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Solar Power Rocks

Clear info on home solar power rebates, tax credits, and other benefits

Earth Hour Tomorrow Night

Earth Hour


On March 29, 2008 at 8 p.m., join millions of people around the world in making a statement about climate change by turning off your lights for Earth Hour, an event created by the World Wildlife Fund.

Earth Hour was created by WWF in Sydney, Australia in 2007, and in one year has grown from an event in one city to a global movement. In 2008, millions of people, businesses, governments and civic organizations in nearly 200 cities around the globe will turn out for Earth Hour. More than 100 cities across North America will participate, including the US flagships–Atlanta, Chicago, Phoenix and San Francisco and Ottawa, Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver.

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Right to Sun Lawsuit WON! First of Many?

Solar Tree Lawsuit

The Solar Vs Tree battle grows!

The Mercury news wrote this great article (I call it “great” because the first word is “smackdown”).

Here is’s 15 second eat-and-run version:

Couple A puts solar panels up (lots of them)

Couple B plants redwood trees next door (tall ones).

Couple A demands Couple B cut down trees ’cause they block sun. No dice.

Couple A sues Couple B and wins under “Solar Shade Control Act” of 1978

Couple B chops down some of the trees

I thought that the fine for violation is pretty incredible, $1000/day the trees are not chopped down.  Wow!

We here at are obviously a little biased towards solar and happy about this new case law, but for the people taking the trees’ side of things, there is good news.  Senator Joe Simitian is probably gonna get through a bill that would change the law to something where, “whoever gets there first, wins” be that trees or solar. Honestly, as much as I love solar, I think that sounds fair.


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How are Solar Panels Attached to my Roof?

Solar will probably not make your roof leak


The fear about roof penetration from solar installations is definitely in the top 3 concerns of people that are serious about installing solar power, so let’s just clear the air. I don’t personally know how every company installs solar energy panels on a roof, but I know how our company does it, and that is what I’m going to explain in this article. I also know that some people shouldn’t be doing it at all.

Installation practices vary by roof. Spanish tiles are the most expensive type roofs to install PV modules on. The reason is that we have no choice but to walk on them, and inevitably break some of the tiles. The owner must have extra tiles lying around, or we must be able to find a match ahead of time to be able to replace. If not, we cannot do the job. There is also some added time spent both drilling through them and treading carefully upon them. Wood shake shingles are particularly awful as well. The easiest and thus cheapest type of roof to install solar energy on is a composition roof.

There is a unique benefit to the flat, tar-and-gravel roofs and the flat polyurethane foam ones, because you can aim the photovoltaic modules in any orientation or tilt you desire, although to build that scaffolding to put them on costs a few bucks extra. With a pitched roof you are often limited to the orientation and tilt provided by the roof, which, if perfect already, is going to be cheaper than doing a flat roof.

Spanish Tile Roof Tar and Gravel Roof Wood Shake Roof Composition Roof
Spanish Tile Tar and Gravel Wood Shake Composition

We use something called “fastjack” to attach to the roof. Fastjack is made by pro solar. Then we seal the crap out of it with this stuff from GeoCellUSA.

solar fastjack

Here are some notes:

  1. Yes, we stick giant lag bolts into your beams like the one with fastjack in the picture above.
  2. Panels aren’t that heavy. Most of the coding requirements come from “upforce.” Basically there is way more danger to the panels catching air like a sail and ripping off your roof than there is to them weighing too much and pushing through your roof. If they are bolted to the rafters then they are attached to the infrastructure of your house and not the roof, and there are no worries.
  3. We’ve never had a customer have a leaky roof because of a solar installation we have performed, and we’ve been around 30 years. The sealant we use is very high grade and warrantied for 50 years.
  4. A huge amount of labor is spent finding the exact center of the rafters. There are new mounting products coming out that will reduce this labor.
  5. We can coordinate with a roofer so that we come in and put the posts in, they do the roof, then we come back and do the install.
  6. It’s about $1000 bucks (of course that could be less or more based on size) to pop off existing panels to let a roofer do his thing, and then put them back on, so never let doing your roof stop you from getting solar. It’s almost always better to start saving money on energy today.

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Empowered Movie Review

Empowered Solar Movie

emPOWERed is a eco-documentary exploring conservation and other actions to deter global warming.

Review by guest blogger CelticSolar

In December 1968 the astronauts of Apollo 8 were the first humans to ever see the Earth rise. These images changed how we view the world. emPOWERed asks us to realize that our fossil fuel burning is an uncontrolled experiment running on the only habitable planet that we have.

The documentary zooms in from outer-space and lands in a suburb of my hometown, Portland Oregon. Here a grade school is presented with an Energy Star Award because their building is in the top 25% of energy efficient buildings in the United States.

For this school the journey began when an energy management company claimed that they could save the school system $300,000 per year on energy bills. They checked out this claim and found out, not only was it possible, but other school districts had saved even more.

Rather than pay consultants, the school district decided to tackle the problem themselves. After studying other successful programs their first step was to install energy tracking software. The $600 software saved them $6500 in lighting alone in one school just by changing the time of day when the lights turn on and off.

The initiative spread and the district now saves $1.2M per year. That is equivalent to about 22 teachers. The district is now able to better serve their real purpose, educating children. Conservation has had a large monetary benefit and so much more.

One school has involved the kids in a “Watt Watchers” program. This allows the children to exercise what they have learned and see the school walking the talk.

Next the film moves to what we can each do in our own homes. They talk to a Fairfield, Connecticut household that have taken several small steps that nearly anyone can take. Then it moves to the construction site of an energy star house to replace a Mississippi home lost to hurricane Katrina. This will be one most energy efficient homes in the state. With so many homes being rebuilt in the area, the owner/builder/architect of this home is hoping others see the potential savings that smart buildings offer.

A Vermont community has a ‘bright idea’ to promote compact florescent lights. About 20% of a home’s energy is spent on lighting. They are selling CFLs for $0.99 and have sold over 10,000 bulbs and started thousands of people in their community thinking about energy consumption and pollution.

The final segment introduces us to the Reverend Sally Bingham, a San Francisco “environment minister”. For her, stewardship God’s creation, the Earth, is divine. She works with the Interfaith Power & Light project to deepen the tie between faith and ecology. The Zen Center is a Buddhist community that has joined Interfaith Power & Light. They have installed solar panels and get more than 50% of their electricity from them.

The documentary concludes noting that how we treat the plant is how we treat each other. This is a matter of human dignity and we all play a part.

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Solar Powered Poop Doll… … …..

I’m in a coffee shop with a cold, hopped up on Day Quill. Publishing this is probably, well, ill-advised.

Anyway, I wanted to write something interesting, but I’m all… Tussin’ed up and can’t think straight. I decided to let good ol’ Google do the thinking for me, so I got on Google Images and typed in “Solar Funny.” I was disappointed. I made it to page six and was giving up, but I couldn’t help but click on this beauty:

solar funny in google images

Solar Baby Toy

The product’s name is “Solar Baby Toy” and it’s price terms are “FOB” which, after some wikiresearch, I found is an “incoterm,” and it’s payment terms are “T/T” (I found out this means wire transfer).  OK,, I’m all ears… I want to know more about Solar Baby Toy!

“Product characteristics:

solar energy doll the whole body is an activity design sunlight IC to receive, direct convert the sunlight/light as solar energy O not need any outside power supply, environmental protection hygiene the cerebellum Bag again and again nods a smile toward you Very lovely and funny, bring you a relaxed mood really let the person don’t want to put it away
Used as home and Office decoration, presents, and children toy.”

My Cerebellum bag hurts.

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How much is your roof worth in with solar panels?

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