Solar Tech

I’ve always had a weird fascination with solar technology. Solar panels have become increasingly more popular these days as an option to conventional electricity generation approaches. By utilizing solar panels, we are able to harness the power from the sun and use it to produce power for everything from a 12 volt refrigerator to pool liners for inground pools used for heating the water. Have you ever noticed solar panel covered rooftops or school zone signs with solar power panels on top and asked yourself exactly how these solar panels do the job and what’s happening “behind the panels?”

Let us examine precisely what solar panels are made up of and just how the solar panel concept works…

Solar panel engineering is dependent on two types of solar heat collection: solar energy collectors and solar cells. Because practically all home and diy solar panel projects make use of solar cells, we will give attention to the solar cell technology. Solar cells, also referred to as photovoltaic cells, are what make up a photovoltaic panel, more commonly known as a solar panel. Don’t allow the word photovoltaic scare you. Let us break it down: photo=light and voltaic=electricity (consider volt or voltage). In simple terms, it’s symbolizing the thought of transforming light into electricity.

Those photovoltaic cells are mostly made up of a semi-conductor, most often silicon. I am sure you have read about silicon, and are actually utilizing the technology at this time… in your personal computer! Silicon, found in microprocessors in every single computer around the globe, is an extremely common semi-conductor, which means it has the capability to conduct energy. As light hits these silicon filled PV cells, the solar powered energy is soaked up and a current is created inside the cell. By simply stringing together these PV cells into a solar panel, as well as putting contacts on the exterior of this panel, we’re able to make use of this electrical current.

So now we know how solar panels work. What happens now?

After we have the solar panels wired and functioning with each other, they should be deliberately placed in order to assure they are subjected to maximum sunlight. In the event of using solar panels in your home, the rooftop will be the best option for the solar panels. It is crucial to pay close attention to the placement and angle of the panels to guarantee the solar panels work at their maximum effectiveness. If perhaps one of the solar cells is not completely subjected to sunlight, it can greatly reduce the effectiveness of the whole panel. Additionally it is fairly common to adjust the angle of the solar panels during the year to keep the solar panels exposed to sunshine throughout the diverse seasons. This may or may not be necessary for you dependent upon your own setup. Also, for those who have some type of antenna on their roof, it may be necessary to first move it to another location so no interference is present.

At this time we have produced electricity, however the process is not finished yet. Just to be able to make use of this energy in your home, we have to first manipulate the current from a direct current (DC) to an alternating current (AC). To get this done, we could use an inverter, that converts this electricity into an AC current so the air compressor you just purchased can help you finish that new fence or that UV nail dryer your teenage daughter just picked up at the mall can be used. Another step is to be sure you keep this energy for instances when either there is little if any sunlight, such as at nighttime. This could be done by saving this energy in deep-cycling batteries. Deep cycling batteries enable you to completely charge and recharge your batteries so that you can draw a tiny amount of current spanning a long time span. This is different from a car battery, in which you require a larger boost for a short duration, such as when you start your vehicle.

The next time you observe solar panels at work, you will realize that it is in fact several panels installed together. If you happen to look carefully enough, you can observe the individual PV cells that comprise each solar panel. Additionally, pay attention to the position of the panels. Look to see how others have maximized the solar panels exposure to sunlight, by way of the height, angle, and position of the panel so that the solar panels can work most efficiently.

Benefits of Eating Plants (a Vegetarian’s Take)

This post may seem a bit “out there” to all my meat eating friends, but there’s good reason why I eat the way I do. Obviously plants don’t make up 100% of my diet but they have some huge benefits.

Millions of Americans are making an amazing discovery: cutting meat down or out of the diet has remarkable benefits for individual health and dramatically reduces one’s carbon footprint impact on the environment. Now an agency of the U.S. government is in on the secret as well. With all the meatless food options available now, it is simple and delicious to cook without meat in the diet.

Change for the Better in American Diets?

The Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee meets every five years to update suggestions and advice for the agencies responsible for national Dietary Guidelines. Noting the fact that American diets are deficient in healthy elements like whole grains and fruits and vegetables, the Advisory Committee also confirmed that the average diet is too heavy in salt and sugar.

The committee recommended a decrease in meat eating for Americans. The new recommendations have ruffled some feathers in the meat industry and among their allies in Congress, though. Grounding the recommendation in the recognized environmental impacts of meat production, the committee faces accusations that it exceeded its boundaries in making recommendations that go beyond individual health and nutrition concerns.

Real Environmental Impacts

While some in industries that rely on animal agriculture object to the committee considering the environmental impacts of the industry, it is a valid point, considering that:

  • Animal agriculture produces more greenhouse gases than all other forms of transportation together
  • One-quarter of Earth’s surface is devoted to raising chickens, pigs, cows and lamb
  • It requires 2500 gallons of water to raise a single beef cow – an amount 50 times greater than the water to take a single shower.   One cow can produce as much as 130 gallons of methane gas per day

The American diet and its heavy animal-product use is a major contributing factor to problems like climate change, deforestation (clearing jungles or forests to raise livestock throughout the world), and greenhouse gas accumulation in the environment.

Outstanding Options Available

The exciting news is that there are so many great options available in the world to replace meat in the diet. The change to healthier eating is easily within reach. The decrease in damaging impacts on the health of the world and of the individual add up as more and more Americans discover the joy of eating plant-strong and healthy.

Shaping the Future of the American Diet

While the recommendations of the committee are not directly enacted into law or policy, they have a powerful voice in the national conversation on nutrition and health. Millions of schoolchildren get lunch daily through programs guided by the official Dietary Guidelines, so the impact of changes in the federal dietary recommendations have a broad reach.

Many people applaud the results of the committee’s new work as a step forward in improving American diets and overall health. With all the great options on the market for plant-based food, people can have their health and eat great, too.

Turning over a new LEAF

Given my concerns with our environment, I have always entertained the idea of owning a purely electric vehicle. Despite my noble intentions, I was always put off by the practical limitations of the technology. The way I saw it was that these vehicles seemed to have problems with range and speed, or had the prospect of repair bills that would eat my bank balance alive.

Still, the Universe conspired and I stumbled upon the Nissan Leaf. Suddenly everything had changed. Here was something that seemed to have moved technology on enough to address my reservations. So now, after having become the proud owner of the latest in planet saving automobile technology, what are my first impressions of the car?

A lot of the information below was written by my good friend Chris, who helps write for one of the larger printed auto magazines as well as Garage Tool Advisor. When I first sat behind the wheel of the Leaf I was immediately struck by its high-tech layout, it ‘felt’ like something entirely new. Of course it is still a car with most of the important controls in the place where you would expect to find them. I still have a steering wheel to turn and pedals to move and stop.

The gear shift lever is a bit strange though and takes some getting used to, more like a roller ball that you use to select forward and reverse. There is no motor and transmission in the traditional sense, instead an electric motor drives the front axle directly. This configuration is powered by a large battery pack, the same lithium ion type you will find in your laptop computer only much, much bigger… but I digress.

The new Leaf [drool] Credit:
After orientating myself with characteristics of the Leaf’s unconventional drive arrangement, it was time to get out on the highway. The first thing I notice is the lack of noise, there really isn’t any. Gone are the sounds of the motor revving or the whining and clunking of the transmission.

The electric motors provide the car with instant power and torque on demand. No lag here or jerky gear changes to disturb what feels like extremely potent acceleration. Later I consult the blurb and discover the Leaf has an impressive 0-60 mph figure of around 9 seconds. Because of the 3-ton floor jack I was hauling to my dad’s, it’s safe to say I wouldn’t be hitting that figure. This environmentalist is impressed, now I can be both fast and eco-friendly at the same time.


Out on the open road, the Leaf has handling to match its performance. The ride is smooth and comfortable and cornering is stable and precise. This is all good news as bends and I have history, and the relationship has not always been an amicable one.

Most of my driving involves the commute to work, add on a few extra local miles, and I will do maybe 25 miles a day. The average range of the leaf is around 80 miles, so in theory I could manage 3 days on a single charge. Still with that said, recharging is a breeze; I just pop open the flap at the front and plug it into the charger overnight. In 8 hours I am good to go with a full battery… Yeah I know, just like a cell phone.

Owning a Nissan Leaf is not just all about peace and love either, there is plenty of attitude when required. At the mall parking lot yesterday, the Leaf’s compact size and awesome turning circle meant I was easily able to snatch the last bay from under a competitor before they could even find reverse. This is payback time you petrol heads!

What you need to know about Green Energy

Yes, I care about our environment. No, I did not vote for Trump. If you haven’t yet taken the opportunity to introduce green energy into your life, you’re missing out. Green energy is less expensive, more safe, and cleaner compared to typical sources of energy, and it may in addition save you money after some time. Below are a few really smart methods to start employing green energy to your advantage.

  1. A great energy saving suggestion for those of us who like cooking food is, to make use of the properly sized pot or saucepan on the cooktop. Using a large burner with a little saucepan or pot is just wasting heat, and energy as much of the heat escapes towards the air around it. Whenever cooking food, using lids on pots and pans is surely an easy and highly effective way to help save energy. Adding a lid keeps heat within the vessel, so that you can keep the burner temp lower and save energy.
  2. When you purchase new appliances, such as refrigerators, ranges, and washing machines, try to look for the Energy Star label. The United States Department of Energy highly suggests these items because they conserve energy. Investing in a new water heater for your home is one of the smartest things you can do. Items that are energy efficient will most likely have a star on them.
  3. Use less water. Your home’s water heater uses more energy than any other appliance in the house. Obviously you can’t go with no hot water or life will just be miserable. Instead, keep your showers short!
  4. If you want to conserve energy, try not to use your dishwasher very often. Instead, let your dishes air dry. Dishwashers normally utilize a lot of energy and since they use a great deal of power, your electricity and your water bill is going to be quite high. If you have to utilize the dishwasher, put it on a lower setting.
  5. Don’t keep your refrigerator or freezer open for a long period of time. Not surprisingly this can spoil your food, but it can also use massive amounts of energy. While you are cooking but you have to get items from the fridge or freezer, close it immediately once you get something out of it.
  6. Watch to make sure your refrigerator and freezer are at the appropriate temps. Do not allow the appliances to get too cold. The suggested temperatures are around 37°-40°F for your fresh food sections and around 5°F for the freezer. If your freezer is standalone and employed for long-term storage, make it about 0°F. Shift your frozen foods from the freezer to the fridge when you are thawing these out. You will defrost your food in a safe manner and your refrigerator will not have to work as hard with the frozen products inside. This might reduce your overall energy usage.

Now that you have read through my suggestions here, be sure you use them. Like owning the most comfortable work boots, they’re worthless unless put into use. When you do, you’ll find that green living may be easy, and that green energy is, in a lot of respects, favored. When you conserve energy in some ways, you don’t need to feel guilty about others such as figuring out the cost of a catalytic converter replacement for the best high flow catalytic converter. Take action and start putting green energy into your life, as soon as today!