Dear Editor,

I would like to demonstrate to the citizens of Crawfordsville how practical and easy establishing a partially solar powered home is here in our fair city and how this can actually save you money. I have recently installed solar panels on my house in the center of the city. The cost was less than the average used car and the benefits will accrue for at least the next 30 years.

I installed ten 225 W solar panels on the south facing aspect of my one story garage located just east of the main fire station on June 16, 2014. The total cost for the panels and associated wiring and racks was $6,000. I was able to install the panels myself even though I am not an electrician nor am I particularly adept at construction. These panels have allowed me to reduce my average summer electric bill from about $100/month to about $50/month for a total savings of about $600/year. For those of you who understand electricity I produced 333 kWh of electricity in the month of July.

To save money further I leased an American made Ford CMax Energi plug-in hybrid car. The upfront lease payment was $2500 and I pay $230/month for the 3-year lease. The car plugs into my garage and uses a 220 V electric power supply to charge up batteries that will run the car for about 28 miles at most any speed in pure electric vehicle mode. The car charges in about 2 hrs and I use it to shop at local stores and to commute around town. When the electric charge runs out the car converts to a standard hybrid mode and gets about 45 mpg. Overall gas savings by using this car versus a conventional gasoline vehicle are about $50/week or an additional $2,600/year.

Combining the panels and car should therefore save me about $3,200/year and give an estimated payback on the investment in the solar panels of about 2 years. As I need a car anyway, I am not including the car lease as an additional expense.

The bottom line is that using solar panels in Crawfordsville saves money over using just CEL&P electricity. Saving money is a good thing.


Michael P. Fons