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Why Readers Digest is wrong

    Extracted from an article in Readers Digest

Solar. Forget about putting a mirror on your roof. Nowadays sophisticated solar-energy systems called photovoltaics produce electricity from the sun. Photovoltaics run $14,000 to $20,000, but these systems can substantially cut homeowners' electric bills, depending on sun exposure and electric rates. Excess energy can even be sold back to the electric company for more savings. However, solar energy often needs to be supplemented by another power source at night. You can learn more at Solar Today magazine: a Cap on Oil -- A Look at Alternative Fuels

    Article (c) 2006 Readers Digest

What this article fails to mention is the size of system,  Given the price-tag our research indicates the size at about 2000W or 2 kilowatts.  

Now, 2kW is nothing to sneeze at:  It's a large window air conditioner, or the 10 inch burner on your electric stove,  it's the dishwasher, or the refrigerator,  it's the home theater, the DVD player and the ceiling fan, it's the garage door openers, one at a time.

On the other hand 2kW isn't all that much: It's not the hot water heater, it's not the oven, it's not central air, it's not the vacuum cleaner, it's not the washing machine or the dryer.

Why are we slinging mud?  Because it's not about the sophistication of the system, it's about the efficiency.  And we're all about efficiency.  For the same $14,000 we'll give you a 7000W or 7 kilowatt system.  That's more than triple the energy.  That's enough to run all the things the PV system can't.  But that's only part of the payoff.

Since most of the time the load is less than the production, the excess goes back to the electric company.  In fact, a typical 10kW STS will generate so much power, you will start to get checks from the utility each month!  That's right, no more electric bill; that's a substantial cut.

So do the math, PV system will save you $50 per month on your electric bill, so the $14000 system will pay for itself in 280 months (that's 23 years 4 months)

The Solar & Thermal System will eliminate your electric bill say $175 per month, so it'll pay for itself in just 80 months (that's 6 years 8 months)

Now, these are both very simple assumptions, and incentives can make alter the payback.  Let's take an ideal case... both systems are free after rebate*. 

Now the PV still saves you $50 per month off your electric bill.
And the STS still saves (and/or pays) you $175 per month.

Which one do you choose?





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Updated: 09/11/10 19:32