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Happy Thanksgiving!

Forget the oven, cook a turkey with a solar oven. Yes it’s quite possible to use the sun’s energy to cook meals. Many people in rural areas and developing nations are dependent on solar cookers. Here in the USA, the only time you see a solar cooker is when you go to a solar energy gathering, many solar energy hobbyist cook delicious treats using solar cookers. I think the vast public here in the USA has no idea about this effective, low cost way to use the power of the sun. Many people make solar cookers at home with cardboard boxes and aluminum foil, it’s that simple, there are great tutorials online that show you step by step how you can make a solar cooker with simple items that you have laying around at home. If you had a fleet of solar ovens and did some pre-planning, it would be possible to cook your entire Thanksgiving feast with solar energy. The amazing part is that a well built solar oven would be able to cook a big turkey…typically Turkeys take all day to cook in the oven…Imagine how many kWh (kilowatt-hours) wasting. With a solar oven, the sun is providing the energy to cook your meals for free. When is the last time you got something for free? There is a society of people, called Solar Cookers International who have been using solar cookers for a long time and share their tasty recipes , you can also pick up a solar professional solar cooker if your a serious chef. If you’re like me, when attempting to cook you end up burning your food, don’t got to worry about burnt food with a solar cooker, because its impossible to burn your food since there are no “hot spots” the temperature in a solar cooker raises evenly. I find it interesting how many people out there are making the sun work for them by heating hot water, generating clean electricity and even cooking all from the power of the sun! Happy...

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Want more power out of your solar array?

Don’t cook your batteries, when your dealing with a off-grid or grid tie solar with battery back up solar electric systems, you need a charge controller to protect the battery from overcharging which causes battery damage. Standard charge controllers can be fairly inexpensive compared to MPPT charge controller, but for the people who want the most power output, the MPPT is worth the extra price. What is is MPPT all about? Well, it stands for maximum power point tracking and what it does is keeps your the solar panels’ voltage and current at a point in which it maximizes the output of the solar array. Follow me? MPPT charge controllers are relatively new technology that first started being used in the late 90s, although today MPPT based controllers have evolved and became more reliable and are generally used in larger systems. If your using solar panels to charge a couple batteries then the benefits of a MPPT charge controller will not outweigh the cost. Although if your using solar panels and batteries for your home or business, well it would make sense to look into a MPPT controller. The picture above shows a Outback MX-60 MPPT charge controller with a LCD screen that shows important charging status. Do you think its worth the extra cost to go with MPPT based...

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Stronger, Easier to Install Solar Panel Racking

Make sure your solar panels aren’t gone with the wind, your making a long term investment so having a reliable solar panel racking system is critical. Released in 2003 the SunFrame manufactured by UniRac has redesigned their product as a stronger and easier to install solar panel mounting frame. The new SunFrame is compliant to the 2007 California Building Code, which minimizes your chances of running into problems with a building inspector during the final check off of your completed solar power system. Grounding your solar power system is simple with the SunFrame therefore it not only reduces your installation time but also means you have to make less penetrations thus reducing the risk of compromising the roof. The SunFrame is offered in anodized silver and...

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More affordable solar panels in 2009?

Generally most consumers don’t go solar because of the high upfront cost, but moving forward in 2009, not only are there more tax credits and other financial incentives for you to reap but the prices of solar panels are predicted to drop because of oversupply. This is great news for you as the consumer because a majority of the cost of a complete solar electric system comes from the solar panels. The solar power industry has been growing at about 40% each year and there has been high demand for limited amount of solar panels which was one reason for the higher cost of solar panels. Now more manufacturing capacity has been deployed, therefore causing the oversupply in the market, thus dropping down the cost per watt. Do you think that more people will adopt solar power for their home or business next year? Do you think the challenges in the financial markets will slow down the growth rate of the solar power...

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National Electric Code and Solar Electric Systems.

What’s the National Electric Code (NEC) all about? You’ve probably heard this term if your considering to install solar panels yourself. The code refers to the United Standards for the safe installation of wiring and electrical equipment. The NEC is part of the fire code and is written by National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) the comprehensive and authoritative safety standard includes best pratices for solar electric systems. If you are considering installing solar electric system yourself or want to learn more about the saftey standards of installing solar pv systems, you should use the 2005 NEC code as a starting point in your jorney. You can download the NEC 2oo5, through this...

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Lead Acid Battery 101

Considering a off-grid or grid-tie with battery backup solar panel or wind power system? Well make sure the batteries you purchase are deep cycle. Lead Acid Batteries are common with renewable energy systems because their upfront cost is lower and they are available worldwide. There are many sizes and capacities of lead acid batteries to meet the needs of your solar panel system but the most important difference is to understand the difference between shallow cycle and deep cycle batteries. Shallow cycle batteries are not meant to be discharged more than 20%, otherwise the lifetime of the battery will be very short, therefore you will have to replace the battery very often and do not make a good choice for a solar power system. Deep cycle batteries on the other hand are designed to be discharged by as much as 80% of their rated capacity, therefore they are a cost effective fit for a solar panel system because they will last much longer then your typical shallow cycle battery. Letting any type of lead acid battery remained fully discharged for days at a time can permanently damage the battery and can cause a loss of charging capacity. Therefore if you are considering a system with batteries, be prepared to maintain and keep an eye on the battery bank to make sure its being charged. With proper care deep cycle lead acid batteries will have a long service life and will be compatible with most power generation systems such as solar panels or wind turbines although with poor treatment and lack of maintenance the battery life will be very short. Many customers who have electric service want to go “off-grid” but don’t really understand what they are getting themselves into when working with batteries. Off-grid solar and wind power systems should be used in areas where there is no access to electric service. If you currently have electrical service at your home or small business you are better off purchasing a grid tie solar power system or a grid tie wind turbine. Grid-connected systems often break even faster and require less maintenance because these types of systems require no batteries. Any extra energy produced is stored right into the gird and the utility gives you credit for future use of that electricity. Potentially you can develop a system that can offset 100% of your yearly electrical usage, basically zero out the amount you are charged for electricity consumption. Connecting your system to the utility gird is called “Net-Metering”. If your considering a small battery for backup power, you might want to consider the Xantrex Xpower 1500, which deep cycle battery...

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