Install Your Own Solar Panels, by Joseph Burdick and Philip Schmidt (2017)

Nonfiction
Adult
Install Your Own Solar Panels, by Joseph Burdick and Philip SchmidtWe have been using solar to power our little campervan for several years now, with spectacular success, keeping the wee fridge going strong and powering up batteries for all our devices! Now that we have moved away from the Wet Coast to a sun-drenched clime, we are looking into the challenges of going solar at home. Our librarian knows of my interest and bought this title (so awesome! right?!!) from Storey Publishing, known for its well-designed how-to titles with a “simple living” and environmental focus. Anyway, this book is intended for homeowners who, like me, don’t know much about the science of solar, but can handle basic tools and follow instructions. Burdick is a solar professional, and Schmidt is an experienced builder. Together they provide a guide to, as the lengthy subtitle explains, “Designing and Installing a Photovoltaic System to Power Your Home.” They walk you through the process of assessing your solar needs, your site, and the solar options with pros and cons. They are careful to emphasize when a professional is needed, and if you decide to hire pros for the whole job, they offer some tips on how to hire well. The biggest section, about 32 pages, is on designing your PV system, due mostly to the four sample designs that help you understand when a design is appropriate, a layout drawing and specs for the sample design, and a materials list which you can customize for your needs. Subsequent chapters give detailed guidance on the physical (mechanical and electrical) installation for both rooftop and ground arrays. There is also a chapter for off-grid designs, but readers interested in this would want more detailed resources. Each chapter is well organized with illustrations, checklists and fact boxes, and you can delve into specific topics thanks to the included index. There is also a basic metric conversion chart for American readers and a useful glossary of technical terms (helpfully printed in green in the text).
Storey’s website also provides an online link to an excerpt from the book that includes the introduction and a checklist for those interested in DIY: http://www.storey.com/article/installing-solar-panels-checklist/. This will give you a good sense of the authors’ approach and the book’s scope since at the time of this writing, there isn’t much discussion of this title on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/30648728
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