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Convert Your Home to Solar Energy

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  • Posted March 19, 2012

    Everett Barber's book Convert Your Home to Solar Energy is a wel

    Everett Barber's book Convert Your Home to Solar Energy is a welcome addition to the literature on solar energy applications. Written for the curious layperson, it's full of nuggets for the experienced solar energy professional as well. The book is full of illustrative photos and graphically rich. Barber begins with fundamentals of energy and solar energy, then covers the use of solar in heating water, swimming pools, passive solar heating and cooling, active solar space heating, and solar electricity production. Along the way, he shares from both his extensive hands-on experience and research efforts. The reader learns useful tidbits such as the fact that evacuated tube collectors do not produce more hot water than the simpler, less costly flat plate collectors, despite advertising claims, and that boiler-heated indirect hot water tanks operate at efficiencies of 15-25% in the non-heating season. Several terrific charts show the effect of non-optimal solar array tilt and azimuth on annual electricity production. There are tables showing about how much energy a solar water heater will produce and how much it costs to heat a pool in various cities. All in all, it's a "must-read" for anyone learning about solar energy applications for buildings.

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  • Posted November 14, 2011

    If you can only buy one book on solar, buy this book.

    Finally someone has come out with a book about solar energy that provides the information that homeowner¿s, architects, builders and solar contractors and integrators need to successfully incorporate solar energy onto their homes and projects. The information Everett has included in this book can only come from years of experience in the solar energy field. This book serves is a single source of essential information for anyone wanting to learn more about solar energy and I can highly recommend it. Bob Chew Solar Specialist Since 1977

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  • Posted October 8, 2011

    Great resource for a homeowner who is looking for guidance on solar energy

    The authors have many years of practical experience and it shows in the preferences they have among the many different variations in system types. They favor what will work best for the long term, which should be the homeowners concern too. Probably the most important chapter of all is the last one about shopping for a system. In states that have solar incentive programs, the funding agency tries to insure that the system will work as planned and the installer meets their minimum requirements. But this chapter is invaluable for learning where to check on an installer, what product testing ratings to look for, the various types of companies serving the industry, checking track records of installers, warranties, dealing with salespersons, local building officials and your roof structure, obtaining service and what to look for in the sales contract. Most folks will not make this kind of purchase more than once, so this information should give you the confidence to make the leap into renewable energy.

    This is a book for homeowners who think they might want to install solar, but feel they don't know enough to make a good decision. As you would expect there is an excellent introduction to the basics of when and where solar energy is available, as well as examples of the many different applications, from pool heating to cooking. Most of the book's chapters each deal with a different application of solar energy (domestic hot water, pool heating, active & passive home heating, electricity, and other uses). The paper quality is very good and the book is loaded with color photos and graphics to make the equipment choices clearer to a homeowner who may have never had a close look at solar hardware. There are frequent sidebars that cover the conservation items that should be done first and technical details of each system in more depth, but can be skipped or re-read later. There are economic analyses for each application with surprising information about what type is most efficient, and what is most cost-effective under your particular circumstances.

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  • Posted August 10, 2011

    A Must Read for Beginner and Professional

    Let me start off by saying, with no offense to Taunton Press who publishes some very nice material, but I really feel the book may be too narrowly focused at the residential market. The in-depth treatment of the many topics addressed could also provide an incredible resource to many, if not most, architects as well as anyone else who wishes to enter the solar energy field. One reason I say this is the order of topics in this book is excellent with the frequent reminder that energy efficiency needs to come first. Only then does Mr. Barber launch into more general discussion of solar energy concepts. In short, it has all the material I made sure to include when I was teaching courses and with only minor tweaks it would have made an excellent textbook had it been available to me 25 years ago. No book can provide enough detail to allow a consumer to know each and every nook and cranny of a technology. For that reason the author was cognizant enough to provide sections on basic energy concepts such as heat flows and principles of solar energy including motions of the sun. These are essential for any thorough understanding of solar energy design and essential for any thorough understanding since by applying these basics readers can then discern by themselves the hype from reality of any promotional claims. Particularly helpful are the many sidebars or single pages that deal with a specific topic in more detail. Some of these are labeled as "Tech Corner" and while they may go deeper than the casual reader might like, they provide the choice of more detail for those who wish to become professionals in the field. The many charts and tables were also extremely useful and I would have liked to see even more of them. If the book makes any one fact clear, it is that solar energy for residential dwellings is actually a very broad topic as it covers not only domestic hot water, pool heating, space heating and cooling, electricity, daylighting and transportation but even solar ovens, dryers and water purifiers. This book clearly covers all of these areas-and more. While the vast majority of it concerns the bread and butter of solar hot water, space heating, pool heating and electricity production, enough information is provided to the reader to make them relatively well-informed on all topics. An important role this book plays is as a myth-buster that demystifies what works from what does not or goes to the heart of why it may work but still not be the optimal choice. A good example of this is discussion the envelope home (on page 115) which is essentially a house built within a house that was popular in the late 1970's and into the 80's but still has proponents today. The author very subtly explains the principle yet is unafraid to point out the shortcomings of this design from safety considerations and inability to predict its performance. Another concept brought up (on page 191) is where Mr. Barber brings up that "more" is not necessarily being better even when it deals with renewable resources. He provides what designers and consumers alike need to consider in a society that has lost its sense of "enoughness." The lesson it infuses is "some is good, more is better but enough is best" which is well in line with the whole concept of diminishing returns as well as sustainability.

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  • Posted May 28, 2011

    Best Book for the Serious Home Owner and Interested Engineer Alike

    It is difficult to find a book that balances ease of understanding with substance, engineering with good advice, and breadth to depth. This book does all of this. I am both an engineer and have installed solar thermal and PV and consulted in the field. This book still had things to offer me that I had had difficulty understanding in the past. It provided background to topics that I had previously taken for granted. It is also amazingly realistic, taking the view that conservation should always be the first choice before moving on to more active solutions. As the book is organized by payback period (before incentives), the home-owner is able to consider solutions that are often not even discussed before moving on to solar electric.
    You can read the book solely to find information about the system you wish to install, but I would highly recommend reading this from cover to cover. You will go into your solar project informed and educated, but not overwhelmed by overly technical information or language that will sway you to make unsustainable "sustainable" choices.

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  • Posted December 30, 2010

    For an objective view of all solar applications

    In the past 10 years or so, most of the books that have been written about solar energy applications for the home, have been written about solar electric systems. If they include other solar applications, such as water heating, it is done almost as an afterthought. I always wondered if the other applications such as pool heating or house heating had been forgotten or were considered out of date. This is the first book that I've seen that deals with all of the major residential applications of solar technology. It puts them in perspective, one with the other. For instance, I was startled to find that solar electric systems are so much less efficient than solar water heating systems. I've looked at a lot of solar books and in no other place have I been able to find such useful information on buying a system as that presented in the last chapter of this book. That chapter could save a buyer thousands! The authors are very familiar with their subject, yet they avoid the technical jargon that can make such books tedious to wade through. The book is filled with excellent photos, diagrams, useful tables and charts, and is very easy to read.

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