Solar Power: Stop funding Islamic Terrorism, Save the Environment and Money

A few months ago I published a story on how we can help stop funding Islamic terrorism by purchasing the Toyota Prius, a hybrid/electric car that gets over fifty miles per gallon (click here for more details).

After doing additional research I also learned that in most US states, over 80% of our energy consumption is still based on fossil fuels! Since I sincerely don’t want any of my energy needs to generate funds for Islamic terrorists, I started looking for alternatives.

Solar Power Panels generate Clean and Safe Energy

A friend of mine had installed a solar power system and had been enjoying it for a few weeks, so I decided to ask him some questions and understand how it worked. I was simply amazed! Here are some benefits:

1) Your system generates power from the sun and feeds it back to your utilities company: your meter starts rolling backwards!

2) Your electricity bill becomes irrelevant (a couple of dollars per month) – you are not hostage anymore to your utilities price increases.

3) Depending on where you live you can get huge rebates for purchasing the system. For example the State of California pays for 50% of the system and gives you a 15% tax credit (saving you literally thousands of dollars).

4) You won’t be burning fossil fuels that directly finance Saudi Arabia and therefore the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Al-Qaeda, and other Islamic mass murderers.

5) You’ll be saving the environment: contrary to fossil fuels or atomic energy, solar power is clean and safe!

6) The system will pay for itself in a few years – after that you’ll have 20-30 years of free electricty!

With so many advantages, I had to do it: a couple of weeks ago, my family and I became the proud owners of a working 4.9 kW solar power system!

See below for the rest of the article - I’ll cover some of the additional advantages of such a system, including the technical aspects, the finances, and more.

Technical Overview
There are literally hundreds of sites out there that explain in detail how a solar power system works (see the “Links” section below). I’ll simply give a quick technical overview in a few sentences so we get an idea of what we are talking about.

Once you have purchased and installed the system (see the “Finances” section below), you’ll have a bunch of solar panels installed on your roof. In my system the panels come in sets of cthree:

Typical solar panels

As the sun light hits the panels, they will generate a certain amount of DC power. In my case every panel can generate 165 Watts at its peak. All of this DC power has to be transformed into AC power before you can feed it back to your utility company. For this we use inverters:

A Sunny Boy (SMA) 2500 Watts inverter

My inverters can handle up to 2,500 Watts, and since my system can generate a bit under 5,000 Watts, we have two inverters. The inverters then feed AC power back into your utility company (in our case PG&E, Pacific Gas and Electric):

The DC power (from the left) is Routed through the inverters
(in the middle), Which transform it into AC power

The AC power is then routed Back to your utility company

Once the inverter(s) have converted the DC power into AC power it is simply routed back to your utility company – your meter starts rolling backwards!

You can’t see it in this picture, But the meter is rolling backwards

Rolling back your meter is done through something called “Net Metering”. This is something relatively new that makes it worthwhile to purchase a solar power system:

1) During the day while your system is generating energy, any additional energy you are not using goes back to your utility company.
2) During the night, while your solar power system is idle, you use electricity from the grid as you normally would.
3) At the end of the month you only have to pay the difference between what you used and what you gave back to your utility (therefore “Net Metering”).

For this reason it is important to find out the size of the system you’ll need to cover your energy needs.

In the past, when “Net Metering” wasn’t available, you had to purchase batteries and be completely off the grid. This made the system expensive and unreliable. Today after you’ve installed your solar power system, you’ll see no difference in your electricity usage - just a big difference in your electricity bill! Note: please check if the utility company in your Country or State allows for “Net Metering”.

The first step in getting a solar power system is to understand the size of the system you’ll need to cover your consumption. This is important:

1) You don’t want a system too small – it won’t be able to cover your energy needs and you’ll have to continue paying every month your utility company for additional energy.
2) You don’t want a system too big – you’ll be simply paying more for the initial cost of the system. You’ll just be giving additional energy to your utility company for free.

When you first contact a solar power company, you’ll be asked to provide one year’s worth of electricity bills. Here’s an example:

Click on image to see a sample electricity bill

As you can see, in October 2002 we consumed 767 kWh of electricity. By looking at one year’s worth of bills, the industry professionals can run simulations based on your energy needs, your ZIP code, the amount of sun your city gets, the amount of energy that can be produced during summer and winter, etc…

They then come up with a magic number of how many Watts your system must be able to produce for your system to cover your electricity needs and for your energy bill to become zero over the year. In our case, the magic number was 4,900 Watts or 4.9 kW.

Depending on how big your system is your final cost can go from $2,000 to $50,000 or more. In fact this is the only downside of getting a solar power system installed: you have to come up with the money up front. In other words, you’re paying for your energy needs in one lump sum, instead of giving small monthly payments to your utility company (this is similar to renting vs. owning your home, but more on that later).

In our case, here was the total cost breakdown:

Sales Tax$2,974
System Price$44,965
California 50%
Net Cost
(Purchase Price)
California 15%
Tax Credit
Final Cost$22,393

So as you can see, due to the great rebate and tax credit we get from the State of California, the cost of the system went from $44,965 to $22,393, over a 50% reduction!

Big cost up front, big savings over time

Now, you might think that $22,393 is a big chunk of money – and you’re right. But let’s break it down again. By looking at our energy bills, we saw that we spent on average $200 per month on electricity (some months we spent $100, other months we spent $300, etc...).

Now, supposing that the cost of electricity stays constant, it will take us 112 months (22,393 divided by 200) or roughly 10 years for the system to pay for itself. But since the price of electricity goes up on average 3% to 5% per year (in California it went up 30% two years ago!), we will actually probably break even in 6 to 7 years.

The system comes with a warranty on all its parts for 5 years, and is guaranteed to work for at least 30 years. This means that after it has paid for itself in 7 years, we will get at least 23 years of free electricity!

This means the solar power system will save us at least $55,000 (23 * 12 * $200)! What other system can you purchase that will not only pay for itself, but will make you money?

Here are a few sites that can give you more information on Solar Power systems:

San Francisco Environment: Solar Power

California Energy Commission

Home Power Magazine

Adelman’s photovoltaic system (30.5 kW)

Solar Electric Power Association

SMA, a German company that makes the “Sunny Boy” inverters

How Solar Cells work (a bit outdated, but good info)

Additional Pictures
Here are some additional pictures of our solar power system:

The meter in the top right gives a total number of kWh produced

Our system is made up of two sets of 18 solar panels

Our main monitoring server

We use the SMA "Sunny Control Light" to monitor our inverters and the system

Sample Java applet that gives us real time info
on the system (click on image to enlarge)


As mentioned above, the big hurdle in getting a solar power system is to come up with the funds for purchasing the system up front. One of your options is to refinance: in our case, after refinancing, we got such a rate that our monthly mortgage payment went down even though we asked for over $30,000 in cash to pay for the solar power system.

A Star-Trek “Wall Replicator”

Another analogy I have thought of is comparing a solar power system to a Star Trek “Replicator”. In the Hollywood series “Star Trek” (original, Next Generation, Voyager, etc…) the crew could order any type of food from a machine called a “Replicator”. This machine would then within seconds produce the requested food item, from banana splits to Klingon (or French) blood sausages.

Well, knowing that you have to eat pretty much every day of your life, how much would you pay for a machine that could produce food for you? You’d probably pay a pretty high price up front, knowing that a few years down the line it would pay for itself and you’d enjoy free food for years!

I’d argue that you probably will need electricity for life as well, but the “energy replicator” is not some sci-fi invention, but is right here: solar power technology.

Get one now: you’ll be producing clean and safe energy, you’ll stop funding Islamic terrorism, and you’ll save the environment and money!

I have created an MS-Word version of this article. If you’d like to download and send it to your friends and family, click on the image below:
(MS Word Format, Size: 582 Kb)

Posted by David Melle
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I think that this is a really great website and I would like to learn more about it for my science fair project!

Posted by: Katherine at November 16, 2004 05:10 PM

heck out this introduction article on solar power:
1.Methods of harnessing the sun's energy
* 1.1 Direct solar power
* 1.2 Indirect solar power
2.Forms of solar power - either passive or active

Posted by: solar power [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 15, 2006 04:58 PM

Another way to stop financing Saudi Arabia is to only use synthetic oil made in the USA. Not only is synthetic oil better for your car, you use less of it, you get better gas mileage and the engine and transmission can last many years longer without breaking down. Check out Amsoil. They are the very first people to come out with synthetic oil in the USA. Help fight foreign oil dependency. The oil they sell is all mail order, so you do not have to look around for local dealers. This oil is also perfect for the Prius. Until cars are 100% electric, we will still need oil to lubricate the internals.

Posted by: Amsoil at February 17, 2007 09:24 AM

Just for the record your still funding terrorist, you just don't know it. If you want to stop funding terrorist, the FIRST thing you should do, and THE MOST IMPORTANT THING, is STOP PAYING TAXES. It will cost you a good attorney, but it is possible to stop paying taxes.

Until then you will ultimately fund terrorists for everyday you are alive.

Posted by: Anon at February 17, 2007 10:23 AM

Nice post. Two things:

1. "You don’t want a system too big." In truth, I wouldn't mind if I gave my electric company a little bit more energy than I used since it would replace ever so slightly the dependance on fossil fuel-based electricity (used by others).

2. "the price of electricity goes up on average 3% to 5% per year." True, but if you would invest the $22,000 in bonds or low-risk funds, you would gain back those inflation-linked percentage points and more. I don't mean to be discouraging, I agree that clean energy is a must, just a bit more financially realistic.

Posted by: at February 17, 2007 07:48 PM

Another factor not shown is that after the 6-7 year break even you can invest your former electric bill. 250/mo @ say 10ish percent over say 20-30 years = huge dollars

Posted by: Buddy at March 26, 2007 01:00 PM

To be relatively independent from grid is at least good feeling. Also, what if energy prices sky rocket because of all fuel and political issues?

Posted by: marg at September 19, 2007 11:30 PM

This is GREAT news! But how can we stop the Islamic fundamentalist terrorists from purchasing this setup and using it to their own advantage?
A government body should be set up to regulate the usage of solar power (and wind too) and only allow upstanding citizens to own these items.

Posted by: Johnny Smith at September 27, 2007 08:16 AM

right... nice read. the terrorist remarks could have been put in some kind of sarcasm tags. Any updates on how the setup is doing?

Posted by: at September 18, 2008 01:07 PM

The sun radiates an immense amount of energy to the Earth. If it could all be tapped, the amount of solar radiation that reaches the globe every half hour would be enough to meet worldwide energy consumption requirements for an entire year.

Posted by: Solar Panels at December 15, 2008 08:57 AM

Would have been a better article if it wasn't riddled and molested by political references.

For the record, the majority of US oil comes from Mexico and Canada. Only a few middle eastern countries are even in the top 10.

Posted by: Shaun at June 10, 2009 06:50 PM

If the parts are only warrantied for 5 years then how can the system be guaranteed to run for 30 years?

You're going to have maintenance or insurance costs on the system.

Posted by: Rodney at October 3, 2009 06:03 AM

The inverters have a warranty of 5 years - the solar panels are supposed to work without problems for 30 years.

There are no moving parts in the solar panels - so I'm pretty sure there will be no problems there.

That said, you're right - there might be issues with the inverters - but I've had the system now for almost 7 years and so far I only had one maintenance call on one inverter.

Posted by: David Melle at October 3, 2009 11:15 AM

Neil Solarcell here. This is a wonderful idea and similar to what I have set up at home. The savings do start to rack up after year 7 or so typically.

Great post!

Posted by: Neil Solarcell at August 31, 2010 08:14 AM

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