Category Archives: Technology

Reasons to Switch to LED Christmas Lights

This holiday season nearly everyone is looking for ways to save money, by shopping wisely and making gifts and wrappings. One are that should be considered is to switch from incandescent lighting to LED Christmas lights. LED will save you money and give you a peace of mind as this technology offers improved savings and safety.

If all decorative light strings that are sold in the US this holiday season are Energy Star qualified, over 700 million kilowatt hours would be saved and the equivalent of 100,000 emissions from cars would be reduced in greenhouse gases in one year. Here are some additional reasons to switch to LED holiday lighting:

led lights1. Energy efficiency. LED uses over 70% less energy and on average lasts 10 times longer.

2. Improved safety. LED lights remain cool to the touch. Reduces fire risk of lighting on the evergreen decorations and contact burns.

3. Solid-state reliability. Technology does not require each light on string to be in operation for the light string to operate.

4. Durability. LED lights are enclosed in an epoxy casing, versus the fragile glass bulbs of incandescent bulbs.

5. Improved lifespan. Incandescent lights typically only provide 2,000, while LED lamps are rated for at least 50,000 hours of service.

6. No filaments to burn out. LED lighting does not require filaments, which burnout and can be easily damaged.

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Why Teach Fuel Cells?

Renewable technology now plays an important role in the modern science classroom, introducing children to the astonishing potential of alternative sources of energy. However, while most children have heard of solar panels or wind turbines, fuel cell technology still remains a mystery to many. Yet this is a crucial time, with the mass production of hybrid fuel cell vehicles, the construction of hydrogen refueling infrastructure in the EU and America and international telecom companies increasingly turning to fuel cells for their energy needs. Fuel cells have an enormous amount to teach, both in terms of key scientific principals and their relevance to the greentech innovations happening all around us.

Hydrogen fuel cells

Fuel cells are bursting with fascinating science! The key process of a hydrogen fuel cell is the conversion of hydrogen atoms into electrical energy by separating the nucleus from the electron. The electrons are then diverted around an electric circuit while the positively charged hydrogen ions travel through the proton exchange membrane. Then there’s the generation of hydrogen itself—the separation of hydrogen from oxygen through water electrolysis, the hydrogen molecules with a slight positive charge travelling to the cathode while the slightly negatively charge oxygen is attracted to the anode. Molecular bonding, valancy, ions, electrolytes and so much more, just from one alternative technology.

Other types of cell

While hydrogen dominates the headlines at the moment, other fuel cells have enormous educational potential. Direct ethanol fuel cells are in many ways the most efficient power generators of the Horizon education range. The process lasts for hours, does not require combustion, and is completely silent. Saltwater fuel cells operate a little differently, generating electricity through a saltwater electrolyte with magnesium plates around the anode.  Thermal cells convert the temperature difference between hot and cold water into electrical energy. One of the key lessons of these alternative fuel cells is just how vast and varied the science is—and how many options we would have if we truly embraced a fuel cell economy.

Sustainability

With most of our education kits we try to integrate more varieties of alternative technology to enable students to build self-sustaining renewable energy systems. Wind turbines or photo voltaic panels power the electrolyzer to separate out hydrogen from water. The fuel cell converts hydrogen to electrical energy which then powers a propeller or LED— a great way to demonstrate the principles of energy conservation and conversion. Also, students also get to study things like the effect of shade on solar panels, wind resistance, the optimum number of blades for effective wind energy generation and many other tests and experiments.

Universal Ideas

The addition of fuel cell and renewable technology to the science curriculum doesn’t mean that the basics principles of physics and chemistry are somehow overlooked. In fact our fuel cell education sets reveal the workings of water electrolysis, the electrical circuit, resistance, voltage, current, RPM and everything else a conventional lithium battery electrochemistry svet can supply. Plus, extra features such as the Renewable Energy Monitor allow teachers and students to not only measure energy, but also take this data and view it graphically in real time on a computer screen.

Fuel cells are the future of emergency backup power, transportation, aerospace, telecommunication support and so much more. With a carbon-neutral world fast approaching, it’s time we introduced students to this crucial technology and started inspiring the next generation of scientists to push the boundaries of renewable science.

http://www.horizonfuelcell.com

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Benefits of Solar Power for Outdoor Lighting

Harness the power of the sun with solar powered lighting. There is free electricity readily available in your own backyard. Outdoor solar lights are easy to install and are virtually maintenance free. Solar lighting makes the perfect complement to your energy-efficient landscape.

Solar Lighting Benefits:

• Low energy costs. After equipment purchase, the sun provides all of the necessary power.

solar security light

• Minimal maintenance. Solar products typically have a limited number of moving parts, which eliminates the need to replace parts due to breakage and wear.

• Zero emissions. Solar products use the power resource without any resulting waste material.

• Off grid power needs. Solar lights continue working even if there has been a power outage. Because the energy isn’t coming off of an electrical grid, power outages make no difference.

• Portability. You can use solar lighting to light homes, cabins, campsites, backyards or RVs in remote locations. With no power lines to run, using solar power may be a cheaper.

• Easy installation. The majority of outdoor solar lighting has no confusing wires that must be connected to your main electrical system. Setting up your lights can be as simple as hanging them on a tree or staking them into the ground.

These advantages extend to both the wallet and the environment. In addition to all of this, the benefits of solar lighting are only destined to increase as solar technology advances.

Solar Lighting Placement

•  Place lights in areas that will receive direct sunlight. Placement in shaded areas will result in poor lighting performance.

•  Consider installing  a variety of products for the various applications, including walkway, festive, security and standard lighting applications.

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Eco Tip: Reduce Vampire Power

On average, US homes waste $100 a year on vampire power losses. These losses occur when many rechargeable products, such as cell phone, camera, mp3 and navigation device chargers and other home electronics continue to draw electric power after fully charging.  You can take the following steps to reduce the cost of vampire energy loss:

  • Unplug devices when not in use
  • Unplug video game consoles
  • Power off your monitor when you are not using it instead of using screen savers
  • Turn off all printers and peripherals unless you are using them consider using an ink-jet printer
  • Use Smart Surge Protectors

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Benefits of Residential Solar Panels

The Benefits of Residential Solar Panels

The environmental impact of installing solar panels are evident. The installation of residential solar panels will reduce the size of your carbon footprint and your share of greenhouse gases that are produced annually. As you go through the decision-making process of determining the feasibility of installing residential solar panels, here are a few key points to consider:
  • Start-up Costs - You can reduce the substantial initial outlay by taking advantage of incentives and tax rebates.
  • Self sufficiency and independence -The ability to get of the grid can be liberating. You can also remove a bit of market volatility that can be caused by terrorism, natural disasters and market forces.
  • Return on Investment - The initial purchase of solar panels is obviously a substantial investment, but energy genera
  • solar panelstion starts immediately, resulting in immediate savings on electrical costs. After the initial outlay is covered, in 10 – 15 years, the system will provide pure profit.
  • Remote Installation - Cabins, sailboats, RV’s, these are great places to see the advantages of solar energy. Solar power is often much more cost effective to establish in remote areas than conventional power infrastructure.
  • Environmental Impact - The use of solar energy produces no emissions or noise pollution.
  • Home equity - Passive solar layout & landscaping concepts increase the value of a home.
  • System Longevity - Solar panels have the capability of collecting energy for 40 plus years and manufacturers typically warranty the systems for 20 to 25 years.

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Benefits of Indoor Air Purifiers

Why Use an Air Purifier?

Indoor air pollution is widely recognized as one of the top environmental health risks.

Health effects
Symptoms can be mild and non-specific such as headaches, tiredness or lethargy; similar to colds and flu such as irritated eyes, nose or throat; or more severe such as aggravation of asthma or allergic responses. People who are more susceptible to air pollutants including newborns, young children, elderly people, heart patients, people with bronchitis, asthma, hay fever or emphysema, and smokers.

Pets and Pollen
Many animal allergens (from cats, dogs, birds or even cockroaches) can also spell problems for some people. The allergens are usually contained in the animal’s droppings, saliva or dander (tiny skin scales) and can become airborne when small particles dry and fall off. In people sensitive to them, inhaling these allergens can trigger a reaction in the lungs or nose, through asthma or hay fever.

Moulds and Mildew
These are fine, often invisible spores become airborne and can be inhaled. Damp areas in the house are a perfect place for mold and fungal growth, as are water-damaged carpets and building materials.
In people sensitive to mould spores, inhaling them can cause various allergic reactions. Mould can also produce poisons known as mycotoxins which, when absorbed, can sometimes affect the nervous system. Some fungi can also infect various parts of the body, particularly the lungs and skin.

Air Purifiers can eliminate these pollutants leaving the air clean and fresh.

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Benefits of Solar Hot Water Heating

A solar hot water system can not only be a conscientious purchase for the environment, but the installation can also provide real and practical benefits for the consumer or homeowner.
Personal benefits of a solar hot water system include:

Solar Water Heater

  • Environmentally friendly by reducing greenhouse emissions by reducing the usage of electric or gas water heater
  • Reduce your energy bills, hot water accounts for 20 – 30% of the average homeowner’s energy costs.
  • Increased home value – A study by the Appraisal Institute have determined that people are willing to pay more for homes with solar hot water systems.
  • Extends the expected life of your residential hot water tank by dramatically reducing scaling
  • Increased hot water – hot water systems can be installed with larger storage tanks to maximize the amount of heat captured by the sun.

According to the EESI, residential solar water heater systems cost between $1,500 and $3,500, compared to $150 to $450 for electric and gas heaters. With savings in electricity or natural gas, solar water heaters pay for themselves within four to eight years. And solar water heaters last between 15 and 40 years–the same as conventional systems–so after that initial payback period is up, zero energy cost essentially means having free hot water for years to come.

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Hill Country Solar Tour – Saturday Oct. 12, 2013

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Join the Hill Country Solar Tour, a collaboration of TXSES, Pedernales Electric Cooperative, and in conjunction with the American Solar Energy Society National Tour, the world’s largest grassroots solar event. The tour will take place next to Oak Hill and the surrounding areas, and it will feature homes with solar installations and other green features.

This year’s tour will feature opening presentations on solar energy, a solar car workshopPEC_Hill_Country_Solar_Tour_1 for kids ages nine and up and a solar and energy-efficiency exhibit.
9:00AM – 11:00AM:   The day begins at the PEC Oak Hill Office with Cathy Redson’s popular Solar 101 class, a presentation that is well worth a second visit if you have heard her before. Larry Howe from Plano Solar Advocates will discuss his organization’s successful Solarize Plano project that organized interested residents in his community to negotiate a group purchase of solar installations for their homes. Dr. Gary Vliet will conduct his energetic Solar Model Car Workshop for kids (9 years and up please), buiding and racing the finished product.
11:00AM – 3:30PM:  The self-guided tour of five solar powered homes spans the territory from just off FItzhugh Rd. all the way to Blanco, with projects in between. You need not travel in any special order to see these homes, nor are you required to attend the presentations (though there is much to learn!). The tour is free and we will post the addresses of the homes closer to the tour date. Tour guidebooks will be available  at the PEC Oak Hill office on tour day, at the homes, and in .pdf form on this website.
Tour Preview:
Traildriver in Big Country, 78737
Duvall house_final_0.jpg 
Builder/Solar PV Installer - Native
Just completed in the summer of 2013, this 3,200 sq.ft. home for a family of five was built with a 6kW solar array, rainwater collection, geothermal HVAC, Energy Star appliances and heat pump water heaters. Siting the home for solar energy collection and passive solar design features were crucial to
energy efficiency and comfort.
Harris Dr. in Belterra, 78737
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Solar PV Installer - Longhorn Solar
Built in 2008, this 2,530 sq.ft. home in a traditional suburban subdivision was retrofitted for a 5kW solar array in 2013. Prior to the installation, the owners made sure their home was energy efficient by adding extra insulation, solar screens and double pane windows. This is the first ‘visible from the street’ solar array in this subdivision.Thanks to the Belterra HOA for their open minded attitude regarding the adoption of solar.
Twin Oaks Trail west of Dripping Springs, 78620
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Solar PV Installer- Freedom Solar
Designer, Builder and Solar Thermal Installer-Z Works Design Build
This home has both solar thermal for hot water and 7.3 kW solar PV for electricity. Built in 2012, it was designed, sited on the property and built for energy efficiency, comfort and beauty. Insulated concrete forms the walls and structural insulated panels (SIPS) the ceilings. A 28,000 gallon rainwater catchment system supplies all their water.
RR 165 between Henly and Blanco
Lochridge house.jpg
The air conditioned space for this 18 year old home is 1500 sq.ft. The solar configuration is a combination of both grid tied (interconnected to Pedernales Electric Co-op) and off grid (stand alone) production. The grid tied array is 2.46kW on a single axis tracking device. The off grid .7kW array is
on a fixed pole mount.
Misty River Run, Blanco
Pitts_house final 3.jpg
Built in 2010, this 1,144 sq.ft. home was planned and constructed to be extremely energy efficient. The 2.7 kW solar array is your first clue, but there is more. Deep porches, a metal roof, geothermal heating and cooling (efficient also for hot water), thick walls and ceilings  and a modest footprint all contribute to a sustainable lifestyle.
               Hill Country Solar Tour, Saturday October 12, 11:00-3:30

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Advantages of Solar Chargers

There are several advantages to using portable solar chargers and solar panels. First of all, they are eco and environmentally friendly. They do not emit harmful waste, and can be used anytime and anywhere as long as there is access to sunlight.

Freeloader Solar Charger

A solar battery charger is a device used to power electronics batteries without the use of a power outlet. They are easy to make use of and do not require a great deal of attention. You simply connect the battery to a charger that has solar panels and allow the sun do the rest. The solar panel will collect power from the sun and translate it to electricity. That is accomplished by use of small solar cells within the charger that translates the sunlight into electricity.

Solar Chargers are a convenient source of power in remote areas, on field trips, or when hiking and camping out. They can recharge batteries, cell phones, or other gadgets in any location. In addition to being convenient, solar chargers are a clean energy source and do not cause pollution or other harmful emissions while creating electricity. They also reduce the need for disposable batteries, and thus reduce the overall volume of harmful chemicals and toxic waste that ends up in landfills.

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Solar Wild Grass Garden Lights

The Solar Wild Grass Lights use solar power to provide a beautiful, eco-friendly lighting feature to your garden or landscape. The lights come in a set of 3 sprigs of fiber optic lights that can be arranged in a variety of ways, each leaf can be manipulated for the desired look. Wild-Grass-Solar-Garden-Lights.-3-LED-Lights-400x243

The Solar Wild Grass Lights are powered by a 0.2 watt solar panel that chargers a 500mAh rechargeable NiMH battery. The battery can provide around 6 hours of lighting for the wild grass sprigs from only 8 hours of sunlight. The grass lights achieve this as they use 3 LED bulbs, one per sprig, to provide the lighting. The grass lights turn on automatically as dusk approaches by the light sensor.

These are absolutely gorgeous and stylish lights for lighting up flowers, steps and patio seating area. 1 pack includes 3 LED lights connected with 1 solar panel on with stake.

 

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