Build your own solar panels? Proceed with caution

A number of people have asked me about building their own solar panels from individual solar cells and asking for my opinion on a number of web sites that make claims that you can build enough solar panels to power your home for around $200.

I have a huge amount of respect for people with the aptitude and the ability to build their own equipment. These people often derive a great deal of personal satisfaction from being able to say, “I built that myself”. Largely, these people are to be encouraged. If you want to build your own solar panels, however, I would advise caution.

There have been many claims made from certain web sites that say it is possible to build your own solar panels and run your entire house from solar panels for an outlay of $200 or less, sell excess power back to the utility grid and even generate an income from solar.

Written by Michael Boxwell. To read the full article, click here.

What You Need to Know About Shopping for Solar Panels

Following a record-breaking year for rooftop solar panels in the U.S. in 2012, you can expect a flood of information overload on how to go about getting solar panels installed on your rooftop. Choosing the right solar panel service company has long required a considerable amount of detective work to figure out what you want and what you need.

As with any retail service, consumers should expect to deal in a straightforward manner with installers and get what they’re promised. Most consumers, though, have no previous experience shopping for solar, so it’s more difficult to spot shady language in a contract or missing steps in the purchase process. An online search of solar installers in your town could turn up a long list of companies.

To help you combat the mass of information, as well as any misinformation, we created this cheat sheet of things you should consider:

Written by Ucilia Wang. To read the full article, click here.

The Energy Fix: Reinventing The Solar Array

The solar market has been on fire. In the U.S., it’s grown by 600 percent over the past five years, culminating in 3,313 installed megawatts in 2012. This past March, seven solar projects added the only new utility power of any kind to the U.S. grid. But solar energy isn’t quite cost-competitive yet. Bridging the final gap requires breakthroughs that increase efficiency while cutting costs.
The Dramatic Reimagining
Conical Solar Panels
Even for photovoltaic (PV) panels, there’s such a thing as too much sun—when cells overheat, they become less efficient. V3Solar solved that problem with Spin Cell, a conical array that floats on magnets. An outer cone made of specialized lenses concentrates bands of sunlight on an inner cone covered with PV cells. The cells capture light energy but spin away before thermal energy can transfer. This constant cooling means V3Solar can use cheaper, less heat-tolerant material than other light-concentrating systems.
The Why Not? Plan
Drape the Planet with Solar Fabric
Would embedding solar cells in every bolt of fabric make a dent in our fossil-fuel consumption? It’s worth a shot. Greg Nielson, a Sandia National Laboratories researcher­—and 2012 PopSci “Brilliant 10” honoree—has developed solar glitter that could turn nearly any surface into a power source. Clusters of the dust-size cells (as small as 250 microns across) could be incorporated into standard PV panels, doubling their efficiency, or into the material for bags and clothing.

Written by Erik Sofge. To read the full article, click here

California solar-power subsidy program approaches its limit

“SACRAMENTO — Lis Sines of Hermosa Beach loves watching her electric meter run backward.

When that happens, she knows that the 20 solar panels on her roof are producing more power than she needs to run her 3,800-square-foot home. The excess electricity flows to the electric company’s grid, and she gets its full retail value credited to her utility bill.”

Written By: Marc Lifsher To read full article click here