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Tuesday, July 29, 2008

How Much Is A Watt?

I'm trying to edumacate myself as to the possibilities of alternative power. It seems the more I learn, the more I'm aware I don't know. I was much smarter before I started reading! What exactly is a watt? Does it take 60 of them to run a 60 watt light bulb? That can't be right. I'd be using a ton of watts every time I get one of my bright ideas! Why I was so bright when I was a kid, my father used to call me sun! But seriously, what is a watt?

According to, a watt is "the SI unit of power, equivalent to one joule per second and equal to the power in a circuit in which a current of one ampere flows across a potential difference of one volt. Abbreviation: W, w." Why didn't they just say do! I new that! Yeah, that was an academy class, protecting your joules. OK, so I need to figure out how many my joules and my volts, subtract one from the other, and Bingo was his namo! I wish I didn't read that one, because now I'm going to have to figure out what it means.

Harbor Freight Tools has a really cool looking 45 W solar panel kit for $189.99! Is that good? Can you run anything off of a 45 W solar panel? Can I run the pool filter? Is it in the instructions from the filter people? Did they say in the operating instructions to plug it into to the wall outlet, or a 45 W solar panel? No, they skipped that step! They also have this thing called power inverter. I wonder if I need one of those? It's only $24, so I will probably spring for that too.

Will I need batteries to store the power for days when the sun doesn't shine? People have told me over the years to stick things where the sun doesn't shine, I guess this is what they mean? What's the best way to mount the panels? Do I have to build a cabana so it looks good? How long will it take for me to earn my $189.99 back and start saving money? I saw somewhere that the amount of sunlight that hits the earth every second is enough to power all the planets energy needs for a year! I bet I didn't read that tidbit on BG&E's website!


mdmhvonpa said...

I went down this path too. Don't do it. The solar tech is just not there yet to make the ROI work. You would be much better off using the sun's heat for a solar water heater. You cannot just buy any old power inverter either ... and remember, when the sun is down, so is your power. You can do something more realistic like having solar powered attic fans installed though.

awb said...

Aw man! I was hoping I had it wrong and Harbor Freight saved the world. I am starting drilling my cans for my solar heater this week, so at least there's that.

karylc said...

Your uncle Donnie had a solar panel on the house at Bonnywick Rd. Was as big as half the garage roof. Installed in 1982. To this day still powers the electric water heater.

awb said...

That Uncle Donnie has always been a trend setter!