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Documentary Shines A Light On The Solar Solution
May05

Documentary Shines A Light On The Solar Solution

What do an American worker, a Tea Party activist and a Chinese entrepreneur have in common? They’re all are racing to lead the global future of clean energy and their journeys are featured in Catching the Sun, a new documentary that showcases how doing good by the environment has created a boom in the renewable energy job sector.   “I was fascinated by the idea that solar power could democratize and decentralize energy in a way that creates economic opportunity for workers and entrepreneurs,” said Director Shalini Kantayya.   Kantayya’s film jumps between countries around the world that are fast-tracking solar production and follows some of the stories that have unfolded in its wake.   Among these stories are  Zhongwei Jiang’s , an entrepreneur in Wuxi, China, who grew up without electricity until he was 7. In 2003 Jiang took out a small interest loan from the Chinese government to start a solar company WesTech, which has grown by 50% every year and has expanded to Germany.   Other stories include those of solar installers in America who’ve found job opportunities in the burgeoning industry and a mayor who has fought tooth and nail against an oil corporation’s interests after a spill devastated her town.   The movie shows how one out of 83 new jobs created in the U.S. in 2014 was in the solar industry as a result from nearly 784,000 homes and businesses in the country embracing solar to save money and elevate property values.   Catching the Sun can be viewed on Netflix, downloaded on Vimeo or seen at select screenings taking place around the country....

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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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Electricity for Beginners

This is a introduction to some of the fundamental concepts of electricity. Think of electricity like water flowing through a pipe that‘s pitched on a hill.  Gravity is the force that pushes the water down the pipe- this would be your voltage.  The amount of water that moves through the pipe would be your current, or amperage. A volt is a unit that measures the force of electrical pressure that moves electrons.  An amp is measurement of the current flowing through a wire. One amp of current moving with the force of one volt is equal to one Watt.  Naturally, multiplying the volts by the amps will give you your total power in Watts. Volts (V) x Amps (A) = Watts (W) We’re all familiar with Watts, as they’re used to rate household appliances. One thousand Watts is equal to one kilowatt. 1000 Watts (W) = 1 kilowatt (kW) When electricity is being used, we typically refer to it as “energy,” which is expressed is watt-hours (or kilowatt-hours).   A watt-hour is when an appliances draws electricity at a rate of one Watt for one hour.   Your electric bill will show you how many kWh your home uses. Watt-hours (Wh) = Watts x Hours 1000 Watt-hours (Wh) = 1 kilowatt-hour (kWh) Back to the actual flow of electrons- current.  There are a couple kinds of electrical current:  Direct Current (DC) and Alternative Current (AC).   Direct Current (DC) only moves in one direction, just like in that pipe metaphor we used earlier.  DC current is the kind of electricity that solar panels produce or the kind of electricity that can be stored in batteries.   Alternative Current (AC) is the kind of current that’s constantly moving back and forth.  It’s the same kind of electricity that you use on a daily basis when you plug into an AC outlet in your home.  Utility companies provide AC electricity and the overwhelming majority of electronics that you use run on AC power.  Because solar panels produce DC and you use AC, your PV system requires an inverter.  The inverter turns the DC electricity that comes out of your solar panels into grid-quality AC so you can use it to power all your lights, appliances, etc. An electrical circuit is a “circular” path of electrons from a voltage source through a conductor (i.e. wire) to the load and then back again.   When this pathway is opened and continuity is broken, the electrons can’t flow through and in this example, the light will turn off.  When you flip the light switch, you’re opening an electrical circuit.  Kind of cool, huh? More on circuits next...

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