Here’s an update to an old article about a tree-shaped charger powered by solar energy. Vivien Muller’s Electree+ is on Kickstarter seeking to raise $200,000 to mass-produce these little home/office gadgets here in the USA. The new prototype will be made with an 14,000 mAh internal battery, 27 amorphous silicon solar cells (each about 3.7 inches), and an easy-to-assemble tree structure that can be customized. In case you’re interested, the early bird gets in at the ground level for ~$199.00.
Turns out the Rhône Alpes team from France with the Canopea house won Solar Decathlon Europe held in Madrid. Their home is actually the top of a conceptual “Nanotower” that the team proposed to bring single-family style living back to the urban core. The top level acts like a rain forest’s canopy — hence the name — by collecting 95% of all solar energy and 30% of rainwater for the tower. Canopea was built of a prefab CORE, site-built SKIN, and a SHELL capable of off-site fabrication as well.
I’ve been watching plug-and-play solar systems like the one offered by SpinRay Energy to see how viable and affordable these can get. It turns out GoGreenSolar.com just unveiled a similar system called the SunPlug Plug n’ Play Solar Kit. The kit includes one 235-watt polycrystalline panel, a 120 VAC/60 Hz grid-tie inverter, racking mount, WiFi module for monitoring, and a connector to plug directly into an AC outlet.
I really like the dark-blue/black look of solar PV, but I suppose there may be someone that needs a different color, whether for aesthetics, compliance, or branding, etc. Colored Solar is trying to grab a toehold in this market with red, emerald green, forest green, and polished marble panels. In terms of panel efficiency, NREL found there is little performance compromised for a 16%+ efficiency colored 225W panel, according to Colored Solar.
I spent three days camping and hiking in the mountains of Utah last week and used my iPhone to snap the above photo while slightly downhill from the summit of Mount Timpanogos, which has an elevation of 11,749 feet. In preparation for this trip, I researched for a sustainable, backpacker-worthy solution to keeping my iPhone powered in order to take photos, jot notes, listen to music, and maybe communicate with family when presented with an available signal. I don’t have an iPad, but this solution works for both iPhones and iPads, either one. Here’s what you need:
It’s surprising how easy it is these days to line up all the components necessary for a residential-scale photovoltaic array. Solar panels can be purchased on Amazon (among other places) and tracking systems are readily available, too. If you have the land or your roof isn’t right for your needs, Arizona-based Schletter makes a ground-mount kit for up to 2.5 kW of solar PV and it can be purchased for under $1,000.