A neighbor here in Cambria had a full-house solar electric system put in recently, also by Absolute Solar. Through this I became somewhat familiar with the dilemma of wannabe green-energy consumers who have not (at least up until the California Solar Surplus Act of 2009) been able to sell their excess power back to PG&E—or even generate more power than the utility says they are allowed to (“Talking green but working against it,” Oct. 15).
One other thing to mention is that to have electricity when there is an emergency outage, you need to have a back-up battery power supply, otherwise your lights and other appliances are dead along with everyone else’s. So that’s one reason (among others) why a totally off-grid system may suit your purposes better than a grid inter-tie approach with the power company. And if you do have surplus power, you can always sell (or give) it to a neighbor in an emergency.
I started experimenting with solar power about 20 years ago, with a small panel on a motor home. Then I bought components for a portion of a house in Santa Maria, and a small casa in Mexico. After a few years, I decided to publish the People’s Guide to Basic Solar Power for those folks who just wanted a back-up power system, or possibly wanted to expand from something “simpler.” It has proven to be quite popular, and has been sold in every state in the U.S. and province in Canada.
The approach has made a lot of sense and costs much, much less than a whole house system. Locally, I’ve noted one solar firm that has started promoting a partial-solar approach.
My book really needs to be revised since innovations in thin-film solar cells and better “plug and play” approaches are rapidly becoming available. Anyone who has some solar experience who would like to assist will get my attention. See PowerFromSun.com.