Renewable Energy

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2011 August 12 11:35
by roma

Solar System at Painted Hills


Last weekend, my friends and I took a trip to Painted Hills in central Oregon. The hills are painted by layers of fossils corresponding to particular geologic eras. Or so the the story goes, at least. Looking at the hills in person, it felt more like we were on Mars.

The park ranger's house has a 7 kW solar system on its roof. It is the first such project for the National Park Service.

Here, I am with my canvassing colleagues, Masha Alekseeva and Eila Rinne.

The solar system was so big, the mountains didn't fit into the shot

2011 July 22 10:28
by roma

What's New in Canvassing


I've been refining my pitch throughout the past couple of weeks and focusing on setting up appointments for people who may have not thought of solar before, but who are generally interested. The pitch I had used in the first couple of weeks of canvassing tended to overload homeowners with too much information. They then wanted to think about solar more on their own time and would not be inclined to set up an appointment.

I've also started a pretty lively discussion on LinkedIn's Solar Power Society with a post about canvassing-related blog posts. A woman who works with SolarCity in California has provided useful references for the positive effect of solar panels on house prices. I will read the articles and reports carefully and hope to use them to pitch solar to homeowners whose main concern is that they may move in the next couple of years.

2011 July 13 12:27
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by roma

Impressions from NABCEP Exam


About a month after the course in Las Vegas, I finally took the NABCEP Entry-level PV course this morning. The test was conducted by ProMetrics, an independent testing company, at a facility in NE Portland.

The test was wholly computer-based and lasted for 2 hours.

The good news is that some of the questions on the test were taken straight from the manual we received at the course written by Ken Thames.

Throughout the 3-day course, Ken devoted a lot of attention to the technical aspects of grounding, conductor ampacity and battery-based systems. I think this reflects what one truly needs to know when designing or installing a system.

The 60-question course did not cover any specific topic in depth, however. There were fewer math problem questions and more general knowledge questions than I had anticipated. As a result, I didn't know some material because we did not focus on it during the course. For example, I did not know what a pyranometer is used for.

The test results will be available in 4-6 weeks.

2011 July 10 17:32
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by roma

Berry-Powered Solar Cells


On May 27, 2011, Fievel of andthenbam.com and I measured a potential of 0.3 V across a dye-solar cell. We had been working on the project, which involves dyeing a solar cell with blackberries, for the past couple of months.

The Making of a Dye-Solar Cell

read more...

2011 June 30 11:12
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by roma

Asking Homeowners Questions


Michael, one of the other canvassers has had success with a shortened version of the spiel that gets homeowners to talk about themselves. The key is to present the crucial information only at first, and then turn the tables and start asking questions. This is one thing that I overlooked in my June 17 post.

I have been experimenting with Mike's spiel this week.