Cheap Electricity for Everyone? Micro Inverters Are Making Solar Affordable for Everyone

Solar micro inverters are taking the solar home energy market by storm. A homeowner with some basic handyman skills can now purchase solar starter kits, install himself (mostly), and add additional solar panels as the budget will permit.

Small solar systems are dramatically easy to design and install. Well maybe not dramatically, but doable for the handyman. You should use a licensed electrician to hook up the system, but other than that, if you can fix shingles on your roof, there is a good chance you can now install your own solar system, a few solar panels at a time. [continue reading…]


In 2021, California Homeowners Will Now Get Paid For Going Solar

California will soon carry out its version of a solar feed-in-tariff. Up until now, the law of the land has been NET metering. That simply means when a homeowner invests in solar they can only zero, or net out their utility bill. Good deal for the utility company since up until now they have had access to free energy which they then sold to the solar homeowners neighbors. That is all about to change. [continue reading…]


Solar, Like Computer & The Internet Development, Need Government Support

Solar industry distracters are constantly beating the drum against government solar incentives. These supposedly free market purists, fill the airwaves bloviating that solar could never replace fossil fuel as an energy source. Many of you will remember not so long ago when computers became publicly available followed by the internet. Guess who drove that technology? It was collaboration between private business and the government that still exists today. [continue reading…]


Solar Is A Capitalistic Plot to Save American Energy

A small group of people with the Yavapai (Near the Grand Canyon) planning and zoning commission have been fighting the good fight, recommending solar projects in the desert.

Approving solar projects in the desert! “It must be a liberal plot to sell out America” the nay sayers are shouting! Truth is, solar is a capitalistic plot to turn the power of the sun into a saleable commodity. That is as American as apple pie. The sun is an equal opportunity energy source. Solar energy shines on America with unlimited access, unlike oil, which is vulnerable to politically driven interruptions and supposedly market-driven price fluctuations. [continue reading…]


President Obama Signs Bill Extending Solar Grant Program

President Obama, this week, singed the 1603 solar program extending the solar grant bill for one more year. Congress recognized that the photovoltaic industry is creating thousands of new jobs for solar installers across American. The solar program was created by the American Recovery Act and provides cash grants in lieu of the 30% solar income tax credit for businesses. [continue reading…]


Trekking With Brunton Portable Solar, Break Free From The Grid

This morning we came across a review of the Brunton Restore portable solar charger in an on-line post. Though well written, thoughtful and generally concise, we could not help but notice a sense of disappointment in the authors tone.

This was surprising since we have sold scores of the Brunton Restore portable solar battery, with no one able to recall a single complaint. The Brunton Restore portable solar panel that I own has been on many trekking trips to the bottom of the Grand Canyon without a problem.

Upon reflecting more on the subject, I think it comes down to expectation Vs performance. If it is your expectation when you buy a 5 watt portable solar charger that it is going to power everything under a laptop, you will most likely be disappointed. If you think the two small solar panels on the Restore portable solar charger are going to recharge your battery in 45 min., well you are not going to be happy. But really, it takes 45 min to recharge my cell phone from the AC wall adapter. Small portable solar chargers are about options, mobility and freedom from the grid. [continue reading…]


Solar Installers Complete 1 Million Panel Mega Power Plant

California is steadfast in its drive to be the first state in the nation to draw 20% of its energy from solar and other renewable power sources. To that end, Sempra Energy companies solar installers have completed their Copper Mountain power plant and it is operational. The 775,000-panel plant is producing around 48 megawatts of electricity across a 380 acre field in the desert. That is enough solar energy to power 30,000 homes. Coupled with their existing 167,000 photovoltaic panels at the adjacent 10-MW facility utilizing a total of nearly 1 million solar photovoltaic panels. Now that is some serious solar power! [continue reading…]


Living Off-grid Living with Solar Energy

Off-grid solar living inquiries are quickly becoming one of the most common reasons our phones are ringing these days. It’s no wonder with the rising uncertainty of these times coupled with anti-government sentiment. Good news for those who are thinking about off-grid solar living. Advancements in off-grid solar and battery technology make a stand-alone off-the-grid system cheaper and with pre-engineered kits, easier.

Solar panels feeding off-grid batteries are a great option for supplying power to many homes and cabins and can work in all parts of the world, even in remote areas or places with a harsh environment. There are solar panels powering off-grid systems as far south as Antarctica. The only thing you need to live off-grid using solar to produce electricity is some batteries and hardware and a little sun. [continue reading…]


New Study, Best States For Solar Deployment. You May Be Surprised!

Most Americans have become more concerned with the idea of using cleaner energy sources and creating new jobs through the use of solar energy. A new study from the W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University takes a closer look at which states might benefit the most both from generating solar energy and from consuming that energy. “These are believed to be the first state rankings of their kind” says Debbie Freeman, Communications Manager at the school.

“We see a growing trend by states to increase the importance of renewable electricity generation,” says assistant research professor Matthew Croucher, who authored the report. “However, the biggest take away from this study is that if the U.S. is serious about maximizing the societal benefits of solar generation, then we need to look at the national level at how different states can serve not only their own needs, but also those of other states with less ability to create electricity using solar technologies.” [continue reading…]


Gadget Junkies Need Portable Backup Batteries To Power Their Technology on Trips

If you are like me, the thought of roughing it for a weekend camping in the back-country of the Sierra Mountains while leaving your favorite electronics at home is simply wrong. Sure, I can pack a iPod, iPad, Smart Phone and laptop for blogging, but without power how long will any of those last in the wilderness? Two to four hours? That barely covers the time it takes for my husband to set up the tent.

Fortunately for those of you avid outdoors enthusiasts and even those of us who never stray outside the concrete jungle, there are a variety of solar chargers and lightweight portable batteries available that offer a solution to this otherwise vexing problem. [continue reading…]


Distributed Solar, The Next Block In The Renewable Revolution Political Fight

Few would question the consensus that solar and wind energy is creating a revolution in the way electricity is produced. The next round in the political fight for energy independence promises to be distributed energy or the way electricity is shared in the local community.

Distributed energy is the generation of small-scale solar or wind energy and how it is shared on a local level. A good example is smaller home solar systems or those on farms or businesses with their own solar generators. In many areas the excess electricity not used by the residence is then sold to the local utility to be distributed in the community. Most areas only allow the excess to be credited back to the grid down to a NET or even exchange, hence the phrase, “net metering”.

This is where the fight for solar energy and renewable independence becomes interesting. Unlike net metering, which is simply an accounting tool to let people cut their energy bills, or the feed-in tariff (which encourages distributed energy production sold to the grid), own consumption distributed energy will reward producers for using the electricity they produce. [continue reading…]


Solar Power Technology Is Being Developed For Enhanced Oil Recovery

There is a solar company in California that is using concentrated solar to extract oil from depleting fields. Using the steam generated from concentrated solar system, the steam is pumped into the depleted oil field to enhance the recovery.

As you may know, a parabolic solar trough (concentracted solar) is a huge, curved mirror that sits on a motorized base, allowing it to follow the movement of the sun throughout the day. The mirror’s unique parabolic shape is designed to gather a great deal of sunlight and then reflect that light onto a single point, concentrating the solar power. The concentrated solar is super heats a type of oil that in turn heats water into steam. In most cases, the steam is used to power generators which produce electricity.

When I first read this story I was dumbstruck, not able to escape the irony of oil companies that are spending millions everyday fighting to keep a tight clamp on solar development. It does, somehow, seem fitting that solar energy is being used to save the last drop of oil from a finite fuel source. [continue reading…]