I’ve been asked how I reached the decision to use solar, this is the story.

The way the media presents renewable energy feels misleading, and I didn’t realize this until I did my own research. They go on and on about saving the planet and fail to point out just how genuinely useful this stuff is.

I live in the middle of nowhere and the regular power fails every now and then. When I started looking for backups, my first thought went to a gasoline powered generator. I looked at a few, but the ones that were a reasonable size and price, were weak, they would need to be refueled every 10 hours or so. If I fueled it at sundown, it wouldn’t even last through the night and I don’t want to deal with flammable liquid in the middle of the darkness of night. The other weaknesses are that they’re stinky and loud, thus need to be kept away from the house and I don’t have that much room far enough so that it’s not a bother.

I looked at gas cylinder generators next. They lasted a lot longer, but they were still a little stinky, though less so, and they still made some noise even if it was also less. The cylinders can be refilled, but I’d have to wait for the gas to be delivered, since it’s not as easy to get ahold of as gasoline.

Finally, I went to look at solar, with no intension of taking it seriously, I was just there because some coworkers had good things to say, but I wondered if they were just missing something in the fineprint. I was surprised at how useful this sort of thing is. The key are not the widely advertised panels, the true core are the batteries. Hearing about solar power from a salesperson and from a client is completely different from hearing from environmentalists and the media. They skip the what ifs and planet stuff and go straight to the point: why this is good for me and those close to me in the present.

A full 24 hours of moderate power (lights, computers, wifi, TV, refrigerator, fans), I got the economy version, so I’m staying away from high power (microwave, stove and inefficient ACs like the old one I have). I prefer to eat take out and don’t like hot food (it makes me nauseous), so that doesn’t bother me. As for the AC, it would be a generator killer anyway, and upgrading generators is harder, since they can’t be easily integrated and more power means more fuel expenses and more stench. Maybe I’ll get a better AC in the future that’s more efficient, or maybe I’ll just get an exclusive battery pack for it, but for now I’m fine. I don’t get hot easily, I mostly turn on the AC to drown out the annoying crikets outside. I could just as well use a fan and play white noise on my phone on a loop.

I used to think it would be good to hold off on renewable energy until it became cheaper and more efficient. I thought the country should benefit from what’s easiest for as long as it can and maybe that would help the economy. But now, I’m all up for moving to renewable full speed, because in the long run it actually is cheaper, more reliable, more convenient, and when I say the long run, I mean within my lifetime.

I would switch to full solar if I could, my little backup is set to last a day without sunlight and the full power expensive version I didn’t get would last three, upgrading is remarkably easy though, since the overall system is pretty modular. Granted, it may not be for everyone, (certainly not for tall buildings with little roof space relative to the floor space) but for someone who lives in a single story house this close to the equator line, I’d worry about the apocalypse if the sun fails to shine for a full day, because it always has, every day, for as long as I’ve lived, it’s ridiculously reliable.

I did the math and I can pay for about 14 years of power (not adjusting for inflation) with what I would have to invest to get full solar equipment that comes with a 25 year warranty. Assuming power doesn’t become more expensive (which it likely will) and all my equipment breaks down the second the warranty expires (which it likely won’t) that’s still at least 10 more years of power. Too bad I don’t have the money for the initial investment, all the more reason to be on the side of development, so that maybe one day it’ll be cheaper, better, and affordable. I would love the independence that comes from making my own power without relying on public power, which is not reliable at all.

In conclusion, I’m pro renewable energy, but not because of the environment, I’m in it for me.

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