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Solar Electricity Basics: A Green Energy Guide Paperback – July 1, 2010

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Solar Electricity Basics: A Green Energy Guide + Solar Electricity Handbook - 2015 Edition: A simple, practical guide to solar energy - designing and installing solar PV systems. + DIY Solar Projects: How to Put the Sun to Work in Your Home
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Product Details

  • Series: A Green Energy Guide
  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: New Society Publishers (July 1, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0865716188
  • ISBN-13: 978-0865716186
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.5 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #228,630 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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.

Customer Reviews

3.5 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Penguibear on January 14, 2012
Format: Paperback
This book gives a good introductory overview of home/small-office sized photovoltaic solutions for those who are relatively (or completely) unfamiliar with the topic. If you're already somewhat knowledgeable, you're probably better off looking elsewhere.

I'd advise anyone however to ignore his advice when it comes to the financial analysis of home solar systems; the section is either terribly incompetent or terribly misleading, neither of which reflect particularly well on the author. He tries to compare an investment in a solar system to traditional financial investments, claiming that ROI (return on investment, i.e. yearly return on investment calculated as a percentage of principal payment) is a better way to evaluate a solar power investment than traditional ways such as payback time (years required until the investment pays for itself), and points out that the ROI of around 6-10% compares very favorably to traditional financial investments. The obvious flaw with this logic is that when you "invest" in a solar power system, you're spending your principal - it's gone, and you have to earn it back through your ROI. In other words, you start out in the red, and that's exactly why we use things like "payback" to measure how long it takes you to climb out of the red and start making money. In a traditional investment, the returns are all profit on top of your principal - there's no need for an idea like payback because any ROI is profit. He tries to present "payback" as a misleading measurement when it's his own recommendations that are incredibly misleading. Even worse, he then tries to dismiss the idea of payback by saying we don't use such measures to evaluate purchases such as fishing boats and chandeliers...
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By mar on September 1, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Solar Electricity Basics in a straight-forward and easy to understand introduction to solar electricity as an energy source for your house or business.Solar power may seem like a complex subject, but everything in this book is broken-down into simple terms. If you're considering solar as an energy source, or you just want to know more about solar energy this book is for you! This is an excellent book on renewable energy.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By wolfi on August 30, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a very good book for anybody who is honestly interested in renewable energy. It gives one a thorough understanding of what is involved ($$$) to do a project like that. Or for less $$ some kind of hybrid solution. And I liked the cross reference to wind power (which is another book, by the same author - and I bought that, too) adding a third option to a cleaner environment. I don't want to sound too green but this book really answered some of my more advanced questions of effectively "catching some rays".

I'm from the "ye olde country" up north. Back when I went through physics we had to calculate the energy output of the sun in an hour/ a day/ and a year, with paper and pencil (mind you?). That sure did impress me then and still impresses me now. Back then there were already some sunlight (energy) collection devices available -- for research facilities (including the military, of course); but not to Joe Sixpack.

We, my wife and I, now live in/on a Caribbean island with plenty of sunshine and a steady easterly wind. The included charts and references make it rather easy to get to the specific parameters (of where one lives) -- and then go from there to design an appropriate system.

With all the information gathered I now feel confident to design and install a system for my everyday needs.

All in all: An easy to understand book I highly recommend, even to people who just want to know.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Rajiv Chopra on April 19, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Like his book on wind energy, this is an excellent introduction to solar energy. The terms have been explained clearly, and simply.
The chapter layout is excellent, and this makes it easy to keep going back to specific sections of the book whenever you want.

The writing style is clear, simple and yet covers enough matter for the lay reader to lay back and feel satisfied. For the person who wants to go deeper, the ways in have been clearly indicated.

I recommend this book
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By tbattery on March 8, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Good resource for Solar Electric Systems. Recommend this to advance installations and not the novice installer. Would of liked to see small systems for outbuilding such as shed, barns, garages.
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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

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Solar Electricity Basics: A Green Energy Guide
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