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How to Teach Kids About the Sun!
Jan28

How to Teach Kids About the Sun!

Brightening Lessons: Outdoor Experiments to Teach Children About the Sun The best way for your kids to learn about the sun is to get out in it!  There are some things that just can’t be learned on the Internet, but there are plenty of activities that can be done in your backyard that will get your children away from the light of a computer screen and into the light of day. Here are some fun ways to enlighten them about the star that’s essential to life on Earth. Show how exposure to the sun affects plant growth Buy some quick-growing grass seed and make a tiny greenhouse out of a box, with half of the grass seed covered so that no sunlight reaches it. Water both sides with your children for a couple weeks so that they can see the difference between the two. They’ll see that the grass seed that didn’t get any sunlight has hardly grown and lacks the color that the rest has, teaching them an interesting lesson about photosynthesis. Solar cooking A good lesson on how solar energy can be used is to show your children how the sun’s energy can be used for cooking. The most basic example is to fry an egg on the sidewalk (of course, you will need to live somewhere hot enough for this to work). You can also create a solar box oven using a pizza box. Here are the steps to take: Cut a flap in the lid of the pizza box, leaving an inch between the sides of the flap and the edge of the lid. Fold the flap open. You may need to use a ruler to prop it open and keep it standing up. Use aluminum foil to cover the inner side of the flap. Line the bottom of the box with black construction paper Cover the open hole where you opened the flap with clear plastic wrap and make it airtight. It may require a couple layers. Once you’ve done this, put your food on the black construction paper inside the box and set your solar box oven in a place where the most sunlight will be hitting the aluminum foil on the inner side of the open flap, causing it to reflect down onto the plastic wrap window. If you need to insulate it more, you can roll up newspaper sheets and put them on the bottom of the box. Concentrate the power of the sun As a child, you may have learned about the power of the sun by contributing to the fiery demise of some poor ants using a magnifying glass...

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Will solar work in your state? (Infographic)
Jan17

Will solar work in your state? (Infographic)

Do photovoltaics(PV) really work outside of California?   When first looking into solar, it seems only natural to assume that solar panels will work best in hot areas. Contrary to this intuition, solar panels perform best in cool environments.   You’ll get the maximum yield from your PV system when direct sunlight is hitting your array, but solar panels continue to generate electricity with ambient sunlight on cloudy days. Tip: monocrystalline solar panels are known to be more efficient in low-light conditions than polycrystalline solar panels. Rain can also rinse off “soiling,” or the dirt and dust that builds up on solar panels, making them operate more efficiently. Some areas also have rewarding “net metering” policies that credit you for the the energy your PV system generates on those clear days.  It’s fed into the electricity grid and later used to offset your energy consumption (kWh) on cloudy days or at night when you’re drawing from the utility grid.   To learn more about grid-tied PV systems, read Grid-Tied and Off-Grid Solar 101. With the installed price of solar photovoltaic (PV) systems declining, investing in clean energy is more cost-effective than ever.  Solar is even saving homeowners money in cloudier cities like Seattle and Portland. Solar is steadily appearing on more rooftops throughout the country- which U.S. cities have you noticed more PV systems being installed?...

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Solar on every U.S. roof? Infographic
Nov07
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Solar Energy 101
Oct08

Solar Energy 101

You’re the kind of person who doesn’t want someone telling you what to buy, right? Learn how solar energy can work for you by registering for this 8-part email class. Sign up for this free 8-part course. Email Address With this email crash-course in solar energy, you’ll get information you need to determine whether installing a solar system is right for you! Here are a few things we’ll cover in this eight-part course: What does it cost to go solar? How does solar technology work? How do you finance a solar system? How much solar do you really need for your home? Should you ‘Do-It-Yourself’ or find a professional solar...

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Top 5 Items You Need to Get Your Home on Solar Power
May28

Top 5 Items You Need to Get Your Home on Solar Power

Solar power is a great alternative for powering your home or business. It is a renewable source of energy that is both better for the environment and better for your pocketbook.  You can choose to add a few solar-powered items to your home to make small but positive changes, or you can decide to undergo an entire green makeover and put your whole home on solar power. Switching to solar power doesn’t need to be complicated or burdensome. You can easily make the switch by getting a few key pieces of equipment. Here are the top 5 items you will need to get your home on solar power and start reaping the environmental and financial benefits of choosing this renewable energy resource: Solar Panels Of course, the most important piece of equipment you’ll need is a series of solar panels. You can purchase them individually or buy a solar panel kit that has multiple panels and other pieces of equipment you’ll need, such as micro inverters and racking. Determining the number of solar panels you will need depends on an equation that takes into account how much power you need to run your home and how much sun-hours your home gets. It’s best to consult with a solar representative to help you determine your individual needs.   Grid-Tie Inverters Grid-tie inverters are necessary to help you convert direct current (DC) to alternating current (AC) power from your solar panels. Solar power energy is direct current, whereas the type of power you need for your home is alternating current.  Grid-tie inverters also allows for net metering, which can help you to sell surplus energy that your solar panels create back to the energy company. Racks and Mounts You’ll need a way to mount your solar panels, and racks and mounts will help you do that job. Obviously, the best place to mount solar panels is a south-facing location where they will get the most direct sunlight during the day.  For many homes, this will be the roof. However, you may also find a good location to ground-mount your array. If you’re considering adding battery backup…  Charge Controllers The intensity of the sun will vary from day to day. On especially bright days, you may get more voltage in your solar panels, which can overload your battery bank. By using a charge controller, you regulate the charge to your batteries so they don’t become overcharged and damaged. You’ll want to be sure your batteries are always protected in case you need to rely on them for power backup. Backup Battery You never know when you’re going to get a patch of...

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Small Scale Solar Electric Power Systems
May03

Small Scale Solar Electric Power Systems

In the natural world, solar energy has two primary effects: heating and photochemical. The primary photochemical effect is photosynthesis, which is the foundation upon which all carbon fuels are built. Coal, oil, natural gas, wood, alcohol and any other fuel built by life are all forms of stored solar energy. The heating effects of solar energy can be used for both heating and cooling by proper design of buildings, a practice that goes back many thousand of years. Wind power and ocean current power systems are basically means of capturing solar power for human use. A sail boat is a solar powered boat, even though most people don’t usually think of it as such. In the modern technological world we have learned to use focused sunlight to generate heat and, perversely, power refrigeration systems utilizing absorption type refrigeration. Focused sunlight can be used to power steam operated electrical generation plants and very high temperature ovens for scientific research. The ancient Greek scientist Archimedes was said to have used focused sunlight to set Roman ships on fire during the siege of Syracuse in 214-212 B.C. Modern technology has a much simpler system for producing electrical power from sunlight. The photovoltaic effect ( a very distant relative of photosynthesis) produces electricity directly from sunlight. Devices called solar cells capture sunlight and produce electricity. Solar cells are usually small, perhaps a few square inches at most. They are not very thick and are usually supported and protected by glass or plastic and can be arranged in panels with up to several hundred cells connected and supported by some sort of framework. GoGreenSolar.com offers a considerable selection of panels providing power up to 250 watts or as small as 7 watts. Portable power systems are usually designed to charge batteries and provide constant regulated power. In many parts of the world, even in remote parts of the United States, electrical power is hard to come by. If you live 50 miles from the nearest power line, the connection fee for electrical service can be quite prohibitive. Many businesses and ngo’s have designed solar power systems to provide electricity for remote sites. GoGreenSolar.com offers portable systems suitable for remote sites. They also offer components to create permanent off-grid power systems. An off-grid system can be as simple as garden lighting or a charger to allow you to sit in the park or on a mountain trail with your portable electronics, whether a cell phone or lap-top computer. Perhaps it can be a back-pack system to provide power for a back-woods camping trip. Off-grid systems can be an emergency power system or a complete power...

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