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30 General Topics Lists

Solar Product/Project Topics

Click on the column headlines below to read the entire unedited columns and view the related illustrations. Most of my columns that you read in your newspaper or magazine have been edited due to space constraints.

Homeowner Benefits? - These are the potential benefits that a typical homeowner will realize by following the tips or by installing the home-related products that are discussed in this column.

400 - Use portable electric power packs for emergencies and recreation
Update Bulletin Description
- Buyer's guide of six portable power pack and plug-in inverter manufacturers listing nominal voltage, battery power in amp-hours, battery pack type, features, weights, sizes, many illustrations and prices of various models, chart showing household electrical appliances and typical wattage consumption with estimated run time, chart showing automotive/marine accessories and typical current draw with estimated run time.
Homeowner Benefits:Have electric power during emergencies, use for camping, fishing, starting car

422 - Conservatories are attractive, many kits are easy to build
Update Bulletin Description
- Buyer's guide of 14 manufacturers of conservatories and a supplier for easy to follow plans and instructions to build a Victorian style conservatory, styles available, frame materials, glazing options, features, factors to consider when building a conservatory, recommended conservatory plants and tips, illustrations of typical conservatory designs.
Homeowner Benefits: Very attractive living space, solar heat gain in winter, grow plants in winter.

436 - Dry firewood quickly in solar Virginian dryer/mini-greenhouse
Update Bulletin Description
- Do-it-yourself instructions and materials list for making a two-door Virginian wood dryer/mini-greenhouse, firewood selector guide listing low/medium/high heat content wood types, wood heat evaluation worksheets to determine if wood heating is cost effective for your home, and safe wood burning tips.
Homeowner Benefits: Season firewood quickly, start plants early in spring, inexpensive to build

438 - Select the proper trees for comfort and efficiency
Update Bulletin Description
- A selector guide of 100 types (deciduous and evergreen) of trees, mature heights and shapes, growth rates (slow, moderate or fast), hardiness zones and recommended landscape layouts with illustrations for the various climates - hot/humid climate, hot/arid climate, cool climate and temperate climate; schedule for tree care, planting and caring tips for trees.
Homeowner Benefits: Save energy, provide windbreak, cool air and enjoy the shade

442 - Do-it-yourself solar window heater is easy to make
Update Bulletin Description
- Do-it-yourself instructions, diagrams (some schematic and some with detailed component dimensions) and materials list for making three differnt designs of solar window heaters, some designs include an optional ventilation door to also cool your house for free during summer.
Homeowner Benefits: Lower your space heating costs, easy to make, ventilate house during summer

443 - Solar water heater kits are effective, easy to install
Update Bulletin Description
- Buyer's guide of 10 easy-to-install solar water heater kit manufacturers listing system types (active or passive), collector types (flat plate, evacuated tube), collector sizes, plumbing layouts, prices, illustrations and specifications of several models.
Homeowner Benefits:Lower your water heating costs, easy to install, tax credits in some states

450 - Generate your own electricity from the sun for free
Update Bulletin Description
- Buyer's guide of 13 PV systems, kits, controls, shingle manufacturers listing solar cell/kit type, selection guide, suggestions on sizing your PV system, overview of photovoltaics (crystalline silicon flat plate systems, thin film systems, concentrators), PV system terms, and illustrations.
Homeowner Benefits: Back-up electricity during emergency, continuous free electricity once installed

485 - Generate your own electricity with a windmill for house, boat, RV
Update Bulletin Description
- Buyer's guide of 10 portable and whole-house windmills, rated power output, voltage output, sizes (includes weight, number of blades and rotor diameter), start up wind speed, rated wind speed, features, prices and a wind speed chart for 116 cities. Specifications and information are listed for selected models and siting and tower recommendations.
Homeowner Benefits:Free electricity during power outages, generates electricity continuously, lowers electric bills, sell excess electricity to utility company, good for environment

508 - Use various do-it-yourself passive solar projects at your home
Update Bulletin Description
- Do-it-yourself air-type solar wall heater instructions with illustrations and required materials list, building tips for a Trombe wall, special design features for various climates (zone 1 through zone 6) and solar position charts.
Homeowner Benefits: Lower your heating costs, easy to install, good family project

514 - New solar-powered lights are decorative, easy to install and bright
Update Bulletin Description
- Buyer's guide of nine manufacturers (30 models) of new high-tech solar-powered accent, motion-sensing security, landscaping lights, emergency street address locators, mailboxes and lanterns showing styles available, max. on-times per night, bulb types used, prices and illustrations of many styles.
Homeowner Benefits: Simple to install, uses no electricity, stylish designs

537 - Use the sun to cook your meals and bake your bread
Update Bulletin Description
- Buyer's guide of ready-to-use solar cooker/ovens, descriptions, features, prices, do-it-yourself instructions for making a plywood solar cooker, a low-cost cardboard solar cooker, a single hot dog cooker that makes a wonderful boy/girl scout project, solar box cooking tips and unique solar cooking recipes.
Homeowner Benefits: Reduce heat in kitchen in summer, lower utility bills, cook with power off

617 - Window film improves comfort, blocks fading, saves energy year-round
Update Bulletin Description
- Buyer's guide of do-it-yourself and professional window film manufacturers (34 films) listing colors, properties (total solar transmittance, total solar reflectance, total solar absorption, visible light transmittance, ultraviolet rejected, U-factor, shading coefficient, emissivity, total solar energy rejected), prices, definitions/technical terms of the properties and installation instructions.
Homeowner Benefits: Reduce summer heat, winter heating bills and furniture fading, safer around children

623 - Many designs of do-it-yourself greenhouse kits are easy to build
Update Bulletin Description
- Buyer's guide of 17 do-it-yourself greenhouse kit manufacturers listing, styles (freestanding, lean-to, gazebo, circular), frame materials, warranties, features, covering/glazing materials, descriptions of glazing/coverings and the advantages of each type, illustrations and prices for several models, suggestions on choosing a site for your greenhouse, tips on installation.
Homeowner Benefits: Grow plants year-round, healthy natural foods, help heat home.

688 - Build your own solar water collector to heat house or water
Update Bulletin Description
- Do-it-yourself instructions for making a water-type solar collector, plumbing diagrams, required materials list, a list of 11 solar kit suppliers, descriptions and diagrams of types (thermosiphon or active systems), chart of recommended glazing systems, instructions on making a simple, do-it-yourself solar access viewer.
Homeowner Benefits: Lower water heating costs, heat swimming pool in summer

695 - Solar preheater for hot water heater is simple to build or buy complete
Update Bulletin Description
- Do-it-yourself instructions, diagrams and required materials list for making several designs of batch solar water heaters (one-tank batch heater, basic two-tank batch heater) and a plumbing schematic, diagrams of alternative designs of batch solar water heaters and a list of ready-to-use batch solar kits.
Homeowner Benefits: Lower your water heating costs, reduce pollution, easy to build

715 - Unique concrete pavers make building a solar patio simple
Update Bulletin Description
- Buyer's guide of 13 manufacturers of unique paving products, do-it-yourself molds, low-voltage lights built in bricks, paver layout guides, patio edging systems, list (by state) of 55 local interlocking concrete paver manufacturers, illustrations of several patterns and patio building instructions showing several diagrams.
Homeowner Benefits:Adds solar buffer in winter months, adds outdoor space for relaxation and entertaining guests

723 - Geothermal heat pumps for lowest utility bills, best comfort
Update Bulletin Description
- Buyer's guide of 14 single and multilevel geothermal heat pump manufacturers (26 models) listing efficiencies (cooling-EER, heating-COP), output levels, blower speeds, types (loop or DX), features, freon/R410A, many illustrations, closed loop earth coupled applications with descriptions and diagrams and a fuel cost comparison chart.
Homeowner Benefits: Lower utility bills year-round, more heat and cooling output, very quiet

732 - Build an efficient deck or a DIY screened gazebo kit
Update Bulletin Description
- Buyer's guide of 11 screening/frame and gazebo kit manufacturers listing sizes, materials (wood or vinyl), features, illustrations, detailed instructions with diagrams, dimensions and required materials list for building a solar deck and a solar positioning chart for 58 cities.
Homeowner Benefits: More comfortable deck, help cool house, low air-conditioning costs

736 - Awnings are attractive, block heat, save furniture
Update Bulletin Description
- Buyer's guide of adjustable and fixed window and door awning kits (canopies, small and large retractable awnings, retractable vertical awnings), widths, projections, fabrics, features, suggestions on measuring for an awning, recommended cleaning of acrylic awnings, benefits of a fabric awning, explanation of how awnings save energy, prices and illustrations.
Homeowner Benefits: Reduce heat and fading, protections during storms, privacy

737 - New attractive high-mass kitchen countertops for comfort, savings
Update Bulletin Description
- Buyer's guide of 14 attractive, high-mass countertop and sink manufacturers listing material descriptions (concrete, granite, quartz composite, slate, ceramic tile, heavy wood, colors, features, and a material/pricing selector guide listing weight, repairability, features and drawbacks.
Homeowner Benefits: Even room temperatures, attractive appearance, durable surface

765 - Flowering climbing vines can block summer heat and glare
Update Bulletin Description
- Selector guide of 60 varieties of climbing vines (annual and perennial, flowering and non-flowering), climbing methods, common and botanical names, vine lengths, growth habits and characteristics, bloom times and colors, exposure,hardiness zones and a hardiness zone map of the U.S., illutrations and descriptions of the types and growth patterns of vines, and 10 mail-order vine seed suppliers.
Homeowner Benefits:Save energy, shade and cool walls, relaxing hobby

792 - Save money with a solar food dryer kit or build a DIY one
Update Bulletin Description
- Buyer's guide of electric food dryers and dehydrators showing wattage, warranty and features, recommended features to look for when selecting a food dehydrator, recommended tips for solar drying fruits, recommendations for solar drying vegetables, suggestions for successful drying in a solar food dryer and do-it-yourself instructions for a solar food dryer, materials required, illlustrations and dimensions.
Homeowner Benefits:Save energy, preserve foods naturally, lower food costs

797 - Add months of swimming with a do-it-yourself solar pool heater kit
Update Bulletin Description
- Buyer's guide of 11 solar pool heating kits (and complete solar pool kit) showing collector materials for each model and mounting application, suggested mounting locations, dimensions of the various collectors available, unique features (warranties, controls, etc.) for each manufacturer, and charts, a map and worksheet to determine the correct system size required for your area of the country.
Homeowner Benefits:Extend swimming season, reduce water heating costs, cool water in summer

889 - Retractable patio/deck awnings block sun, rain and are easy to install
Update Bulletin Description
- Buyer's guide of nine manufacturers of various retractable awning designs (lateral arm, track, freestanding, screened sides) listing maximum widths, projection distance from wall, features, prices, typical installation instructions, and an awning fabric (12 fabrics) selector guide.
Homeowner Benefits: Reduce summer heat through windows, use patio or deck in rain

920 - DIY skylight tube kits brighten room, install quickly
Update Bulletin Description
- Buyer's guide of the 8 best skylight tube kit manufacturers showing tube materials, roof dome materials, indoor diffuser materials, diameters available, design type, warranties, features, installation details, and many illustrations.
Homeowner Benefits:Simple to install, bright natural light, food and colors look better under natural light, lower electric bills

940 - Solar wall heat is effective and inexpensive to make
Update Bulletin Description
- Simple do-it-yourself instructions for making a solar water heater and a thermosyphoning air panel, diagrams and required materials list for both designs.
Homeowner Benefits: Help heat your home for free in the winter, simple to build, good for environment

987 - New solar-powered attic fans keep house cooler for free
Update Bulletin Description
- Buyer's guide of 11 solar-powered attic vent fan and turbine fan manufacturers listing air flow ratings, watts, sizes, features, prices, sizing chart for number of fans required per square foot of attic, installation methods with illustrations, and descriptions/illustrations of various models.
Homeowner Benefits: Block heat from hot roof, reduce air-conditioning costs

992 - New sunrooms are bright, energy efficient, inexpensive living space
Update Bulletin Description
- Buyer's guide of 12 efficient sunroom/kit manufacturers listing designs (curved eave, straight eave, conservatory), frame materials, glazing options, ventilation options, shading systems, features and passive solar heat producing tips. Diagram and helpful suggestions on how to turn your sunroom into a heat-producing space to reduce overall heating bills.
Homeowner Benefits: Low-cost additional year-round living space, do-it-yourself project, start plants