You’re out with your friends, ready to take some great selfies, when your Smartphone battery flashes that annoying “low batt” signal. You need a charge and you need it fast.  If you’re lucky, one of your friends is tech savvy and just happens to have one of many super-lightweight solar chargers handy. From solar chargers for in-city emergencies to heavy duty chargers for extreme adventurers, companies are scrambling to hit the market with a solar charger to fit every need and budget.  World’s Fastest Solar Charger Products like Evolution Wear’s RapidSol charger represent the new breed of solar chargers that are both fast and entirely powered by sunlight. In the case of the RapidSol, you get a 2.7 amp USB power outlet that can juice up your smartphone, tablet or other portable device in a very short time—for phones, it’s a full charge in less than 60 minutes, or up to 3% per minute. Evolution Wear claims that their Solar Wafer and circuits offer increased efficiency and stability, stating that their raw wafer efficiency as high as 24%, compared to… Read more

The strength and viability of a solar system comes down to the sum of its parts. Thus far, the components have been physically distinct and separate components—PV solar panel, battery and system software. And while PV solar technology has made leapfrogging advances, battery tech and “smart home” system software have often lagged behind. SunCulture believes it has the solution in a new device called SolPad. It integrates solid-state batteries, an inverter, and "intelligent software" that communicates with homeowners and their home's systems. Imitating the Mobile Phone Model Besides uniting the key elements of a PV solar system into a single unit, the SolPad device makes solar more accessible for increasing numbers of homes throughout the world. Most of the world—especially the third world—lacks the funds to build costly grid infrastructure needed to supply these regions with electric power. But thanks to component miniaturization and integration, the SolPad device has changed the dynamic—not unlike what has occurred with smartphones, which have successfully integrated phone, camera and many other functions into a single unit. The result is an inexpensive, powerful device that’s… Read more

Who knew that drones would someday help improve the inexorable drive toward solar? For both large-scale site analysis and rooftop panel placements, drones are making a difference in solar installations across the world. Their flyovers are becoming invaluable in determining the best geographic location of solar farms and in optimizing the location of solar panels on residential rooftops. Drones Scout Rooftops for Best Solar Panel Placement  While the technology of solar panels may be dropping, installation and scouting costs stubbornly resist any real declines. A key contributor to these soft costs remains the surveying that’s required to determine the best place to install solar panels. Scouting a rooftop for optimal solar panel placement calls for workers to physically climb onto a roof. This adds not only man-hours of costly labor, but also includes insurance costs and losses due to accidental equipment dropped and roof damage (particularly half-barrel tile roofs). Drones solve these problems by keeping workers off ladders and roofs. Drones weigh a fraction of any worker, they’re easy to operate, and they acquire the data needed in far less… Read more

It’s a product combo whose time has come: a new, aesthetically pleasing solar panel design teamed with a highly efficient electric storage system. The integrated Tesla/SolarCity solar roof does away with traditional solar panels. Instead, property owners get an attractive roof that’s both functional and efficient in collecting sunlight. This is supplemented by an energy storage system that also combines performance and aesthetics. The new combo system meets the needs of property owners looking to break free from costly unsustainable utility supplied electricity. Need a New Roof? Replace it with Solar Shingles The solar roof was designed to address the needs of homeowners who may be reluctant to add solar panels because they need a new roof first.  Or perhaps their roof needs repair, and adding solar panels would first require expensive repairs. These are understandable cost restraints that have kept and continue to keep property owners from going solar. The solution? Offer a roof with photovoltaic cells embedded directly into traditional roofing tiles. And supplement that with a cleanly designed wall-mounted storage system. This takes the sting out of… Read more

It’s been called the "Happiest Solar Energy on Earth.” Flying over Disney’s Epcot Park, you can’t help but notice the new solar farm in the shape of the iconic Mickey Mouse head and ears silhouette.  Calling it the "latest initiative in a long-standing commitment to environmental conservation," the new solar farm in Epcot Park is designed to reduce the park’s carbon footprint as much as 50% by 2020. The new solar farm is part of Disney’s sustainability effort that began in October 1982, when Epcot's Universe of Energy building installed solar panels on its roof. Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow The 22-acre farm is one of many visionary 2020 projects involving Disney World, Duke, and Reedy Creek Improvement District. Mickey’s “head and ears” solar farm generates as much as 5 MW of electricity. Doing the work are 48,000 solar panels embedded in the mouse structure. According to the Solar Energy Industries Association, the power generated is equivalent to 1,000 residential rooftop solar installations. Disney notes that using alternative energy puts Epcot Park’s creativity to work in finding innovative ways to preserve… Read more