Wednesday, 27 January 2016 10:57

Google's Sunroof for Solar Skeptics

The capabilities of today's technology is absolutely amazing, and just keeps improving day after day. Google has recently launched it's newest non-searchable venture called Google Sunroof.

If you are a skeptic about solar power and it's benefits then this website is for you.

Right now it is only available in a few areas, but someday soon they could be analyzing the solar potential of every building in the country.

It works by taking an address and calculating the average amount of hours-per-year of sunlight for that particular rooftop. 

It then gives you an analysis of how many solar panels you could fit in that location as well as the amount of money you could potentially save by installing them.

There is still a lot of skepticism and ignorance when it comes to solar energy.

People just don't appreciate the amount of money they could save over the long term or the volume of solar power that is currently bouncing off their roofs, unused.

This website aims to eliminate the skeptics and ignorance while showing them what they are missing out on!

Published in News

Some use the terms power and energy interchangeably...

However, these terms represent very different, but related concepts.

Power is the rate at which energy is consumed, expressed in watts or kilowatts.

Energy is the amount of power consumed, expressed in watt-hours or kilowatt-hours (kWh).

To understand energy use, and consequently our utility bills, we must factor in the amount of power devices and appliances use and how long we use them.

Let’s look at the example of a typical light fixture outside your front door with a 60 watt light bulb. Sixty watts is the amount of power the lamp consumes, or the rate at which the lamp uses energy. If you run a 60 watt light bulb from dusk to dawn for 12 hours, you will consume 720 watt-hours of energy (or 0.72 kilowatt-hours).

In Southwest Florida we currently pay around 10 cents per kilowatt-hour, so that light bulb would cost 7.2 cents per night, or $26.28 annually.

If you look at your utility bill, you will see that you are charged for the number of kilowatt-hours (KWH) that you consume.

This is the amount of energy consumed between meter readings. To reduce the energy you use, you must either reduce the amount of power you use, or the amount of time you use that power (or both!)

Energy  =  Power  x Time

Going back to our light bulb example, you could install a light bulb that uses less power, or you could reduce the number of hours it runs. Both courses of action would reduce the energy used and save you money. Here are three different ideas to save energy and money.

1) Replace the bulb with a 13W compact fluorescent with equivalent light output (reduce power).

Energy Saved:                   0.56 kilowatt hours daily, or $20.58 saved annually

2) Put the light on a timer and run for just 6 hours nightly (reduce time).

Energy saved:                  0.36 kilowatt hours daily, or $13.14 saved annuall

3) Do both of the above (reduce power and time).

Energy Saved:                   0.64 kilowatt hours daily, or $23.43 saved annually

While power and energy are intimately connected, they are not the same.

Understanding the difference can help you save money!

In my next article, I will take this concept one step further and explain why you should think twice when trying to be “energy efficient.”


While offshore oil and gas drilling is the slowest, dirtiest, most hazardous and expensive way to produce energy - investing in clean energy would create four times as many jobs as investing the same amount of money in oil.

We need energy efficiency coupled with new, advanced, sophisticated, clean renewable energy technologies such as solar energy.

What we can do is thank Florida Senators Mel Martinez and Bill Nelson for their continued strong opposition to drilling and spilling oil on America’s best beaches, drilling that would ruin our state’s number one economic resource: our beach sand.

People in other states can help by getting their Senators to take Florida drilling out of the Senate’s energy bill.

Renewable energy technology works extremely well in an iPad world!

Tuesday, 16 February 2010 13:45

Calculate Your Electrical Use & Save!

Have you ever thought about how much electricity you use, and possibly reducing your usage?

Think about this:

    • The Wii Videogame System uses 18 Watts when in use, and 3 Watts when it's in sleep mode.
    • A typical desktop computer with a 17" LCD (Flat-Panel) Monitor uses about 200 Watts.
    • A 42" Plasma TV uses 270 Watts.
    • A central air conditioner (2.5 tons) uses 3500 Watts.
    • A clothes dryer uses 4400 Watts.


Now:

    • Turning off, or putting your Desktop computer to sleep - rather than leaving it on all of the time, can save over $100/year.
    • Switching from 100 Watt Light Bulbs to the equivalent fluorescents can save you over $200/year.
    • Going solar can save hundreds per year as well!   Be sure to check out all of our solar products.

If you're really interested in learning how much energy you use, you can measure it with this $20 device:

Kill A Watt

It's called the Kill A Watt Electricity Usage Monitor, and it will not only calculate your electrical use, but empower you to save hundreds on your electric bills!

Here's to saving energy and enjoying life,

- Dan

On October 27, 2009, Rhone Resch - President & CEO of Solar Energy Industries Association -- declared, in the City of Anaheim, California, a Solar Bill of Rights...

And we find it very inspirational!

Here you go...

The Solar Bill of Rights

We declare these rights not on behalf of our companies, but on behalf of our customers and our country.  We seek no more than the freedom to compete on equal terms and no more than the liberty for consumers to choose the energy source they think best.

1.      Americans have the right to put solar on their homes or businesses. Restrictive covenants, onerous connection rules, and excessive permitting and inspections fees prevent many American homes and businesses from going solar.

2.      Americans have the right to connect their solar energy system to the grid with uniform national standards. This should be as simple as connecting a telephone or appliance. No matter where they live, consumers should expect a single standard for connecting their system to the electric grid.

3.      Americans have the right to Net Meter and be compensated at the very least with full retail electricity rates. When customers generate excess solar power utilities should pay them consumer at least the retail value of that power.

4.      The solar industry has the right to a fair competitive environment. The highly profitable fossil fuel industries have received tens of billions of dollars for decades. The solar energy expects a fair playing field, especially since the American public overwhelmingly supports the development and use of solar.

5.      The solar industry has the right to equal access to public lands. America has the best solar resources in the world, yet solar companies have zero access to public lands compared to the 45 million acres used by oil and natural gas companies.

6.      The solar industry has the right to interconnect and build new transmission lines. When America updates its electric grid, it must connect the vast solar resources in the Southwest to population centers across the nation.

7.     Americans have the right to buy solar electricity from their utility. Consumers have no choice to buy clean, reliable solar energy from their utilities instead of the dirty fossil fuels of the past.

8.      Americans have the right, and should expect, the highest ethical treatment from the solar industry. Consumers should expect the solar energy industry to minimize its environmental impact, provide systems that work better than advertised, and communicate incentives clearly and accurately.

Resch is president & CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association. He made this statement before a gathering of thousands of industry professionals at the Solar Power International conference.

Thursday, 05 November 2009 12:57

Going Green with Renewable Energy Products

A photo of our building back in late 70's!

In 2002, I decided to renovate our 25 year old, Fafco Solar building in Cape Coral...

In doing so, I tried to use as many green products and practices as I could afford...

Problem #1: I didn’t know anything about green building.
Problem #2: I didn’t know anyone else who did.

So, I had to go to Sarasota to find someone who had some knowledge and experience with green building.

Unfortunately, after his one visit to my shop, he never called back and I could never get him to return my calls. So, I was forced to search for another builder.

Eventually, I decided to use a local builder.

One I was familiar with, even though he had no knowledge or experience in green building. I had known him and his wife for many years. They both knew my father and on occasion he played cards with him. They also knew my son. They had a good reputation and I liked them.

So, I educated myself a little and told my builder what I wanted in the building. He thought some of my green ideas were strange but he did as I requested. When all was done, I was happy with my decision.

Unknowingly, my decision to renovate my existing building, rather than move and build somewhere else, was my first green decision.

By far, the most visible and impressive green aspect of the building is the 21 solar lights (tubular skylights) installed throughout the building. They allow the employees to work in natural daylight almost all day long without using any electricity... and they love it.

It also is a great demonstration of a product we offer.

People who visit are usually quite surprised when we tell them there’s no electric lights on. Stop in and take a look for yourself when you’re in the neighborhood!

All interior walls were painted with no VOC paint. (That stands for volatile organic compounds.) It wasn’t hard to find...even in 2002. We just had to ask for it.

We sprayed foam under the roof and into the block walls of the air conditioned portion of the building. During construction, it was noticeably cooler under the foamed portion of the roof.

We reused lumber from the deconstruction of the old shop in the new offices.

We installed a tankless water heater to eliminate stand-by losses since we hardly ever use hot water.

We also installed a dual flush toilet, a water cooled air conditionerlow E windowstile floors (except in two offices) and ceiling tiles made with partially recycled content.

On the outside, we planted native plants.

After moving into our newly renovated offices, we started improving our personal green habits, too. We, now, recycle almost all our paper, plastic, aluminum, glass and copper items.

Ultimately, my goal is to use zero fossil fuel within ten years. That would be a wonderful achievement! There’s still more to do, but we’re well on our way!

If YOU are interested in doing the same, contact me and we’ll make a plan to do it!

Energy independence is definitely possible!

For more information on green building, check out these links:

Have fun 'going green with renewable energy products', I sure did!

- Dan

Friday, 23 October 2009 11:09

The Most Common Question About Solar Energy

The most common question about solar energy deserves the right answer...

If you’ve ever asked yourself --

“Why isn’t there more solar energy used in Florida?” 

you’re not alone!

In the 35 years I’ve worked in the solar industry here in Florida, that’s the most common question I hear.

The question is often followed with some version of: “I guess it’s just still too expensive.”

It’s a good question, but the right answer requires you to dig a little deeper. So, instead of just agreeing and letting you off the hook, I’m inclined to reply: “YOU know why.”

Then, I wait and let you think a little while I nod my head and look directly at you with narrowed eyes and a slight smile. When I see you start to fog up, I continue, “It’s because the utilities and the politicians don’t want you to use solar energy.”

Oh, you say. It’s pretty obvious and no one ever disagrees.

Within the last couple months, though, we're fortunate enough to have some help from the top, and I'm excited!

You know in your heart we should be using the beautiful gift the sun gives freely to all. It defies logic and common sense that Florida ignores its natural beauty.

The frustration is always audible. Solar energy is so obviously good and right.

Here are a couple organizations trying to help the people get their fair share of solar energy:


Florida is the Sunshine State, after all, right?!

Wednesday, 23 September 2009 08:59

The Attributes of Solar Energy

You probably get the concept of solar energy -- the idea of creating energy from the sun..
Nonetheless, here's the attributes of solar energy:
•    An endless supply… the sun will continue to shine for millions of years
•    A reliable supply… the output of the sun is predictable
•    A secure supply… the sun cannot be a target
•    A safe supply… the sun does not cause pollution
•    A healthy supply… sunshine is essential for good health
•    A free supply… sunshine is delivered to your house free of charge (and fast)
•    Promotes energy independence… both national and personal
•    Promotes energy democracy… ownership for many people (not just a few)
•    Promotes a healthy economy…
•    Promotes enjoyment… you like its beauty, its warmth and all it provides
•    Promotes biodiversity… sustainable behavior in harmony with nature
•    Promotes community… a world that works well… we’re ALL in this together
•    Promotes life… all life depends on the solar energy

At its core, solar energy is in alignment with all you love -- and because of that, solar energy is an energy source you love.

Just a few thoughts for the day...

- Dan

For more information, here are some good books:

Friday, 11 September 2009 15:08

Solar Energy - Plugging into the Sun

This phot is of photovoltaic panels in Spain... and WOW, it's a really good one!

Today, I discovered this excellent article by National Geographic called "Plugging into the Sun"...

It explains how sunlight provides us with much more energy than we'd ever need - and slowly we're starting to tap into it!

It also reviews the two main ways to harness the energy as well:

    1. produce steam,
    2. convert to electricity with photovoltaic (PV) panels (be sure to check out our PV solutions on our web site to learn more!

Be sure to check out the article, and the related link: Ranking the Renewables (the photo gallery is great too!)

Very cool stuff!

-Dan

Most Popular