Tag Archives: solar

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Solar Mapping Resources

Solar Energy Maps

Below is a list of Tools that can be used as helpers  and resources for planning your Solar Projects before you dive in. 

Cost for Solar Energy cells keep dropping and efficiency goes up, Good news for someone who is interested in acquiring “Free” energy after paying for the original capture installation.

Solar Mapping Resources

Solar Energy Mapping Resources
Solar Energy Mapping Resources

Choosing solar energy is a big investment.

In order to help consumers quantify the potential benefits, national laboratories and private companies have developed a number of tools to forecast their solar futures.

Solar Energy uses Irridance
Solar Energy uses Irridance

Satellite maps, irradiance data, and real-time bids from installers have been combined to assist customers in understanding the potential costs and benefits of solar with just the click of a button.

The examples below help consumers start the process of choosing solar by demonstrating the solar potential of their homes or businesses.

Energy Sage

Energy Sage, another SunShot Incubator awardee, allows homeowners, businesses, or nonprofit organizations to estimate their energy savings from solar, and connects them with prescreened installers who can provide estimates specific to the user’s address.

Users can comparison shop, and select the system that fits their needs best. Electricity bills are used to demonstrate the potential savings from solar energy, and Energy Sage has been found to offer customers substantial savings over more conventional products.


Geostellar measures user’s solar potential based on satellite maps of their property, and will estimate the financial benefit of such a system based on the user’s electricity bills. 

Users can compare financial products to determine the payback of a system, see applicable state and federal incentives, and consult with agents to find a system that best meets their needs and wants. Geostellar is a SunShot Incubator company.


Mapdwell’s Solar System is an open, online rooftop-solar remote assessment tool that allows any community on Earth to discover their underlying solar resources.

It reveals the solar potential of building rooftops through state-of-the-art, hyper-precise, advanced technology developed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Communities can use the solar system platform to provide their residents with highly detailed information about the potential of their rooftops or want to better understand their solar resource and increase their solar deployment.

OpenEI Solar Mapping Tools

The OpenEI platform is a wiki, similar to Wikipedia’s Wiki.  Users can view, edit, and add data – and download data for free.

OpenEI works to provide the most current information needed to make informed decisions on energy, market investment, and technology development. 

On the solar resource page, OpenEI provides maps and links to connect users with solar installers and projects in their neighborhoods. 

The platform also connects users to tools like PVWatts and the System Advisory Model, which can be used to estimate solar generation and savings.


PVWatts is an online too from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory that estimates the energy production and cost of energy of grid-connected photovoltaic (PV) energy systems throughout the world.

It allows homeowners, business owners, and nonprofit organizations to easily develop estimates of the performance of potential PV installations, based on online map or user supplied data.

San Francisco Energy Map

The San Francisco Energy Map provides developed by an overview of solar and wind energy resources for the city of San Francisco, along with corresponding links and resources to help residents better understand our renewable energy resources, and learn how to install their own renewable energy system.

The program displays existing solar photovoltaic (PV) and water heating installations in the City. Users can also estimate their rooftop’s Solar PV potential, annual system output, associated energy savings, and annual greenhouse gas emissions mitigated.

Other links provide cost estimates of installing a solar PV system, ways to find a solar installer, and get more detailed information.

Sun Number

A SunShot Incubator awardee, Sun Number gives a numerical score which represents the solar suitability of a building’s rooftop on a scale from 1 to 100, with 100 being the ideal rooftop for solar.

Scores can be accessed by entering a valid address in a region where the analysis has been completed.

The Sun Number score is created from aerial imagery that is processed with proprietary algorithms to accurately analyze individual rooftops, and based on a combination of factors, each weighted uniquely to provide an accurate analysis of a rooftop.

Factors include roof shape, surrounding buildings surrounding vegetation, regional variability, and atmospheric conditions.

All information shared from  Energy.Gov  at http://energy.gov/eere/sunshot/solar-mapping-resources


Learn and Share and we will all get there.

How to Make a Solar Water Heater that Heats Your Swimming Pool

Making a Solar Water Heater to Heat Your Swimming Pool

Make a solar water heater, if you would like to swim in the winter time and don’t want to spend a fortune heating your pool with a gas or electric pool heater.

I’ve found a DIY solution!

I always enjoy watching Andy Bailey’s Ms Video Diary on Facebook.

He is visiting his brother in Australia where  it is now Winter.  He posted a video showing off his first swim in Mike’s back yard pool.   Wow  17 C  which translates to 62.1 F.  Kinda on the cool side.

Went looking around and found this great article by Matthew Sparkes
Technology / Solar Technology 

Which almost takes you by the hand in using discarded coils from old refrigerators to construct a very economical pool or water heater using Solar.

Actually he was sharing an article written and published on the Instructables….except the article has been removed.

Here is an  excerpt:

Instructables user, TheNaib, has written a tutorial on how to create a solar thermal water heater for under five dollars.

It will involve a fair amount of DIY, but nothing too complicated. It’s designed as a fun project, but with some tweaking it could see real applications,

“Its a great way to learn about using the renewable energy of the sun to produce useful effects, in this case hot water.

You can use these instructions to build a device that will actually heat enough water to use in the home, but it would require modifications.

“Not only is it creating hot water using completely renewable energy, but it is also created from recycled scrap parts like the coolant grill from a refrigerator.”

If you do try this out, be warned that it can really heat up water quickly, and to quite an impressive temperature.

, “A word of warning, this panel works VERY WELL. We tested it on a very sunny day and within seconds the water coming out of the panel was hot enough TO SCALD. I burned my fingers.

This very hot water is only formed when the water inside the panel is allowed to sit for about a minute without moving.

If the water is moving (due to the gravity siphon) the water exiting the return pipe is about 110 degrees, and while hot, will not burn you.”

Build a 5 Dollar Solar Water Heater by TheNaib
Build a 5 Dollar Solar Water Heater by TheNaib

I know from reading other suggestions for building a pool solar water heater, they can sometimes be connected to the pool filter pump system to move the water to keep if from getting to hot.

Another option is to just buy a small pump and make your heater stand alone, or use gravity… I f you use only one coil in a panel, might be easy to make it a gravity feed and eliminate a pump altogether.

As Matthew notes in his article,  TheNaib at the Instructables has some more suggestions and a lot of comments from others that have more ideas.

In the meantime TheNaib removed his project from the Instructables and has it archived on his own site.  Link is here.
This is certainly a very doable project,  TheNaib titled it

Make a Solar Water Heater for under $5.00   


Loads of good information.  Nothing to buy, he salvaged most of his materials  from the local dump which recycles.   You might have one near you.

For more Evergreen  Ideas, check out


Share our tip with a friend who might just be interested in building their own  solar swimming pool heater.


Burlington, Vermont Wins The Golden Ring-100% Powered Renewable

Jake Richardson posted September, 2014 about Burlington and its Achievement.

Here is just a small excerpt of what he had to say!

Wind, water and biomass are providing all of Burlington’s electricity, and this city is the largest in Vermont.
So, critics can’t say, “It’s just a little village, probably has 800 people, that’s not feasible anywhere else.”
However, the population of Burlington is about 42,000.
It’s not a large city by any means, but it also is not a tiny town where adding some solar and one wind turbine would cover everyone’s electricity.

Read some more here: http://cleantechnica.com/2014/09/23/100-renewable-energy-burlington-vt/

Not to be outdone, Good News Network Featured Burlington in a superb write up on February 4, 2015.

Using a combination of old water hydroelectric, Solar Panels and Wind. Of course they are getting some flack. Some people say they are not coming clean, because a lot of their energy is coming from the old but productive hydroelectric plants that are run by the force of water from streams to run big turbines that produce electricity. Even if they are old, they are still Green!