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Photo-Voltaic (PV) - PV panels convert sunlight into electricity. 

You've probably seen calculators that have solar cells - calculators that never need batteries, and in some cases don't even have an off button. As long as you have enough light, they seem to work forever. You may have seen larger solar panels - on emergency road signs or call boxes, on buoys, even in parking lots to power lights. Although these larger panels aren't as common as solar powered calculators, they're out there, and not that hard to spot if you know where to look. You have also seen solar cell arrays on satellites, where they are used to power the electrical systems.

You have probably also been hearing about the "solar revolution" for the last 20 years - the idea that one day we will all use free electricity from the sun. This is a seductive promise - on a bright, sunny day the sun shines approximately 1,000 watts of energy per square meter of the planet's surface, and if we could collect all of that energy we could easily power our homes and offices for free.

Residential solar electric power systems offer an excellent alternative for people who are looking for back-up power or stand alone power systems. Solar electric systems are ideal for those who choose to live beyond the reach of conventional electric power. Solar electric power is clean, affordable and requires very little maintenance. More than 50,000 families in the U.S. have chosen solar power for their electric systems. Throughout the world, many thousands of people depend on solar electricity as their primary source of power.

If you choose to live more than a third of a mile from power, photovoltaic's can be a cost effective alternative for you. when you factor in the cost of line extensions and monthly electric bills, solar electricity is often the preferred alternative. Other options are wind, hydro, or gas generators or some combination of the above.

Home Made PV Cells -

An Experts View:

I found my views on this subject to be extremely controversial.  My response to the government solar energy subsidies proposal is the view that the solar energy market needs to mature naturally, without subsidies, to make the technology a cost effective and viable energy solution for the future.  My recollection and experience with the solar energy rebates and initiatives that ended in the mid 1980's remains clear.  When 50% of the solar energy systems were subsidized, unethical players entered the solar energy field. Sales were easy and substandard installations become commonplace.  Keep in mind that many holes are required to be drilled into a homeowner’s roof to properly and structurally attach solar panels. Long term post installation support and warranties need to be secure. When the solar business marketing relied solely on rebate programs, the market crashed when funds were no longer available.  This hurt the manufacturers, suppliers and the consumers as well as giving solar energy a black eye.  The highest quality manufacturers of solar panels in the 1980’s, Grumman and Colt,  went out of the solar business.  The boom was over and few businesses remained to provide for service and repair.

GO Solar Company is one of the few businesses that remains in the field to this time. We have watched the resurgence of the market as solar panels become more efficient and less expensive.  The challenging process has been to find practical applications for solar energy that are viable and cost effective.  GO Solar Company is currently installing solar powered landscape lighting for the City of Santa Monica.  We are using solar power to illuminate palm trees on Wilshire Blvd. and large ficus trees on 5th St.  GO Solar Company  feels  these types of solar installations benefit the public and are a good use of solar power. Utilizing solar power to illuminate government buildings, city properties, bus stop shelters, highway signs and call boxes are practical and truly cost effective.  The public will become aware of the positive aspects of solar power and will become receptive to its use.  Manufacturers will spend money on research and development to further the efficiencies of solar components rather than promoting expensive marketing programs aimed at collecting subsidies.  Perhaps grants and monetary incentives to manufacturers for research and development to produce a more efficient panel may be a more meaningful alternative to promoting solar energy.  When solar panels become less costly and more efficient the use of solar energy will proliferate without the constant lobbying to keep the subsidies in place. 

Graham F. Owen
President  GO Solar Company
ph: 818-566-6870    fx: 818-566-6879

LED Solar Tracker

Duane C. Johnson <> has been  working on a simplified solar tracker. It uses LEDs as photo sensors. See:


of Marine Lab

The Schatz Solar Hydrogen Project

The Schatz solar hydrogen project was initiated in the fall of 1989 with the goal of demonstrating that solar hydrogen is a reliable and abundant energy source that is ready for use today. This full-time, automatic standalone energy system takes advantage of the solar hydrogen cycle to power the air compressor that aerates the aquarium at Humboldt State University's Telonicher Marine lab in Trinidad, California.

How it works

This is how the system works: sunlight hits the photovoltaic panels, which convert solar energy into electricity. This electricity is used in two ways: it powers the air compressor directly, and it powers an electrolyzer. In the electrolyzer the electricity splits water into hydrogen and oxygen. The oxygen gas is vented to the atmosphere and the hydrogen gas is stored in tanks behind the lab.

At night or when the clouds are thick, the system automatically shifts to fuel cell operation. The fuel cell directly converts chemical energy into electricity by combining the stored hydrogen with oxygen from the air. This shortcuts the usual way of obtaining electricity from a fuel, which involves burning the fuel, using the heat to boil water, using the steam to turn a turbine, and using the turbine to turn a generator.

The direct conversion process of a fuel cell is quiet and efficient and its only byproduct is pure water. In this way, water and sunlight, both natural and abundant, are used in a cycle to produce power. No fossil fuels are used; no pollution is created. And because hydrogen stores solar energy, the fish in the marine lab enjoy solar air bubbles twenty-four hours a day.


"The Potential Market for Photovoltaics and Other Distributed Resources in
Rural Electric Cooperatives," by Tom Hoff (Clean Power Research) and Matt
Cheney (Utility Photovoltaic Group), forthcoming in Energy Journal, 2000.
See prepublication draft online at

"Agricultural Applications of Photovoltaic Systems," chapter in analytic
series "Solar Energy in Agriculture," edited by Blaine F. Parker.  Appeared
in Energy in World Agriculture, Amsterdam : Elsevier. 1991. v. 4 p. 115-155.

Applications for Photovoltaic Power for Rural Electric Systems, by Jerry L.
Anderson, Rollan G. Skinner, and LaVerne E. Stetson.  Paper presented before
the American Society of Agricultural Engineers, Summer 1991.  Abstract:
Previous applications of solar energy for water pumping are briefly
reviewed.  Photovoltaics [PV's] have been most successful in installations
for small loads (1 kW or less).  Costs for PV arrays are now abut $6.00 per
watt.  Electric utilities serving small, remote rural loads are providing
PV's as a cost effective energy source.  As more applications are used, the
cost is expected to decrease and the reliability to increase.

Solar Greenhouses Horticulture Resource List, by Lane Greer, Appropriate
Technology Transfer for Rural Areas (ATTRA) March 1999.  See .

Designing and Implementing a Photovoltaic Tariff for a Rural Electric
Cooperative, by Paul Bony.  Paper presented at Solar '94, conference of the
American Solar Energy Society.

Rural Energy Alternatives Project, by Lloyd Hoffstatter, et al, New York
State Energy Office.  Paper presented at Solar '93, conference of the
American Solar Energy Society.

R&C Solar/Wind Powered House  

Contact Wayne and Barbara at


This web site describes all the fun my wife and I have had building a solar-powered home on remote property. Before embarking on this adventure, we found it really helpful to read the stories of others, and to learn from their experience. So we wanted to return the favor. The goal is not to dwell on the technical stuff, but to give you a feel for planning, building, and living in this home. We hope that some readers will find that useful. Be warned, there’s some straight talk, and some of it isn't politically correct. If there’s positive feedback, we’ll improve the site as time allows.

The site is about 20 pages of text, includes many links, and some photos where appropriate (click on the thumbnail photos to see a larger version, and then use your browser's back button to return). There’s a little advice and editorializing mixed in. The information is detailed enough for beginners, and it's arranged roughly in the order of construction.

The links at the top are for sections, some of which have multiple pages. The links at the bottom will advance you to the next page. There is a single page version if you want the whole site on one long page.

Chicago School Enters New Era In Energy And Education

Chicago, Illinois . . . 3 March 2000 . . . The City of Chicago, Commonwealth Edison, the Chicago Public Schools, the United States Department of Energy, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (Local #134), and the Illinois Department of Commerce and Community Affairs announced today that they have collaborated in providing Chicago’s Reilly Elementary School with a 10 kilowatt solar (photovoltaic or PV) electric rooftop system. The system was provided by Spire Solar Chicago, a PV module manufacturing and systems business that recently located in Chicago as a result of collaboration between Spire Corporation of Bedford, Massachusetts, the City of Chicago, and ComEd.


Grid Connected PV… What's It Worth?
by James R. Udall

Electric Boat Association of the Americas

The Electric Boat Association of the Americas is an organization of individuals with an interest in electric-powered boating. Most EBAA members reside in the United States and Canada, but the membership includes a few individuals in the Caribbean, Central and South America. We even have members in Australia and Africa. We welcome new members from anywhere in the world

Since electrically propelled vessels do not put hydrocarbons in the air, do not put oil and other pollutants in the water and don't make loud noises, many EBAA members have a keen interest in the positive environmental aspects of electric propulsion. Other members simply like the idea of clean, silent, inexpensive boating. Low maintenance and reliability are appealing to all the members.

Solar photovoltaic cells can generate electricity from the sun's rays. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory describes many possible uses for photovoltaic electrical generation, including powering one's home.

Solar electric houses today are designed for three types of operation:

Our latest development is a solar cell kit which is used for instructional purposes in universities and classrooms. We are presently highlighting the release of the Nanocrystalline Solar Cell Kit: Re-creating Photosynthesis. The solar cell kit is a teaching tool which uses natural dyes extracted from berries (anthocyanins) and non-toxic materials to create a solar cell that lasts only a few months, but can teach students about sustainable energy production.

Terrestrial solar cell efficiency has taken another leap forward, converting a record 32.3 percent of the sun's energy into useable power — more than doubling current efficiency ratings.

Solar Living Web

Pictures and Bio's of off-gridders

A Performance Calculator for Grid-Connected PV Systems

PVWATTS calculates electrical energy produced by a grid-connected photovoltaic (PV) system. Currently, PVWATTS can be used for locations within the United States and its territories, which are accessible through links on the U.S. map located below. Researchers at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory developed PVWATTS to permit non-experts to quickly obtain performance estimates for grid-connected PV systems.

Viva Solar Inc. is a Canadian incorporated company with head offices in Toronto and production facilities in Krasnodon, a city in Southern Russia where major developments in solar science were made.
The company has been manufacturing under Canadian supervision monocrystal Silicon solar photovoltaic cells and modules since 1990. The production facility has an annual capacity of 800 KWp and employs more than 70 skilled workers.
The important feature of this production facility lies in its versatility and flexibility allowing for rapid change of the product. Therefore this production approach is particularly attractive for small series manufacturing.
Numerous patents and know-how are used in Viva Solar production technology. Viva Solar PV cells and modules are known for high durability, stable power output and an elegant appearance which does not degrade with time.
The research and development department of the company is constantly improving the PV cells and the modules technical parameters. The minimum commercial guaranteed efficiency of Viva Solar' cells is currently 13% with majority of the cells having 14-16% efficiency. Another feature of R&D is a further development of double-sided cells and modules able to produce power from both sides thereby enhancing overall power output.
The company employs world class scientists, highly qualified engineers, technicians and workers with extensive experience in the solar industry of 10 to 35 years.
We are proud that our staff members are amongst the pioneers of world and Russian solar industry.
The company has export solar cells and modules for 10 years through an extended network of distributors in many countries under our own and OEM trade marks.
We strongly believe in the bright prospects of the solar industry . Our mission is to bring solar energy to the world marketplace and to make life sustainable for all people.



Solar electric power is an alternative energy source that is cleaner, more reliable, longer lasting and environmentally safer than nuclear and fossil fuels. Solar power systems are practical and available now. Get renewable energy equipment through the PV Bulk Buy and save money. SOLutions in Solar Electricity offers PV modules and inverters at "better than best prices" for your solar electricity needs.




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