Tech Time: Solar Energy

We begin a four part series on technology in the home; we will be exploring cleaning systems, living room comforts, kitchen appliances and bedroom tech. But we begin, with solar energy.

Tourists flock to Jamaica for our sun, while we import oil for our lights. We can save money (oh yeah, and the environment too) if we harness our greatest renewable energy source, the sun. Thanks to technological progress, photovoltaic panels have become both cost effective and the best legal way to reduce your JPS bill.

Don’t think this is a far-fetched concept for only first world applications. Locally, it’s been done. Retired chef Hans Schenk runs 95% of his Spring Farm, St. James home off the national eclectic grid after installing solar panels on the roof of his home … and, he’s not the only one.

Solar energy can be used to provide indoor and outdoor lighting, power batteries and chargers, heat and pump water and provide power to most of your home. Solar power is such a great option to JPS that the government provides loans and other incentives to switch to renewable energy, in the form of a water heater loan offered through the National Housing Trust (NHT). Qualified NHT individual and business contributors can access up to JMD $250,000.00.

Solar water heaters are the most common application of solar energy locally. They can store and heat 40 to 240 gallons of water up to 140 degrees depending on model. The price tag starting at roughly $180,000.00 does NOT attract GCT.

I need an electrician to set up my solar panels, my regulator to charge my cycle battery, my connectors and inverter to bring solar power into my apartment. I need an electrician cause I know nothing of amps and volts and watts, all of which are important concepts. Visit How Stuff Works for a detailed explanation of the technical aspects of solar power.

Yes, there are three important factors to consider with solar energy – cost, location and weather. But none of these is a major deterrent. If a full-scale solar energy powered home is not practical, then consider integrating some solar devices. By all means, get a solar water heater loan from the NHT and start saving. Then get some small portable chargers to power devises like your phone. Step in gradually, and in time you can turn the tables, by selling power to the national grid.

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