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Power from the Sun: A Practical Guide to Solar Electricity [Paperback]

Dan Chiras
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)

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Book Description

September 1, 2009 0865716218 978-0865716216 First Edition

Easy-to-understand, accurate, and comprehensive, this is the guide for anyone interested in installing a solar electric system.

Power from the Sun provides a basic understanding of electricity, solar energy and the sun, and solar site assessment. It discusses the types of photovoltaics (PVs) and PV systems, advances in PVs, charge controllers, inverters, batteries, and generators, as well as the installation and maintenance of a PV system.

This book is written for the layperson and is designed to raise the solar electricity literacy of readers. It provides a great overview of the many options available and is designed to help homeowners make wise decisions during the design, purchase, and installation of solar electric systems—and save a lot of money.

Providing readers with the knowledge necessary to communicate effectively with PV installers, Power From the Sun is a great guide for homeowners, business owners, installers, architects, building department officials, utility company employees, and just about anyone else who wants to lower their energy bills or achieve greater energy independence.

Dan Chiras is president of Sustainable Systems Design, Inc., a residential renewable energy and green building consulting firm, and is director of The Evergreen Institute’s Center for Renewable Energy and Green Building, which offers workshops on residential renewable energy and green building. He is an internationally acclaimed speaker and author and has published twenty-five books, including The Homeowner’s Guide to Renewable Energy and Power from the Wind.

Frequently Bought Together

Power from the Sun: A Practical Guide to Solar Electricity + Solar Electricity Handbook - 2014 Edition: A Simple Practical Guide to Solar Energy - Designing and Installing Photovoltaic Solar Electric Systems + Photovoltaic Design and Installation For Dummies
Price for all three: $54.00

Buy the selected items together

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Dan Chiras is an internationally acclaimed author who has published over 24 books, including The Homeowner's Guide to Renewable Energy. He is a certified wind site assessor and has installed several residential wind systems. Dan lives in a passive solar home in Evergreen, Colorado.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: New Society Publishers; First Edition edition (September 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0865716218
  • ISBN-13: 978-0865716216
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 7.4 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #502,775 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Dan Chiras paid his last electric bill in June of 1996. It is not that he has disavowed the use
of electricity and modern conveniences, but rather that he has turned to the sun and wind
to meet his family's needs.

In 1995, Dan, a former full-time college professor with years of experience in sustainable
development, built a state-of-the-art rammed earth tire and straw bale home in
Evergreen, Colorado. He installed solar electric panels on the roof; a year or so later he
installed a small wind generator. Since that time, he has met nearly all of his electrical
needs for his home and office from these clean, renewable sources.

Dan also heats his home in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains 8000-feet above sea level
with energy from the sun thanks to passive solar design. For backup heat on those cold
winter nights, he burns a cord of wood a year, gathered free from his community. His
annual gas bill, mostly for showers and cooking, runs about $120 a year - about $2 to $3
per month for natural gas and $10 per month to read the meter!

Dan has spent much of the past 30 years studying sustainability and applying what he has
learned in solar energy, natural building, and green building to his residences, and most of
the last ten years sharing the practical knowledge he has gained through writing, lectures,
slide shows, and workshops.

Dan has published 21 books to date including several college and high school textbooks:
Environmental Science: Creating a Sustainable Future, Natural Resource Conservation,
Human Biology, and Biology: The Web of Life. His high school environmental
science text, Environmental Science, was selected as the official book of the U.S.
Academic Decathlon's 1991 competition.

In the early 1990s, Dan published two trade books on environmental issues and
sustainability for a general audience: Beyond the Fray: Reshaping America's
Response and Lessons from Nature: Learning to Live Sustainably on the

Since 1995, Dan has focused most of his attention on residential green building. He
has written extensively on the subject. His is books include: The Natural House: A
Complete Guide to Healthy, Energy Efficient, Environmental Homes; The Natural Plaster
Book; The Solar House: Passive Heating and Cooling; Superbia! 31 Ways to Create
Sustainable Suburbs; and The New Ecological Home.

His newest book, EcoKids: Raising Kids Who Care for the Earth will be
published in the Spring of 2005 by New Society Publishers.

Dan also writes extensively for magazines, journals, newsletters, and newspapers. He
has published nearly 250 articles on environmental issues, sustainability, natural building,
natural plaster, green building, and passive solar heating and cooling. His articles appear
regularly in Home Power, Mother Earth News, Natural Home, and The Last

Dan also writes frequently for World Book Encyclopedia (Science Year) and
Encyclopedia Americana. He authored a 12-page article on the environment for
Encyclopedia Americana. Dan has written environmental pollution section for
World Book Encyclopedia's annual publication, Science Year, since 1993.
In 1997, he wrote an extensive piece for World Book on population growth and its
many implications. Dan also wrote the ecology and air pollution sections for
Encyclopedia Americana.

In addition to his writing, Dan has served as an adjunct professor at the University of
Colorado in Denver and the University of Colorado at Denver. He has been a visiting
professor at the University of Washington, where he taught a course on environmental
science. He currently is a Melon Visiting Professor at Colorado College where he teaches
courses on renewable energy, ecological design, and sustainable development.

Through his writing and teaching in the 1980s and early 1990s, Dan played a leading
role in promoting critical thinking, an understanding of the root causes of environmental
issues, systemic solutions to environmental problems, sustainable development. He
pioneered a systems approach to sustainable development and has played a lead role in
articulating the principles, policies, and practices of sustainable development which seeks
ways that business and society can prosper within a healthy environment. He is currently
focusing most of his research and writing on sustainable building and sustainable

Dan's free time is spent mountain biking, canoeing, playing music, and gardening.

For more information visit

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book for anyone novice to expert September 3, 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Great book for anyone novice to expert. I am a retired multi-skilled technician with an extensive background in electronics and electrical fields. I found this book very informative for anyone interested in finding out more on solar panels and/or practicle installations. One can choose to get in great depth or just fundamentals. It is a great book.
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not a DIY installation guide October 19, 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The book seems quite in depth of a primer for understanding solar power systems, but I got the impression (several references to 'installation' in the description) that there would be information on installation. It wasn't only until the very last few pages that it touched on installation and it was a list of questions to ask an installer. Truly sustainable home building should be accessible to DIYers, not just professionals (otherwise, it lacks a certain sense of sustainability in that people are unable to be self-reliant). I'll have to look elsewhere.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book January 26, 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Great book and breaks down the concepts and math of solar power into digestable bites.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Covers the topic well December 25, 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I bought this book because I was looking to educate myself about solar water heating. This book does not address hot water heating head-on. Instead, this book focus exclusively on generating electricity. However, I still enjoyed reading the book and because the two topics are so closely related, I was able to learn a great deal and this book really did help me pick a contractor to install a solar hot water system in my home. The book is readable, authoritative, comprehensive where solar PV systems are concerned, and quite helpful. And what a great topic. Hopefully more folks will do as I'm doing and actually save money and help reduce carbon emmissions at the same time.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
My favorite part about this book is that it is well organized and easy to read. The author doesn't spend any time trying to spin you around on jargon and really writes as a good teacher about just about every aspect of a solar power system. So far, it is the best book that I have found for getting started on understanding solar, and would certainly recommend it to anyone who has no idea where to start on solar, and even those who may, but are looking for another perspective or more detailed information.

My only disappointment was the lack of complete system designs. The concepts are all there, but there aren't many examples of components that the author may have chosen and used. While this would certainly date the book and reduce it's relevance over time due to changes in technology, it would have made it a nearly complete guide to designing a solar power system. I had hoped that it would include more talk about specs of current components, to give a better idea of what kinds of specs one might look for and pair with, when designing a system of various sizes. While this may be unrealistic, I bet there are readers out there who might enter this book with a similar expectation.

Overall, this book provided a great jump start into solar power. I would recommend it to anyone who thinks they may be interested in solar (whether DIY or professional installers), because it lays out the entire framework for a basic understanding of the components of a solar power system, without getting deeply into the jargon. If you're looking for jargon, you may find that it will take some additional research. So far, this is the best resource I have found.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book to get you started on solar power October 30, 2010
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This is a great book to get you started on solar power. Starts with the basics and takes you through the installation of the three types of systems. Very good information that is real world and very up to date.
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17 of 22 people found the following review helpful
Power from the Sun: Achieving Energy Independence offers a fine guide to solar energy and is written for the layperson wishing to install a solar electric system. Homeowners and business owners will appreciate an easy guide to all the solar energy options, from solar site assessment to inverters, batteries, and more. A top pick for any collection catering to homeowners interested in alternative energy sources.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars solar energy and our future April 22, 2012
This is a very informative publication,giving the reader the chance to understand the need for solar power from solar energy,which in my opinion is paramount for the future needs of planet earth and space travel.I like the approach from the critics point of view,giving constructive criticism where A goo long read needed not a diy manual more a in depth explanation of solar energy and its uses.
I have a very good publication in mind which is much more to the point and an easy read,not to long but gives all the information you need take a look here
What Are Solar Panels|what Is Solar Power
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Good read
This is the book if you have questions about solar energy. It's in plain enough language for most folks. It helped me make some informed decisions about our home energy needs. Read more
Published 13 days ago by HAC
5.0 out of 5 stars Simple and to the point
As solar PV continues to come down in price everyone should consider installation of solar for both home and business. Read more
Published 3 months ago by William Kisse
5.0 out of 5 stars Very Helpful and Informative
This book has alot of very helpful and basic material that will help the first time person looking to install a PV array what is involved. Read more
Published 20 months ago by Jack P. Marshall
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent choice
This book was purchased as a gift, was received promptly and in perfect condtion, the recipiient was thrilled to receive it.
Published on December 28, 2011 by Deborah Brickett
3.0 out of 5 stars not a diy guide
well, definitely not what i was looking for. seems to be more of a research paper. information was difficult to decipher. Read more
Published on December 20, 2011 by ogre
4.0 out of 5 stars The 3rd person huh?
Alright. Just finished the 1st chapter on my kindle and thought I was reading a forward because Dan keeps referring to himself in the third person and its tripping me out. Read more
Published on January 27, 2011 by G. McDermid
5.0 out of 5 stars Lots of good information
I bought this for my son who is using it as a reference book. He's very happy with the information in it.
Published on October 5, 2010 by Amazon Customer
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