Solar Basics: The Easy Guide [Giveaway]

Solar-basics-cover-neil-kaminar We are giving away one (1) copy of this book to a random commenter, so make sure to comment before the end of Friday, March 12, 2010.*

Solar power is exploding these days, what with generous financial incentives and the price of products going down.  All sort of people are looking at the technology to provide green power, but they need good information.  One place to find that is in a new book called Solar Basics by Neil Kaminar.   Kaminar, a solar engineer with nearly 40 years of industry experience, explains most of what you need to know about solar modules and how to make a solar system work. 

In Solar Basics, Kaminar details the ins and outs of solar energy at all stages of the life cycle, including financing, installation, testing, maintenance, repair, and recycling.  More specifically, here's the general flow of the book:

  • Chapter 1 Solar Module Basics
  • Chapter 2 Applications
  • Chapter 3 Types of Modules
  • Chapter 4 Inverters
  • Chapter 5 Batteries
  • Chapter 6 Charge Controllers
  • Chapter 7 Solar Water Systems
  • Chapter 8 The Basics of System Sizing
  • Chapter 9 Federal and State Incentives
  • Chapter 10 Sources
  • Chapter 11 Calculating Cost
  • Chapter 12 Installation
  • Chapter 13 Instrumentation and Testing
  • Chapter 14 Maintenance and Repair
  • Chapter 15 Safety

Each chapter is full of considerable detail, so this table of contents may not seem that helpful.  Within the text, Kaminar also includes over 100 illustrations — mostly in color — to drive home key points. 

If you're a solar professional or serious DIYer, you may want to check out Solar Design, which is by the same author.  This book goes into further detail about how to design a solar system and includes a CD with software to help with the design.  It's a little more expensive, too.

I've been given a review copy and educated by the insight Kaminar provides in Solar Basics.  This is highly recommended reading for anyone thinking about buying a solar array or system.  Click on over to Kaminar's Solar Design website to learn more or grab a copy of the book at Amazon:

[+] Solar Basics by Neil Kaminar at Amazon.

*If you're interested in winning a copy of this book, drop a comment by midnight MST on Friday, March 12, 2010.  Say where you're from if you don't know what to say.  By leaving a comment, you agree to the terms and conditions relating to giveaways on Jetson Green.

  • Anonymous

    I’d love a copy of this book. I’ve been interested in PV and such for a long time, took a SEI course many years ago, but never “pulled the trigger” on a system because I could never get the pay-back even close to a comfortable place. I know early adopters have to help encourage new and cutting-edge technologies that may be not fully justifiable from a constrained economic view, but it was SO much investment for a long, long payback. With all of the federal and state new incentives, I am taking another look. This book would help. THX

  • Jeff Hansen

    I am planning currently quoting a solar pool heater, state tax credit for NC covers 30% (up to 1500) of the install cost. At the same time quoting a solar hot water system retro, our energy company is offering an additional $1000 incentive to the first x people. I wouldn’t bank on the incentives being right in the book for long, but these resources are invaluable when you want to retro or build new just so you don’t get taken to cleaners.

  • Anonymous

    I’m really glad there is an emergence of these books coming out now; this would be a great book to read for a landscape architecture student! We’re incorporating more green designs into our projects everyday. Thanks!

  • Anonymous

    Great, perhaps this will be the cookbook for my personal solar revolution.

  • Kurt

    I would love to win a copy.

    • Preston

      Kurt, our first winner is already expert in all things solar and agreed to donate the book to someone else in this comment thread. You’ve been chosen as the winner now! I’ll email you separately to get your address. Congrats!

  • SC

    I’ve heard that the future of solar power is on residential and commercial properties rather than large-scale solar power plants. I’d love a copy of the book to see what the author has to say.

  • Ted

    I have been going to the bookstores to check out solar books and believe it or not, none carries any. Also, the web (Amazon etc) does not offer much info on good PV books. Hopefully, solar basics is the book to read about PV.

  • Alkalinecat

    Been looking for a primer on solar homes, as I’d like to one day build a solar shed/studio/work area. Free copy of book=more money for solar panels!

  • Anonymous

    My house has no south-facing roof slope to install pv panels on. Maybe this book will help me figure out a way to resolve that problem.

  • Anonymous

    This would be a great book to read.

  • adb

    Would love a copy…. would really like solar hot water in my house. Maybe when the boiler ends it’s useful life…

  • Anonymous

    I would love a copy of Solar Basics: The Easy Guide for my reference library. I could use the knowledge from this book to help my clients

  • GlennaMae Hendricks

    Each house/home/building should be a source of electrical generation. Instead of investing HUGE amounts of money in large wind farms or big mirror arrays that tend to be far removed from the need for the electricity generated, the government money could go into retro-fitting every building with a combination of solar and wind generators–small units.

    Perhaps the best part of this idea is that it could put thousands of people to work fairly quickly.

    The Vocational-Technical schools could be subsidized to train citizens locally to do installation and maintenance. Many of those no longer working in home construction because of the downturn in the housing market could be cross-trained, with pay, for solar and wind systems. The newly trained could then be paid from a government fund (think the WPA) while all this retro-fitting is going on.

    But this will take time, you say. Well, that is true.

    But U.S. manufacturers will need that time to gear up their assembly lines to meet the demand for their products. Manufacturers would also require additional employees to make the systems. And since there are only a few manufacturers, the trucking industry will need more drivers and more rigs to move the newly produced systems around the country. We are really getting folks back to work now.

    As an added benefit, as more and more units are installed the prices should plummet. With more and more units in operation, R&D would learn more and more about functionality and improved efficiency.

    Finally, with all those systems pouring energy into the grid, black-outs (or even worse, the dreaded brown-outs) should be greatly reduced. The energy is largely consumed exactly where it is created. Any “left-over” is put out on the grid. Areas in greatest need at any time will be supplemented by those areas with less need.

    As new houses are starting to be built again, the installations can be mandated to be incorporated into the new construction.

  • Julia Person

    I am building a small passive solar house. I have designed it myself and am building out of pocket so far, recycling materials from a previous small house that was deconstructed. This book would help me increase my solar options. As a person without retirement income, I am seeking ways to have a self sufficient house so I can live comfortably with low expenses as I age.

  • Daniel Dessinger

    My wife and I are hoping to buy our 2nd home this year. We’ve outgrown the starter home. But we are very organic friendly and environmentally conscious, so we’ve benefited a lot from this site.

    Our hearts are set on a home that was left incomplete mid-remodel. I’m salivating at the thought of greening up that home.

  • alec

    Great topic and very timely with all of the information going around I am glad this book was published.

  • Anonymous

    Wow, I would love to get my hands on a copy of this book. I am looking at incorporating PV solar panels into my current home to make it standout in the current housing market. I will then incorporate solar in my new smaller more efficient home as a primary source of energy. Living in Carefree AZ we have an abundance of sunshine and great incentives from the state of AZ and local power co.

  • Creg Horn

    I could really benefit from a copy of this book. I am 20 years old and a student in building construction tech, and I am transfering to SFA for a bachelors in Sustainable Building in Austin, TX. I am going to be helping supervise some highscale green new construction to be including PV, foam insulation, solar lighting and water heating, FSC lumber, and many more green innovations. I am working on getting as much reference as i can thank you so much!

  • Anonymous

    The book looks awesome, like a great resource for DIY solar. Thanks for having the giveaway

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for offering this wonderful giveaway. I would use it well.

  • ethan anderson

    GO SOLAR, I am in Boone NC

  • David Froe

    I have been idly designing a solar system for my house that works towards the reduction of usages as well as using the raw 12/24VDC instead of up converting then down converting the energy and taking on losses as each point. I am very curious to see what this book offers in the realm of a 12/24V house that only steps up to 110VAC for the major appliances. Although, the bulk of my curiosity rests within reading what he has to say about the recycling of PV Panels.
    Win or not, I’m going to check this book out.

  • Anonymous

    Would love to win this book. It would be just the thing to kick start my alternate energy plans.

  • Anonymous

    As an emerging professional in the architectural field with great interest in using sustainable building practices this would be a great addition to my library of resources

  • Anonymous

    I’d like to win a copy of this book for my son, who’s just starting college and who has decided to be a landscape architect. Thanks for the chance!

  • Robert E Keighley

    I would be thrilled to be chosen to have this book.


  • Alan B. Miranda

    Very appreciative of your brilliant efforts and insight.
    Best luck in 2010!

  • Karen

    we are building a small footprint, sustainable home in ABQ and solar is definitely part of the design. New Mexico offers tax credits of 10% of cost of solar in addition to the 30% federal tax credits.

  • Geoff Peters

    I’m trying to find out information on thin film solar for PV use in modules over solar water heaters in order to double up on the energy production on a new home and barn I’m building in Northern California.

  • David Williams

    Looks like a great book. I’ve been promoting the idea of designing projects at a minimum of solar ready. For us in the north it means making sure roofs are strong enough to handle the snow drift, uplift and dead load of it all with the idea to have at least an area suitable for an installation. Also thinking about design integration.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for bringing this book to our attention. We’ve built a cabin in Maine and are a bit bewildered about how to add solar capacity.

  • Anonymous

    With Earth deterioration becoming an issue nowadays, people are gaining consciousness with what they build in their environment. People, mostly architects, are switching to sustainable materials, ways of construction, and technology. This book would be of great help to architects, as well as to non-architects, as it elaborates more on the in’s and out’s of one of the most popular green technology, which is the Solar Panels. I’d love to have a copy of this book.

  • Anonymous

    I want to harness the sun and ride off into the, err, um…sunset?

  • JD

    I’ve got two projects in mind – a little cabin could use a small system basically just for a couple lights, maybe radio. The other is hot water solar for our house. Pretty amazing when it is -10 F. outside late February and to see snow melting and water dripping off a piece of metal that is in the sun and shielded from the breeze. This is NW Alaska – up near Russia… so there are a couple months the system wouldn’t be doing much. 😉

  • Anonymous

    I’m from the sunshine state of Florida and I would love to win this book. I’ve learned so much about Solar over the past 10 months and would really benefit from the information in your book. Sounds like you “know your stuff” and I would love to learn from you. I love solar!

  • Ruben

    I am a random commenter, but am I random enough? I hope to be the randomest.

  • Bman

    As a person forever thinking of different design methods and alternatives, this book would be a great addition for research and reference.

    Thanks for the wonderful opportunity!

  • Patrick M

    Awsome. I’ve always wanted to get into solar. Great opportunity to learn and possibly do it myself.

  • Brandon S.

    Working with a LEED CI project where the manager has put together a serious solar package covering the full scope of electrical requirements for a very power centric data center, having a guideline for a better understanding would be a greater help. Thanks so much for the great reviews!

  • Paul Bailey

    I’ve always stated that solar is not for everyone ,but it is for most people. I got the solar bug 20 plus years ago and its been a journey of change ,acceptance, and developement. One that I called chaseing Killawatts.Even with a large family of 8 people ,I surely had the lowest energy bills on the block at a dollar per day , thanks to the Sun……

  • Anonymous

    I would be really excited to read this book.

  • Anonymous

    Looks like a cool book

  • Anonymous

    …”… how to make a solar system work …”… UhU wormholes, blackholes and strings WoW! This will be some book!!

    • Preston

      Stevenla, Congrats!! You’re the winner of this book. I’ll email you separately to get your address for shipping. Best of luck to everyone else next time!

  • MikeW

    Sounds great, would love to have the book.

  • that was easy, wait nevermind

    Well global warming can’t be all bad….. it’s seems to be improving the solar market. A well written instructional book (with pictures!) It would be nice to start reading again and get started on some projects! P.s. keep up the good work Jetsongreen!

  • Mike Reynolds

    Thanks for the article. I would like a copy anyway. Can you get it on Amazon?

  • leslie

    Is there a “Solar Power for Dummies” version? I might need that, even though I really want to built most of it myself.

    • Preston

      Solar Basics is the Solar Power for Dummies, I would say, while the Solar Design book is more advanced. Solar Basics is straight forward.

  • Anonymous

    Looks like another great Read and Giveaway!! Quick reminder of the 2010 renewable energy conference on March 27th in Sandy Utah. PLease come see my booth: Green Energy & Solar Designs !! Check for details! Thanks Jetson Green!

  • Jason Beckwith

    I am starting to look into solar for my home and this looks like a great place to start.

  • Gustavo, fro Bs As

    I want it !!! thanks for the chance

  • mike


  • Michael

    Looks like a great book. Greeting from Wageningen.

  • Anonymous

    Another great resource, covering several renewable topics (including Solar, Wind and Biofuel, with a do-it-yourself perspective) is the Renewable Energy Handbook by William H Kemp.

  • Steve

    I live in the Antelope Valley and want to build about 4 small studios on land that I bought a few years ago and this book would help me so much!

  • Bobby Bragg

    @jetsongreen. I just found this blog and have about 5 articles that I am ready to write about. Great stuff to see and read here. Kudos!

  • Chris

    hokie, hokie, hokie, hy!
    tech, tech, vpi
    “SOLAR”-rex, “SOLAR”-rah
    poly tech vir-gin-ia
    ray rah vpi
    team! team! team!

  • Anonymous

    This is a very timely publication! Finally Solar Power is being embraced by the masses, no longer a fringe idea. My future career choices will be in a “green” industry. I’m so happy that we’re finally “getting it”..:-)

  • Eric D

    As the construction technologies training coordinator at work, I am both pleased and excited about our industry moving towards sustainable housing. Everyone should get involved with this movement. I am looking forward to reading this book to get up tp speed on the new technology.

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