I’m thinking it would be a good idea to have a solar panel in my apartment window. What will I need? I’ve looked a tiny bit on the internet but don’t understand which components I’ll need. I don’t necessarily want to get all me electric from solar, but I want to lessen my dependence on PECO.
One solar panel in an apartment window?
Ummm. This really won’t work. Not only is it not enough panels to do anything but run a clock (while the sun is out). I seriously doubt that you have a way to tie into your electric panel.
Now if you want to do it for fun, as an experiment, thats a different deal.
Check out these folks- http://www.realgoods.com/. The Solar Living Source Book is chock full of information. I think that a basic set up for turning a small house solar is about $4000. Hopefully, you have already built an energy efficent house, that gets some good passive solar.
Then, you will need to switch over to more energy efficent appliances, probably a propane fridge as well.
I was considering this. I own 40 acres that is off the grid. It’s very do-able. But takes some carefull planning. What do you do when you have a big Thanksgiving weekend, with lots of friends and it’s been cloudy with no wind for three days?
You should also be aware that proper orientation is important, since you don’t have any control over the direction your window faces. A window facing due east or west can be nearly unusable for ‘real’ solar power and heating (though it’ll probably support a dinky panel or a rechargeable calculator).
It’s hard to appreciate the effect this can have. I have solar heating, and we oriented the house for maximum effect. As a side effect, the snow in my front yard and driveway doesn’t completely melt for about a month after the other houses on our street (near Boston). The roof, and its mounted panels intercept most of the direct solar heating that would warm the snow in the winter, so it starts spring a fair bit colder (> 10C colder, some years - I’ve measured it) and during the spring it gets a small fraction of the direct solar radiation, even though we have no trees in the front yard (we do have some in the side yards, which partly shade the yard in the early morning and late after noon).
It’s annoying to see a green lawn across the street, when the packed ice glacier in my own yard won’t retreat for what seems like a geological age, but I spend at least $100 less a month on heat in the winter, and my house is 50% larger. Admittedly, my house was designed just after the oil embargo of 1979 (the second Gas Crisis), with quite beefy insulation, and a heat-exchange ventilation system I designed myself. His has the conventional insulation of two years later: the halcyon “who cares” mood of the 80’s Reagan yuppie boom (That’s not a slam. I’m a fiscal conservative, if we must use labels, but facts are facts: the early 80s were a real backlash against the 60s/70s around here)