You could start with a 5a/ 60w size system to get you going and this need only cost a few hundred pounds and will be enough to power some lights, devices, laptops etc.. Don't think about boiling kettles at first unless you are flush and can afford to splash out a few thousand pounds.


You need to know technical stuff
The next big limitation of solar power in comparison with the national grid is that it's a bit of extra hassle and too much bother to be worthwhile. Yeah it's true, people are lazy.

There are some technical hurdles to overcome if you are setting up your own system. You can pay other people to do it all, but you may end up doubling your costs. By doing it yourself, you can save on labour costs, but also scout for bargains on ebay and save money.

These specialist pages I have made may explain some of the hurdles in simple solar systems. Click 'pages' above for more. Mostly, if you remember that watts = volts x amps, you will be fine.


I don't have space to put them
It can be hard to find a good space for solar panels, unless your are blessed with lots of land or a big roof.

I live in a flat that faces north, east and west, but no windows pointing south. I have no roof and no garden. The only space that I have access to that gets direct sunlight all day is by the fire escape. This is exactly where I have set up my 60w system. I have a total of 100 cm space for panels and I have used near all of it. I still get a useful amount of electricity everyday, especially in the summer and it is definately worth it. I am looking forward to moving and getting some more space though.



I have 2 panels, one 20w and one 40w. Since it's a fire escape, I can't even tilt them at the correct 36-45º. They also suffer from a fair amount of shading during the day. With that in mind, I am still getting about 300w or more per day.

 
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