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Is Solar Power Becoming a Reasonable Alternative at Last?

Jun 16, 2008
Solar power has been promised for years as an alternative way to power homes. However, for more than a decade, a dream is all that it has been. Solar power has remained too expensive for most homes.

But slowly, ever so slowly, that appears to be changing.

Companies have finally developed solar panels that promise to cost in the same range or sometimes even cheaper than coal. That's a huge step, even if the panels aren't widely available yet. It means the technology is finally maturing enough that more people will be able to take advantage of it.

You can't kid yourself, of course. Even if you get one of the newer panels installed there's going to be a significant cost involved. However, the payoff time will be decreased as better solar panels can be made more cheaply.

Of course, your use of solar power doesn't have to be limited to powering your entire home. There are lots of gadgets and outdoor decor that can be powered by the sun. And they've been pretty reasonably priced for a while.

If you aren't up for spending what it takes to power your entire home, you can look at what you can power outside it. Any outdoor light that can be hit by the sun during the day may be a candidate for switching over to solar. Outdoor solar powered lights have gotten better over the past few years and can do a decent job for many purposes, from lighting your garden to providing a motion sensitive security light.

The best part about installing solar garden lights is that you don't have to do any wiring. You just have to put them where you want them, whether it's with a stake in the ground or attaching it to the wall. It's much easier for amateurs to cope with.

Any outdoor light you set up, of course, you need to consider how it will impact others, especially if you cannot easily turn the light off. A poorly aimed light may interfere with your sleep or your neighbor's ability to sleep. Too much light can interfere with star gazing. And how much light do you really need outside your home at night anyhow?

The best places to light are the areas that actually may need it at night, such as the walkway to your home. This can particularly matter if you have stairs or just an uneven walkway. A bit of light can save accidents.

Similarly, motion activated security lights can be a good idea, if well aimed. You really don't want a light that turns on because a cat walked by aimed right at your bedroom window. You'd be disturbed by it several times most nights.

These smaller applications of solar power are things you can take advantage of right now, as you wait for affordable panels to become more widely available. They aren't bad options at all for getting things started at your own home.
About the Author
Stephanie Foster runs http://www.seriouslysolar.com/ for people interested in what solar power has to offer. To find solar path lights and more, visit her site.
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