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August 04 2010


5 Easy and Affordable Way to Start Using Solar Power

Solar grid tie kit

Guest post by Kriss Bergethon

There is so much talk of green and clean energy these days, most people have at least thought about how they can use solar in their lives.  The problem is that with a tough economy and bleak jobs market, most people just don’t have the money to invest in solar.  Here are 5 cheap and easy ways to start using solar power that won’t break the bank.

1.  Affordable Grid Tie Kits Are Here For The Handy Homeowner

Thanks to rapid advancements in inverter technology, you can install a solar grid tie kit on your home for far less then ever before.  It used to cost at least $10,000 to install a small system on a home.  But using micro-inverters and 200W panels, homeowners can install a single panel and inverter for about $1000 and start to reap the benefits of free energy from the sun.

Many homeowners are adding panels on a regular basis, on Earth Day, or as their budget allows.   The new technology allows you to add on to your system as you wish, without spending a fortune.  You could start with a 230W system, add a panel every 3 months or as your finances allow, and have a 4000W system that covered your entire power bill in a few years.

2.  Solar Leasing Programs Often Cost You NOTHING

  • Now that solar has gone mainstream and is a viable investment, companies like SunRun have leasing programs to help homeowners get started in renewable energy.  Here’s how it works:
  • A local installer works with a solar financing company like SunRun to evaluate the suitability of your home for solar.
  • If your situation is right, the financing company will pay the installer to put the panels on your home, usually at zero cost to you.
  • The financing company owns and maintains the panels, and receives any rebates associated with the installation.
  • You get charged a fixed, discounted rate for your electricity for the life of the lease, usually 20-25 years.
  • You save money in the short term in the discounted and fixed rate, plus you won’t experience the sharp rate increases that are inevitable as carbon taxes and renewable subsidies become more prevalent.
  • You can choose to purchase the system from the financing company and reduce your energy bills to nearly zero.

Best of all, you get the satisfaction of knowing that you are saving money AND helping the environment at the same time!

3.  Simple RV, Boat & Golf Cart Systems Keep You Charged Up

Solar Kit FlyerMany people forget that they are various uses for solar panels.  Boats, RVs and even golf carts are great uses for solar.  Solar panels generate direct current, or DC power, which is what most boats and RV’s need anyway.  Adding a simple panel and charge controller to the system will keep the batteries charged, save the expense of charging those batteries, and allow you stay out longer and go farther.

In most cases the panels will allow you get rid of the generator or shore power you relied on before.  For folks in southern climates that use golf carts in lieu of traditional vehicles, a 200W solar golf cart kit means you can say goodbye to the power cord and hello to lower energy bills.  Starter kits can be as little as $100, the larger units are over $1000.

4.  Take Your Stuff  "Off the Grid"

It was not that long ago and that the components in solar power systems were so complicated that using an electrician to install them was a must.  That is not the case these days (and thank goodness for that!).  Simple "plug and play" solar power kits now allow you to gather, store, and use the sun’s energy easily.  They work much the way a computer does, you simply plug the panel into the control box (like you would a computer monitor), and then plug the control box into a battery (like you would plug the computer into the wall).  Then, start plugging your stuff into the control box.

Solar Power KitsThis is a great system for remote cabins, work sheds, or garages.  Often people that live in hurricane country keep them for backup power when the inevitable outage comes.  They’re great for campers and travellers too that have added laptops, iPhones and stereos to their ‘can’t live without’ list when they’re in the back country.  These kits can be had for as little as $300 and can be expanded for your future needs.

5.  Make Your Space Brighter and More Comfortable With the Power of the Sun

Unfortunately solar lighting has gotten a bad rap by the proliferation of those poorly made solar garden lights.  There are, believe it or not, great solar lights out there that are high quality and look terrific.  Many communities are doing away with the gas lamps that appear on every front lawn because they are expensive to run and maintain.  A nice solar lamp post light can replace the gas lamp, spruce up your yard, and cost less than $200 in most cases.

Solar lightThere are also tons of affordable options for heating and cooling your home with solar.  Solar air heaters have recently become more popular, and they have the added benefit of using recycled cans in many cases.  There are even solar air conditioners now, too.  These use the sun to heat the medium in the cooling process, whereas traditional AC’s use electricity.  These new solar AC’s are about 50% more efficient than their traditional counterparts.

So solar doesn’t have to be out of reach for everyone.  With a wide variety of applications and prices, solar power can help you save money and the planet.

Kriss Bergethon is a Solar Power expert and author from Colorado.  For more information visit his site at Solar Panels.

March 21 2010


Solar Power – Plug ‘n Play

Anna Williams asked:

With the recent introduction of plug-n-play solar chargers into the market, solar power is within the reach of just about anyone. You no longer have to be a tech savvy “do-it-yourself-er” in order to harness solar energy.

What exactly is a plug-n-play solar charger? It is usually simply a solar panel combined with a battery pack, which is sold as a unit. It is capable of collecting solar energy and storing it in a battery. That’s all there is to it.

The feature that makes this type of set-up so useful is that you can use it to power or recharge your electrical devices, laptops, power tools, radios or even TVs, from the battery pack. The solar power and battery pack are sold together – so you don’t have to worry about compatibility, cables, watts, voltages, or anything like that. And you don’t have to wonder whether the setup will work or not.

By using the battery pack, instead of trying to power your equipment directly from a solar panel, you ensure that you have a steady flow of power or electricity flowing into your equipment. Even on a sunny day there can always be a few clouds. When they move in front of the sun it there would be a decrease of solar energy being picked up by the panels, which would momentarily reduce the amount of electricity being produced by your solar charger. But if your equipment is connected to a battery pack (which is in turn connected to a solar panel) the battery would take up the momentary slack in solar energy.

There are other advantages to using a plug-n-play solar charger kit, besides its steady flow of electricity. Because of the fact that the solar panels charge the battery pack, you will be able to make use of solar energy at any time, night or day, regardless of weather conditions or available sunlight. You simply ensure that the solar charger is charging during daylight hours, and then charge your laptop, cell-phone, iPod (or whatever you need to charge) at night while you are sleeping.

Many people think solar panels and solar chargers only work in hot climates. Not true. Solar panels collect solar energy far more efficiently when they are cold. Thus, they actually operate more efficiently in colder temperatures. This fact makes them perfectly suitable for just about any climate. All you need is daylight.

There are some factors you will need to take into account with such a solar charger setup:

1. Whether or not the battery pack is capable of powering the device you want to power

2. How long it takes for the solar panel to fully charge your battery pack.

Once you know that, you can decide whether you have found the right solar charger setup for you or not.

There are now a wide variety of ready-to-go, plug-n-play solar charger systems and do-it-yourself packages available, to suit anyone’s needs. They are used for small portable power units,cell phones, camera batteries, iPods, and laptops, etc. They are also used for larger systems which give remote or emergency power for AC and DC appliances such as radios, small TVs, cabin lighting and much, much more.

Plug-n-play devices and do-it-yourself kits are a great way to get started using solar energy at an affordable price. They bypass the need for advanced electrical knowledge, and keep things simple.

Solar power

Read more on Solar Power – Plug ‘n Play…

Energy Tags: biodiesel, alternative

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