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Tribes make Solar Posted at 01/19/10 - 05:35 AM

New Mexico's Jemez Pueblo tribe is working a deal to use their land for solar energy production. They will be the first Native American tribe to use solar energy as a way to make revenue.  The 3,000 members of the tribe are working to harness the energy from their 30-acre site. They plan on setting up over 14,000 solar panels. A plan is now in the works to sell electricity to outsiders from their four-megawatt plant. The completed plant would be able to power about 600 homes.

Author: Greg

Recent studies suggest that technological progress has reduced payback times to 1.5 to 3.5 years for crystalline silicon PV systems.




Solar Panel Power Output Information

Using solar panels and making your own electricity is great - BUT - there are many questions before you have even made the decision to either buy an expensive off the shelf system, or build your own.  While a commercial system can cost thousands of dollars,  you can build a solar panel for about $200 .

What will you use the power for ?  If you're in suburbia, will you hook up the sytem to the grid and what appliances would you power.  On the farm or on your block in the coutryside, you may simply need lighting for the night, maybe run a pump or heaven forbid, the laptop.  But whatever the location, how much power, how many arrays and how long will your power last are the obvious questions.

So here is a quick guide :
Most DIY solar panels are based on a set of 36 (3 amp, 3x6inch cells). The size of a array like this is about 1 x 1.5 meters. With a single array like this you can expect to produce 18V at almost 60Watts in bright sunlight.

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What does this mean?
Lets keep this simple and practical, here's the potential for a similar small 60Watt system.  If you had a 60Watt panel and could get 7 hours of light a day(optomistic), 7 days a week = 2940Watt hours (or 196 amps) per week, all of this is being very optimistic.  

More realistically, you might get 4 to 5 hours of good sunlight or 2100Watt hours (60Watts * 5 hours * 7 days), dont forget those cloudy or rainy days when power output is reduced but still happening.

What can you do with that power?
1 x 10 watt compact fluorescent lamp (CFL) for about 2100 hours (or)
10 x 10 watt CFL(s) = 21 hours, about 4 hours per night for 5 days (or)
1 x 50 watt Laptop = 42 hours, about 6 hours a day for 7 days (or)
1 x 75 watt TV = 28 hours, about 5 hours a day for 7 days
(This assumes you discharge your batteries, which you should not do)

Lets say you charge 2 x 6V, 225Amp/hour deep cycle batteries(in series) = 12Volts.  That means you would have have a “bank” of 2700 watts of power in the batteries. Connect the batteries to a 300Watt inverter and away you go.  Don't discharge them below 40%, its better to add more batteries.

In reality it may be more feasible to build 2 arrays, making it a 120Watt system and add extra batteries. So, now I think you can see the potential of what a small system can do. You don’t have to pay thousands of dollars to do this. While there are even small off the shelf systems, it's pretty likely you can build a pretty solid DIY solar system quite inexpensively.



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