Even though we think that top ten lists of states by usage of a website may be idiotic, as suggested by a recent article, we didn’t want you to feel left out and so we compiled the first ever SolarTown rankings. We looked at the users of SolarTown.com over the past twelve months and here are the top rankings of the states that contribute to the traffic on SolarTown. If you are reading this blog entry, then you probably (but not necessarily) come from one of the states in our top ten list. In our top ten list, only California, New York, Pennsylvania and Arizona are on the top ten list of states with the cumulative installed solar electric capacity. The other states on our list may be where the future lies. Look at Texas, for example, which is not a particular solar-friendly state, but there are a lot of SolarTown users from Texas. And which is the city with the most SolarTown users. Did you guess Los Angeles, as I did? Wrong. You are going to have to read the entire blog post to find out.
Posts Tagged ‘home solar panels’
The news around Washington D.C. has not been altogether bright. The Nationals didn’t make the playoffs this year. The federal government is closed. The museums are closed. Imposing concrete barriers block you from parking in any lots managed by the National Park Service. A woman suffering from postpartum depression leads the police on a chase from the White House to the Capitol Building, where she is killed in her car. Despite all of the bad news and gridlock elsewhere in the city, the solar home tour celebrated its 23rd year in the metropolitan Washington DC area this past weekend. And if you missed it, you missed one of the bright spots in Washington, D.C. Homeowners with solar panels and solar water heating systems graciously opened their homes to visitors just to show off their solar prowess. Some of the homeowners even fed us (and our kids, thank you very much!). Human psychology plays a role in the financing of these systems. When there were more incentives, there was more of a frenzy to buy solar panels. Now that many of the incentives are no longer around, the frenzy has quieted down, but the cost of the solar systems without the incentives is now much less than it was before because of the falling cost of the modules. As one homeowner told us, he originally bought his panels ten years ago at $7.00/watt. Now a better module can cost around a dollar a watt. But what is missing is that hook that you better get on the bandwagon today. There is one major incentive that will almost certainly disappear, and that is the federal income tax credit, which ends in 2016, but you still should have time to put in your solar water heater or solar energy system before the credit expires. With the craziness in Washington, D.C., you probably should think about getting your system up and running before the solar tour next year.
The solar industry is booming throughout the U.S., but still solar has yet to achieve wide acceptance that would make it more than an asterisk in the nation’s energy portfolio. Achieving even 1% of the nation’s energy is still an elusive goal. The largest part of the market is on commercial buildings. You are more likely to find solar panelson the roof of a Costco’s than on your neighbor’s home. There have been lots of challenges, but the two that loom more than the others are financing and aesthetics. That is what is now intriguing about Dow Chemical’s gambit on solar shingles. Dow Solar Dow Solar, a business unit of The Dow Chemical Company, has been quietly rolling out the solar shingles throughout the United Staes, and they have recently become available in SolarTown’s neighborhood, Washington, D.C., Maryland, and Virginia. The shingles do double duty; they are both roofing material to provide a weather tight roof for shelter and they are a source of your family’s electricity needs. But you can’t beat the aesthetics and that is where the rubber meets the road. If Dow can overcome the objections of builders then they may have created a new industry for meeting the needs of homeowners’ electricity needs. The big black boxes may be a quaint reminder of the early days of this fledging industry like the brick cell phones that weighed in at almost two pounds.
If someone would have told me a few years ago that the price for solar panels would drop to 36 cents by 2017, I might have had some question about the mental health of the one making the assertion. But now, look at what Green Tech Media is reporting. The price per watt of solar PV will keep falling. All of this is well and good for the emerging solar industry, but there is a hitch: the sun doesn’t shine at night. price The price per watt to produce solar panels will fall to 36 cents by the end of 2017. With this cost reduction comes a price – disappearing subsidies for solar PV. The subsidies, which cost billions in taxpayer dollars, are believed to be less and less necessary as the price of solar energy reaches grid parity. Solar PV systems require panels, yes, but also a considerable number of other parts. Inverters, wiring, solar batteries for off grid or backup systems, and a good deal of cash for professional installation account for a large percentage of the startup cost that is so daunting to prospective investors, residential and utility alike. The most prohibitive drawback that has solar producing just .195% of the nation’s energy is easy to overlook, but oh so obvious once considered: when the sun goes down over the horizon, the panels are not producing energy.In order to make solar a real answer to our energy needs, it needs to be able to produce energy around the clock, and specifically when it’s needed during peak hours. Price per watt can drop all it wants for panels. To stay competitive, solar energy will need help, and subsidies won’t be coming back to the rescue. The answer is in energy storage.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.