My father-in-law who is a Professional Engineer made a very astute comment to me one day. He said that it is impossible to manage something without an accounting system. As a guy with a degree in Finance, I agreed wholeheartedly . But, he was actually applying this concept to energy. How can you manage your energy use if you don’t know what appliances and devices are consuming?! In a previous entry I promised to discuss the power and energy needs of a hairdryer vs. a 60 watt light bulb. If you need a primer on the difference between power and energy, please read this postRead More →

As I see it, there are three main reasons for using 3D computer models to visualize solar energy projects: To show how equipment will fit. To show what it will look like. To identify optimal orientation and avoid shading. I would like some feedback with other ways 3D models can be helpful for visualizing projects. Leave me a comment!

In times long ago (a few years ago), solar electric (photovoltaic) modules were very expensive. Eking out every watt of power from each module was critical. There was a huge incentive to mount your solar modules with “optimal tilt and orientation.” Unfortunately, most roofs are pretty darn fixed when it comes to slope and compass direction. We have to live with what we’ve got. But what happens when you want to mount solar modules on a flat roof. The conventional wisdom is to tilt modules toward the south. Generally speaking, approximately 25 degrees tilt toward due south is theoretically optimal for us in Southwest Florida.Read More →

I’ve said before that solar thermal technology like solar water heating and solar pool heating is the simplest form of solar energy. I take that back. What I meant to say is that solar lighting is the simplest solar energy product on the market today. Every morning, even if it’s a little cloudy, the sun comes “up” and we have light for the entire day. Whether it is hot or cold, cloudy or clear, we get sunlight every day. Even better than a traditional skylight is a solar tubular skylight. This product places a small dome on your roof, a reflective tube through your attic,Read More →

NOTE: The economics of solar water heating have changed since this article. Solar Water Heating is Dead is an article that has more up to date information. Solar water heating is by far the most efficient way to use solar energy in most homes. It always strikes me as strange that more systems are not installed in Southwest Florida. In some places like Hawaii, solar water heating is mandated for new residential construction. While I don’t think we have to go so far as to mandate installation through legislative means, it just makes great financial sense and it is common sense. Why are so manyRead More →

For those of you that know me well, you know that I’ve been consumed with a very exciting project recently. The Naples Botanical Garden, a Florida Gulf Coast University facility, is getting a substantial solar electric system installed starting next week. My employer was selected to install the system, and I am the Project Manager. The system will be capable of producing 35kW of rated AC power using 164 solar modules made in the USA by SolarWorld and 164 Enphase Microinverters. We will be attaching the modules to the standing seam metal roof using S-5! clamps that result in no mounting penetrations to the roofRead More →

The answer is yes; however, that’s a pretty open-ended question usually. There are several different kinds of solar “panels.” I’m going to nitpick now. Many people that ask this question are really looking for a solar “module,” as in a photovoltaic, PV, or solar electric module. We calls these modules in the trade because they are actually made up of many solar cells that are wired together. Solar modules create electricity that can be used in your home to offset electricity purchased from your utility company, or can take you “off-grid” altogether. Granted, they are are colloquially referred to as solar panels, but technically theyRead More →

To start off, let’s get something straight. Power and energy are not the same thing. I am asked all the time, “How much solar power does my home need to eliminate my electric bill?” The right answer is usually how much energy the home needs. Power is a rate of consumption. Energy is a quantity of consumption. Power over time equals energy! Pull out your electric bill. you will not find how many kilowatts your home consumed last month. Kilowatts is a measure of power – how much electricity you are using at any given time. What you will find is Kilowatt-hours, abbreviated kWh orRead More →

Welcome to my blog. My name is Jason Szumlanski. My employer sells and install just about everything solar. My work here has included some of the most exciting and interesting professional experiences that I have encountered. Anyway, I’m not here to talk about my work. I’m here to talk about what I love about my work. I get to meet interesting people each day, from the customer who knows nothing about solar, to the building inspector who thinks they know everything about solar, to the suppliers and manufacturers who actually do know most everything about solar. Southwest Florida is a great place to study, practice,Read More →

It’s hard to explain how much light a solar tubular skylight produces. Obviously, the amount of light is variable with the amount of sunlight available. The best way to describe it is in pictures. Pictured below is a closed garage with a single solar tubular skylight. The amount of light in the garage is unbelievable! Solar tubular skylights have lots of applications in residential and commercial settings. The Fafco Solar office and warehouse uses solar tubular skylights exclusively throughout the day. Homeowners can have solar tubular skylights installed in just about any room to brighten a space during the day. Lights come in varying sizesRead More →

The setup: Either find an unused bookmark in Safari or create any bookmark that you will change. Edit the bookmark Name the bookmark something like “Pin to Pinterest” Delete the URL and replace with this text (hint:copy and paste this): javascript:void((function(){var%20e=document.createElement(‘script’); e.setAttribute(‘type’,’text/javascript’); e.setAttribute(‘charset’,’UTF-8′); e.setAttribute(‘src’,’http://assets.pinterest.com/js/pinmarklet.js?r=’+Math.random()*99999999);document.body.appendChild(e)})()); Save the bookmark (tap Done twice) To pin: Go to a web page where there is an image you want to pin. Open Bookmarks Tap the Pin to Pinterest bookmark you made previously Tap the image you want to pin Follow the process to pin it Use the bookmark any time you want to pin something on the page in Safari!