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Passive Water Heating

​ Passive Water Heating Passive solar hot water systems are less expensive than active systems because they do without pumps and controls. For much the same reason, passive solar water heaters tend to last... Read More »

Solar Home

​ Solar Home It doesn’t take much to live in a sun-inspired home. Passive solar design systems require no mechanical devices, but make use of 100% free sunlight. Solar homes are thoughtfully constructed... Read More »

Solar Lighting

​ Solar Lighting When it comes to light, what’s better than going straight to the source? Solar light does just that, harvesting energy from the sun to power both indoor residential light and outdoor... Read More »

Cell Types

​ Types of Solar Cells As you might remember from biology class, the process in which a parent cell splits off into two daughter cells is called mitosis (or meiosis). That process is the first step in the... Read More »

Cell Materials

​ Solar Cell Materials Rigid or flexible. Foil or plastic. Thin or thick. Solar cells come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. Solar technology is maturing, striving to grow into a streamlined and affordable... Read More »

Solar Lights

​ Solar Lights Want to illuminate your garden paths without the hassle of wires? Looking to come home to a softer glow on your front porch? Solar lights can give you these benefits and more. They are easy... Read More »

Solar Products

​ Solar Products It’s official, folks. We’ve entered the era of the green movement, and CalFinder is definitely on board. That’s why we do our best to keep up with advances in solar technology and... Read More »

Thermal Water Collectors

​ Thermal Water Heater Collectors If you want to heat your water or space using solar power, having a solar collector is essential. There are three types of collectors to choose from: flat plate, integral... Read More »

Solar Thermal Systems and Products

​ Solar Thermal Systems and Products Heating, cooling and hot water are the three primary home applications for thermal systems. Branching off from there is an ample array of thermal products. These are... Read More »

Solar Desiccant Cooling

​ Solar Desiccant Cooling The solar desiccant system, along with the solar absorption system, is a type of thermally activated cooling system (TACS). While its counterpart uses absorbed solar heat to... Read More »

Space Cooling

​ Space Cooling Solar thermal space cooling systems are types of thermally activated cooling systems (TACS). There are two types of solar systems: solar absorption systems and solar desiccant systems.... Read More »


​ Collectors Every solar thermal heating system begins with a thermal collector. These collectors draw in solar energy in the form of heat, which is trapped long enough to pass its radiation onto fluid or... Read More »

Active Space Heating

​ Active Space Heating Most homes use some type of active thermal heating system. By far the most prevalent are gas furnaces and boilers. Furnaces heat air directly, while boilers heat water for space... Read More »

Isolated Solar Gain

​ Isolated Solar Gain Isolated solar gain is one of three types of passive solar heating. The other two, direct and indirect gain, take place directly within or in close proximity to the space being... Read More »

Indirect Gain

​ Indirect Gain Passive solar heating is considered the most cost-effective residential heating choice. Unlike active solar heating, the passive method collects and transfers heat without the help of pumps... Read More »

Passive Thermal Heating

​ Passive Thermal Heating There are two primary natural sources of thermal heating here on Earth. One comes from deep below us (the planet’s molten core) and the other sits high above us, providing... Read More »

Space Heating

​ Space Heating The sun is our most powerful heater. Every day it brightens and warms our Earth - it is the very lifeblood of every species on the planet. Solar thermal space heating can be incorporated... Read More »

Thermal Energy

​ Thermal Energy Thermal energy rises and falls with the temperature. In other words, thermal energy is heat, and it isn’t hard to see how it deeply affects our daily lives. In summertime, thermal... Read More »

Photovoltaic Cells

​ Photovoltaic Cells Broken down, the two root words “photo” and “voltaic” mean “light” and “electricity.” So it’s no wonder that photovoltaic (PV) cells are essentially solar-electric... Read More »

Solar Electric Power

Solar Electric Power ​From financing options to the different ways you can use it in your home, solar energy comes with a myriad of possibilities. At CalFinder, we’re constantly updating our solar library... Read More »

Thin-film Solar Cells

Thin-film solar cells are a rapidly growing category of solar photovoltaic cells that directly convert solar energy into electricity usable within the home. Thin-film cells consist of one or more layers of... Read More »

Solar Roof Tiles

As solar technology continues along an upward trend of advancement, the outcome is solar equipment that better suits the public’s demand for more eye-pleasing devices and increased utility. Solar roof... Read More »

Solar Water Walls

Water walls are effective because they provide thermal mass and quicker heat exchange than concrete or masonry. According to Solar Today, water walls offer a 10 to 20 percent advantage over slightly larger... Read More »

Thermal Expansion Tanks

Expansion tanks are necessary in closed-loop solar thermal water heating systems. In these systems, the potable water supply never enters the solar collectors. Instead, a propylene glycol solution (water and... Read More »

Passive Solar Heating

There are two methods of solar heating: active and passive. Active solar heating requires the use of pumps or fans to move and direct solar heat. This method can be further broken down to liquid- and air-based... Read More »

Solar Loans

From solar roofing to solar pool heating and everything in between, there are many practical uses for solar energy in the home. Depending on how you want to collect and harvest solar energy, costs for... Read More »

Solar Cells

What Are Solar Cells? A solar cell, also known as a photovoltaic (PV) cell, is a device that converts light energy into electrical energy. Solar cells and PV cells are basically synonymous. One... Read More »

Solar Energy Facts

In today’s environmentally conscious society, renewable energy is becoming less and less an option and more and more a necessity. Solar energy is one of the major players in renewable energy. Most people... Read More »

Solar Screens

Shading is a given in most homes. Windows must be covered for privacy and protection from the sun’s glare. Solar shading provides both these assets, at the same time reducing solar transmittance by up to... Read More »

Air Conditioning Solar Style:  Desiccant Dehumidifier

A desiccant dehumidifier is another name for a desiccant cooling system and may be more apt when adding solar energy to the equation. Most desiccant dehumidifiers use solid desiccants, over which warm, moist... Read More »

The Functions of a Thermal Actuator

Thermal actuators have a few functions for solar thermal systems. In home systems, they typically act as a safety mechanism to prevent water freezing in the collectors or pipes. In utility-scale... Read More »

Heating the Home with Thermal Pumps

Better known as heat pumps, thermal pumps are most commonly used as part of alternative energy systems to heat and cool a home. They draw thermal energy from any number of sources, including heat from the... Read More »

Solar Pavers Ligthing the Way

Driveways, pathways, patios and decks all stand to benefit from the wireless LED perks of solar pavers. Benefits of solar lighting include safety, easy installation and environmental friendliness. Solar... Read More »

What are Solar Panels and How Do They Work?

Solar panels are used to convert sunlight into electricity or heat. Photovoltaic (PV) technology generates electricity from sunlight. In a solar-powered home, PV cells are configured together into a series... Read More »

Lanterns Powered by Solar Electricity

Before electricity, we lived by lantern light. And today when we leave electricity behind to go camping or say, to climb up to the creepy attic, we often live by lantern once again. In the age of... Read More »

Solar Pathway Lights Leading the Way

Solar pathway lights, garden lights and landscape lights are fairly interchangeable terms. You’ll hear all three in reference to the same lighting design, which is typically a ground stake light that... Read More »

Solar Floodlights and Spotlights

Floodlights provide an even spread of lighting across a wide area. They’re common above garage doors, sheds, patios and entryways, and represent the more powerful side of solar lighting. Most solar... Read More »

Deck and Patio Lights Powered by Solar

A little extra lighting is always useful on a deck or patio. Well-placed lights enhance both safety and style, as well as extend the usefulness of your deck long into the night. Solar-powered lights offer an... Read More »

Solar Driveway Lights

If the sun shines there, solar power can light it up. The added fact that it requires no electric wiring  makes solar lighting especially diverse in its applications, one of those applications being the... Read More »

Leading the High Efficiency Charge: 3-D Solar Cells

Three-dimensional solar cells are yet another front in the quest for high efficiency, low-cost solar cells. 3-D cells can capture nearly all the light that strikes them, greatly boosting the efficiency of... Read More »

Organic and Inorganic Cells Combine to Make Hybrid Solar Cells

Hybrid solar cells combine organic and inorganic semiconductor materials in their cell structure. More specifically, organic polymers that absorb light and act as "electron donors" are combined with... Read More »

CIS Solar Cells

Copper indium selenide (CIS) solar cells are a precursor to copper indium gallium selenide (CIGS) cells. In fact, the acronym CIS is sometimes used interchangeably with CIGS. The two types of cells are very... Read More »

Heterojunction and Multi-Junction Solar Cells

Multi-junction, or heterojunction, solar cells are a type of thin-film solar cell. Most thin-film solar cells are inherently multi-junction. That’s because a multi-junction cell consists of two or more... Read More »

Active Solar Water Heating for the Home

An active solar hot water system, as opposed to its passive counterpart, uses electric fans or pumps to push heated water through the system and throughout the house. There are a few types of active solar... Read More »

Solar Water Heating the Passive Way

Believe it or not, you can be aggressive about solar water heating while remaining completely passive. The trick is to scrap all those pumps, fans and blowers. Just let gravity, convection, and the unending... Read More »

Direct Solar Evaporative Cooling for Your Home

Direct evaporative cooling, most common in residential settings, uses an open circuit design and is most closely related to the primitive coolers long used in hot, low humidity climates. It quite simply and... Read More »

Direct Gain for Solar at its Simplest

Direct gain is considered the simplest passive solar technique. Passive solar heating itself requires less maintenance than active solar heating, which relies on mechanical devices to distribute heat.... Read More »

Increased Efficiency of Quantum Dot Solar Cells

"Quantum dot" is another name for a nanocrystal solar cell, a cell type comprised of a silicon base, or substrate, with a coating of nanocrystals. The primary advantage quantum dots offer the world... Read More »

Carbon Nanotube Solar Cells

Carbon nanotubes stand at the forefront of solar cell technology. Subsequently, they are still embedded in the research and experimental phase. Carbon nanotube solar cells are extremely small. In fact,... Read More »

Multicrystalline or Polycrystalline Solar Cells

Polycrystalline or multicrystalline (poly-Si or mc-Si) cells are first-generation silicon-based solar cells. They’re related to monocrystalline solar cells and are cheaper to produce. They are,... Read More »

CIGS Solar Cells

Copper-indium-gallium-selenide (CIGS) solar cells are a rising star amongst thin-film solar technologies. CIGS cells have long shown promise in the race to develop an efficient low-cost solar cell, reaching... Read More »

It’s a GaAs: Gallium Arsenide Solar Cells

Gallium arsenide (GaAs) solar cells are known for two things: high conversion efficiency and a high price tag. Made from gallium and arsenic, GaAs cells are most famous for their use in outer space and on... Read More »

Amorphous Silicon Solar Cells

If you’ve ever used a solar-powered calculator, then you’ve used an amorphous silicon solar cell. Conventional or bulk silicon solar cells are made by cutting thin wafers of silicon from a long... Read More »

Father of Modern Solar Power: Monocrystalline Solar Cells

The monocrystalline solar cell (c-Si) is the father of modern solar power. These single-crystal silicon cells are made from cylindrical ingots (an oblong block of silicon) by carefully sawing off thin wafers... Read More »

Advanced Thin-Film Solar Cells

Advanced thin-film is another term for third-generation solar cells. First generation cells include crystalline silicon wafer cells, which are the most efficient cells out today but also have high... Read More »

Cutting Edge Technology: Spray-On Solar Cells

Spray-on solar cells are at the cutting edge of solar technology. Currently in development, they carry with them the Solar Holy Grail promise of cheap, effective, easily-produced solar energy. Potential... Read More »

Solar Photovoltaic Cost Analysis

There are several different factors that go into figuring the cost of a solar PV system. There are also up front costs, rebates and rate of payback to be considered. Up Front Costs Up front costs are... Read More »

Coverting Sunlight into Reusable Electricity, the Solar Inverter

A solar inverter is an integral component of a solar generator. It can be purchased separately or in conjunction with a solar panel, controller, and battery for a fully functioning system. When purchasing an... Read More »

Cooling Your Home with Indirect Evaporation

Indirect evaporative cooling is very similar to direct cooling but for the fact that this system uses some sort of heat exchanger. The hot, dry air is drawn into the cooler just as in a direct system and is... Read More »

Active Thermal Cooling

The very act of cooling involves the transfer of thermal energy. Conventional compressor-based air conditioning systems work by expelling thermal energy (heat) from the inside of the home to the outdoors.... Read More »

Cooking Using a Solar Oven

There are many ways to utilize solar power without the cost of expensive equipment. Cooking with a solar oven is one of them. According to a recent article by the San Francisco Chronicle, solar ovens range... Read More »

Solar Cell Components, Generation by Generation

A solar cell, or photovoltaic (PV) cell, is itself a component of a solar panel, or module. Solar cells are made of a material, usually silicon, that acts as a semiconductor. The silicon is cut into a... Read More »

Carbon-based Solar Cells, an Alternative to Silicon Wafers

Photovoltaic (PV) solar cells using carbon nanotube conductive coatings and circuits are underway to becoming one of the latest alternatives to silicon-based PV cells. Alternatives to the silicon wafer in... Read More »

Thermal Water Heating for Your Home

Water heating is a thermodynamic process, meaning that any type of water heater you use requires thermal energy to work. In today’s modern home, with ever-advancing technologies and choices, the... Read More »

Two-Stage Evaporative Coolers

Conventional evaporative coolers, also known as swamp coolers, have followed two separate designs: direct and indirect coolers. The former passes warm air directly through moist pads, which invoke evaporation... Read More »

Space Cooling with Solar Thermal Chillers

On a residential scale, solar thermal energy is best known and widely used for heating domestic water supply. Yet solar thermal technology has a much more unorthodox, seemingly paradoxical use: space... Read More »

Differences Between Solar and Thermal Power

Unlike photovoltaic solar power, which is used to generate electricity, solar thermal power systems are specifically designed to collect, absorb, and distribute heat. Solar thermal power is primarily used... Read More »

Solar Roof Ponds

Roof ponds sound may sound murky, but rest assured. They are actually quite tidy, dark-colored water beds placed on the roof. The dark color helps attract solar heat, which the roof ponds store throughout... Read More »

Trombe Wall

The Trombe wall is a passive solar technique, one built into a home’s design without the ongoing need for mechanical devices. No moving parts means no maintenance requirements. In addition, a room heated... Read More »

Air Based Solar Heating Systems

There are two different ways to capture the sun’s rays and to convert them into heat; either passively or actively. Passive methods don’t utilize equipment; whereas, active gathering does use fans, pumps or... Read More »

Flat plate Liquid Solar Collectors

In active solar space heating, the collector is a main component in the process. There are different types of collectors, but for the purposes of this article, we are going to focus on the flat-plate collector.... Read More »

Solar Flat Plate Air Collectors

In order to create a solar energy system, you need some method of collection. We learn as children the effects the sun’s rays through a magnifying glass, and collecting solar energy is not much different,... Read More »

Liquid Based Solar Heating

Solar energy is the wave of the future. World-wide, more and more homes are converting to solar energy; and researchers are working hard to make solar energy more competitive and affordable. A fairly... Read More »

Solar Ventilation Fans for a Wide Variety of Applications

Solar ventilation fans serve the same purpose as solar gable fans or solar attic fans; in fact, the terms are often used interchangeably. For our purposes, the solar ventilation fan simply has a wider variety... Read More »

Solar Gable Fan

Solar gable fans focus primarily on attic ventilation, contributing to the air flow of the entire home in the process. They are mounted onto the exterior of a gable end – the hat portion of an exterior wall... Read More »

Solar Cooling Tower, aka Solar Chimney

The solar cooling tower is a passive cooling technique which has been utilized for centuries to cool homes and other structures. A solar cooling tower is actually a sort of geothermal/solar power combination.... Read More »

Solar Misting Systems

Misting systems have a wide variety of home uses, from greenhouse watering to cooling patios to watering landscape and cooling pet runs. In the greenhouse, a misting system consists of pipes or tubes... Read More »

Liquid Desiccant Cooling, a New Technology

Liquid desiccant cooling is a new technology. Instead of using air passed over solid desiccants, as desiccant dehumidifiers do, a liquid system uses a water-lithium chloride solution as a sorption material.... Read More »

Solar Air Conditioning - Compressor Cooling

Solar compressor coolers are similar to conventional air conditioning or refrigeration systems. However, solar energy is utilized to power the electrical compressor, where air is compressed and heated further... Read More »

Solar Pool Heaters

Aside from the initial cost of the equipment, solar pool heaters cost nothing to operate because they run completely on free solar energy. The premise is this: the sun heats water located in a collector, and... Read More »

Solar Pool Cover

The greatest loss of heat in a pool occurs at its surface because of evaporation. In general, pool covers reduce this evaporation and help keep the water warm and clean. Unlike average pool covers, solar... Read More »

Solar Lights for the Home

Solar lights indoors? It’s possible. In fact, by now it’s quite widespread, in city buildings as well as in homes. Your residential lighting can be powered by solar energy in various ways. Here’s how.... Read More »

Solar Home Plans

While no two solar homes are exactly the same, most are built using the same basic principals. This article will highlight some of the elements that give a home enough efficiency, utility, and... Read More »

Four Generations of Solar Cells

As solar photovoltaic (PV) technology advances, solar cells, the electricity-producing heart of the solar panel, have been divided into four categories or generations. These represent a sort of timeline of... Read More »

Organic Solar Cells

Organic photovoltaic cells are considered among the third generation of solar cells. Simply put, they use organic materials for light absorption and transporting electric charges. Potential advantages... Read More »

Nanocrystal Solar Cells

Nanocrystal, or quantum dot solar cells are part of what is called the 4th generation of solar cell technology. They are considered to be a part of the future of solar power but at this time are still deep... Read More »

RV Solar Panels

Solar energy can be found anywhere the sun shines. You can even collect it on the open road with portable solar equipment. Often configured with little or no wiring, solar panels for the RV just need to be... Read More »

Solar Swamp Cooling

Swamp cooling, or evaporative cooling, is a simple and time-tested type of air conditioning. It is both low cost and low technology, using as little as one quarter the amount of electricity as standard air... Read More »

Solar Absorption for Cooling

A solar absorption system is one of two commonly used thermally activated cooling systems (TACS). The other is a solar desiccant system. Solar absorption systems use solar heat to separate a mixture of... Read More »

Easy Water Storage and Heating: Integral Collectors

Integral Collector systems (ICS) are one of three types of solar hot water collectors. What differentiates ICS from evacuated tube and flat plate collectors is that the water itself is the collector. While... Read More »

Thermosiphon Creates A Natural Pumping System

Thermosiphon is a type of passive solar water heating that utilizes convection to heat water. Water passes through a closed-loop circuit that is vertical and thus needs no mechanical devices or pumps. It is... Read More »

Solar Power Poised for Growth and Development

There are worldwide concerns about energy as well as global warming and greenhouse gas emissions, leading many countries to more aggressively pursue alternative and cleaner energy sources. Solar is one of the... Read More »

Solar Tubular Lights

For both skylights and tubular solar lights, the objective is to expose the indoors to natural light. This adds to the brightness and comfort of the room while saving the homeowner money through reduced... Read More »

Evacuated Tube Collectors

Among the three types of solar collectors, evacuated tube collectors reach the highest temperatures at 170 to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. They are also about twice the cost of flat plate collectors. Flat plate... Read More »

Solar Sunspaces

The term “sunspace” is used interchangeably with “sunroom” and “greenhouse.” But there are differences between the three words, depending on intended use. Sunroom is a general term for home... Read More »

Flat Plate Solar Collector

If you want to find out more about flat plate solar collectors, it’s likely because they’re the most common type of solar collector used for space, water, or pool heating in the home. These collectors... Read More »

Integral Collector Storage

If you’re looking to save money on operation and maintenance costs while utilizing free power, passive solar heating is for you. Passive solar heating garners energy from the sun without the use of... Read More »

Solar Generators

A solar generator consists of various parts, each working together to generate electricity that can power your home. The solar generator is made from the following elements:solar... Read More »

Solar Garden Lights

There are so many benefits to solar lights. They don’t need wiring so they are easy to install and move around. Aside from sunlight, they require no energy source, saving money and sparing further costs on... Read More »

Solar Water Heater

In warm climates, solar water heaters can meet about 60 to 70 percent of a home’s hot water needs annually. Capabilities drop during the winter and in colder climates. Because of this, solar water heaters... Read More »