Posts Tagged ‘solar panel system’

Attention Installers: Please Pay Attention to Design!

Wednesday, April 30th, 2014

Solar home panels are increasingly becoming part of the landscape in communities throughout the U.S. They are cropping up in cities and towns, in the burbs and in downtowns. Some of SolarTown’s best customers are farmers and ranchers. But wherever you live, do not forget to assure that your solar installer pays attention to the design of your array. It is going to be on your roof for decades to come and you don’t want something that is going to look lousy. If we are going to overcome objections from some quarters about how solar panels look, solar installers may want to pay more attention to how the arrays on residential roofs look. It would benefit not only the homeowner but the entire industry.

Solar Panels are Definitely Right for You—Maybe

Monday, March 31st, 2014

Home solar panels are becoming increasingly part of the home ownership landscape in many parts of the country. Many of our customers call up and ask whether they should install solar panels on their homes. Since we sell solar panels, we would love to say unequivocally yes, but the answer is more nuanced and our answer usually is, “it depends.” These are some of the considerations we usually give to our customers about whether they should be considering home solar panels. Just because you are intent on going solar doesn’t mean that your home wants to cooperate. Solar can be placed on homes in virtually every state, but not every home is suitable for solar. If you live in a forest, solar panels aren’t going to catch many of the sun’s rays. And if you live in the city and the adjoining building casts a long shadow over your roof for much of the day, then solar panels may not be for your home. I did see at a trade show a couple of years back, a solution to some of these issues by having concentrated solar on a long pole that would peek out over the trees, but I have not seen this application ever used. For today, if you have a huge hickory over your roof or have any other obstructions, then you may want to look into buying green energy or becoming a member of a solar cooperative, where you don’t have to host the panels on your roof.

Penny’s Home Green Home

Friday, February 28th, 2014

Guest Blog: One of SolarTown’s customers recently purchased a solar refrigerator and we invited her to share her thoughts on creating a green home far away from the grid. So you’ve decided that you want a beachfront or close to it but can’t quite come up with the hefty prices in town. Consider the option of affordable beachfront “off the grid.” What does this mean? Well for one, you will be using solar energy (the most efficient) with a possible back-up generator. This means solar panels, batteries and an inverter to convert the solar energy to power your appliances. How large of a system is up to your needs? Myself, I use very little energy so have a small system. However, if you want the electric coffee maker, electric refrigerator, then a much larger system will be needed.

Sensational Solar Homes: Solar Homes Roundup in Washington, DC

Monday, October 7th, 2013

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.

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!

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.

Solar Energy System Installation Despite Fallen Trees in Washington, DC

Tuesday, July 3rd, 2012

Just a few feet from a tree that had fallen in the storm, I saw some other workers who had nothing to do with the clean-up—they were installing a solar panel system. They had somehow managed to maneuver around the fallen trees and the strange traffic patterns as the signal lights all over the city were not working. I am particularly interested in this installation, for if you are an avid reader of this blog, you will know that not far away in the neighborhood of Cleveland Park, the historic preservation committee voted down a solar energy system on a home not far from where I live. Our neighborhood, however, is not part of a historic preservation district so the homeowners have a freer hand in placing a solar panel system on their homes.We also carry at SolarTown other off grid products that will allow you to weather the storm. A solar refrigerator can be used to maintain your food, and one model of a solar fridge allows you to maintain medicines. If you are digging out any everyone on your street doesn’t have power, if you had a solar oven, you could prepare your food so long as the sun is out. And of course, if you can’t live without your computer, we have solar bags or small portable solar backup systems to provide just enough juice for your computers or handheld devices.

Look up in the Sky, It’s a Solar Panel: Solar Skyscrapers are on the Rise

Monday, July 2nd, 2012

Ever since skyscrapers started to capture our imagination, they have been recognized as a city’s symbol of economic power and financial might. They have not, however, ever been accused of being particularly energy efficient. Skyscrapers are notoriously huge energy consumers, which is why we were impressed by some recent efforts for building owners to try to reduce the carbon footprint of their massive buildings. A skyscraper with high-power rooftop solar panels and several floors’ solar glass can run as a vertical solar power station. Imagine, if all skyscrapers and high-rises become solar buildings, what will Manhattan be? At that time, Manhattan will become one of the largest solar power stations in the world, redefining the city’s symbol! Yes, solar skyscrapers are on the rise.