Top 5 Best Solar Powered Indoor Lights & Buyer’s Guide 2018

Solar systems are no new invention. Thanks to the never-ending advancements enjoyed in that industry, new solar products are being built to rival conventional electricity. An example of such a product is solar lights; they are simply light bulbs powered by the sun.

Built for indoor or outside use, these lights convert the naturally occurring rays of the sun to electricity. Solar lights are affordable and available easily through a host of online and brick and mortar stores.

This article is reviewing the best indoor lights for 2018 and listing some things to watch out for when shopping for solar lights.

1. Domezan Indoor Solar Light

This indoor light is our all-star pick because of the following:

Domezan Indoor Solar Light
  • It is environmentally friendly which means it will help save money on your energy bill when compared to conventional bulbs without compromising on the quality of lighting delivered.
  • With a battery of 18650(3.7V, 1200mah), this bulb can be used for a time period of 6 – 8 hours after being fully charged.
  • With a durable adhesive, this panel can be stuck to the roof firmly
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    This bulb can be used for a wide range of activities from emergency lightning for storm or hurricane to lighting up your chicken coop.
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    This bulb comes with two already set in brightness levels and dimming strobe and SOS modes.
2. ROXY-G2 Solar

The ROXY bulb is multi-faceted as it can be used as an indoor bulb and also an outdoor bulb.It is a high performing lithium battery that has a capacity of 3.7V, 2400mAh that powers an LED bulb with the textured lens. It is useful for maximum brightness, little glare,and better light projection.

Built with an aluminum frame, this light has a cable length of 15ft that makes it possible to place the solar panel in the best area for maximum sun exposure. The bulb also comes with three various brightness level settings and a sensor that helps the bulb adjust to surrounding light.

3. Flyhoom 3 Pack Portable Solar Powered LED Lantern

3. Flyhoom 3 Pack Portable Solar Powered LED Lantern

Built for indoor and outdoor use, this bulb has a white color and comes in a pack of three. Each bulb is 4.9 x 2.8 x 2.8 inches in size and has an inbuilt 3-piece solar panel built within, 16pc high lumens LED beads,and a 1200mAh lithium ion battery.

The bulb also comes with the beautiful and seamless option of hanging which makes it easy to be used when hiking or camping. Committing the bulb to 9hrs of sunlight results in 22 hours of light. Charging it with conventional electricity for 5 -6 hours gives off over a day’s worth of lighting.

4. Greenlight Planet Home 120 Solar Lighting

4.Greenlight Planet Home 120 Solar Lighting

This solar lighting system can charge your USB devices and power all appliances that require direct current. The lamps themselves have 200 lumens per lamp making them suitable for lightning up several rooms. Its composition also makes it a more versatile option because it canbe used in any location at any time.

Finally, a full day’s charge gives back a full day’s worth of use.

5. ELight Portable LED Solar Lights

5. ELight Portable LED Solar Lights

ELight prides itself on the fact that they offer a full refund or replacement without asking any questions. Their solar light is suitable for indoor and outdoor use thanks to its great design. The light also comes with a hook so that it can be hung.

It also comes pre-installed with three brightness levels which can be adjusted by use of a remote control. The lamp’s battery has the capacity of 3.7v, 2000mAh lithium-ion and after fully charged, it can be used for anything between 9 – 20 hours.

Everyone of these bulbs is designed to meet your specific indoor lighting needs. However, should you decide to go out to buy a bulb from your local brick and mortar store, here are the important things you need to know before you choose a light:

1. Capacity

When questioning the capacity of an indoor bulb, it is important to pay attention to what batteries came prepackaged. And while the sun is the primary power source of the bulb, the batteries are needed to store the converted energy. Try asking questions about the capacity of the batteryto understand how long your bulb can last with a full charge.

2. Panel Composition

The composition of the solar panel of the bulb is extremely important. With a wrong or faulty panel, even the best-designed bulb will find it difficult to perform even the most basic task of converting the rays of the sun into energy useful to the bulbs. In identifying the right panel composition, consider the coating of the panel. Panels with quality coats usually perform higher than panels with sub-standard coats.

Coats are what shield the panels from weather effects and other factors.

3. Sturdiness

How sturdy is your light? It is essential to consider the raw material of the solar panel and the bulbs of the light system before you purchase one. Quality indoor solar light systems tend to be durable for several years.

4. Brightness

In all fairness, the brightness of the solar light system is as a result of the amount of change it received which in turn is related to the level of sunlight out that day. During the summer, bulbs usually glow brighter as opposed to the winter. So, it is important to bear this in mind.

5. Use Case

What use would the bulb be fulfilling in your home? Different rooms have different lighting needs,and it is important to consider this when picking your indoor light. Some lights make the perfect addition toa shed but may fail to properly illuminate the basement.

But above all other factors, arguably the most important factor to bear in mind is the price of the bulb. There are several great bulbs out there, ensure you pick the one that suits your budget.

Van Solar Panels: How to Choose the Best Solar Panels for a Van Conversion in 2018

A trait common to humans regardless of ethnicity, sex, social status or nationality is the urge to constantly innovate on systems, governments, items and so on. Solar powered systems are an example of such an innovation. While they are not completely new, they have enjoyed immense popularity over the last few years than they have in the last 200 years combined.

This is because the new solar systems that are being built these days are finally capable of being a reliable source of power. According to research done by SEIA (Solar Energy Industries Association), apart from an increased capacity of solar, a mass adaption of solar systems is being led by the falling prices of solar across the country. Currently, 250,000 Americans work in the solar industry or work with solar-related projects making it a major economic engine.

Every year, hundreds of thousands of people decide to pack up all they own, throw it into a van and drive around the country until their heart Is content. Tagged now as #vanlife on social media networks, it has gone from being just a fad or a movement to a way of life to millions of individuals across the world.

But powering your fridge, batteries, inverters, laptops, phones and so much more could be very costly regardless of how little you stop to power up your mobile home. This is why many vanlife patrons are actively seeking out alternative power options that can be used to power their trucks on the go.

A great alternative is solar. This is because it is relatively cheap to install and maintain. Also, with the right amount of materials, you can easily mount your panels in minutes and begin your journey.

But before you go out to purchase just any panel for your van, here are the things you need to know about choosing the best solar panels for your van:

Flexible or Rigid Panels

Flexible or Rigid Panels

Contrary to popular knowledge about solar panels, they can either be rigid or flexible. Rigid panels are constructed with an aluminum frame that surrounds the glass covering the solar cells while flexible solar panels are built with the solar receiving material saturated into a thin mylar film which is then attached to an aluminum substrate.

Also, it is important to note that flexible solar panels are not flimsy in any way. They are only bendable to about 30 degrees.

While both categories have their pros, rigid panels are preferred over flexible panels because of that extra efficiency they have. Apart from this, flexible panels cannot be applied on tilting brackets. Regarding tenacity and durability, flexible panels also pale in comparison as they are easily damaged by just about anything from hanging branches to weather conditions.

Finally, flexible panels have shorter warranty times compared to rigid solid panels. The average rigid panel is covered by warranty for 27 years on average; flexible panels are only covered for five years maximum.

Flexible panels should also not be completely ruled out as well. These types of panels are ideal for vans with little or no space around the body or vans that come in small or unique shapes. Because of its flexibility, it can be glued unto the roof or body of the van instead of being drilled into a perfectly sound roof.

Finally, a major component needed for solar panels to work as designed is lack of heat dissipation. Rigid panels allow heat to dissipate thanks to the air that flows between the panel’s mount and the van while flexible panels do not allow for that due to their installation process.

Now that You Have Chosen What Next?

Depending on your choices, here is what comes next after choosing your ideal type of solar panel:

1. Figure out how much power is needed for your van:

Does your van contain several high-intensity power consuming devices? Or are you traveling with just your phone and your laptop? Your solar system choice is a result of how much power your van needs. Failure to do this would lead to quick and continuous depletion of your battery reserves which could eventually lead to a collapse of the whole system.

2. Get a solar charge controller, a great one:

MPPT stands for Maximum power point tracker,and these regulators are used to convert all that raw energy that is being received from the sun into the optimal voltage needed to be stored in your battery. There are also non-MPPT’s for sale,but the typical MMPT regulator has been seen to have 30% more efficiency compared to the non-MPPT.

3. Purchase a system monitor:

Now you have your regulator, battery and solar panels fully set up. You have cross-checked your wiring,and your van has met all the safety standards and checks. The next thing to buy is a system monitor. Simply put, these devices play an important role by letting you know how much energy your panels are receiving, how much of it is being stored within the batteries and how much energy is being drained by your refrigerator.

Ensure you keep an eye out for these values. Some campers even go as far as to manually record these values in a bid to track these numbers in order to fully understand the system. An MPPT type of monitor is the Blue Solar Control.

Finally, installation. Installation could be done either by oneself or contracted to a professional in order to get everything done in the best possible way. However, it is important to familiarize yourself with the system to be able to solve incidents should any occur while you are driving around in your van.

 Another important thing to note is the panel size as well as the decision to have either a fixed or mobile panel. Each has its pros and cons,so it is important you consider your options carefully before drilling a hole in your rooftop in a bid to mount a panel rack.

The Top 5 Best Solar Contractors for 2018

Solar powered systems are not an entirely new development. Since the early ages of science, researchers and scientists have continuously worked towards harnessing the rays emitted by the sun. And over the years as man evolved, so did the systems and tools he built.

Today, the adoption of solar systems in the country is at an all-time high. From small companies to multinational corporations to residential homes, solar systems are being accepted as a convenient and more affordable means of providing electricity.

This is as a result of the major technological improvements that occurred within the photovoltaic and lithium-ion industries. These innovations are responsible for longer performing, cheaper, and more efficient batteries.

According to information released by SEIA (Solar Energy Industries Association), the solar industry has experienced a major boost in public popularity since the 1970s. This is major as a result of the constant decline in the price of solar panels and systems across the country. At the moment, over 250,000 Americans are said to be working in the solar industry, making it one of the largest tech inclined industry in the country.

A report published by Bloomberg stated that the cost of solar energy in 2018 is a meager 0.66% of what it was in the 1970s. That reduction can also be described as a 1/150th of the total cost over a 40 years-time range.

Today, solar panels can be seen on virtually every street across the country leading several people to describe the movement as a solar renaissance. And as the price of fossil fuels continues to increase, the price of solar is expected to fall drastically in comparison to fossil fuels, leading many to believe the renaissance is only beginning.

There are currently hundreds of US-based solar companies offering various services from solar panel sales to installation to simply working on research aimed at bettering the technology. And as the renaissance continues, more companies are expected to troop into the market creating a competition for the title of America’s solar champion.

This competition usually means multiple adverts in your face all the time,and it could make it a bit difficult to know what companies are worth your time and what companies aren’t. This article is going to help you sift through the noise and gain clarity on the best solar contractors nationwide.

1. Solar City Corporation

Founded by billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk as a side activity in 2006. The California based company has enjoyed a swift and unprecedented rise to become not only a country leader but a world leader in the sale of solar panels to homes and offices.

Built upon the same technologies that power Elon’s prominent company Tesla, Solar City brought radical innovation to an industry that was left for dead. This innovation is a result of the millions of dollars that is plowed into a full end-to-end range of services from R&D to installation processes.

Solar City is rated number one on our list because they have consistently broken every limitation set in the solar industry and they do not seem to be resting on their oars. Their team is responsible for a large number of momentous discoveries in the solar energy space.

Some of the products released by the company include solar chargers used for electric vehicles (not only Tesla cars), solar roofs that look like regular rooftop materials but are actually invisible to the human eye and high performing Li-Ion batteries referred to as Power walls.

2. VivintSolar

2. VivintSolar

With operations in 16 states, VivintSolar is the third largest solar contractor in the country. A great thing about the company is its wide range of services that greatly exceed just solar panel installations. The company also offers backup battery storage which is more like a warranty system to protect your investment.

VivintSolar features on our list because of the attention to detail it offers its customers during the solar installation process. Prospective customers are treated to a workshop where they learn about solar, its pros and cons and so on. Vivint’s solar panels also come with a 25-year warranty.

3. Sunnova

Although Sunnova does not handle solar panel installations themselves, they work with a select list of partners to ensure that your house does not go off the grid completely. Their systems help reduce traditional power dependency which leads to lower power bills.

Sunnova is one of the best solar companies in the country because of the wide support they offer. They currently provide their services to 17 states, coming ahead of Vivint but paling in comparison to DividendSolar. They also provide various payment plans ensuring every one of their customers finds a package that best suits them.

4. mySunRun

Also referred to as SunRun, this company stakes a claim to be one of the best thanks to the wide variety of services it offers. At the moment, they provide roof and workmanship warranties upon every installation they do, and they also have multiple payments plans customers can choose from making it easy to find the right panel for your needs.

Currently, SunRun offers their services in only 17 states in the country. Their installation process is also as extensive as VivintSolar as they take over the entirety of the installation process from creating a design for you to approve to filing the necessary permits to the government on your behalf.

my Sunrun’s solar systems can also be monitored through their mobile application or by logging into their website.

5. DividendSolar

DividendSolar offers the widest support coverage on our list supporting 23 states within the country. A key and important difference between the company and its competition is the fact that it simply finances your plan to have a solar system installed in your home.

DividendSolar simply makes the payment and warranty available but leaves the installation of the panels and the system to one of its numerous partners. This means that unlike the majority of the other companies on this list, DividendSolar’s payment plan is limited to just this, the Empower Loan.

DividendSolar is one of the best solar contractors in the country because of its wide coverage. They expand faster than the nearest competition,and their loan has decent interest and repayment rates.

Solar systems are no fad. As the prices of conventional electricity continue to increase and research poured into solar systems continue to produce favorable, positive results, it is only a matter of time before the system completely replaces the incumbent fossil system.

Solar Power for Sheds: What You Need to Know

The Oxford dictionary defines a shed as a ‘simple roofed structure used for garden storage, to shelter animals, or as a workshop.’ But the truth is for many people; sheds are much more than that. They are sanctuaries, safe spaces, and carefully crafted out chill spots and hideaways. This is why sheds are usually built and outfitted with all the features needed to make it comfortable.

However, because of these features, the shed draws a lot of power which usually results in a higher power bill and can become unsustainable over time. For many shed owners, this poses a major problem.

However, thanks to the advancements that have taken place in the power industry, multiple viable alternatives can help solve this problem. From solar panels to wind fans and natural gas-powered inverters, there is a long list of alternatives one can try.

Among the aforementioned options, few alternatives offer the benefits that solar power offer. This article is reviewing everything you need to know to fit your shed with a solar power installation.

Check the Roof

A better way to put this is to ask yourself, is my roof panel compliant? Most people who install solar panels choose to place them on the roof because it is a great location for attracting sunlight and it does not mess with the aesthetics of the interior. However, it is important to note that the installation of panels on your roof is akin to placing a new set of shingles on your standard asphalt roof.

When it comes to traditional rooftops, panel installers begin their process by conducting an engineering review to determine if the roof is sturdy enough to withstand the extra solar panel weight. The conclusion to this review usually determines if your roof is panel ready or not.

In addition to this, engineers advise that the spacing of the shed is another important factor to consider when deciding to install solar in your shed. The size of the shed usually determines the number of panels that can be installed. A small shed, for example, may be able to take about 3 – 7 panels of a standard 15 ft panel.

Another important thing to be considered is the amount of sunshine the shed is being exposedto. Consider the direction where your shed’s roof is facing. If you have a sunny, southward facing roof, you have the optimal positioning,and you are clear to proceed.

For eastern and western facing roofs, care must be taken to ensure it is entirely clear of the shade of any kind.

DIY or Professional Help

DIY or Professional Help

Today, multiple DIY kits can be purchased and installed yourself. For example, Grape Solar has a wide range of kits that can be considered. However, before you choose this, you need to be comfortable and certified to undergo this level of electrical work lest you end up hurting yourself or worse.

Regardless of your expertise with electricity, using a solar kit for a DIY project is only advisable if you are working with a small, off the grid solar system. If the shed you intend to work on is not fastened to the electric grid and you wish to have power for the few appliances and outlets in the shed, the solar kit is a viable option. Some kits could integrate with the grid as well,but those are usually complicated and require being connected to your power company.

Most DIY systems have a low overall cost compared to using a professional, but there are clear and undoubted advantages to using a professional when installing your panels. To begin listing these advantages, they will help save time as you would not need to spend a ton of time researching the system and the steps needed to install it. Professionals also usually help with filing the necessary permits and applications required by the government in order to get the system running.

is it worth it to purchase a shed to put a solar panel on it?

The short answer is yes. It is clear that not everyone might have a shed on their property at the time of reading this post. But the benefits of having solar installed on your property are immense and should be encouraged.

If you wish to begin your journey by constructing or purchasing a shed for the first time, ensure the construction of the shed makes it a very conducive space for solar. Ensure your construction manager and the team put enough space on the roof to fit as many solar panels as you want, and it is facing the right side in order to maximize the use of your panels.

Can sheds be purchased with an inbuilt solar panel?

Yes, multiple sheds are available for purchase with solar collectors included. However, it is important to note that most of these sheds have passive solar collectors installed (same thing with skylights) instead of solar electricity panels.

This does not mean that these sheds are completely useless. Depending on your needs, they could be found to be aesthetically pleasing and somewhat helpful.

Do I need a solar shed?

The decision to install solar panels on your shed should be taken only if you decide to provide electricity for your shed or you are about to develop a new shed that is solar powered. The type of system installed is heavily dependent on what you want to achieve with the panels. If your goal is to save heavily on power over the next few years, a huge solar system would be needed to cater to all the electricity needs.

Solar technology is currently progressing in leaps and bounds, and it is projected to be cheaper than electricity provided by the grid. Installing a solar system in your shed is simple to achieve, great for the environment, and has the potential to save you thousands in the long term.

How Much Does Geothermal Heating Cost?

The very first thing that should be mentioned when talking about the cost of geothermal heating is that it can help you reduce your overall utility fees by up to 60% annually. Let that sink in for a second. If your annual heating bill hypothetically comes to $1,000, by installing a geothermal heating system, you could knock $600 off that bill.

Yes, geothermal heating systems are as efficient as these things get. The best in the market offers an incredible 300 - 600% efficiency rating which is why they can help you save so much regarding billing as well as your impact on the environment.

You might be wondering: if geothermal energy is so great - they help you save money and the environment too - then why don't more people have geothermal heating systems installed? That is a good question, the answer to which is in two parts:

  • Most people do not know about it
  • The initial costs can be a little scary

It is the second answer that we want to focus on today: just how much does geothermal heating cost?

What is the Cost of Geothermal Heating?

Unlike most other heating systems, geothermal heating systems do not burn oil or gas to produce heat. Instead, they utilize heat energy from within the Earth's crust. Here, temperatures remain at a steady 45 - 75 degrees Fahrenheit whether it snows or not.

By making use of a very small amount of electricity, geothermal heat pump systems pump water through a network of pipes placed underground. The fluids pumped through these underground pipes absorb the natural underground heat and transfer that back to the surface.

An above-ground heat exchanger then uses that transferred heat energy to warm up air. This warmed air is transferred through your house using a series of ducts. Since this system produces more energy than it consumes, it can easily achieve and exceed 100% efficiency.

What are the Upfront Costs?

This is where the problems come into the equation. Even though geothermal heating systems are incredibly efficient and eventually cost effective, it is the upfront costs that deter most people from getting them installed. Let’s put these costs into perspective:

The average home needs a heating and cooling capacity of about one to five tons depending on the size of the house, the insulation quality and the overall construction. According to the National Geographic geothermal heating costs about $5,000 - $9,000 compared to traditional heating systems that cost about $3,000 per ton.

What are the Upfront Costs

So how much will it cost you to have a geothermal system installed?The costs vary depending on a number of factors including:

  • Soil conditions on your compound: Some soil types are just ideal for these types of Earth loop systems while there are those that make it very difficult to install the system. The kind of soil you have in your compound will determine just how much extra work is needed to install your geothermal system properly.
  • System configuration: Of course, just because you have an average sized home doesn't necessarily mean that you will want to have an average geothermal heating system installed. You might require a more powerful system because you live in a very cold part of the country. These specifications also play a role in determining how much your overall system installation cost will be.
  • Plot size: On average, a 3-ton system should be enough to heat the average home but the bigger your home,the bigger the system needed to heat it up sufficiently,and that translates to a higher upfront cost for your geothermal heating system.
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    Site accessibility and local geology: These systems require a great deal of excavation and Earth loop piping. As such, your local geology needs to be able to support that kind of activity. A site inspection will be necessary to determine this as well as the overall cost.

All of these factors will determine just how much digging and drilling will be required to properly set up the system. On average, the cost to have a geothermal heating system set up in your home should come to anything between $10,000 - $30,000.

Usually, for a 2,000-sq ft. home, the costs fall between $10,000 and $20,000. Having a geothermal system installed in your home will cost you about 40% more than a typical HVAC system.

The Life Expectancy of Geothermal Systems

A real concern for most homeowners considering installing geothermal heating systems in their homes would be just how difficult it would be to maintain those underground pipes. Fortunately, these underground components usually come with 25 - 50-year warranties; the pumps come with 20-year warranties.

The good thing is that this system, once properly installed, does not require that much maintenance. You will, however, need to hold routine filter inspections and changes. You will also need a professional to occasionally inspect the entire system to make sure that all components are functioning properly and at an optimum level.

Rebates and Incentives Involved

There is a wide variety of federal, state and local financing incentives and rebates available for people looking to have geothermal heating systems installed in their homes. One of the best places to start would be at the "Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency" website. On estimate, the total incentives and rebates you can get for installing a geothermal system in your home could come to about 30-60% of the overall cost.

While it might sound to many like the initial costs are exceedingly high, you should know that this kind of system typically pays for itself in just 5-6 years. Given most of them have a lifespan of about 50 years depending on maintenance, and the fact that you could be saving up 60% of your utility costs each year, after the first 5 - 6 years you will be earning money back for several decades that follow. That and geothermal energy is much cleaner, more efficient and environmentally friendlier than your typical HVAC.

5 Awesome Solar Powered Gadgets That Every Home Should be Using in 2018

Solar power is not only cleaner and more environmentally friendly, but it is also cheaper and renewable. The problem we have, however, is that we have become so accustomed to our fossil fuel power that we hardly ever take other forms of energy very seriously. That and the fact that most of these other energy sources are still relatively new and in their infancy, which makes them rather expensive, at least, as far as the initial costs are concerned.

Not everyone can afford to mount solar panels on their roof,and not everyone has the $10,000 - $30, 000 initial cost they would need to have a geothermal heating system installed.

However, if you get past the initial costs, you will find that renewable energy usage such as geothermal heating systems and solar powered devices end up saving you money in the long run. Sometimes as much as 60% of what you are spending on energy now.

Why You Should Take Solar Power Into Your Own Hands

If you are tired of depending on the national electrical grid and would like to save a bit of money, then it is about time you took a closer look at some of the benefits that come with installing solar panels in your home.

  • It is cheaper in the long run
  • It is good for the environment
  • It is always available
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    You can take it with you everywhere
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    Offers you energy security

One of the biggest concerns with people who do not believe in using non-commonplace sources of energy such as solar is that they do not know whether or not this kind of energy will be compatible with most of their devices. Just because you are using solar power does not mean that you have to stop using your iPad or your computers.

Inverters make it so you can plug in any of your devices into solar powered wall sockets and charge them as you would when using the national electrical grid.

5 Solar Powered Devices for 2018

Here are five solar-powered devices that you should have in your home in 2018.

1. GoSun Sport Portable Solar Cooker

1. GoSun Sport Portable Solar Cooker

While it is true that campfires are an integral part of any outdoor adventure, you do not necessarily have to use that to cook your meals anymore. The Portable Solar Cooker from GoSun makes cooking outdoors a breeze. It channels the sun's energy into a parabolic reflector that turns it into electricity. With this device, you can cook meals as well as boil and pasteurize water.

Pros:

  • It is light in weight (900 grams) therefore very portable
  • Easy to use (all you need is just a bit of sunshine)
  • Cool to touch

Cons:

  • Doesn't give you that "smoky" taste that comes with barbequed campfire food

With this portable solar cooker, you can now carry your kitchen with you wherever you go. You can even use it around the home to save money on cooking gas.

2. Creative Edge Solar Phone Charger  

Creative Edge Solar Phone Charger

This is one for those people who cannot survive without their handheld devices. The Creative Edge Solar Phone Charger is a tiny little solar charger that can store up to 5,000 mAH power for up to 6 hours. While it is primarily a solar charger, you can also plug into the wall to charge it up faster and use it as a power bank. When in the great outdoors, you only need to leave it out in the sun for a little while,and you can use anyone of the two available USB ports to charge your devices.

Pros:

  • Can be used as a power bank
  • Can be plugged into the wall as well
  • It is highly portable and can keep a charge for up to 6 hours

Cons:

  • Solar charging isn't very fast

This is a wonderful little device that goes above and beyond to keep you connected to the world on your handheld devices.

3. Peel-n-stick Outdoor Solar Lights

3. Peel-n-stick Outdoor Solar Lights

Solar powered lights are some of the simplest and most convenient sources of illumination that you could even have in the homestead. None, however, come anywhere close to being as easy and as convenient to use as this one. All you have to do is peel off the backing and stick it anywhere you want. It charges using the sun's energy during the day and lights up your compound at night.

Pros:

  • Easy to use
  • Charges during the day and illuminates your compound at night
  • Very portable

Cons:

  • You have to leave out in the sun all day

This is a simple and very efficient way to make sure that those dark corners of your driveway and backyard are well-lit.

4. Window-Mounted Solar Charger  

4. Window-Mounted Solar Charger

It is all about your handheld devices. This window-mounted solar charger ensures that they stay powered throughout the day even if you are nowhere near electricity. All you have to do is put the charger on a window with direct sunlight and it can fully charge your device within 10-15 hours.

Pros:

  • Highly portable
  • Can keep up to 1800mAH of power
  • Environmentally friendly

Cons:

  • It takes 10-15 hours to charge fully

If you are one of those people who find that you constantly have to look for a wall socket just to keep your phone on, then this is the right device for you.

5. Goal Zero 150WH Generator and Solar Panel

5. Goal Zero 150WH Generator and Solar Panel

This is a tiny, solar-powered 150WH generator that can power up your laptops, lights, and cell phones. If you go for the more powerful ones, you can even power your fridge, power tools and TV. It has an inbuilt AC inverter that makes it one of the most ideal solar powered items to have around the home.

Pros:

  • Powerful enough to power laptops, cell phones and lights
  • Highly portable
  • Has an inbuilt AC inverter

Cons:

  • Not powerful enough to power your TV

If you are looking to power more power-hungry gadgets, then you might need to get a more powerful generator that works with the same concept.

These solar powered gadgets just made life around the home more convenient and definitely much cheaper. Plus, they are all great ways to ensure that you are minimizing your carbon footprint.

How to Use Your Roof as a Solar Space Heater in 2018

With just a little ingenuity, you can turn your roof into a solar space heater that will serve you well during the cold months. Solar space heating systems are a very cost effective way of heating your home and can be used alongside your typical fossil-fuel run HVAC system to help you save on heating costs.

It should be stated, however, that to get the most out of your solar space heater, your home needs to be properly insulated in the first place. Let's take a quick look at how you can turn your roof into a solar space heater.

Turning Your Roof Into a Solar Space Heater

Although this is something you can probably do yourself, it is often best to consult with a professional who specializes in solar energy and its components just to make sure that you get everything done in the most effective and efficient manner. That being said, here is a glimpse at how solar space heaters work and how you can turn your roof into one:

  • You need an existing hydronic-based heating system: Solar space heaters work well with an existing hydronic-based (hot water) heating system. Installed solar collectors will circulate the ideal fluid (corn glycol) through the solar array, and this is where the fluid is heated and then passed back to the solar storage tank.
  • The water heats up in the storage tank: As the heated corn glycol circulates through the storage tank, it heats up the water that is already in the storage tank. If your system is running efficiently, the water temperatures within the tank could rise to 130F - 175F.
  • Your heat exchanger comes into play: Typically, when you are using a hydroponic-based heating system, there is already water within that heating system, and this water goes through the system and settles in key areas such as a radiant floor system. This space heater system utilizes this water by circulating it through a heat exchanger which is in the storage tank and heating it up as it goes through the system.

As this water passes through the heat exchanger, it gets warmed up and then passed back through the system to the radiant floors where they emit the necessary heat thus keeping your HVAC system off the grid. Either that or it significantly reduces the number of times your HVAC systems come on to warm up the house. At this point, your home is essentially being heated up by solar power.

Having a heat exchanger ensures that you can use your solar space heater to warm your showering water as well as the water you use for other functions around the home; this comes in particularly handy during the summer months when you might not want to overuse your heating system in an attempt to save on costs.

This is just one example of how you can turn your roof into a solar space heater. Most of these systems are custom-made for specific homes with specific needs. That is why you need to consult a professional before trying to set one up.

The Necessary Components of a Solar Space Heating System

The Necessary Components of a Solar Space Heating System

Some components simply must be part of this system for it to work. The most important include:

  • Solar evacuated tube collectors: This is the primary component necessary if you turn your roof into a solar space heater. They are almost exclusively used in this kind of system.
  • Solar storage tank: These solar storage tanks store the heat collected from the evacuated tubes to be used at any given time.
  • Solar pump: This is what circulates the fluid through your evacuated tube collectors and your solar storage tanks.
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    Solar controls: These ensure that your system is running efficiently.

There are a number of other necessary components, the extent of which will vary with your specific needs.

Different Applications for Solar Space Heater Systems

As we have already mentioned, solar space heaters can be applied in a wide variety of home heating systems. Here are some of the most effective ways to use solar space heaters to warm up your home:

Radiant Floors

We have already touched a bit on solar heating with radiant floors and this is one of the simplest solar heating systems you can set up in your home. Radiant floors use very minimal (low to medium) temperatures to heat up a specific space directly. Many radiant floors only use water that is between 90F - 120F as an effective heat source.

A properly set up solar space heater on your roof can provide you with water that is in excess of 140F; this makes this system perfect for radiant floor heating systems. You can size your solar water heating system in such a way that it subsidizes your daily heating needs and cuts down your heating costs by as little as 20% or as much as 80%.

FHA (Forced Hot Air) Systems

A typical FHA system uses heaters run by electricity or propane to heat up the air in your home. By hiring a professional to outfit your ducts with hot water coils instead, you can effectively replace that electricity or propane with hot water heated by your solar space system. This essentially transforms your FHA system into a solar-powered heating system that uses very little electricity (to run the fan) and saves you tremendous amounts of money.

Low-Temperature Baseboards

Low-Temperature Baseboards need water that is between 120F - 140F which your solar space heating system can easily provide. This system, however, can only be used to heat up your home during the day which can help you save up to 50% of your original heating costs.

Turning your roof into a solar space heating system is one of the most cost-effective ways to heat up your home. Not only is it much cheaper, but it is also cleaner and more environmentally friendly.

While one of the most common deterrents to this sort of set up is the initial cost, you should know that this kind of system can quickly pay its own way in a matter of months. These payments will come in the form of all the savings you will be making on your heating bill.

Solar Glass: Can You Turn Your Windows into Solar Panels in 2018?

We will have solar power for as long as the sun will be shining. That is one of the biggest advantages of having a renewable energy source; it is inexhaustible. Given the fact that more and more of the world has become concerned with how much we are dependent on coal and gas plus the negative effects that they have on the environment, it was only a matter of time until everyone's eyes turn to cleaner, more environmentally friendly power sources like solar.

The Problem with Solar Energy

The problem with solar energy is that most people think that the traditional solar panels necessary to harness the sun’s rays are a little bulky and unsightly. Some people who live in apartment buildings do not have roofs nor compounds on which they can mount these solar panels (at least not without going through lengthy debates with their homeowners’ associations trying to get permits).

Solar power uses photovoltaic cells to harness the sun's energy and then converts that energy into the electricity we use. The photovoltaic cell uses a semiconductor which absorbs radiation to emit electrons which are then used to power our homes and industries. While solar energy is being used widely across the globe, there are several limitations to this technology:

  • Solar panels have to be oriented in such a way as to face the sun directly to get the most out of its energy so as to optimize production
  • Solar panel installation can be problematic depending on the building and terrain
  • Photovoltaic cells have a limited level of efficiency
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    The implantation of solar panels in an urban setting where space is limited can be problematic

Another major concern is that the initial costs of installing solar panels and re-configuring your home's wiring can be a little steep. Other than that, it is safe to say that many people would prefer solar energy so long as they get to do everything they are doing now only at a cheaper rate.

Turning Your Windows Into Solar Panels

Since so much attention is now being paid to renewable energy sources, scientists and environmental technology researchers have found a way to improve solar technology. Today, there is new technology that allows you to convert your windows into solar panels without ruining their aesthetic value.

How Does Turning Your Windows into Solar Panels Work?

How Does Turning Your Windows into Solar Panels Work?

For years now, researchers have been fiddling with this technology to limited success. While turning windows into solar panels are very practical, there were some limitations - mainly the fact that they could only do so with colored glass which meant that the windows would have to be tinted and that isn't always appealing.

Glass can typically be produced in several colors namely black, green, blue, red and a handful of other colors. However, these colors directly affect the efficiency of the resulting solar power output differently. Averagely, we could only get about 12% efficiency from colored glass.

Researchers from Michigan State University recently announced that they had found a way to create solar glass that is transparent. This is a complete game changer! While this technology is still some ways away from the mass market, several approaches have been taken by a wide variety of companies focusing on turning your windows into solar panels.

Different Types of Solar Window Panels

Here are some of the options you have when it comes to solar window panels:

Solar Panel Blinds 

Although these do not technically qualify as windows, they are a big part of your window treatment which makes them count as such. There is a company that is currently crowdfunding their efforts to transform your blinds into solar power harnessing panels. The idea is to install tiny solar panels on window blinds that can be hung either on the inside or the outside of your windows. These blinds are programmed to move in the direction of the sun to ensure maximum solar energy absorption during the day.

Physee Power Windows

Physee has successfully installed solar windows today. These windows, however, do not exactly use the same technology invented by the researchers at MSU. Instead, they install small solar panels at the edges of the window panes. The test subject was a Dutch bank that has over 300 square feet of these power windows. Although these windows generate enough power to charge smartphones several times a day, they do not act as a standalone source of power for the entire building as yet.

Clearly it is only a matter of time before this technology is fully discovered and optimized to turn windows into solar panels. The advantage this brings is that it will allow huge skyscrapers to become beacons of power generation without ruining their aesthetic value. This means that each building, depending on the surface area available to turn its windows into solar panels, could begin producing its own power independently.

Finding the Best Solar Solutions for Your Home and Office

Although solar windows are a wonderful idea, the technology is still very much in its infancy and could take years, even decades, before it is fully explored and commercialized. That, however, doesn't mean that you should give up on trying to utilize clean, renewable energy. The cost of installing traditional solar panels on your property is falling at a high speed as more and more companies venture into the renewable energy market.

The best way to find out how to make use of solar power in your home and office is to contact a professional who will give the property a thorough look over and evaluation. Based on this assessment, you will learn how the different options that you could explore; whether to have solar panels installed on your roof or on the grounds and so on. You will also get an estimation on the efficiency levels of your soon to be installed solar panels.

As the technology grows, so do your options. In the meantime, you could try out the solar power blinds.