Stamp Out Idle PV!

Please forgive us, but we need to jump up on our soapbox about something.

It now seems that everyone who wants to sell any appliance (be it a calculator, a coffeemaker, or a composting toilet) wants to sell it with a photovoltaic panel so that it can be POWERED BY THE SUN! IT’S GREEN! AREN’T YOU PROUD OF US? Well thanks, but PV is just too expensive to be dedicated to any one appliance unless you plan to run that appliance every moment the sun is shining. Who wants to pay for PV you’re not using?

Yes, there is a need for truly remote appliances (for example, an electrified fence around food crops) to be powered by dedicated PV when they are beyond the economical range of home wiring. Barring that, however, it seldom makes sense. And tiny PV panels are almost always more expensive per watt than larger panels, sometimes as much as 20 times the cost!

We consumers need to avoid getting sucked in. Buy the PV you need in nice economic quantities and centralize it (connected together) to produce as much power as possible. Use the power you need to run the appliances you need to operate. Then you can use any excess power efficiently, either as part of a net metering system or to charge up batteries in an off-grid system. It’s not green to waste energy or money.

Okay, climbing down off our soapbox now.