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Cost effectiveness of installing rooftop solar panels

Lonnie Chrisman 03 Mar 2015 Analytica tips, Energy and environment

Top level of the solar panel model.
If you are new to modeling, it can be very helpful to watch someone build a model from start to finish. I created a model to decide whether it would be cost-effective to install solar panels on the roof of my house, and while building it, I videoed the entire process.  It is a 39 minute video that covers a lot a ground. I show how to get started (i.e., start simple), then demonstrate the early process of identifying variables and relationships, progressive model refinement, estimation, locating key facts using public resources, managing dimensions, exploring what-ifs, creating user-interfaces to the model, evaluating the time-value of money including concepts of net present value, internal rate of return and time to recoup investment, and the analysis of whether it makes since to postpone action. All these with a down-to-earth and real-life personal example.

It is hard to find resources, articles or textbooks that cover the pragmatic skills required to actually build models. This video addresses these areas through example. I hope students and teachers can leverage this to learn or teach these important skills.

If you are wondering whether it would be cost-effective to install a solar PV system on your own house, then this is a must watch. Not only will you learn a lot about the trade-offs, but you will learn about them in a way that allows you to customize what I show you to your own situation.

Top level of the solar panel model. Top level of the solar panel model.

If you are faced with any other complex decision or modeling problem, or you just want to develop your own modeling skills, you will probably gain some insight or skills that will be useful for approaching it.

The link to the video is:   Solar Panel Analysis Video


The Analytica model developed during the video can be downloaded (so you can tailor it yourself) from: Solar Panel Analysis model.ana.

The model was created using Analytica Free 101. If you don't already have Analytica installed, and you want to try out the model or tailor it to your own situation, simply install Analytica Free 101 first.



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Lonnie Chrisman

Lonnie Chrisman, PhD, is Lumina's Chief Technical Officer, where he heads engineering and development of Analytica®. He has authored dozens refereed publications in the areas of machine learning, Artificial Intelligence planning, robotics, probabilistic inference, Bayesian networks, and computational biology. He was was in eighth grade when he had his first paid programming job. He was awarded the Alton B. Zerby award "Most outstanding Electrical Engineering Student in the USA", 1987. He has a PhD in Artificial Intelligence and Computer Science from Carnegie Mellon University; and a BS in Electrical Engineering from University of California at Berkeley. Lonnie used Analytica for seismic structural analysis of an extension that he built to his own home where he lives with his wife and raised four daughters: So, he really trusts Analytica calculations!

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