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Solar Electricity Handbook - 2011 Edition: A Simple Practical Guide to Solar Energy - Designing and Installing Photovoltaic Solar Electric Systems [Paperback]

Michael Boxwell
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)

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Book Description

January 18, 2011 1907670041 978-1907670046 4th Revised edition
The Solar Electricity Handbook is a simple, practical guide to using electric solar panels and designing and installing photovoltaic PV systems.
Significantly updated for 2011, the latest edition assumes no previous knowledge of solar electric systems. The book explains how solar panels work and how they can be used. It explains the advantages of solar energy and the drawbacks that you need to take into account when designing a solar power system. As well as explaining the underlying principles, it provides a step-by-step guide so that you can successfully design and install a photovoltaic solar system from scratch.
Internet Linked
Accompanying the book is one of the most comprehensive solar resource websites in the world. It contains powerful online tools such as the Solar Project Analysis toolkit, which provides a full feasibility and cost document for your project; Solar Irradiance Tables and Solar Angle Calculators for every major town and city in every country in the world; lists of suppliers and a Contact the Author form if you have any questions about your specific project.

Why buy the Solar Electricity Handbook?
  • The Handbook is a simple, practical guide to using electric photovoltaic panels.
  • The book is suitable for enthusiastic novices and building professionals.
  • Clear examples, diagrams and example projects are given to demonstrate the true capabilities of these systems.
  • The Handbook is updated yearly, providing an up-to-date reference for anyone planning to use solar power technology.
  • It is the most comprehensive book on photovoltaic electric systems available today.
  • It is backed up by the most powerful online calculator tools available, to make your design and calculations as straightforward as possible.
  • The Handbook provides you with information that is relevant to you and your project, wherever you live in the world.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

The 2011 edition has been extensively revised, with new chapters, new information on grid-tie systems and financial incentive schemes, new diagrams and more example projects.

From the Author

Why I wrote the Solar Electricity Handbook.

When I first started investigating and using solar power, I looked for a book to help get me started - a solar power book that would teach me the fundaments of the technology: to explain how it worked and help me avoid the mistakes that others had made.

To my surprise, no such book existed. Books were often ten or fifteen years out of date, or simply explained how to fit the various system components together without explaining the reasons behind the configuration.

I read what books were available and I gained experience by using photovoltaics on a number of different projects. I made mistakes along the way and learnt from other professionals. As I became more experienced, I designed some unique photovoltaic installations that had been rejected by others as impossible and learnt how to get the very best out of solar photovoltaics - even in difficult environments with high levels of shade.

I reached the stage where I could design and implement solar photovoltaic systems more reliably and more effectively than many other professionals. I found that my design methods ensured I could predict the power generation of a system before it was built with a greater level of accuracy than most other people and guaranteed the project would be successful.

I was being asked more and more to explain how solar power systems worked and to pass on my knowledge to other people. I looked again to see what books and other resources were available to help other people, and I was shocked to find that many of the books and resources that were out of date seven years ago are the same books and resources available today.

Solar power is a fast moving technology. Reading a book written ten or twenty years ago on the subject may be extremely good at explaining twenty year old technology - and to be fair at a very superficial level, much of the technology is similar, but has huge limitations when planning a new system today.
Many of the newer books still adhered to the "monkey see, monkey do" principle for designing simple solar photovoltaic systems - but without explaining the fundaments of the technology that allows someone to understand what they are doing. Learning how to screw together a PV panel, a controller and a battery may be a useful instruction manual for fitting a simple solar photovoltaic system together, but achieves nothing in terms of teaching you how to properly design a system: considering why you should do things in a certain way, teaching you how to fine tune and improve your system, or allowing you to use your new-found knowledge to build better and more ambitious solar photovoltaic systems in the future.

So many solar photovoltaic systems fail because the project was not properly analysed or because the photovoltaic system was badly designed and set up. Simply following a fixed set of instructions does not provide the necessary level of expertise required to make a success of a photovoltaic project.

So when I decided to write The Solar Electricity Handbook, I decided to set the record straight. I started by explaining the fundaments of the technology - the how and why of solar photovoltaic systems. Guiding the reader through the fundaments, I then go on to specific examples of solar power systems, explaining how they are designed and what makes the chosen design successful.

I explain how to identify whether your project is suitable for a solar photovoltaic system, and suggest alternatives for when photovoltaics is not the answer.

I explain the seven steps from setting the project scope, through the analysis and design stages and through to implementation that every successful solar photovoltaic installation must go through. Finally I explain how to fine tune a solar photovoltaic system and how to identify and resolve common photovoltaic faults.

Because solar photovoltaics is such a fast moving industry, I update the Solar Electricity Handbook every year - making sure the information is always up-to-date and fit for purpose: providing information that is two or three years out of date is simply not an option in such a fast moving industry. 

I have tried to write a book that was suitable for both enthusiastic DIYers wanting to use solar for their own projects and for professional architects and builders who, more and more, are being asked to advise on renewable energy. I also wanted to write a book that was suitable for someone considering their first steps on the ladder on a career in solar photovoltaics.

Whilst these may seem three very different target audiences, the information that is important when considering solar photovoltaic systems is relevant to all three groups. I spent a lot of time, and had a huge amount of assistance from my editorial team, ensuring that the book is easy to read, presenting the facts in a clear and concise manner.

To go with the book, my publishers have commissioned a web site that provides completely up-to-date information and useful online solar calculators to help people with their analysis and design phases of their solar photovoltaic system. The web site also includes a questions and answers facility to enable people to easily get in touch with me and ask questions about their solar requirements. Today, that web site provides some of the best solar analysis tools available on the web and is being constantly updated and improved.

My aim with The Solar Electricity Handbook is to encourage people to investigate how solar photovoltaic systems can help them and to help people to design and implement better solar power systems that work reliably throughout the year. If I succeed in doing that, I will have achieved my goals.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 190 pages
  • Publisher: Greenstream Publishing; 4th Revised edition edition (January 18, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1907670041
  • ISBN-13: 978-1907670046
  • Product Dimensions: 0.4 x 7.3 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #685,652 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Michael Boxwell is a technical consultant and designer and a former managing director of an electric vehicle supplier in the UK.

He is the author of a number of books including the Solar Electricity Handbook, Owning An Electric Car and The Electric Car Guide series of books. He also runs the Reva Electric Car owners club.

He is currently working on a number of new eco books, a TV series and a children's book of stories. He is a regular guest on Transport Evolved and This Week In Energy.

Michael lives in the United Kingdom and is married with two children.

Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars
3.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
29 of 32 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Solar Electricity Handbook June 30, 2011
By GlenB
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Here are the good points:
1. The book is well written and organized.
2. It is fairly well up-to-date when discussing costs.

Here are the weak points:
1. 36 out of 181 pages have to do with solar insolation. You can get information on this for your location on the internet,
and should not have been put in the book.
2. Not enough research was done into REAL equipment. He should have discussed some of most popular types of equipment on
the market today, like SunnyBoy Outback, etc.
3. The inovations into solar cell and thin-film technology are not covered in enough detail. Thin-film is likely to drop
below $1/watt soon. Some dealers are below $2/watt on polycrystalline panels now.
4. The author is from the UK, so I am not sure this is the best choice for USA readers. No offensive intended.
5. More information about state and federal tax credits and such is needed. A large portion of the cost of a system can be
recouped with these incentives.
6. Instead of insolation tables and verbage, a single page map with insolation zones would have told the story, no map was
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Asset In the Solar-Freindly DIY's Toolbox March 13, 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is a great little book. The author struck a good balance between basic knowledge (a refresher for me) and the meaty stuff required to think about a sensible approach to projects like this. The word THINK (emphasis mine) in the previous sentence isn't to be taken lightly. The web is top-heavy with solar photovoltaic "gurus" who are quite happy to sell you books, videos and pie-in-the-sky promises. The reality is different. I like the author's website, and the annual update. This book WILL NOT teach you how to build a PV solar panel cell-by-cell--nor does it touch solar heating. There are lots of free resources on the web and other books here for those challenges. It will, however, make you question everything about assumptions that you've made, and it also provides a counter-balance to the glut of mind-candy oaths peddled-about by the PV carnival barkers and snake oil types. This book will mature your thinking, as it shares "adult-eye" wisdom into the authentic promises possible in providing solar photovoltaic power to your business, home, cabin, motorboat and hoards of portable electronic devices. Keep up the good work, Michael!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I've enjoyed this book because it's practical. It starts at a beginner level and takes you up from there. I especially like the online calculators that supplement the text.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Reference on Solar Power December 7, 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
If you don't know anything about solar energy this is a good place to start. The charts and tables make it easy to determine your solar power requirements. This is a practical handbook on selecting, buying, and installing a solar system.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars To Solar or not to Solar June 2, 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The book was everything I expected it to be. It gives very clear basic knowledge of solar systems, their design and panel aiming data. All in all a great reference book for someone looking to get into Solar power for whatever reason.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
For a basic primer on Solar Electricity, The book was well done. I can also use it as a spot to jump to other sources of information to aid me in educating myself on Solar Electricity.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars solar electricity hanbook March 14, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition
truly excellent book.. i have read more than half a dozen other 'pv' / offgrid books and this is the first that has given me full explanations and answers.. great.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good easy to read introduction to solar power systems December 27, 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book is good to have becasue it is easy to understand. It is not too big so you can read it fairly fast. Of course, it can be consulted, reviewed and studied as you whish. Now, if you want to get more substantial information, you will need to buy more books. My advise is to buy this and other books regardless of the not so good reviews. It is all right to have more than one book. Besides the used copies are not expensive. Please, don't expect to be an expert after you read or even studied th book. You will need to keep on sutudying and to begin practicing (do some actual work on solar stuff)to become good at this as I plan on doing.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Good book to get started with
I was glade I got it .the book does a great job of braking it all down for you to understand.
Published 8 months ago by J. Rossi
4.0 out of 5 stars Helpful
As a proponent of solar generation, I found the book to be very informative with useful tips and concepts that I will use to build my own off grid PV system in the middle of a New... Read more
Published 9 months ago by M. D. Laird
4.0 out of 5 stars Friendly technical handbook
I was looking to introduce myself in Solar energy solutions.
This book is a perfect instrument because starting with basic knowladge introduces in friendly way to more deep... Read more
Published 21 months ago by Felipe
1.0 out of 5 stars Solar energy
Too technical for beginners. Hard to follow, but it has good information when you grasp the stuff in the book. Read more
Published 21 months ago by Attila Matyas
3.0 out of 5 stars What kind of a preview is just the cover of the book ?
Having seen whole essays about how Amazon and Kindle books are gamed to make money while not delivering on their promised titles ... Read more
Published 22 months ago by BruceK
1.0 out of 5 stars From dumber for dumb - Buy Dummies and get more
From the first looks a pretty easy and comprehensive read, however after purchasing the item the shocking truth surfaces that the author posses no solid and qualified scientific... Read more
Published on June 1, 2012 by NicoS
5.0 out of 5 stars Yeup.
This book is exactly what I thought it was going to be, and that is, all the information necessary to start your own project.
Published on January 16, 2012 by M. Cupka
4.0 out of 5 stars great book but to technical for me
Great book I learned allot in some sections but others were above me if you are technical this book will be great for you. Thank you AMAZON.
Published on December 12, 2011 by Jerry
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