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What People Are Saying...

"...just a few days after reading your incredibly easy to follow guide, I was confident enough to build grid-inter-tied solar power system as outlined. This not only powers my entire house, but literally makes my electric meter run backwards! This guide easily paid for itself many times over in just a few weeks... "
Adam W
Venice, CA

"...your book answered all my questions about solar energy, wind turbine energy, and more!...I didn't know there were different options including the portable options, my first project and very easy... and off the grid too!... with your help, anyone can save money on their electric bill and help the environment by going green with your solar energy, wind energy, and other ideas. I think my own mother could do this...NOW!"
Louis Zanolli

"...just wanted to drop a line to say thanks. After receiving your guide we made our own solar panel grid, and it's giving us more than enough energy to power our household appliances. OUr next step is to build a wind powered system for those cloudy days. We've already noticed how much money we can save!

Thanks again for giving us the know how to help make this a better world for our kids and grandkids."
Pleaman

"...After reading this valuable information, I now can create my own energy saving solar generator as well as a wind turbine. This book made me realize how easy it is do these tasks. Maybe easy is not the word, because it does take energy on our part to get out there and use these devices to work for us! I would recommend to anyone wanting to save the environment (for our children) to grab hold of this book, and more importantly use it. You won't regret it..."
Mya Rubio
CA

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Solar Power House – How to Live Off Grid

Off-Grid Solar Power House

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.

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Solar Power House – Why Time Magazine Calls Thin Film Solar Panels Invention of the Year

Solar Power House powered by Thin Film Solar Panels

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.

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Solar Power House – Getting started on your homemade solar power system

Solar Power House Generator

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.

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Solar Power House – Breaking the mythical $1/Watt price barrier

Solar Power HouseBreaking 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

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 :-)

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Solar Power House – This month in Review, March 09

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.

    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

    Solar Power House

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Another solar power homes fan builds his own home solar power system

A brief layout of his solar system that he installed about 2 weeks ago.

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Obama’s Economic Stimulus Plan and its Impact on Residential Solar Power

BrightSource Solar Thermal Power Plant
Image credit BrightSource Energy Inc.

We love a Solar Power House on this blog. However, the fact remains that the future of Solar Power Homes lie in utility scale mega solar power plants rather than a few solar panels scattered across the roof-top of individual homes. They have their place, but for now roof-top solar panels are simply too expensive and not necessarily greener than traditional electricity sources. In fact by many estimates, it takes more energy to produce a solar panel than what the panel will produce over its entire life-time. More on this in a blog-post to-come.

Utility scale solar power plants (and that too the ones which use solar thermal technology, not photovoltaic or more commonly referred to as solar panels) are the only ones, which come close to providing electricity reliably to 1000s of homes at reasonable prices.

So when I heard that the delays in passing President Obama’s economic stimulus package through Congress is impacting some solar power plant operators, my ears perked up.

Solar power companies, like other industrial companies, are capital intensive in nature. They need large amount of upfront investments to get going. In traditional times these companies typically raise money by either borrowing (Bonds, other debts) or raising cash in stock markets. However, with the massive credit crunch and underperforming equity markets, neither of those is a viable option. Credit and cash, the lifeblood of a viable economy has dried up. In these times, their only source of help is government aid.

For example, BrightSource Energy Inc. has signed contracts with California utility PG&E to provide 900 MW of solar thermal power. However, it still hasn’t secured financing for the project which is scheduled to start power delivery by end 2011.

According to an interview of the CEO, John Woolard as reported in this Reuters article

“We should be able to turn dirt over and start construction in the fourth quarter of this year, but big financings don’t come in months,” Chief Executive John Woolard said in an interview at the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. “Depending on what happens out of the stimulus bill, it could get pushed back.”

“If you were to wait for private markets to come back completely, you’d be waiting a long time. But if you look at what you can do with the right amount of government support, you could see things happen this year,” he said, calling the stimulus package “one of the most important pieces of legislation in renewables, period.”

Let’s hope, that Barack Obama who has run his campaign on a platform of Hope, backs up hope with some real $ for the solar power sector.

 

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No Trouble in This Hawaii Solar Power House Paradise

Hawaii has one of the highest costs of living in the entire United States. Middle class families typically pay $300/month for a single family residence electric bill. So, when Hawaii’s largest solar farm was recently completed on Lanai, one would expect the residents to breathe a sigh of relief expecting some electricity bill relief themselves.

No cigar. At least not yet. The 10 acre solar farm provides enough power to meet 30% of the island’s electricity demand, and is also the site of a proposed 400 MW wind farm. However, high capital investment requirements of these projects mean that the residents will continue to pay same electricity rates for the short to medium term. However, innovation in Solar Power House technologies and increasing economies of scale means that the cost of solar power is falling at the rate of 10% per year. This translates to roughly less than half of today’s prices in 6 years. This means that very soon and certainly over their life times the residents can expect to realistically see meaningful reductions in their electricity bills. Show me the money indeed :-)

Meanwhile in the immediate future they are spared from the pollution caused by fossil fuels, independence from fuel price volatilities. Additionally, national security implications are not to be forgotten as we stop funding countries whose values and way of life are different from ours.

This Hawaiian paradise just became even more attractive!

 

Image Courtesy Allianz

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Bad News for Solar Panel Manufacturers is Good News for Solar Power Home Owners

There is no question that the years from 2001-2007 have been boom years for all solar equipment manufacturers globally. The demand rose exponentially, existing players invested in building new plants, and several new players sensing a new growing market entered the playing field.

Now that we are in a full blown global recession however, the supply of not only solar panels has far exceeded demand, but also those of raw materials needed to build solar panels.

See the drop in price for Polysilicon used in solar panels.

Businessweek ran a great article on this story here.

Due to overinvestment in capacities ala airline and automobile industries, supply has far far exceeded demand.Several solar manufacturers will become unviable in the coming year or two, and there will be big industry consolidation.

The prices of solar panels have shrunk dramatically to $3/Watt. This means that the price of solar power electricity is getting very close to that produced by conventional means, especially in high priced states like California and Hawaii.

Wow! This can only mean that the price barrier to Solar Power Homes is rapidly tumbling down. And the Return on Investment equation just got even better in favor of a Solar Power House. If you are interested in knowing more about how to build fully functional and practical Solar Power Homes without sacrificing daily comforts, then please check out this Solar Power Homes guide. It really is the best and most complete book on this subject that I have come across.

May the solar winds be with you :-)

Images: Courtesy Businessweek

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You Know Your Solar Power Homes, but Have you Heard of Solar Power Music?


Sacramento based alternative rock band CAKE has gone one step ahead of Solar Power Homes. The roof of their music studio is covered with a roof-top solar array which makes them completely independent from the city electricity grid. They estimate that the band uses only 10% of the solar power, and the rest is sent back to the grid.

This is not the only step they have taken to go green however. The band is heavily involved in the green movement and is known to give away trees to their fans. They also operate a ridesharing website as part of their main website.

This is one instance of not only getting to have your CAKE but eat it too :-)

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