With residential solar panels why people aren't switching to all electric appliances and still use gas. Perhaps not so great savings?

1 Answer

  • 4 weeks ago

    Hey Ray, the simple reason is because of what they call the, “rubber to road ratio,” in vehicles. It works as a comparison app in residential use too. We have a wind and solar powered home here, has been for 18 years. We also still have a propane fired furnace, cook stove and water heater, although most of our heat comes from burning wood, and much of our hot water is preheated by a solar water heater. 

    Using electricity to run lighting is almost universal today, same with refrigerators, vacuums and other motorized appliances. Using electricity to run heaters, cook stove and water heaters is much more costly per BTU than any traditional sources, like natural gas, propane or even heating oil. The same is true for solar electric panels. The cost for panels divided over their life expectancy to run a furnace is about the same or maybe a little cheaper today than using utility power, but the same home can be heated with natural gas for maybe 1/3 the cost.  If you need to add more battery storage and larger inverters to run a 10,000 watt furnace at night, or a 8500 watt oven, the cost to do it with solar electricity goes even higher. It’s just that large heating appliances use tremendous amounts of power compared to electric freezers, electronics or lighting. 

    Our home has a 1.4 kw solar array and 1kw wind turbine. If I switched our cook stove, furnace and water heater to electricity I would need 7.4 kw solar, and an inverter that costs $2,400 more than the one I currently use, plus much more battery capacity. Appliances that only make heat will always work financially better on fuel. You can use solar thermal devices to heat water, or room areas pretty cheaply, hence we do that now, but per unit BTU fuel is just much cheaper. A friend down state from us did put in a huge turbine at his farm years ago, he does run electric water heaters and cooking, but told me later it would have been cheaper and easier to not install a commercial sized turbine to cook muffins. Take care Ray, Rudydoo.

    Source(s): Home power.com. AWEA.ORG. Midwestrenew.org
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