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Solar Decathlon: Let The Games Begin!

Solar Decathlon 2011 all teams photo

Today, the Solar Decathlon officially opens to the public and the games begin.  The competition is organized by the Department of Energy, and 19 teams have invested more than two years of effort to design, build, and operate solar-powered homes that are cost-effective, energy-efficient, and attractive.  The winner will be the one with the highest score after the following ten contests:
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Solar PV Install Costs Continue to Drop

solar panels in a field of the sun

The value proposition of solar energy is driving great opportunities for homeowners looking to invest in sustainable power production.  In fact, the average installed cost of a solar PV system completed in 2010 fell by 17% from the prior year, and the cost has also dropped an additional 11% so far in 2011, according to the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

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LSG Intros Glimpse Retrofit LED Downlight

Florida-based Lighting Science Group (LSG) recently announced a new LED product called Glimpse.  The Title 24-compliant downlight is compatible with most 5″ and 6″ recessed cans and can be surface mounted to a J-box as a luminaire.  Glimpse is Energy Star qualified in all model types, according to a press release, and provides up to 20% more light than other products on the market with the 750 lumen package.

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HeronLED Shines a Light on E-Waste

Earlier this summer, LittleFootprint Lighting announced the availability of a high-performance task light for home or office called the HeronLED Personal Task Light.  The light is designed and made in the USA with recycled plastic from e-waste and uses a replaceable LED bulb as the light source.

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Hybrid Panels Increase Solar Efficiency

Photovoltaic panels and solar hot water panels both provide useful benefits for the buildings they are attached to, but sometimes there is limited space on the roof, and usually only one or the other is installed. Solimpeks, a solar panel manufacturer based in Turkey, has been producing solar panels for a long time, and has an elegant solution to the problem: a panel that produces both electricity and hot water. It turns out that the Solimpeks Volther dual-use panels increase efficiency more than you might expect.

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Snack on the Sun with a Solar Sandwich

New Jersey-based Englert, a company that specializes in metal roofing and gutter systems, recently earned a citation from Architect Magazine for their incredible Solar Sandwich roof system.  On the surface, it looks like any other standing-seam metal roof with columns of thin-film photovoltaic solar.  Yet below that, to capture the warmth generated from hot metal roofing, there’s a grid of pex-filled purlins with a water and glycol solution for a solar thermal system.

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