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Renewable energy for homes takes planning

Home Power and Solar Pathfinder help homeowners evaluate solar systems and solar tools.

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Renewable Energy Home Designs and Systems

Home-scale renewable energy designs and systems are available for solar, wind, and microhydro electricity, home energy efficiency, solar hot water systems, space heating and cooling, and green building materials as well as choices in home design and efficient transportation.

Helpful magazines and books will help you sort through the growing array of tools and techniques that help you switch from easy-grid based solutions to a more sustainable, lower-cost home-based system.

Magazines can be very helpful in learning about the technology, case studies, and locating resources. One such green magazine is Home Power.

Tools for tools are also helpful! Solar power depends on a moving target -- the sun -- and when you press that moving target up against seasonal adjustments, towering structures...and growing trees, you will maximize the efficiency of your plan if you employ a helpful tool or two. The Solar Pathfinder is one such planning tool.

Solar Pathfinder

Photovoltaic (PV) modules or solar thermal collectors are most efficient when located where they receive the most sunshine. Obstructions such as hills, buildings, trees or other tall landscape elements shouldn’t shade a system site at any time during the year, so finding the best place to install a system takes some planning. Solar Pathfinder is one tool that helps you site your photovoltaic system correctly to get the most out of your solar-electric investment.

The Solar Pathfinder accurately measures the shading of any site over the course of a year in just one quick visit. It accounts for the seasonal changes of the sun’s altitude (angle above the horizon) and azimuth (its path through the sky), allowing you to see what could shade your system throughout the year.

At approximately $250 the Solar Pathfinder is still a good deal when you’re considering maximizing the return from investing in your solar energy system.

Edited by Carolyn Allen, owner/editor of California Green Solutions
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