31 Jul The Solar Bookshelf Classic Solar Guide Has Been Updated for the Urban Set
Back in 1983, the home solar-electric industry was still in its infancy. Photovoltaics were expensive, and therefore used mostly in remote industrial applications like shipping lane buoys, offshore drilling rigs and railroad signaling equipment. But droves of people inspired by The Mother Earth News and Organic Gardening had already headed to the woods for a simpler life, by desire joining those worldwide who had no electricity by circumstance. Reading by kerosene lamp is tough on the eyes, though, and solar electricity looked like a very promising solution. Problem was, not many people knew a whole lot about it, much less how to safely design and install home-scale PV systems.
Also in 1983, Joel Davidson and Richard Komp published “The Solar Electric Home” to an enthusiastic audience of both back-to-the-landers and worldwide aid groups thirsting for practical photovoltaic knowledge, distilled from real-world experience. Mr. Davidson had one of the first PV-powered homes in the U.S., and was already writing from long experience.
Now I have in my hands “The New Solar Electric Home, Third Edition,” co-authored by Mr. Davidson and Ms. Orner and published in 2008. This 471-page, heavily illustrated tome is still “The complete guide to photovoltaics for your home,” as the subtitle says, and includes the juiciest new developments in PV, such as grid-tied urban systems that have never seen a battery and maximum power-point tracking controllers that do amazing things by juggling volts and amperes.