Solar TV: Entertainment Everywhere

Living off-grid but want to keep dumbing down?

Cello Electronics have introduced what they claim is the first LED solar powered TV. With a screen size of 22 inches, the TV is still reasonably compact and so would fit well in an RV, hut or tiny home.

A built-in rechargeable battery and patented “Smart Energy Management System” ensures up to 10 hours of running time from a single charge! A smart antenna receives signals through a DVBT2 tuner giving the viewer HD quality. But if you’re located somewhere really remote where there is little or no TV signal, the built-in satellite tuner can still pick up satellite channels. This allows for TV entertainment, wherever you may be.

This unit can also play a more central role in powering an off-grid home. A 2.0 USB port can not only charge phones, but can also act as a connection or power source for other compatible devices. Not only this by connecting a flash disk to act as storage, the personal video recorder feature can be used. That’s right; this set offers the ability to record a show or series to watch when it’s more convenient for you.

A complete out-of-the-box solution:

The Solar TV package costs $300 and includes the TV, solar panel and antenna. All that needs to be done is to set up the TV with the solar panel (in a suitable location of course) and you’re good to go. A review of an “out of the box” opening can be found here.

UK based Cello Electronics launched the Solar TV at the third Solar Africa Expo in Kenya, last year. A large proportion of the African population do not have access to reliable electricity from the grid. Therefore, a TV that works completely off-grid offers a solution. Knowing that the $300 price tag could be a big barrier for poorer regions in Africa, the company set up a pay-as-you-go scheme. PAYGOTV allows the consumer to pay only for the TV they are watching by purchasing a code entered via the remote control. This also opens up a new market for customers that don’t have their own TV but have access to one in the local community.

Brian Palmer, CEO of Cello, recalled how it all started, saying in a press release, “Could we make a TV that was capable of working off-grid?” Seems the answer is, yes they could!

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Solar hamlet - artists impression

(eco)Village within a Village

The Welsh Government is embracing low-impact housing with the unveiling of its first village within a village – the Pentre Solar “eco hamlet” within the traditional, stone-walled village of Glanrhyd in Pembrokeshire. The six timber homes have solar panels capable of producing 6000 kilowatt hour per year, low energy use and a A++ energy rating.

Following the successful construction of a prototype house built by start-up Western Solar in 2013, the Welsh Government gave the company £141,000 to help create its nearby production base for the homes, which will house tenants from Pembrokeshire council’s social housing waiting list. With low energy use and access to a shared electric car, Western Solar said residents could avoid up to £2,000 a year on energy costs and consumption.

The eco hamlet was built with insulation material made from recycled paper and local Douglas and Fir wood sourced from the Gwaun Valley. Local people were hired and trained to build the homes, which cost about £100,000 each to build – comparable to a conventional build, according to Western Solar.

About 40% of the fabric of the houses is made in the factory, significantly reducing the build time; it takes only a week to make each house, and less than that to erect it. The company plans to build 1,000 homes over the next 10 years, with the help of partnerships including housing providers and investors.

Welsh Environment Secretary Lesley Griffiths said she was “delighted” to officially open the innovative housing development.
“[It is] not only providing much-needed housing for local people, it is also addressing many other issues such as energy efficiency, fuel poverty, skills development and the use of Welsh timber,” Lesley said.

Low-impact development is recognised by the Welsh Planning system as playing a key role in the transition towards a low-carbon society. Since the ‘One Development Policy’ legislation was introduced in Wales in 2010, it has been possible to build new homes in the open countryside as long as there is a clear commitment for to sustainable living, natural building techniques, and land-based livelihood.

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Solar panels, smart battery, electricity, Yorkshire, grid,

Free Home Batteries Trial Increases Grid Capacity

A small community in South Yorkshire, UK has been targeted for a trial involving solar power and smart batteries. Forty homes in near Barnsley are having smart batteries installed at the end of January. Moixa, Northern Powergrid and Energise Barnsley are all collaborating on the £250 million ($308 million) project.

Moixa Batteries USB port

The Moixa batteries are smaller than a boiler (50cm x 30cm x 20cm), wall mounted with a 20 year lifespan. They even have a USB port so phones and other devices can be charged direct from the battery. Normally costing above £2,500 ($3,000), the residents received their batteries free of charge, with distributor Northern Electric footing the bill. 30 of the homes had solar panels, allowing them to be further independent of the grid. The batteries have good saving potential, giving the residents another reason to be positive about the trial.

The batteries allow residents to use the excess energy their solar panels generate during the day, at night time. They store the energy produced instead of transmitting it to the grid. This will relieve pressure put on the electricity network during times of high output but low demand. It is this reason that prevented the energy company Energise Barnsley placing more homes with solar onto the trial. Without expensive upgrades it is infrastructure which is limiting the number of homes that can have solar power. A project in Carmarthenshire, Wales, faced a similar problem, with only 37% of homes being able to connect with solar energy.

Lower Carbon

As outlined in Moixa’s press release, CEO Simon Daniel stated, “Batteries will allow the electricity system to support much higher levels of low carbon renewable power and increase UK energy independence.”

Linking the batteries in a virtual power plant system allows Moixa to make the wider grid more efficient, causing less need for back up from non-renewable sources. If rolled out across the country, millions could be saved by reducing the peak solar output onto the electricity network.

If the trial is successful, batteries could hold the key to UK energy independence.

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I know a lot about solar – I love solar


President Elect Trump is quoted in saying “I know a lot about solar, I love solar…”, it gives me hope that Trump will work with the powers that be to encourage more alternative energy resources. The next part of Trump’s statement was about solar being so expensive, that might give pause to the solar power companies, but I hear that a bit differently, I don’t hear Trump trying to stop alternative energy, I believe he is interested in bringing the costs down even further than they have come down in the last 5-10 years. I interpret his statements as wanting to do something about the costs, making it more affordable as opposed to shutting it down. As a business man, he would be interested in getting goods and services at the best possible price, being our president, I can see him doing that for the whole of the country.

I listened to a quick podcast on NPR on this subject

The original story can be found here

What do you think?


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Tesla’s solar tiles may be too costly

The solar roof tile seems set to transform technological necessity into desirable object.   Elon Musk’s launch event last week was a revolutionary moment because it integrated urban house design with solar technology.

Bring it on, if you can, Mr Musk-  but at the right price.

Consumer Reports says Elon Musk needs to price his tiles at no more than $73,500 for the average pitched roof. It calculated how much Tesla’s new solar tiles would have to cost to be competitive with a traditional roof.

Tesla (TSLA, US) has not yet provided specifics about how much the tiles will cost. Chief Executive Elon Musk has said the “beautiful” solar tiles would beat rivals in price, efficiency, and looks.

Instead of solar panels perched on roofs, that are visible from the outside and not exactly an architectural enhancement, homeowners would get a seamless product made with sleek glass that covers a house and powers it too. And the produce will be available in four styles.

Consumer Reports estimated that to cover the roughly 3,000 square feet of roof needed for the average U.S. home size, homeowners would have to shed $16,000 for clay tile, $20,000 for an asphalt roof, and $45,000 for a slate roof.

The magazine calculated $60,000 in added value from 30 years free of electric bills ($2,000 a year is a typical electric bill in states where solar is big, like California, Texas, and North Carolina) and did other calculations to arrive at $73,500 as the price point a Tesla textured or smooth glass solar roof could be considered cost-competitive with a $20,000 asphalt roof.

That competitive price point is lower for Tesla’s Tuscan-style solar tile and higher for its slate-looking solar tile.

Tesla shares were slightly higher Thursday, but are down 21% in the year so far, while the S&P (SPX, US) as gained 2.4%.

This, from news site TechCrunch: & It’s easy to dismiss the aesthetic import of how Tesla’s tiles look, but it’s actually important, and a real consideration for homeowners. The appearance of the tiles, which come in four distinct flavours, is going to be a core consideration for prospective buyers.& More about those & distinct flavours& there is Textured Glass, a metallic looking flat tile; Slate Glass, which is very hard to distinguish from traditional slate; Tuscan Glass, the old, curved Italian-style tile; and Smooth Glass.

In short, you will become a consumer living inside Musk’s vision of the future: an ecosystem that is modern, cool and green. And expensive.

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Canada project launched by ATCO



A new off-grid system is capable of generating 75 kilowatts and storing 250 kilowatts hours of energy. Now that’s impressive!

Last week, ATCO announced their groundbreaking solar project in Western Canada. The Grande Prairie POD Transmission at the Saddle Hills Telecommunications Site is needed to meet increased power demand in the area.

“Through this project, we have gained valuable insight into the application of off-grid solar solutions, directly transferable and scalable for our customers in other sectors,” said Paul Goguen, Senior Vice President & General Manager, ATCO Electric Transmission Division.

“This is just one example of how ATCO is finding opportunities to economically reduce our carbon footprint while exploring innovative clean energy solutions for our customers.”

This is great news, but why didn’t it happen any sooner if ATCO is seriously trying to cut down on their carbon footprint?

Propane thermal electric generators previously powered the site where the system is being built. As the generators neared the end of their life cycles and the need for power at the location grew, ATCO had a vision for a cleaner and less expensive way to keep the site up and running – solar energy.capstone project,

They didn’t make the transition alone though, to make sure that the switch was technically viable and cost-effective, they joined forces with the Alternative Energy Capstone Project and outlined the technical challenges of building and maintaining solar panels in a remote location (e.g. cooler climate, fewer hours of daylight etc.)

The project is one of many that ATCO is undertaking; a full list can be viewed here. The timeline for the scheme so far is as follows:

  • November 2015: Notification to landholders, agencies, and other interested parties
  • April 2016: Submit facilities application to the AUC
  • July 2017: If AUC approves the facilities application – construction begins


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California Gov, Jerry Brown – Off-Grid


Environmental champion, Jerry Brown says his next home will be totally off the grid. Powered by solar panels, the 2,674 square feet abode will include one-bedroom, one and a half bathrooms, a large lounge area, wood fireplace, an office, a mud room and a massive porch to sit on and watch the world go round.


Architect Dna Hoover describes it as a “boomerang-shaped building that kind of curls around a little knoll with two really old blue oak trees.” The site will afford the Browns “a pretty incredible view that’s quintessential California landscape. It’s incredibly beautiful but harsh in the same way,” he said.

Usually, Gov. Brown spends weekends at a rustic cabin west of Williams and resides the rest of the time in the Governor’s Mansion in Sacramento, which is an energy sufficient property. He has described his cabin outside Williams in 2014 as “pretty primitive,” with no water or toilet. He said at the time that the first lady “would like more amenities.” Hence the fancy soaking tub and wood fireplace in the new home.

Aged 78, Brown is the state’s oldest and longest-serving chief executive and was first elected to a statewide office in 1970 and is set to govern until 2019. He is also a pro-environment fiscal conservative and is a longtime champion for environmental causes, so it’s surprising he’s realised that going off-grid is the way forward!

According to plans for the house, “landscaping shall be designed and installed so as to not use potable water.”

The fourth-term Democrat and his wife, Anne Gust Brown, sold their previous home in Oakland Hills this year, after giving up their Sacramento loft and moving into the renovated Governor’s Mansion. Brown will term out of office in 2019.

Hoover said he will start working on the solar panelled palace as soon as he gets a permit. “(Brown) wants it done now,” Hoover said. “They’re very anxious to move up here.”

We’re excited for you to move off-grid too, Jerry!

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Dusty solar panels 30% less efficient

We always knew dirty panels don’t work as well as clean ones – now we can put a number on it.

Newly published research by Engineering researchers from Kathmandu found that a dusty panel gathers 29.8% less energy if they are not cleaned for 5 months in dry weather – we are surprised it is not more.

The findings in Elsevier-published Solar Power magazine studied “soiling and its effect on performance of solar modules in regions with a high deposition of dust and low frequency and less intensity of rain.” But some areas with abundant rainfall may also suffer from high dust deposits in the dry season. Kathmandu, with its peculiar environment conditions, suffers high air pollution and minimum rainfall during the dry winter. The study measured the effect of dust on PV modules taking into account meteorological variables for Kathmandu .

During the study period of 5 months, the efficiency of a dusty solar module left to untouched decreased by 29.76% compared to a similar module which was cleaned on daily basis.

Dust deposit density on the uncleaned PV module accounted to 9.6711 g/m2 over the study period. The research also showed that dust accumulation is concentrated on the lower half of the PV modules with a consequent risk of hot spots which could eventually lead to permanent module damage.

The research was carried out by Basant Raj Paudyaland Shree Raj Shakya of the Institute of Engineering at Tribhuvan University, Kathmandu

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The truth about solar

A current and interesting look at solar power today,we have truly come a long way. Of course battery technology is still pretty far behind, prices for solar panels have dropped significantly over the past few years making it affordable for more and more people,and the solar panel kits make it simple to get exactly what you want to get started.

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Solar panels Suspected cause of Fire

A spate of reports across the world pinpoint faulty solar installations as the cause of serious house fires. Badly installed isolators are just one of the possible issues. The problems worsen when it is not possible to shut off the solar power after the fire has started.

But there are positive sides to sad tales of homes being immolated by faulty solar: Here is one from Will Elrick in Australia

“In a moment without realising, a community not seen, then suddenly a community rallying around and are ready and waiting to help pick up the pieces.

About five weeks ago our house which we had only lived in for three months burned to the ground and everything was lost.

We are relatively new to the area and do not really know many people. We lived off the grid and in an isolated area; hence no-one saw the fire until my partner came home to find the house burned to the ground.

It was then our lives were changed. With this tragedy (it is still shocking to be writing this) we have found such amazing people around, and to be quite honest I am not sure where we would be without the community and their generosity.

The reason I am writing this, is that we would like to say thank you; thank you for your help, generosity and outright kindness.

Luckily we were insured (thank goodness) and this has highlighted the importance of this.

Another point to consider when living off the grid is solar. If anyone has solar please get a check up and make sure an expert comes and gives you a ticket of health. We will never really know what started our fire but the investigation found that a strong possibility was that the fire started from our solar system. I think solar is one of the future ways for energy production however like all types of technology it needs to be installed properly and checked regularly.

We were lucky in some ways as a large bushfire could have started but, because of the fire prevention work we did this was not the case. It is also important for the other property owners around the area and also the animal and plant kingdoms that we reside with that they weren’t affected.

Again we would like to say thank you to our community, without your generosity and help life would be a lot different.

It is interesting that the fire affected us both differently; I still feel a huge sense of loss and sadness particularly for my partner as she had collected things from all over the world. She feels a sense of sadness but at the same time knows that life’s plans are never totally determined by us, as outside influences play such a large part in the world; but indeed how we react to them and the …

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Floating fortress suffers solar burnout


This huge floating fortress of sustainable living, off the coast of Vancouver Island British Columbia has inspired many to follow a sustainable life. Wayne Adams, 66, and Catherine King, 59, built their home together in 1992, and have been growing and fishing for their own food ever since.
The home, named “Freedom Cove,” consists of 12 floating platforms that include a dance floor, an art gallery, a guest lighthouse, a studio for Adams and King, and 5 greenhouses. The settlement is next to half an acre of land for growing edible crops. The couple gets water from a nearby waterfall during the summer and from rainwater during the winter. The settlement had been powered by an array of 14 solar panels, but recently switched to a generator after these broke down.
Perhaps inspired by the Floating Cove – a new design is being proposed in Germany, although still in the planning stages.The Lusation Autartec prototype will be built on Lake Geierswalde in the Lusatian Lake District.

The two-story floating home will be built on a steel pontoon measuring 43 x 43 ft (13 x 13 m). The ground floor is planned 807 sq ft (75 sq m), and the first floor just 365 sq ft (34 sq m). There will also be a deck running around the perimeter of the building.

Heating via a fireplace, will feature a supersaturated solution of salt hydrates to soak up heat from the flames. The designers claim that after this solution is heated in a special tub, which is placed over the fire, and liquefies, it is capable of holding in the heat practically indefinitely. The system works similarly to a chemical hand warmer, since the solution can be made to crystallize via a radio-based technology, which releases the heat on command. There is also a back up zeolith thermal storage unit, which is located inside the pontoon. During the summer, the zeolith minerals dry out, while in winter, by circulating moist air through the pontoons an exothermic reaction occurs which releases further heat.

The home will also feature a so-called adiabatic cooling system, which doesn’t require any energy and is based on the principle of evaporative cooling. Basically, moistening a side of the house will work to draw heat out as this moisture evaporates. All the needed power will be provided by solar panels built into the actual structure of the home. The energy produced will be stored in lithium polymer batteries hidden away inside the stairs.

The home will also be off-the-grid in terms of water needs. This will be achieved by means of a closed loop system. The biological reprocessing system will be based on ceramics, photocatalysis, electrochemistry, and filtration. The entire system will be small enough to fit into the pontoon, but robust enough to handle all the water purifying needs.
When they aren’t working on their sustainable lifestyle, they …

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No debt

No Debt

As I watched this video, listening to Karen and Bob describing their life in the home they built themselves, the one phrase that really jumped out at me was “no debt”. That was their main motivation. I know (from personal experience building our own place) that they did most if not all of the work themselves, which is one of the biggest money eating parts of building, you would have to buy the materials anyhow, but doing the work yourself means YOU know what is in your place, no one else has cut corners unknown to you, I think it’s great!

I love the look and style of their home, it is warm and inviting. Watch and enjoy.

(ADDED Jan 21, 2016)
I received a message from Karen, it’s in the comments below, but I thought it best to add it here:
How cool our video got shared to this great channel! feel free to share our email and phone number if people want some more info. 520-366-1984 We are also open to visitors. There is a off-grid,alternative building get together the first sunday of every month from about 10:30 am to1pm at a friend of ours who did and earthbag dome. for directions email all are welcome!!!!

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