Build Your Solar Panels – DIY and Shine!

It’s not difficult to build your solar panels and assemble them into a system. You can obtain most of the items by going online. And just like shopping locally you can also shop around online and so benefit that way also. You’ll find that many suppliers will be only too pleased to provide you with practical advice as well as plans. This makes your task so much easier because you’ll be able to get answers to YOUR questions. This will save you a lot of time, too.

If you look around your workshop or garage you’ll probably find that you already have all the basic tools needed in order to build your solar panels. If not you can easily obtain them at your local hardware.

Some people may want to obtain everything new. But, really, why can’t one use what is on hand? Why buy new items when you can easily use or adapt what you already have? There is a sense of satisfaction, of achievement in adapting what one already has. And an added bonus is that you tidy up your garage or workshop!

When buying photo-voltaic cells (PV cells) make sure you select the pre-tabbed type with the wiring pre-terminated. This will simplify the electrical connections later on.

Have you ever heard of the saying “Hasten slowly”. You can really save time by setting aside some thinking time. Plan how you are going to go about building the solar panels. Treat yourself to a mug of coffee. Make sure you have all the necessary components including glue, solder, flux, cables, blocking diodes and water resistant silicone sealing compound. Decide where the panels are going to be sited. A south-facing slope of about 30 degrees is needed, and not shaded (at any time throughout the year).

Give some thought as to how you are going to connect the wiring to where you intend to site the storage batteries. Make sure you provide adequate protection from the summer’s heat and the winter’s cold, from snow, and ensure it is properly secured from wind.

Thinking time now is time well spent. Its value will increase with time.

To be able to properly focus on building your solar panels it is advisable to set aside a weekend. You will also need adequate clear space in the workshop or garage so that you can move around and work safely. A clean and dust-free environment is needed.

Connect the wires to the tabs on the solar panels and connect the blocking diodes in accordance with the plan. Connect the cable leads to the storage battery. Fit the plastic lid to the battery and seal the whole unit with the silicone. Make sure it is fully sealed.

Next, fit the insulation to the back of the housing, and mount the panels on the roof (or wherever has been chosen). Now paint all the housing black (but not the lid!).

The completed solar panels can be quite bulky and one person can find it difficult to handle especially with wind blowing so it is always wise to get assistance as required from another person. The saying “When one fails to plan one plans to fail” applies also to safety. Keep safe, and you’ll enjoy the project.

Click Here to Discover How Easy It Is to Build Your Solar Panels and Never Have to Pay Utility Bills!

A final point. If you get the opportunity to see solar panels being installed it will make your task so much easier. Alternatively, offer to assist others who installing their solar panels. Besides helping others the experience so gained will make your project so much simpler and easier.

Building your own solar panels should be fun and moreover one should get a sense of satisfaction, of achievement. With your own solar power you need never be concerned at power outages – never!

Actively Pursue Your Green Energy Lifestyle!

Live the green energy lifestyle!

Be a role model, and expand your reach. Start or join an active advocacy group for green energy in your community. Pass on relevant and valuable information about what can be done to avert global warming and related matters through, for example, the effective use of solar energy. This will help awaken awareness and inspire participation. Your modest clean energy efforts can bring about some significant changes into your own life, into your family’s and to your neighborhood. Remember, real change occurs when enough people see the need for it, and they see the need more clearly when they come to realize how a lack of change will directly affect them.

Regardless of your background and profession, it is certain that you can personally contribute something of value advocating for clean energy because everyone is an energy consumer. Everybody is a stakeholder because we are all inhabitants of this one planet earth.

Are you an engineer, electrician, or simply a Do-It-Yourself (DIY) enthusiast? Then, you can provide information and technical assistance on how to build devices that can use energy from renewable sources like homemade solar panels, solar generators, solar water heaters for homes or for swimming pools, or wind turbines, among others. Or, you may want to refer on to reliable services providers who can best assist.
If you are an architect, a draftsperson, a landscape contractor, a garden hobbyist or a designer, a car dealer, a real estate agent, why not encourage and help your community members to build a passive house or a zero energy building (ZEB) by providing relevant and useful information, designs and plans? Why not discuss with them the possibility and feasibility of an off-grid home or the advantages of an off-grid RV?
Are you a purchaser, a salesperson, or someone who is involved in the buying and selling of supplies? Then, why not inform your neighbors about the latest appliances using solar energy that are available in the market, for example, solar laptop chargers, solar cell phone chargers, solar power battery chargers, and solar power batteries? You may also want to let them know how and where to buy home appliances with better energy ratings or where to procure the best DIY tools, materials and supplies and for the least cost.
Are you a teacher, a student, or a community or a school worker? Then, push for green projects in your school and at home, for example, energy conservation, recycling of wastes or proper waste management, avoidance of waste. Do this through discussion forums, information campaigns and actual project implementations. Students learn effectively through simple, practical activities. Preachers can inspire their congregation members to make and keep their respective areas as paradise on earth where genuine peace reigns and clean energy sustains life.
Doctors, nurses, health workers, therapists, athletes, trainers and other allied professionals can remind their patients, clients, colleagues and community members about the health implications of opting for and the importance of transitioning to green energy.
Media people, artists and the like can use the power of their medium to educate and raise awareness. Legislators can enact relevant laws while the executives can implement the environmental and green energy laws properly, while the judiciary dispenses justice. Entertainers can help through fund raising projects and raising awareness as well.

Living the Green Energy Lifestyle.

The list of possible participation in this global green energy campaign is infinite and can go on and on. The important point is that you know you fit in, that you are living the green energy lifestyle, that you are able to make a real difference and that you can take action now.

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Alternative Energy for Your Home: Definitely THE Best Way to Go!

From time immemorial – and even before humans discovered fire – the earth has been powered mainly by fossil fuels such as oil, trees, coal and natural gas.  Yet, today’s alternative energy home has distinctly evolved, clearly demonstrating its absolute preference to obtain energy from alternative sources. This is easily understandable, primarily as fossil fuels are non-renewable, they are fast becoming more scarce, and depleted, and consequently, expensive.  More importantly, the concomitant carbon emissions from fossil fuels pose greater hazards to people’s health and graver threats to the sustainability of earth’s eco-system in general.  Undeniably, it’s about time that people seriously consider the need, and the benefits, for alternative energy homes.

Notably, an alternative energy home can utilize any and all forms of energy sources other than oil, coal and natural gas.  Mostly, these are renewable energy coming from the sun or solar energy, from wind, from water or from the earth itself.  Who can argue against the absolute reality that the sun is actually always up 24/7 somewhere on the globe; that the wind is blowing forcefully in most vast and open spaces; that the globe in greater part is made up of water; and that the earth is spewing out thermal energy from within its core in boundless, unlimited supply?

By raising people’s awareness of these issues through provision of information and by conveying its relevance to their lives people can be encouraged to properly harness and genuinely care for these gifts of nature. And by doing so, this will greatly increase the chances that the earth’s inhabitants – and future generations also – will enjoy these natural endowments for the longest period possible. The significance of alternative energy home cannot be overemphasized since the generation of power from alternative sources is one of the best ways to go to save our planet, our homes and ourselves.

This article highlights solar and wind power as the most common alternative renewable energy sources used by a majority of concerned and conscientious US households today.

Solar Energy

As mentioned earlier, the sun is one excellent and reliable source of renewable energy. Both heat and electricity can be generated from sunshine.  Solar power uses direct conversion of radiation by means of a solar PV system.  The good news is that as of the latest estimate, the use of alternative energy in homes is on the rise taking into account that 200,000 homes use solar power to generate electricity.  Its practical and effective application for home use has also been successfully observed in solar water purification systems and solar hot water generation systems.

The price of solar power tends to decline as the technology becomes available and more accessible to more and more homes. This provides a real option for people desiring to save on utility bills, to minimize carbon emissions and to make use of a clean and green power source.

Wind Energy

Given the types of equipment that are now not only available but also affordable, an alternative energy home benefits from the consistency and reliability of wind power (as well as its zero cost!). Such systems work well especially in locations where heavy wind abounds.

Of course the wind does not blow continuously so it is necessary to store energy in batteries for those times when there is no wind. By setting up a small wind turbine approximately 20 kilowatts of energy can be generated.  Such wind power systems should be more than adequate to power a great number of American family dwellings.

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How to Make a Wind Generator

Wind generators
When thinking about how to reduce the demand for energy sources polluting the environment one need look no further than the wind that blows for free.
Most people are familiar with the picture postcards of windmills that used to dot the landscape in Holland, but modern DIY wind turbine construction is a quite different. However it is still very easy to learn how to make or build a wind generator.

Today’s Wind Generators

The wind generators of today do not need to be heavy and bulky. The windmill is replaced with state of the art technology that generates electricity efficiently for the home, for towns and for small cities. But just because we refer to today’s state of the art technology does not mean that making a wind generator is beyond the skill level of the average home owner. Far from it!

DIY Wind Generator

Wind generators are neither difficult to operate nor expensive. Anyone considering a DIY wind generator will need only the usual tools in the average home workshop plus a few hundred dollars for the complete unit. And the cost can be even less if materials can be obtained from a recycling center.
What has escaped most people’s attention is that modern wind generators have few moving parts and they are lighter weight construction so there is no need for a high tower structure to support the generator and its blades. All one needs is to build a secure frame on the roof, and here is the site for your DIY wind generator.
The second step is to mount the blade and gearing on the frame. Kit sets for these can be readily obtained online. Select the ones that are well documented, preferably a well-known, identifiable brand, and try to see one in operation before you start building.
There is never any substitute for seeing an actual unit in operation, so even if you only get half an opportunity to see an actual unit, take it. Seeing a unit will answer questions that you would never thought of asking. It will also save you valuable time in the long run.

Planning for Your Wind Generator

DIY wind generators come in all makes and sizes, so getting one for a specific site, and the amount of energy required will be time well spent. Checking out the local building codes, noise limitations, and things such as height and where the prevailing wind will come from ARE important, as is being sensitive to any local community expectations. No one wants any hassles at any time so give these matters due attention. And with the peace of mind this gives putting the unit together will be so much easier.

Click Here to Discover How to Build Your Wind Generator, Get FREE Electricity and Say Good-Bye to Power Bills!


Installation of the wind generator may take only a few days, unless you are thinking of building everything from scratch. Blades are the driving force and those from wood or fiber composites are cheaper and less prone to vibration and noise than metal ones. A tail assembly to keep the unit facing the breeze can be made with simple woodworking or engineering skills to make your wind generator fully efficient.
Gearing and the DC motors can be purchased online and should be bolted together securely. A wiring plan may confuse those unfamiliar with electricity, but at the final stages it is prudent to have an electrician (or an auto electrician or a technician – effectively someone who is competent working with electricity) to give an OK to the home handyman’s work.


Most of this seems to be simple and so it is. Making a DIY wind generator is not a game; the generator is not a toy, and access to the vicinity should be restricted. Furthermore, the blades can be fatal for children and adults alike, and any electrical installation must be well insulated, and appropriately protected from the weather (sun, heat, rain, cold, dampness, snow, etc.). If the unit is mounted on a tower make sure that unauthorized persons (including the adventurous) are prevented from accessing it. Use fencing to deter potential climbers and security lighting (preferable automatically activated) to deter and scare away those thinking the structure is an advanced playground.

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Make Your Own DIY Thermal Hot Water System … and Save!

Save with Your DIY Thermal Hot Water System

Not everything in life is abundant and free, but thermal hot water is both. Wherever and whenever the sun shines we can harness this never-ending gift of nature. It’s ours to use – as much as we wish, and as often and for as long as we wish.

Making a DIY Thermal Hot Water System

Making a DIY thermal hot water system is quite simple and straightforward. We all know how hot a metal water pipe or a plastic garden hose can become if exposed to bright sunlight. And we also know that dark colored objects absorb heat whereas light colored ones reflect heat. All that is needed now is to connect the pipe or hose to an insulated tank and keep the water hot until we want to use it. And it makes sense, therefore, to restrict the use of hot water for those situations that we need hot water for. Otherwise, cold water can be used.

Before installing your DIY thermal hot water system some housekeeping would be in order. For example, do you have any leaking taps that require attention? Do you turn off taps completely, or just let the water keep flowing whilst you are cleaning your teeth, for example? And, what about the lengths of showers? A maximum of 5 minutes is easily achievable, but with practice 3 minutes should also be possible. Why not set yourself a challenge? Time yourself. We never know our true capabilities until we try.

A thermal hot water system has less effect on the environment than other forms of alternative power – such as wind generation or geo-thermal plants – there are no noisy blades or unsightly pipes, and is endlessly renewable.

Installing Your DIY Thermal Hot Water System

Your DIY thermal hot water system should be sited to take maximum advantage of sunlight but should be as close as practicable to where the hot water will be mostly used in the household, such as the bathroom and / or kitchen.

Thermal hot water has always existed and can be used even in the harshest and most isolated places on earth.

Even on semi cloudy days it is possible to get enough thermal hot water for the average home demand. Thermal hot water systems are clean energy at its best. There is no pollution, nor other negative environmental effects.

An added bonus to having a thermal hot water system is that nowadays people can see this as a design feature of the home demonstrating the modern green energy approach.

So choose this form of renewable power to become energy self-reliant, to continue saving on utility bills and yet still enjoy the modern day comforts that we are accustomed to.

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How to Enhance the Effectiveness of Homemade Solar Pool Heaters Through Passive Outdoor Landscaping.

Enhance the Effectiveness of Homemade Solar Pool HeatersCould a homemade solar pool heater be your next DIY project? It’s really much easier and simpler than one may think.

But before you embark on this project it would be prudent to consider where you are going to site your pool so that whatever heat is provided is retained, is utilized effectively, and is not wasted. If your pool is already installed then the same considerations apply.

It is well worth your while preparing a passive landscaping plan which may include lawns, shrubs and possibly trees – depending on the circumstances. Remember you will want to minimize the sun’s direct heat in the summer months and avail of the sun’s warmth during the cooler months. The sun will be higher in the summer months, and lower in other months. The landscaping plan has to provide for all seasons. In other words, it is essential that it be practical.

Where the pool is sited relative to buildings, fences and walls is also relevant. It is much easier to think and plan ahead rather than rectify a situation that is simply not satisfactory.

As well as providing greenery and beauty shrubs and trees can also provide effective protection from the summer’s sun and shielding from cold wind. In summer they can also direct a cool breeze. All this for free.

In areas that are characterized by dryness, outdoor water such as in the pool can have some special cooling effect. Having an outdoor swimming pool is great and direct sunlight or solar energy will help heat up the pool water. A homemade solar pool heater is ideal for those who want to save on energy bills and still want to use their pool the whole year round.

CLICK HERE to Discover the Secrets of Building Your Own DIY Solar Thermal Hot Water System.

Having an effective and well-thought out passive landscaping plan and putting this plan into practice will result in savings, a more amenable environment, a healthier lifestyle. But also it significantly increases the market value of the property. A good landscaping plan should include the proper positioning and siting of trees and shrubs as well as anticipating and providing for their replacement when the trees eventually fall and die. Whilst trees are good to look at and we need their shade still we need to make sure they do not block the sunlight during winter.

A good passive landscaping plan also involves good design, a functional layout, and suitable choices of materials. It is amazingly simple. And most households would already have the simple tools required to put the plan into practice.

A passive landscaping plan only costs some of our time, but the benefits are significant.

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Discover The Solar Energy Truth

Okay, we all know it’s a good choice, but why?

Here we discuss Facts about solar energy usage, systems, plus sun related and other Interesting Facts about Solar Energy.

All of which will help you with your decision whether or not to install a solar energy system at your home.

Perhaps you’d even like to save yourself a lot of money and Build your very own solar energy system.

General facts

* Solar Energy is better for the environment than traditional forms of energy.
* Solar energy has many uses such as electricity production and heating of water through photovoltaic cells and directly for drying clothes.
* Solar energy can also be used to heat swimming pools, power cars, for attic fans, calculators and other small appliances. It produces lighting for indoors or outdoors.
* You can even cook food with solar energy.
* Solar Energy is becoming more and more popular. The worldwide demand for Solar Energy is currently greater than supply.

Facts about Solar Energy usage:

* Solar Energy is measured in kilowatt-hour. 1 kilowatt = 1000 watts.
* 1 kilowatt-hour (kWh) = the amount of electricity required to burn a 100 watt light bulb for 10 hours.
* According to the US Department of Energy, an average American household used approximately 866-kilowatt hours per month in 1999 costing them $70.68.
* About 30% of our total energy consumption is used to heat water.

Facts about Solar Energy systems:

* A home solar system is typically made up of solar panels, an inverter, a solar battery, a Solar charger controller, wiring and support structure.
* A 1-kilowatt home solar system takes about 1-2 days to install and costs around US$10,000, but can vary greatly and does not take into account any incentives offered by the government.
* A 1-kilowatt home solar system consists of about 10-12 solar panels and requires about 100 square feet of installation area.
* A 1 kilowatt home solar system will generate approximately 1,600 kilowatt hours per year in a sunny climate (receiving 5.5 hours of sunshine per day) and approximately 750 kilowatt hours per year in a cloudy climate (receiving 2.5 hours of sunshine per day).
* A 1-kilowatt home solar system will prevent approximately 170 lbs. of coal from being burned, 300 lbs of CO2 from being released into the atmosphere and 105 gallons of water from being consumed each month!

* About 40 solar cells are usually combined into a solar panel and around 10-12 panels mounted in an array facing due North to receive maximum sunlight.
* The system usually comes with a 5-year warranty, although the solar panels are warranted for 20.
* Relying on the battery back up, a solar energy system can provide electricity 24×7, even on cloudy days and at night.
* Solar panels come in various colours.
* Solar energy can be collected and stored in batteries, reflected, insulated, absorbed and transmitted.

Sun related Facts about Solar Energy:

* Sunlight travels to the earth in approximately 8 minutes from 93,000,000 miles away, at 186,282 miles per second.
* The sun is also the main source of non-renewable fossil fuels (coal, gas and petroleum), which began life as plants or animals whose energy came from the sun millions of year ago.
* Solar energy is responsible for weather patterns and ocean currents.
* Clouds, pollution and wind can prevent the sun’s rays from reaching the earth.

Other Interesting Facts about Solar Energy:

* Da Vinci predicted a solar industrialization as far back as 1447.
* In one hour more sunlight falls on the earth than what is used by the entire population in one year.
* A world record was set in 1990 when a solar powered aircraft flew 4060km across the USA, using no fuel.
* Fierce weather cost the world a record $130 Billion in the first eleven months of 1998- more money than was lost from weather related disasters from 1980 to 1990 ($82 Billion).
* Researchers from the Worldwatch Institute and Munich Re blame deforestation and climate change from Earth warming for much of the loss. The previous one-year record was $90 Billion in 1996. Source – Associated Press, November 28,1998.
* About 2 billion people in the world are currently without electricity.
* Accounting for only 5 percent of the world’s population, Americans consume 26 percent of the world’s energy.
* Electric ovens consume the most amount of electricity, followed by microwaves and central air conditioning.
* Third world countries with an abundance of sunlight and a population currently without electricity, represents the fastest growing market for solar energy, with the largest domestic market being the utilities sector.
* Shell Oil predicts that 50% of the world’s energy will come from renewable sources by 2040.

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Make Your Own DIY Wind Generator

Yes! It is now possible for you to make your own wind generator and be among the select group of green energy buffs who recognize the great value of wind power. This group can see clearly the enormous potential for ordinary home owners to generate their own power for their own energy consumption and also to explore selling the extra power generated to the local utility company.

Learning how to build a wind generator is relatively easy. You can either purchase a kitset that just needs putting together or you can build the tower and generator yourself and even try to carve a wooden windmill blade.

To make your own wind generator, it is a good idea to begin with a little research and analysis into the wind potential at your location. A wind meter will help you monitor the prevailing wind over some months which in turn will give all the information that will be needed to determine the most appropriate place to place the windmill. You can also get wind atlas details online or via the internet.

Select also the power generation capacity that is needed and make an eco-audit of the entire home’s energy usage to see if energy can be saved or reduced. Often it only requires a little thought followed by appropriate action to make significant changes. We can still have what we need but if we want to we can eliminate most if not all waste. This is one activity that could be turned into an interesting family project since it can involve all the members of the family in the planning as well as in the constructing and building phases.

Basically, to make your own wind generator, you require a structure to support the generator, or a roof that is sufficiently strong, a windmill blade and a connection to a generator, the tail assembly to keep the unit face the wind, and various pieces of electrical equipment.

Putting together all the parts may only take a matter of days. Some basic knowledge of electrical circuitry will be needed to make your own wind generator. However, if your wind generator is designed to send back any excess power to the grid, make sure you secure assistance from qualified and experienced electrical tradespersons.

Click Here to Discover How You Can Make Your Own DIY Wind Generator and SAVE on Utility Bills!

Energy generated from your wind generator has to be stored in a battery as a power reserve for when the wind slows down or stops. New or used batteries can be used, but remember that the disposal of these batteries can make some serious environmental issues and local municipal regulations need to be followed. Battery technology has continued to improve as the demand and popularity of wind power has developed, so provided the correct battery type is chosen and provided the batteries are well maintained one can expect the batteries to last many years. Remember, like most things, batteries also require periodical maintenance.

Learning to make your own wind generator is not the same as mounting an enormous piece of sculpture on your roof and then expecting that your power bill will dramatically reduce. We have to do our part, but it is not difficult. Wind generators are environment-friendly, and certainly a viable alternative for electrical generation.

Modern wind generators are exceptionally efficient, and one of the most exciting power sources for the future. Anyone wanting to build wind turbine will soon discover that they have tapped a free source of power that will give them an enduring supply, and with little or no maintenance needed (but still with some maintenance from time to time).

Learning how to build a wind generator or a wind turbine is for most people a steep learning curve about how cutting edge technology is making huge advances to save the burning of fossil fuels to supply power to the home. The first thing is to tell yourself that you CAN do it. Once you believe this it is much easier than you think!

And it is rewarding, and satisfying, too!

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Solar Energy…when Will it be Affordable to the Average Homeowner?


Global warming impact to our quality and cost of living is large and very catastrophic. Homeowners are well aware of the increasing energy costs to heat, cool and illuminate their homes. The increasing costs of oil and other fossil fuels are daily headlines. The insatiable demand for energy to fuel world growth guarantees that the cost of these limited fuels will continue to increase. Political/economic forces will determine the rate of increase for fossil fuels. In addition, the increasing cost of global warming using fossil fuels is slowly being recognized.

The world is slowly beginning to understand the urgent need for renewable energy sources. However, each of these alternative energy sources brings major advantages and disadvantages. An example is wind generated energy. Wind energy is available to the whole world and generates electricity competitively with fossil fuels. The technology is understood and easy to apply. But, there are big objections to a windmill in “my back yard”. Also, the number of birds and bats that will be crushed with wind power generation is not a warming thought. Wind technology will be a component of our energy solution. However, because of the above concerns, we need other major solutions to meet our demand for energy sources.

This search leads us to solar energy. The amount of sun energy striking our world in one day is sufficient to supply our energy demands for a year. We will not run out of this source in the foreseeable future. The major barrier to harnessing solar energy has been cost and convenience. For example, drying clothes in a dryer is easier than hanging clothes on an outside line, thus convenience precluded efforts to find more energy efficiency. We can convert solar energy to electricity but with a major capital cost. Greater acceptance and use of solar energy will lead to lower cost.

Solar Energy:

Energy from solar energy can be divided into two major categories:

Passive Solar Energy: This technology ranges from clothes drying in the sun to solar heating for hot water and many other passive techniques. All are important for our present and future quality of life. The technology is well understood and can be implemented as economics and space conditions allow.

Active Solar Energy: One of the active solar energy technologies is converting solar energy directly into electricity. It is called photovoltaic cell or PV. This is a device that converts light into electricity using the photoelectric effect. The first working solar cells were constructed by Charles Fritts in 1883. These prototype cells were made of selenium and achieved efficiencies around one percent. The silicon solar cell was created in 1954. The solar cell has benefited from the development of silicon semiconductors.

Physics of Active Solar Energy:

The physics of photon to electricity conversion is well understood by physicists. The basic model is of a photon from the sun which strikes the cell material and excites electrons that emit electricity. This model is simple compared to the complexity of modern day semiconductors. The major variables of PV electrical generation are cell material and impurities in the cell material.

Manufacturing Technology for Active Solar Energy:

Primarily single crystal, high purity silicon has been used to generate photon to electricity conversion. The manufacturing techniques for single crystal silicon and limited quantities of pure silicon impose a high cost for PV devices. Shortages of refined silicon have been hampering production worldwide since late 2004. This shortage persists to this date and has slowed PV growth. New materials are starting to come forward which should lower the PV materials hurdle.

Efficiency growth of Active Solar Energy:

Since the silicon PV invention in 1954, cheaper fossil fuel prices largely removed solar power from the public consciousness. Annual growth of electrical generation by PV ranged from 10 to 20% percent throughout the 1980′s and 1990′s. Worldwide installation of PV reached 1000 megawatts in 1999. Manufacturing costs for PV arrays has been dropping 3 to 5% over the recent years. This cost drop began to expand the use of PV electricity generation. Total peak power of installed PV was around 6000 megawatts at the end of 2006. Installed PV is projected to increase to over 9,000 megawatts in 2007. The average lowest retail cost of large photovoltaic arrays has declined from $7.50 to $4.00 per watt between 1990 and 2005.

PV materials have also been improving in recent years. The most recent materials approach is to process discrete cells on silicon wafers cut from multi crystalline ribbons which form thin films. This approach is the least expensive of known technologies. This group of technologies includes amorphous silicon cells deposited on stainless-steel ribbon, cadmium telluride (CdTe) cells deposited on glass, and copper indium gallium dielenide (CIGS) alloy cells deposited on either glass or stainless steel substrates. The efficiencies of these new materials are currently at 20%. Many researchers are working to improve the efficiencies. An added advantage of the new thin films is that they are flexible and are currently being used in roofing materials.

Current Trends in Generating Active Solar Energy:

Commercial businesses like Google, IBM, BJ’s Wholesale, Estee Lauder, Kohls, Target, Tiffany & Co., Wal-Mart are installing PV solar energy. From “big box” discount giants to high end commercial businesses PV solar energy is finding acceptance in 2007. The most recent retail-outfitter to become part of this trend is Macy’s, which announced earlier this month that it will install solar powered systems on 26 stores throughout California. These leading companies are turning to solar power because it makes good business sense and supports their environmental initiative. Creative financial arrangements allow these companies to afford the upfront capital costs and payback their loans with energy savings. So what does all this mean to the average home owner? PV Cost per Kilowatt (kWh):

In the California market, where state incentives and net metering are in place, PV electricity prices are dipping below 11¢/kWh, on par with some utility-delivered power. Moreover, according to the U.S. PV Industry Roadmap, solar electricity will continue this trend and become competitive by 2010 for most domestic markets. The outlook is very positive for PV generation of electricity. Once the capital investment is made, the cost of PV electricity is equivalent to fossil fuels and will continue to decrease.

Cost of PV Installation:

The cost of installation is the major barrier that has to be overcome for widespread PV acceptance. Around 59% of world solar product sales installed in the last five years were applications that are tied to the electricity grid. Solar energy prices in these applications are 5-20 times more expensive than the cheapest source of conventional electricity generation. This premium is well beyond the reach of the average home owner.

Fortunately, there are financial models coming forward to enable the consumer to finance PV solar installation and pay for this installation with the electrical savings. In order to make these financial models successful, federal and state incentives are needed and the installation should be connected to the electrical grid. These connections allow the home owner to sell back electricity when excessive amounts are available and to receive electricity when solar conditions do not allow sufficient electricity. Only fifty percent of our states have modernized to allow on-grid PV solar energy.

Berkeley, California is leading the way to enable it citizens to save electrical cost and meet environmental needs. Here is how their plan works. A property owner hires a city-approved solar installer, who determines the best solar system for the property, depending on energy use. Most residential solar panel systems in the city cost from $15,000 to $20,000.

The city will pay the contractor for the system and its installation, minus any applicable state and federal rebates, and would add an assessment to the property owner’s tax bill to pay for the system. The extra tax would include administrative fees and interest, which would be lower than what the property owner could obtain on their own, because the city would secure low-interest bonds and loans. The tax would stay with the property even if the owner sold, although the owner would have to leave the solar panels. The property owner would save money on monthly Pacific Gas & Electric bills because electricity generated by the solar panels would partly replace electricity delivered by the utility. After the assessment expired, the solar panels, of a simple technology that requires little or no maintenance, would continue to partly replace PG&E electricity.

The Berkeley plan is a map for the rest of the world to allow us affordable electricity and meet our responsibilities to the environment.

I have a BS and MS in Metallurgical Engineering. Thirty six years spent in the development of semiconductors. Business experience in start up business plan. Currently, an oyster farmer and interested in helping the environment by deploying solar energy. Please visit my Web Site
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What is Homemade Solar Energy?

Every day, the sun radiates (sends out) an enormous amount of energy—called solar energy. It radiates more energy in one second than the world has used since time began. This energy comes from within the sun itself.

Like most stars, the sun is a big gas ball made up mostly of hydrogen and helium gas. The sun makes energy in its inner core in a process called nuclear fusion.

Only a small part of the solar energy that the sun radiates into space ever reaches the earth, but that is more than enough to supply all our energy needs. Every day enough solar energy reaches the earth to supply our nation’s energy needs for a year!

It takes the sun’s energy just a little over eight minutes to travel the 93 million miles to earth. Solar energy travels at a speed of 186,000 miles per second, the speed of light.

Today, people use solar energy to heat buildings and water and to generate electricity.

Solar Collectors

Heating with solar energy is not as easy as you might think. Capturing sunlight and putting it to work is difficult because the solar energy that reaches the earth is spread out over a large area. The sun does not deliver that much energy to any one place at any one time.

The amount of solar energy an area receives depends on the time of day, the season of the year, the cloudiness of the sky, and how close you are to the earth’s equator.

A solar collector is one way to capture sunlight and change it into usable heat energy. A closed car on a sunny day is like a solar collector. As sunlight passes through the car’s windows, it is absorbed by the seat covers, walls, and floor of the car. The absorbed light changes into heat. The car’s windows let light in, but they don’t let all the heat out. A closed car can get very hot!

Solar Space Heating

Space heating means heating the space inside a building. Today, many homes use solar energy for space heating. A passive solar home is designed to let in as much sunlight as possible. It is like a big solar collector.

Sunlight passes through the windows and heats the walls and floor inside the house. The light can get in, but the heat is trapped inside. A passive solar home does not depend on mechanical equipment, such as pumps and blowers, to heat the house.

An active solar home, on the other hand, uses special equipment to collect sunlight. An active solar house may use special collectors that look like boxes covered with glass.

These collectors are mounted on the rooftop facing south to take advantage of the winter sun. Dark-colored metal plates inside the boxes absorb sunlight and change it into heat. (Black absorbs sunlight better than any other color.) Air or water flows through the collectors and is warmed by the heat. The warm air or water is distributed to the house, just as it would be with an ordinary furnace system.

Solar Hot Water Heating

Solar energy can be used to heat water. Heating water for bathing, dishwashing, and clothes washing is the second biggest home energy cost.

A solar water heater works a lot like solar space heating. In our hemisphere, a solar collector is mounted on the south side of a roof where it can capture sunlight. The sunlight heats water in a tank. The hot water is piped to faucets throughout a house, just as it would be with an ordinary water heater. Today, more than one million homes and 200,000 businesses in the U.S. use solar water heaters.

Solar Electricity

Solar energy can also be used to produce electricity. Two ways to make electricity from solar energy are photovoltaics and solar thermal systems.

Photovoltaic Electricity

Photovoltaic comes from the words photo meaning light and volt, a measurement of electricity. Sometimes photovoltaic cells are called PV cells or solar cells for short. You are probably familiar with photovoltaic cells. Solar-powered toys, calculators, and roadside telephone call boxes all use solar cells to convert sunlight into electricity.

Solar cells are made up of silicon, the same substance that makes up sand. Silicon is the second most common substance on earth. Solar cells can supply energy to anything that is powered by batteries or electrical power.

Electricity is produced when sunlight strikes the solar cell, causing the electrons to move around. The action of the electrons starts an electric current. The conversion of sunlight into electricity takes place silently and instantly. There are no mechanical parts to wear out.

You won’t see many photovoltaic power plants today. Compared to other ways of making electricity, photovoltaic systems are expensive.

It costs 10-20 cents a kilowatt-hour to produce electricity from solar cells. Most people pay their electric companies about 11 cents a kilowatt-hour for the electricity they use, large industrial consumers pay less. Today, solar systems are mainly used to generate electricity in remote areas that are a long way from electric power lines.


Solar Thermal Electricity

Like solar cells, solar thermal systems, also called concentrated solar power (CSP), use solar energy to produce electricity, but in a different way. Most solar thermal systems use a solar collector with a mirrored surface to focus sunlight onto a receiver that heats a liquid. The super-heated liquid is used to make steam to produce electricity in the same way that coal plants do.

There are nine solar thermal power plants in the Mojave Desert that together produce 360 MW of electricity.

Solar energy has great potential for the future. Solar energy is free, and its supplies are unlimited. It does not pollute or otherwise damage the environment. It cannot be controlled by any one nation or industry. If we can improve the technology to harness the sun’s enormous power, we may never face energy shortages again.

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Solar Energy And Its Use

We’ve used the Sun for drying clothes and food for thousands of years, but only recently have we been able to use it for generating power. The Sun is 150 million kilometres away, and amazingly powerful. Just the tiny fraction of the Sun’s energy that hits the Earth (around a hundredth of a millionth of a percent) is enough to meet all our power needs many times over.

In fact, every minute, enough energy arrives at the Earth to meet our demands for a whole year – if only we could harness it correctly.Solar energy technologies use the sun’s energy and light to provide heat, light, hot water, electricity, and even cooling, for homes, businesses, and industry.There are a variety of technologies that have been developed to take advantage of solar energy. These include:

Photovoltaic (solar cell) Systems

Solar cells convert sunlight directly into electricity. Solar cells are often used to power calculators and watches. They are made of semiconducting materials similar to those used in computer chips. When sunlight is absorbed by these materials, the solar energy knocks electrons loose from their atoms, allowing the electrons to flow through the material to produce electricity. This process of converting light (photons) to electricity (voltage) is called the photovoltaic (PV) effect.

Solar cells are typically combined into modules that hold about 40 cells; a number of these modules are mounted in PV arrays that can measure up to several meters on a side. These flat-plate PV arrays can be mounted at a fixed angle facing south, or they can be mounted on a tracking device that follows the sun, allowing them to capture the most sunlight over the course of a day. Several connected PV arrays can provide enough power for a household; for large electric utility or industrial applications, hundreds of arrays can be interconnected to form a single, large PV system.

Thin film solar cells use layers of semiconductor materials only a few micrometers thick. Thin film technology has made it possible for solar cells to now double as rooftop shingles, roof tiles, building facades, or the glazing for skylights or atria. The solar cell version of items such as shingles offer the same protection and durability as ordinary asphalt shingles.
Some solar cells are designed to operate with concentrated sunlight. These cells are built into concentrating collectors that use a lens to focus the sunlight onto the cells. This approach has both advantages and disadvantages compared with flat-plate PV arrays. The main idea is to use very little of the expensive semiconducting PV material while collecting as much sunlight as possible. But because the lenses must be pointed at the sun, the use of concentrating collectors is limited to the sunniest parts of the country. Some concentrating collectors are designed to be mounted on simple tracking devices, but most require sophisticated tracking devices, which further limit their use to electric utilities, industries, and large buildings.

The performance of a solar cell is measured in terms of its efficiency at turning sunlight into electricity. Only sunlight of certain energies will work efficiently to create electricity, and much of it is reflected or absorbed by the material that make up the cell. Because of this, a typical commercial solar cell has an efficiency of 15%-about one-sixth of the sunlight striking the cell generates electricity. Low efficiencies mean that larger arrays are needed, and that means higher cost. Improving solar cell efficiencies while holding down the cost per cell is an important goal of the PV industry, NREL researchers, and other U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) laboratories, and they have made significant progress. The first solar cells, built in the 1950s, had efficiencies of less than 4%.

Solar Electricity

Many power plants today use fossil fuels as a heat source to boil water. The steam from the boiling water rotates a large turbine, which activates a generator that produces electricity. However, a new generation of power plants, with concentrating solar power systems, uses the sun as a heat source. There are three main types of concentrating solar power systems: parabolic-trough, dish/engine, and power tower.
Parabolic-trough systems concentrate the sun’s energy through long rectangular, curved (U-shaped) mirrors. The mirrors are tilted toward the sun, focusing sunlight on a pipe that runs down the centre of the trough. This heats the oil flowing through the pipe. The hot oil then is used to boil water in a conventional steam generator to produce electricity.
A dish/engine system uses a mirrored dish (similar to a very large satellite dish). The dish-shaped surface collects and concentrates the sun’s heat onto a receiver, which absorbs the heat and transfers it to fluid within the engine. The heat causes the fluid to expand against a piston or turbine to produce mechanical power. The mechanical power is then used to run a generator or alternator to produce electricity.

A power tower system uses a large field of mirrors to concentrate sunlight onto the top of a tower, where a receiver sits. This heats molten salt flowing through the receiver. Then, the salt’s heat is used to generate electricity through a conventional steam generator. Molten salt retains heat efficiently, so it can be stored for days before being converted into electricity. That means electricity can be produced on cloudy days or even several hours after sunset.

Solar Hot Water

The shallow water of a lake is usually warmer than the deep water. That’s because the sunlight can heat the lake bottom in the shallow areas, which in turn, heats the water. It’s nature’s way of solar water heating. The sun can be used in basically the same way to heat water used in buildings and swimming pools.
Most solar water heating systems for buildings have two main parts: a solar collector and a storage tank. The most common collector is called a flat-plate collector. Mounted on the roof, it consists of a thin, flat, rectangular box with a transparent cover that faces the sun. Small tubes run through the box and carry the fluid – either water or other fluid, such as an antifreeze solution – to be heated. The tubes are attached to an absorber plate, which is painted black to absorb the heat. As heat builds up in the collector, it heats the fluid passing through the tubes.

The storage tank then holds the hot liquid. It can be just a modified water heater, but it is usually larger and very well-insulated. Systems that use fluids other than water usually heat the water by passing it through a coil of tubing in the tank, which is full of hot fluid.
Solar water heating systems can be either active or passive, but the most common are active systems. Active systems rely on pumps to move the liquid between the collector and the storage tank, while passive systems rely on gravity and the tendency for water to naturally circulate as it is heated.

Swimming pool systems are simpler. The pool’s filter pump is used to pump the water through a solar collector, which is usually made of black plastic or rubber. And of course, the pool stores the hot water.

Passive Solar Heating and Daylighting

Step outside on a hot and sunny summer day, and you’ll feel the power of solar heat and light. Today, many buildings are designed to take advantage of this natural resource through the use of passive solar heating and daylighting.The south side of a building always receives the most sunlight. Therefore, buildings designed for passive solar heating usually have large, south-facing windows. Materials that absorb and store the sun’s heat can be built into the sunlit floors and walls. The floors and walls will then heat up during the day and slowly release heat at night, when the heat is needed most. This passive solar design feature is called direct gain.

Other passive solar heating design features include sunspaces and trombe walls. A sunspace (which is much like a greenhouse) is built on the south side of a building. As sunlight passes through glass or other glazing, it warms the sunspace. Proper ventilation allows the heat to circulate into the building. On the other hand, a trombe wall is a very thick, south-facing wall, which is painted black and made of a material that absorbs a lot of heat. A pane of glass or plastic glazing, installed a few inches in front of the wall, helps hold in the heat. The wall heats up slowly during the day. Then as it cools gradually during the night, it gives off its heat inside the building.

Many of the passive solar heating design features also provide daylighting. Daylighting is simply the use of natural sunlight to brighten up a building’s interior. To lighten up north-facing rooms and upper levels, a clerestory – a row of windows near the peak of the roof – is often used along with an open floor plan inside that allows the light to bounce throughout the building.

Of course, too much solar heating and daylighting can be a problem during the hot summer months. Fortunately, there are many design features that help keep passive solar buildings cool in the summer. For instance, overhangs can be designed to shade windows when the sun is high in the summer. Sunspaces can be closed off from the rest of the building. And a building can be designed to use fresh-air ventilation in the summer.

Solar Process Space Heating and Cooling

Commercial and industrial buildings may use the same solar technologies – photovoltaic, passive heating, daylighting, and water heating – that are used for residential buildings. These non-residential buildings can also use solar energy technologies that would be impractical for a home. These technologies include ventilation air preheating, solar process heating and solar cooling.

Many large buildings need ventilated air to maintain indoor air quality. In cold climates, heating this air can use large amounts of energy. A solar ventilation system can preheat the air, saving both energy and money. This type of system typically uses a transpired collector, which consists of a thin, black metal panel mounted on a south-facing wall to absorb the sun’s heat. Air passes through the many small holes in the panel. A space behind the perforated wall allows the air streams from the holes to mix together. The heated air is then sucked out from the top of the space into the ventilation system.

Solar process heating systems are designed to provide large quantities of hot water or space heating for non-residential buildings. A typical system includes solar collectors that work along with a pump, a heat exchanger, and/or one or more large storage tanks. The two main types of solar collectors used – an evacuated-tube collector and a parabolic-trough collector – can operate at high temperatures with high efficiency. An evacuated-tube collector is a shallow box full of many glass, double-walled tubes and reflectors to heat the fluid inside the tubes. A vacuum between the two walls insulates the inner tube, holding in the heat. Parabolic troughs are long, rectangular, curved (U-shaped) mirrors tilted to focus sunlight on a tube, which runs down the centre of the trough. This heats the fluid within the tube.

The heat from a solar collector can also be used to cool a building. It may seem impossible to use heat to cool a building, but it makes more sense if you just think of the solar heat as an energy source. Your familiar home air conditioner uses an energy source, electricity, to create cool air. Solar absorption coolers use a similar approach, combined with some very complex chemistry tricks, to create cool air from solar energy. Solar energy can also be used with evaporative coolers (also called “swamp coolers”) to extend their usefulness to more humid climates, using another chemistry trick called desiccant cooling.

Experimental Solar Power

A solar updraft tower, also known as a solar chimney or solar tower, consists of a large greenhouse that funnels into a central tower. As sunlight shines on the greenhouse, the air inside is heated, and expands. The expanding air flows toward the central tower, where a turbine converts the air flow into electricity. A 50 kW prototype was constructed in Ciudad Real Spain and operated for eight years before decommissioning in 1989.]
Thermoelectric or “thermovoltaic” devices convert a temperature difference between dissimilar materials into an electric current. First proposed as a method to store solar energy by solar pioneer Mouchout in the 1800s, thermoelectrics reemerged in the Soviet Union during the 1930s. Under the direction of Soviet scientist Abram Ioffe a concentrating system was used to thermoelectrically generate power for a 1 hp engine ] Thermogenerators were later used in the US space program as an energy conversion technology for powering deep space missions such as Cassini, Galileo and Viking. Research in this area is focused on raising the efficiency of these devices from 7–8% to 15–20%.
Finally, Space-based solar power is a theoretical design for the collection of solar power in space, for use on Earth. SBSP differs from the usual method of solar power collection in that the solar panels used to collect the energy would reside on a satellite in orbit, often referred to as a solar power satellite (SPS), rather than on Earth’s surface. In space, collection of the Sun’s energy is unaffected by the day/night cycle, weather, seasons, or the filtering effect of Earth’s atmospheric gases. Average solar energy per unit area outside Earth’s atmosphere is on the order of ten times that available on Earth’s surface. However, there is no shortage of energy reaching the surface. The amount of solar energy reaching the surface of the planet each year is about twice the amount of energy that will be obtained forever from coal, oil, natural gas, and mined Uranium, combined, even using breeder reactors.


Solar power plants can face high installation costs, although this has been decreasing due to the curve. Developing countries have started to build solar power plants, replacing other sources of energy generation.Since solar radiation is intermittent, solar power generation is usually combined either with storage or other energy sources to provide continuous power, although for small distributed producer/consumers, net metering makes this transparent to the consumer. On a slightly larger scale, in Germany, a combined power plant has been demonstrated, using a mix of wind, biomass, hydro-, and solar power generation, resulting in 100% renewable energy.

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The How and Why of Solar Energy

More and more people are becoming conscious about the environment and going for natural energy options. Solar energy is one such option that is simple and economical. Learn more how to use solar energy from the points mentioned below.

The solar panels located on the house roof capture sun rays. This sets off another panel located on the other side of the home which converts the electricity or current from direct to alternating. This leads to creating of electricity in all the outlets that are there in the house. In case the residents of the house fail to use it immediately, the current is stored for future use.

Using solar energy has benefits on two fronts – financial and environmental.

  • Financial benefits are created through the reduction of energy bills. People can also garner credits from the local electrical authority. Using solar energy is also said to enhance the real estate value of a residence.
  • Environmental benefits are created through the reduction of problems related to global warming. It also leads to conservation of fossil fuels. Pollution is also reduced leading to a cleaner air and water.

Ensure that you go through quality instructions while installing solar panels on your own. This will relieve you of stress and also make you feel pleasant about your DIY project. Internet is a good place to start searching for DIY manuals.

We have gone through several guides to present you a good way of building your very own solar panels for energy. Do not hesitate and acquaint yourselves with how to generate solar energy and reduce your energy bills.

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Going Green with Solar Energy

Solar Energy is a green way of producing electrical energy. As the source is renewable it is one of the most effective methods to generate power for household as well as commercial uses.

Solar energy can be obtained as two types. These are active and passive energies. Active solar energy is a combination of the heat and light of the sun. The technology involved in this process is same as those photovoltaic cells. These cells convert sunlight into DC electricity. It can be used in any climate if sunlight is available. Active solar energy which uses the photovoltaic cells have very little carbon footprints. This power can be used to create electricity or heat water.

Passive Solar Energy is the energy obtained by the use of only the heat energy from the sun. This direct heat energy can be used to dry out clay bricks, groceries, clothes, and for other day to day activities. Passive solar energy can be utilized well in homes which are constructed in an environment friendly manner. Use of heat absorbing materials in the home keeps the rooms warm and cozy. Ventilating the house properly and installing glass instead of wooden window shields can bring in more sunlight and thus save on electricity bills. Passive Solar Energy also has no carbon footprints.

So you can make use of the solar energy to save on electricity bills as well as live an environment friendly life. To produce active solar energy you will have to install solar panels.

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