May 22nd, 2009
Off-Grid Solar Power House
Going green and off grid with a solar power house is easier than it sounds. Simply go with solar power for houses and then you are able to live without electricity from an utility. Deciding to have solar power for house supplies many advantages, and many are choosing this option. In fact, better than 200,000 homes are now off grid within the United States, and this figure is only continuing to get larger.
There are numerous benefits to residing in solar power homes. Being connected to the grid is not an environmental gift. Sometimes the grid can black out, leaving you with no power. When you have house solar panels you don’t have to worry about this occurring to you. Of course there is the added benefit of doing your part for the environment through sustainable building and often you can save money in the long run.
If you’re interested in solar power and going off-grid with a solar powered home, an important step to take is to figure out how much energy is needed to keep your home running. Find out whether solar power is feasible in your area. After you answer these solar power house questions, you can start checking out solar technology systems that will provide your home with the solar renewable power you want.
Many people realize the alternative energy needed is not as much as they use now. If you are going to go with a renewable energies house cutting back on energy use will probably be required. It’s not a big deal, and just means that you should shut off lights when leaving a room, turn off television when no one is watching etc.
Green energy resources enthusiasts report that they love being off grid. They know they are using renewable energy sources that is clean and great for the environment. This allows you to have the feeling of freedom that you can embrace.
May 2nd, 2009
Solar Power House powered by Thin Film Solar Panels
If you plan on building a solar power house, you will want the best power at a low cost. Although at one time it was expensive to construct a sun power solar house, today with new advancements in technology it is becoming less costly and very effective. One new product added to the house solar panels market has been the thin film solar panels, making it extremely easy to get solar energy for less money.
These new thin film pv solar panels now being used in solar powered homes, are actually layered stacks that are not thicker than packing paper. This solar technology can be seen in calculators that are solar powered and the thin film used there. They are not baked the way panels made with silicon are, the solar panels made with thin film are machine created much like a printing press.
Using these new flexible solar panels has many great benefits for a solar power house. They are not heavy and they can easily be put on various surfaces. They look good, and there are no more thick and heavy panels on the roof-top to detract from your home. Another great benefit is that these thin film solar cells are economical and provide great efficiency. The installation of these thin-film solar panels for conversion to solar power homes is definitely an idea whose time has come.
The technology and science behind new thin film solar panels is essentially the same, there are some differences in in the way the panels are manufactured. Silicon is used in wafer cells, but for the thin film cells, either copper indium gallium diselenide or cadmium telluride is placed between each thin layer. These thin home solar panels are also not made in the same way. These panels are made on huge presses similar to printing presses using aluminum foil, a process that is quite cheap.
New thin panels designed for solar power homes have been featured by CNN and even called the “Invention of the Year” by Time Magazine. The excellent pros of thin solar panels definitely make them one of the revolutionary inventions to be given this title. Add to that the fact that solar power is finally going to be as affordable as other energy forms, and these thin film solar energy panels are definitely an advancement that will change the way we think of solar energy.
April 21st, 2009
Solar Power House Generator
There are many benefits you will love when you have a solar power house. Consumers have the misconception that having a house run on solar power will be unaffordable. Although some installed solar power house systems do end up requiring a lot of money, you may be able to get a solar powered home system in place without spending a fortune. If you enjoy doing things on your own, putting in a residential solar energy system in your home may be economical and exciting.
For less than $1000, you can have your solar powered house. This setup won’t run a huge two story home but e.g. for a little cottage, you can get the needed materials for $600 or so. This price requires that you do your own work so be prepared to do some work on your own.
There are several components that you will need to purchase. Some of the materials needed are home solar panels, sealed 12 volt batteries, charge controller – 12 volts and, sine wave inverter. Each component can be bought for less than $600, a reasonable price, if you purchase via web. Then you’ll just need the special hardware for mounting, cables for the battery, fuses, and wiring to get started.
While you are starting out rather small with solar power for house, there is the option for you to add to the existing system to create a larger solar power house. You can expand the system in the future if you need to. A more comprehensive system will be needed to power larger solar power homes; however, this beginner level system is affordable and can allow you to start out easily and simply.
It really is possible to add solar power to your house for a great price. While you’ll have to do all the work, it can be fun to do this project. Start out by purchasing the supplies mentioned to get started. This will give you your start to having a house on solar power .
With many countries such as South Africa, Australia, USA, New Zealand, Canada, UK, Germany, etc., offering incentives for solar power these days, you can install your own solar energy system and possibly enjoy an incentive from the government in your area too. The best part is, you’ll be making your own solar energy home for a much smaller amount than you ever expected and on your way to running on clean energy for the needed power in your home.
April 14th, 2009
Breaking the $1/watt price barrier has been as mythical to the Solar Power House industry as breaking the 4 minute mile barrier in athletics. Until it was actually done in 1957, it was considered impossible, even fatally dangerous to the athletes attempting it. Here’s how Sir Roger Bannister described his feelings after crossing the finish line in less than 4 minutes. “It was only then that real pain overtook me. I felt like an exploded flashlight with no will to live; I just went on existing in the most passive physical state without being unconscious.” Today however, it’s a different story. Just about every country in the world has athletes that routinely beat 4 minute mile barrier. In US, some top college level athletes achieve this too.
In February 2009, First Solar Inc. threw the gauntlet by breaking the $1/Watt price barrier. Now, to anyone of us who has done some basic research on the internet, this is an astounding figure. We are used to seeing typical solar electric system prices around $2-4/Watt.
Sample solar power panel prices from basic internet search. Courtesy: http://sunelec.com
Solar Power for Houses has gone through a similar phase in its quest to achieve cost parity with traditional sources of energy like natural gas, coal, and even nuclear. There have been similar negative claims made about house solar panels. While up starts and newcomers in this industry have been on cutting edge of solar technology and driven by innovation, there have been attempts by traditional large manufacturers like BP Solar to downplay $1/Watt price barrier. According to them $1/watt is not good for the health of the solar electric power systems I am not joking folks, honestly, their claim is that manufacturing practices involved in getting the solar electric panel price so low results in poor quality and shorter life span of the solar power generator systems.
BP Solar’s claim is not entirely baseless of course. They are in this for profits, and it’s normal that they present their strengths to the consumers. They are positioning themselves as the Maytag of solar power house business. Sort of like, the machine lasts so long and you never need to call the repairman, so it’s worth it to pay some extra $ upfront. In fact they claim that over the lifetime of the solar power generation system, their modules cost 20 cents/kilowatt hour, which is the lowest cost in the industry, even if buyers pay more upfront.
However, I do believe companies like First Solar are an important part of the solar ecosystem. They push the cutting edge further, and make sure that traditional large players don’t get too comfortable. Over time, I am sure the reliability and longevity issues will be ironed out as with any new technology. In the end who benefits? You, the intrepid Solar Power House owner
April 7th, 2009
Again, we have scoured around the world wide web to bring the best on solar power house this month.
- 1BOG or One Block Off the Grid : A grassroots movement to solarize entire San Francisco, one block at a time.
Image Credit: Peter Arkle, The New York Times Co.
- Sunnyside down please: Sane followers of solar power technologies, such as the readers of this blog, know that it’s as cheap as it is made out to be to convert to a solar power house. Read on about the adventure of this Economist blogger who is forced to go solar cool by his teenage daughter. He finds out that he picked up more than he had bargained for
Solar Power House
March 31st, 2009
Image credit: Tom Underhill, Peninsula News
…Solar Power Homes of course! You know anyone who’s beaten the mighty sun yet?
The Palo Verdes Peninsula News first broke this story here. It appears that the Art Jury (yes they actually have one of those) of Palo Verdes Homes Association was repeatedly denying solar permits. Why, you ask? Because the solar panels chosen for this solar residential project happened to be blue in color. The Art Jury prefers black colored solar panels for aesthetic reasons. They are “really concerned about the aesthetics and the impact it will have on surrounding homes”. However, for solar power homes‘ owners, this was problem as black solar panels cost 30% more than the blue ones.
Fortunately, after being denied three solar permits, Bartz, owner of a solar system installation company, decided to make a stand. The city of Palo Verdes, CA sided with him, and approved the solar power homes, bypassing the Homes Association’s ruling. Simply enough, The Solar Rights Act prohibits cities and home owners’ associations from preventing solar panel installations unless they are a danger to health or safety of any resident. This was obviously not the case here so Solar power won.
This sets a great precedent for those people who want the energy savings, but suffer from “Not in my backyard” syndrome. For readers of this blog, I hope you feel encouraged by reading this. If you or anyone you know has ever been blocked in the solar panel installation by local organizations or authorities, then you know that you probably have a good case against them. The law really is on your side this time.
March 25th, 2009
Before you all start piling up on me for making my posts take a ‘violent’ turn, hang on a second and read on. There is a reason for my admittedly outrageous topic. It seems that lately it’s it not just people like you and me who are part of a growing legion of Solar Power House fans. Some of these new fans of solar energy, it seems, are thieves.
Solar panels were stolen from Jim and Shayna Powell’s roof in Palm Desert, Calif. Image Courtesy: J. Emilio Flores for The New York Times
Glenda Hoffman, of Desert Hot Springs, CA, has had 16 home solar panels stolen from her solar roof top in 3 separate burglaries. The thieves are in for some solar powered heat directed towards them if they attempt a fourth one. Glenda Hoffman’s response to the burglaries: “I have a shotgun right next to the bed and a .22 under my pillow”. She vows that if she ever catches the troublemakers, “they are not going to leave walking”.
Not that I promote gun-slinging in any form, but this would for sure be a well-deserved justice in traditional wild wild west style!
This New York Times article recently broke news about this growing trend, especially in California. The law enforcement has always been familiar with thefts of home construction items, including copper, wires, pipes etc., but this one has left them scratching their heads.
It makes financial sense from the point of view of a thief. A single solar panel can sell for several hundreds of dollars on ebay, while to make the same amount of money from say, copper, a thief would have to steal several tons, conceal it, transport it, and then try to sell it. Much easier to go for a solar panel, it would appear!
Ken Martin Jr. lost 58 panels from the roof of an office building he owns in Santa Rosa, Calif. He estimated they would cost $75,000 to replace. Image Courtesy: Noah Berger for The New York Times
From the point of view of the victims, the losses can be substantial. It’s not the cost of the solar panels themselves. So far with number of thefts, being relatively small, the homeowners’ insurance is still paying out without much resistance. However it does take time, time which can be costly, not to mention the added hassles of redoing the entire solar energy installation. For example, in the very hot town of Palm Desert, CA, some thieves stole 19 solar panels from the Powell’s solar energy installation. This caused their air-conditioning bill to shoot from $3 to $300 per month for the entire summer. They were not happy.
This of course means that we, the Solar Power House owners, need to be extra vigilant in our efforts to protect our hard won greenness. Law enforcement authorities suggest etching unique identification such as driver’s license on the panels. But would you feel comfortable that personally identifiable information (potentially usable for identity theft) fall into the hands of a thief? Talk about adding insult to injury!
I would personally think etching something else uniquely identifiable, such as a combination of birth dates of family members, combination of drivers’s licenses etc. be rather used. Some enterprising Solar Power House owners are even going in for alarm and video camera installations.
By the way, for more practical tips on how to build, finance, manage and maintain Solar Power residential projects, feel free to check out my Solar Power newsletter here.
Solar Powered Housing enthusiasts – You have been warned, there is a snake in our green garden of Eden
March 16th, 2009
A Solar Power House financed by Palm Desert municipality.Image Courtesy: J. Emilio Flores for The New York Times
We have all heard of how we can buy solar panels for a few hundreds of dollars for your Solar Power House, and immediately become card carrying members of the green brigade.
However, the fact is that average cost for creating an average fully Solar Powered Housing runs about $50,000 and several tens of thousands dollars more for a larger home in hot climate.
This enormous initial cost has become a severe stumbling block to installing solar power for house. Homeowners often balk because they fear they might not stay in their solar power housing long enough to recover their investment, which can take up to 20 years.
Enter the municipality of Palm Desert, in the beautiful state of California
A new financing program run by the municipality lends homeowners money, and allows them to pay it back with interest over 20 years as part of property tax.
The beauty of this system over private lending is that ANY local homeowner is eligible, not just those with good credit rating. Additionally, the obligation to pay the loan is attached to the the solar power house and passes on to any future buyer.
This is a win-win for both the city municipalities and homeowners. Homeowners get access to credit with lower personal risks. Cities in California are required by state laws to reduce their carbon emission, and providing access to credit for green technologies helps them meet the state requirements.
As a gauge of the popularity of the program, when Palm Desert ran this as a pilot program, it was immediately fully subscribed.
Free electricity, on easy term loans? What’s not to like