As a homeowner who sets up an off-grid solar panel system for home use, one realizes it is a pain to have an extension cord snaking its way into the living room through an almost-closed window.

As long as Harbor Freight is still giving away 20% off coupons for a $250 45-watt solar panel setup and inverters are still relatively cheap, I don't see the harm in anyone generating a few watts with an off-grid system.

It sure beats having to go through a set of Federal Energy Regulatory Commission hearings just to get paid once a year for excess unused electricity under SDG&E's proposed Net Energy Metering plan now in front of CPUC.

Most home owners ought to be capable of installing some appropriate extension cords in the walls with separate outlets, so that the panel-connected inverter simply plugs in outside the house, and lamps and other appliances plug in on the inside. Totally modular, I say.

I haven't spent all the money to do it, but I expect that a $2500 investment in off-grid solar panels ought to cut the SDG&E bill by half or more over the next two decades or so, maybe more like a 70-80% savings as long as I don't run all of my appliances together at the same time all day long. Of course, I could do that with no worries by adding a few panels more.

At least I'll have some power of my own to rely on when the rest of us are alone in the dark after a grid failure.

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