Archive for August, 2007

Solar, not just for houses

I am pretty sure most everyone has heard of using solar cells on a house. You may have even heard of people going “off the grid” using a combination of solar cells, energy sipping appliances, and even scaled down wind turbines.

Unless you are into RV’s, you may not have heard about putting solar (or photo voltaic) cells on the roof of a recreational vehicle. I have a friend that is working on a project to equip his van with solar cells. He regularly takes mountain biking and wind surfing trips and would like the convenience and piece of mind of being self sufficient.

The basic procedure for this type of project is to find out how many amps you will be using. From there is a little beyond me, but here is a quote from someone advising him on the project. “Sizing calculations are based on amp hours. So take your 2 amp load and estimate how many hours/day you plan on using it. That’ll give you x amp hours of load per day. Then you need to consider you battery(s). Deep cycle (not starter) batteries are the best type for these applications, for example a Group 24 12V deep cycle battery you can get at Wally world is good for about 75 amp hours. So as an example, if you ran your 2 amp fan for 4 hrs per day you’d only consume 8 amp hours per day. For 3 days you’d only consume 24 amp hours or roughly, a third of a group 24 batteries capacity.” Whatever that means…

I am going to leave the technical stuff there, but it is great that rv’ers are embracing a technology that could be so important for our energy production in the future. It would be safe to assume that those people would be more likely to install photo voltaic cells on their houses. Solar cells could be one of those technologies that have been around a while and it would be great to suddenly see explosive growth because of mass adoption as a viable technology.

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Offset your travel

Travel season is upon us. I am sure most of you are going to be flying one place or another in the next 6 months. If you use Travelocity, they make it simple to offset the carbon emissions for your trip. You are able to select an option to “go zero” while you are scheduling your flight. The price for this service ranges from $10 for a weekend trip to $40 for a week long trip. For official instructions on how to do this, visit their page. If you don’t use Travelocity, you can use any of the numerous services that exist to offset emissions that are created through day to day activities. As Laura mentioned in a comment on an earlier post, you can use http://www.carbonfund.org. To calculate the carbon emissions from a flight, click here and scroll down.