Solar Power Kits
When most people think “solar power,” they think of using solar cells to convert sunlight directly into electricity for use in their homes, and perhaps even making a little money by feeding electricity into the power grid. Solar cells work by using the photovoltaic effect. This effect yokes the characteristic for particular substances to emit electrons when they are struck by sunlight. The electrons emitted inside a solar cell are then converted into electric current.
An interesting innovation for those considering putting a new roof on their house is to install Building Integrated Photovoltaics (BIPVs). They combine solar cells with slate, metal, fiber, cement or even asphalt roofing. Basically, each shingle will have a small solar cell on top of it, turning the entire roof into one big solar collector. One cell alone does not generate much electricity, but hundreds of them working together do. There is also the conventional route to going solar, and mounting big solar panels on the roof and perhaps even in the yard). Typical “solar homes” report a substantially decreased electric bill, with drops of 25-50% overall being common. Homes that adopt a very energy efficient, low consumption model and maximize their solar power actually do manage to sell some electricity back, and have overall electric bills of zero. Expansive systems like this are expensive, however.
For those who are just curious about solar power in the home, there are small solar kits that can be installed by an intrepid, DIY-oriented person. 60-watt DIY solar panel and battery kits (enough to power one light bulb) cost about $600.Other solar power kits go up to about 600-watts and run around $12,000. An option for experimenting with environmentally friendly solar power that does not require a huge investment would be to buy a few of the smaller kits and light (or power) one room of the house with them.The smaller ones are great for RV's or cabins. Some kits are 'plug n play' like this very cool kit from our friends at YourDomainHere.