Archive for April, 2010

That Big Ugly Box on Your Roof

Tuesday, April 27th, 2010

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and may be an acquired taste, especially when it comes to solar modules. I was at a solar energy conference last week and one of the other lunch guests at my table referred to the solar panels that you may put on your roof as those “big ugly boxes on your roof.” And this was a conference on solar energy, not a Texas rodeo. It reinforced the notion that there are two major impediments for homeowners to the adoption of home solar panels: finances and beauty.

Earth Day 2010: Turn Off the Lights!

Thursday, April 22nd, 2010

The school where my kids go encouraged all students to walk to school today. We usually drive them to school, so we had to get them up and out of the house a little earlier this morning. I got up and went downstairs to see if they had already gotten up and saw that all of the lights in the kitchen were on and all of the lights in the den were on and all of the lights in the TV room were on—and no sign of my kids who were still upstairs watching Mythbusters on a laptop. Now you have to realize that my kids are generally very environmentally conscious and very supportive of SolarTown’s mission to promote solar energy. But there sometimes is this huge gap between your views and beliefs and taking action on your beliefs. My son is a hard core believer but a less than hard core doer. And that is the challenge we have on Earth Day: how do we move from what we believe to taking actions, even modest ones like turning off the lights when we are out of the room

Reenergizing Solar in the US: A National Security Priority

Monday, April 19th, 2010

Ambassador Stuart Eizenstat gave the keynote address at today’s George Washington University Solar Institute Symposium here in Washington, D.C. Eizenstat, domestic policy adviser to President Jimmy Carter, was there when Carter installed solar panels on the White House in the late 1970s, when the promise of solar seemed bright. Eizenstat recounted that the “momentum waned” and the solar panels were “dismantled by the next president.” Eizenstat laid out a powerful argument for solar: national security.

Installing a Solar Energy System on Your Home

Friday, April 9th, 2010

There is nothing like the fresh air and sunshine of spring to focus the mind on the new solar project you want to install on your roof, in your garden, on your pathways, or near your pool. We hope that you have read the learning article about the installation challenges that our solar engineer faced down during the installation of his home solar panel system. We enjoyed watching his journey as he went from the design stage to installation. In this blog entry, we discuss three major decisions that he faced: designing the system, choosing the solar module, and choosing the solar inverter.

Choosing your solar design. As with any home improvement project, the advance work is the key to the success of your solar energy system. You need to design your system, knowing that these home solar panels will be on your roof for the next 25 years. Even an experienced solar installer like our solar engineer may go through several alternative designs before settling on the optimal one, because every rooftop is unique. You need to take into account what conditions may influence the design. Every roof has a different configuration and different obstructions. When our solar engineer was conceptualizing his design, he originally intended to install more panels, but eventually changed the configuration and opted for a design with fewer panels.