Posts Tagged ‘home solar panels’

Now the World Agrees with Us: There is a Difference between Solar Panels

Wednesday, June 12th, 2013

If you have seen one solar module, have you seen them all? Many in the solar industry have long argued that solar panels are a commodity, interchangeable at the whim of the developer. We have strongly disagreed, but we conceded that the market has not agreed with us. All you need to do is ask the many companies who fill the halls of bankruptcy courts around the country and abroad about the market forces that drove them out of business. This argument has been settled—until Tom Woody authored a New York Times article that solar panel quality is a growing concern within the solar industry. Maybe the world is beginning to agree with us, but in any event, you should become an educated consumer as you look at which panels to put on your roof for the next 25 years.

Spring Forward with Solar Lights and Fountains

Friday, March 22nd, 2013

It is that time of year again, but you would not know it from the weather outside in Washington, D.C. It has been cold and breezy, yet the sun is shining and if you have your solar panels out, you have been producing lots of solar energy. We have just updated our site with a new selection of new home solar panels, so if you are in the market, or just want to compare various options, then please let us know. If you don’t have the big bucks to shell out for a home solar panel system, then you may want to think about other solar offerings. As soon as the sun comes out, people start thinking solar powered lights and solar fountains. Every year, the solar light options get increasingly better, more efficient, brighter and more attractive. The SolarTown learning section provides an overview of solar powered lights, what applications they can be used for, a brief description of the lights, and how long they will work when operating at a full charge. Probably the most popular lights are solar path lights, but solar lamp posts are also quite popular.

Solar Gifts from SolarTown: Greening the Holidays

Monday, November 26th, 2012

Are you looking for green or eco friendly gifts to give for the holidays? Every year, we at SolarTown are compiling a list of some gifts that you may want to consider. Take a look at our solar gifts that we are recommending this year in our learning section.The first gift you can give is to educate yourself and your friends about the power of solar energy. My family and I went to the Science Museum in Baltimore over the Thanksgiving weekend. It is easy to forget that the sun is 1.3 million (yes, million) times as large as the Earth. If you open up the sun and dump over a million earths in it, you can begin to imagine that the sun carries a pretty large punch. The challenge is of course how to garner all of that energy. The answer is that we don’t need to garner very much of that energy to meet our energy needs; we just have to do it efficiently.

Solar Inverters: Best in Show Awards

Monday, August 27th, 2012

As most loyal SolarTown customers know, we try to get you the best guidance on selecting solar energy products from our selection of home solar panels to solar water pumps and other products. We recently played with the idea of doing the same thing with our selection of solar inverters, but came to the conclusion that the inverter market may not have as many objective standards or features to make that kind of comparison as useful as with solar modules. Some excellent brands, like Outback, don’t stack up in the numbers because they are specialized in other areas like being installable in almost any tropical or harsh environment or switching between on and off grid mode. That said, sometimes the numbers have a point, and we want to share that point with you so at least you have some information on which to base your decision of which solar inverter to choose for certain size solar panel systems. So here is our first rundown of Solar Inverters: Best in Show!

SolarTown Lunches with White House Correspondent Paul Brandus

Wednesday, August 8th, 2012

In what is now an annual ritual, the SolarTown summer interns got the opportunity to lunch yesterday with White House Correspondent Paul Brandus. Brandus, an award winning member of the White House press corps, goes around tweeting to his vast following of over 130,000 followers on Twitter through the West Wing Reports. Now that is what you call influence. You don’t know what is going on at the White House, unless you are catching Brandus’ tweets. We were able to get a little closer to the action at the White House with our memorable Thai lunch with Brandus. Over generous portions of pad thai and drunken noodles, we talked about renewable energy and the presidential election.

Solar Batteries Matter

Monday, July 30th, 2012

If you want to buy solar panels, you most likely want to connect them to the grid. But there are some homeowners and others who want to be or need to be off the grid. There are the folks who have a cabin in the mountains and there is no grid anywhere close by. There are the farmers in Northern California who are growing, well, let’s just say they don’t want anyone to know how much electricity they are using. There may also be some homeowners who are on the grid but want a battery back-up system for emergencies or natural disasters. For these solar energy users, getting the right home solar panels is the easy part. The critical component of their off grid solar energy system is the solar battery. Choosing the correct solar batteries and understanding how to maintain and take care of them can be a challenge. In a recent series of learning articles, we have tried to demystify solar batteries.

Solar Panel Warranties from Bankrupt Manufacturers

Wednesday, July 25th, 2012

Manufacturers of home solar panels have ballyhooed their every increasing warranties. That is great, but what happens when that quarter of a century warranty goes down with the ship when the solar manufacturer goes out of business. I think that is what you call an illusory promise, because when it comes time for the company to honor the warranty, the homeowner who has purchased solar panels is going to call the manufacturer and get a recording: “that number is no longer in service.” We’re going to talk about warranties from solar panel manufacturers in this blog post so that homeowners may be able to take a few precautions when purchasing a solar panel system for their homes.

When the Grid Goes Down, Go Solar?

Tuesday, July 17th, 2012

A couple weeks ago, I spent a lot of time overheating in my dark, humid house with fond memories of air conditioning to to keep me company. Ironically, this year’s Independence Day reminded me of just how dependent I am on grid power. Without it I lost AC, water, and several hours of each day. I know I wasn’t the only one this happened to. This year’s power outages affected hundreds of thousands of people and in Virginia almost one million households lost their power. My home does not have a backup generator and, until recently, was only stocked with just one flashlight. In hindsight this was not a good decision. Since we as a nation probably won’t upgrade our infrastructure, power outages are going to continue to happen. This is especially true considering that some scientists have linked extreme weather last year to climate change. In order to be more prepared for the next outage I’ve decided to get a backup system. I have two main choices: diesel and solar.

Solar Panels are Great but Not in My Backyard—or on My Neighbor’s Roof

Friday, June 15th, 2012

The two major impediments to homeowners installing solar panels on their roofs are financing and aesthetics. We have talked with a lot of homeowners and the discussion always seems to revolve around these two issues. A homeowner has applied to install a system on a sloping roof from which the solar panels would be partially visible from the street. The historic preservation board voted down the plan to install the panels on the 1906 home. Much education has to be done on both sides and with increased understanding, solar designs can blossom in historic districts.

Solar Energy Symposium: Natural Gas, Chinese Manufacturing, Austerity Programs

Friday, April 13th, 2012

Natural gas, Chinese manufacturing and austerity programs were the themes at a solar symposium yesterday in the Nation’s Capital. The GW Solar Institute brought together teachers, students, policymakers and the president of SolarTown to take on the subject: “Solar Energy: A Path to Energy Significance.” No one seemed to suggest that it was going to get any less dull in the solar market in the coming year, but the forecasts were few and far between as the solar market continues with its fits and starts.