I’ve been hearing an ad on the radio lately about a discovery that the power company doesn’t want you to know about from a guy named Frank Bates. He mentions that he could get in a lot of trouble for talking about it and calls the power companies and the government “incompetent, lying crooks who are counting on your ignorance and fear to keep your electric bills and heating bills criminally high.” OK, I’m intrigued, so what’s this guy selling?
He wants to show you the secret of how he beat ’em, and how you can beat ’em too. It’s described as a “weird” trick on the website. It sounds almost too good to be true. You can hear the commercial along with a video at the Power4Patriots website.
Upon looking further into what Mr. Bates is selling, I discovered it’s a CDROM and downloadable access to a series of pdf ebooks (about 300 pages total) and videos covering the topics of solar and wind energy. Much of it involves DIY information on how to build your own solar panels, wind turbines, and solar water heaters from components you can find in local hardware stores and online for less than you can buy equivalent off-the-shelf products. The value of this ‘package’ is $297, but with the 90% discount, the CD and downloads can be yours for only $27 + 2.99 S&H. After purchasing it, you’ll find that if you pay $67 more, you get a physical spiral bound book along with 3 DVDs that also cover solar and wind DIY projects which is basically the same material, just in a format that might be more convenient for you. If you turn that down, you’ll be offered the printed book for another $27. After that, you’ll be offered heirloom seeds for another $67 to help you through any upcoming societal collapse. So there’s a lot of upselling going on after the initial $27 investment. I’m also now on the email list and I suspect I’ll be hearing a lot more from the company in the future.
How do I know this? I know this because I invested the $29.99 in the ebook/CDROM product. After all, what kind of blogger would review a product he didn’t own? I gotta tell you, this guy’s good. I’m surprised I got out without spending another $134 for the physical book/DVDs and heirloom seeds.
You’d have to be living under a rock if you haven’t heard all the fuss about how Chinese solar panels are coming down in price so fast that they are putting companies out of business that were trying to manufacture solar panels in the U.S. Witness what happened with Solyndra and Abound Solar.
One of the ebooks and 6 of the videos are related to making your own solar panels. I was curious to see just how cheap these homemade panels would be and the book shows a bill of materials of $175 for a 65 watt panel. That’s almost $3/watt not including your labor, and the amount of labor looks quite substantial. I’d estimate the labor at 10 hours per panel or more. That’s not cheap, especially now that you can get manufactured panels that are $1/watt that are already assembled and guaranteed. The manufactured panels are designed to last 25 years, are safety agency-approved, and can withstand all kinds of weather, including hail up to 1 inch in diameter. So trying to roll your own solar panels would be a waste of time and money. And the cost of a solar system doesn’t just depend just on the panel cost. The inverter costs about $.50/watt which is quite expensive in the grand scheme of things, or about half of what you’d be paying for the panels.
And then there’s the installation cost. Of course, you can do the installation yourself if you’re capable and comfortable working on roofs. Once you add in the other ancillary parts and equipment, you can put together a solar system for about $2/watt these days using off-the-shelf components. That’s about half of what they cost just 4 years ago, thanks primarily to the drop in panel costs.
A typical house in the U.S. uses about 730 kWh in electricity per month. To satisfy this need, you are looking at approximately a 5 kW system. That system would cost about $10,000 for materials even if you’re handy and can do the installation yourself. With U.S. electricity rates now at an average at $.12/kWh, it would take about 10 years to pay for itself. That’s not too bad, considering most things you buy for your home will just depreciate over time and not save you a dime, let alone break even or start making you money in the long run. My grid-tied solar system is 5.6 kW and I haven’t purchased any electricity since it was installed nearly 4 years ago but I do get charged about $8/month to be connected to the grid. I have accumulated a surplus (about 5000 KWh) on the meter that could run an electric car for more than 20,000 miles.
The radio commercials imply that you could slash your energy bills and live free of these greedy utility companies but you cannot do that if you install a grid-tied solar system with net metering, which is the most common kind. To disconnect from your utility company, you’d need to have a battery storage system, a charge controller, and a backup generator for those times that you may have a few cloudy days in a row. A set of batteries that would hold a day’s charge of 24 kWh would cost at least another $4K and generator would add another $1K to it. So you’re looking at a much bigger expense when you talk about completely disconnecting from the power grid, I’d say at least $5K more. And those batteries would need to be replaced every 6 years or so. That makes the whole payback period kind of a moot point because of this extra recurring expense so unless you live in an area where there is no grid power, or you believe we are on the verge of complete societal collapse, it’s hard to justify an off-grid system when you can get away with the less expensive grid-tied solar system.
There are some other books included in the package related to making and installing a wind turbine (probably good for 5-10% of the average household energy needs), and some simple solar hot water and solar hot air DIY projects. Bonus materials include ebooks on surviving disasters, storing emergency water, and building a solar cooker.
So for $27, you get 10 ebooks all of which contain some useful information, especially if you’re into renewable energy or worrying about Armageddon. I didn’t feel ripped off afterwards, although the quality of some of the graphic images in the pdf files was pretty poor. I don’t know what the printed materials might look like, but the numbers on many of the charts were unreadable like the image shown below.
I’m always intrigued when I hear an over-the-top advertisement for an energy product. Most of the time they turn out to be truly worthless and horrible investments. But this one is harmless enough, and you might even find a few good ideas for your $27. But don’t get your hopes up that you’ll take your electric and heating bills down to nothing without a significant investment in time and money even if you follow all of the DIY information in the ebooks.
To Anyone, look at the length of this blog, its almost three years old. Guess what? Things have changed since this CD was put out. Do we still have those? CD’s? Anyway times have changed, and right now, I am going to look at the CD’s that I purchased via “Frank” 3 years ago. I have too. In my “retirement” and todays market, lack of interest on FDIC instruments, and as of yesterday, that’s not getting better. I just opened up my bill and am having the sweats trying to figure the budget around this. Its a hot summer, Ok I like my comfort A/C. This is the fourth month straight, where my Electric Bill is just shy of $300 for 1300kwh. Half the bill is Delivery and System charges, Yup!!! Half!!!I have to do something else, for my future and my family. Winter is coming and the Natural Gas Bills can be just as high. I have to get more energy efficient. I am being forced too. I’ve taken classes on insulation, and sealing a house, the blower door etc. I changed to LED’s after the research proved it. I am not paranoid, I am scared. As the only income provider in the home, on a limited income, Its staring me in the face every month. I don’t have a big house, 1700sf. Just the “New” Bills are more than I make in a month. TV, Cable, Internet, FKN Cell phones. Now add Electric? Half just for bringing it to me? Fossil fuels are at an all time low, so much that now it doesn’t pay to bring it out of the ground. Generations of Labor gone, because it doesn’t pay. I am still payin $3.00 a gallon for gas. Where? Where is it at? If Franks CD, engrosses me for 45 minutes and takes me away from the reality, $30.00 worth it. If I learn anything while watching it, all the more better. Yes I guess you all know where I live now, L.I.N.Y home of where between taxes and utilities they keep you broke. I am going to save $10,000 collecting bottles, and I am going Solar, I am researching on/off grid options. Like the 2015 posts have said, things in the area of generating and storing electricity have gotten better. Its my 10 Grand, and my family in the future will be saving $300 a month. God Bless you all.
My house is 1700 sqft, built-in 1970. I just purchased it 3 years ago. The first thing I did was replace the windows(old single pane that didn’t close good)with the double pane vinyl. Installed a new higher seer heat pump. Replaced the exterior doors with insulated type doors. Replaced all bulbs with LED. Put a timer on the water heater. Sealed lots of small holes where cable lines had previously been. Replaced the faucet aerators and showerheads with low flow. The previous owner had already blown the extra insulation in the attic. The fridge was only a few years old as an old one can cost you A LOT to run. My bill runs about 75.00 a month, and 30.00 of that is just for having the meter. I asked the previous owner what the bill ran when he was here and he said 250 – 300 So I feel my upgrades are saving me at least 175 a month. There is no insulation in my crawl space yet, but it will be one day, and that will lower my use a little more. Some people said I was wasting money doing the things I did until they saw my bill. Now I am laughing at them. Ps, I will be installing solar soon, the house was facing the wrong way, so I built a workshop that I could put the panels on. I only need a 7kw system to cover my use which will probably cost me 7 grand, but the cost of electricity only goes up! Most people make the mistake of getting solar before they upgrade to high-efficiency appliances or do insulating, causing them to buy much larger solar systems. To be fair with the price, our electric rates are much lower than yours, we have peak power here, so for 21 hours a day, we pay 5c per KWH, during peak(4-7pm summer, 6-9am winter) we pay 12.00 per kwh for the one highest peak hour out of the month.
Sounds bad, if you know how to work with it, you can have a really low bill. If I used 1300 kw like you, my bill would be about 100.00 Good luck with your project.
Now lets go see what Frank is selling now, I am scared. I am a 27 year several tours combat veteran, and I tell you I am scared. The changes in Policies and General Peoples Behavior is not what is was 20 years ago. People are out for themselves, Everyone is entitled. Entitled to say whatever they want, do whatever they want. Think they are deserved of Respect. Once upon a time, that was earned. I did my job and service to the country, my wife did too. She worked for the Federal Government in NYC. Two blocks from the towers on 911, and every day for the next 12 years. A rare cancer killed her. It took 8 months. She started in the Army too, 12 years. She has provided service to the nation for her whole career, one way or another doing something always for someone else. She left the military so we could have a family, and for the next 15 years we have been at war, I didn’t get to enjoy the “Family” duty calls. When she was diagnosed, I came home and took care of her on Home Hospice. Hospitals, Drs, everyone said we can’t do anything for her other than pain management, so why is she in a Hospital? I had for the first time 8 solid months with my wife in 15 years, and my son. When she died, her job didn’t even know, she was sick. How do you accumulate 689hrs Leave without pay, without someone asking why? Unlike her, they were only interested in themselves. Her Supervisor, put out a statement that she passed due to Breast Cancer. Cancer is no joke, but she didn’t pass from Breast Cancer. We worked for the American Dream, for the first time we had our own home, she knew that when she passed. She wanted to stay in her American Dream, till the day she died. Point being, You have to do things for yourself, don’t wait for someone else to do it. Don’t think the Government id going to bail you out a 4th time because you have beachfront views, and the Hurricanes which do come naturally decide to flood you out. Billions to rebuild, for some. Nothing for others. Entitled you maybe, but the American way is to Persevere under the most hardest of situations, and to do it with Honor, Dignity and Respect. I don’t know whats in your shoes, now you know a little what is in mine. No one helped us with Medical Bills, Medications, Hospital bed, and other machines to facilitate getting my wife around with the least pain, so she could have dignity in the bathroom, in the shower, in the kitchen, dining room or on the old couch in the living room so she could look at the windows. Instead of leaving her, for urinals, sponge baths, non-stop laundry so she was clean. Special Bandages to help prevent bed sores. Everything. Not because she was entitled, she deserved it, she earned it. She doesn’t know, it cost us our future, our entire thrift savings plan, You have to do for yourself, Thanks Frank, for at least letting me sit and watch, and give me the opportunity to decide and do for myself.
4.5 million dollars? Frank? Shipping conglomerates? A Patriot in a cabin? No wood for the fire? No food for the table, Not enough money to pay for Electric? Welcome to over half the middle class, all the lower income that are not able to receive subsidies. I spend my days volunteering now, the VA, Homes, the elderly, the in abled. I cut the grass, paint the door and sills, stop the leaking tub, faucet, Lend a helping hand because they might have no one else there. Sometimes it just takes two. For a majority of America it does. How many children go to bed hungry? Makes me happy that your basement is full. There is a big wrong in our way of life now, It’s not supposed to be this way. I try to make a difference by giving. I really wish, that as the patriot he claims to be, he starts to give too. Just the logistics capabilities that he has the knowledge of could benefit so many others.