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75 of 75 people found the following review helpful
on 4 July 2005
I bought this book in 2005, almost 20 years after the first publication of the book. I went through a couple of emotional phases while reading the book. First I thought this was a great book: it has so many practical details and insights. When I got to the part on system controls and routing the power, I realized that this part is probably fairly weak because of the passage of time. Then when I looked at a few other more recent publications such as The Renewable Energy Handbook for Homeowners, by Kemp published in 2003, I realized that the present book is still a solid investment for someone interested in solar-electric. A lot of the basic information is still valid and it is more a case of prices changing and some of the technology being a bit easier to use. I like the fact that the book just concentrates on solar. There are no diversions or philosophical discussions on wind power or similar to confuse the situation. However, if you are a homeowner and want to look at all the alternatives, I suggest the newer book by Kemp, but that book is a bit thin on solar-electric so the present book is still needed. Kemp has many good ideas on insulation and conservation. In any case, the present book is down to earth practical stuff on solar: how it works and how you install. So to make a long story short I recommend the book as a buy.
The book is written by Steven J. Strong an MA from Harvard and someone who has worked as a solar energy consultant before writing the book. He describes a number of his projects and they are scattered thoughout the book.
The book has 10 chapters and it starts with how photovoltaic (PV) cells were developed and how they are manufactured. He explains how the atmosphere itself absorbs some light energy. He explains the eficiency of the PV cells, and how to position the cells to maximize power. Then he goes on to explain the manufacturing processes in detail.
Chapter 2 covers the design of the system of cells, controls, and storage of the energy. Storage itself can be a simple idea such as pumping water into a holding tank from a well during the sunny hours, but usually it is more complicated and uses a battery system or returns the power to the grid for credit, if the house can be connected to the conventional supply system. He explains a lot of these details with references to geographic location, be it in Arizona, or New england, or on a mountain in Colorado.
Chapeter 3 is a lesson on how to wire the modules and arrays together so you can get the right voltage and power combination.
Chapter 4 covers batteries and power regulation. He has many pictures and tables showing availbale products. These of course must be updated with current products but it gives a starting point for the reader.
Chapter 5 is very short and covers power inverters and attachment to the grid. An inverter converts DC voltage from the PV cells into AC for the appliances as in a conventional home. Also it is needed for connection to the grid to get power credits. Finally, he presents some options for power back up generation.
Chapter 6 explains how to conserve energy and then how to match your requirements with the size of the solar system, i.e.: how to determine how much power you need.
Chapter 7 and 8 describe how to design a system connected to the grid, or to design a system completely standing on its own. He gives examples with photographs of existing installations and this includes seasonal variations in power generation.
The last two chapter 9 and 10 are on the actual installion of the components along with maintenance tips.
The book contains many photographs, charts, lists of suppliers for parts, and it has many example calculations on how the power is produced, stored, and what it costs. A lot of this information can be updated by the reader using the web.
This book is now a bit dated and the reader will have to update the information when buying parts, but overall it is still surprisingly good. 5 stars.
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25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on 26 January 1999
I have long wanted to be able to harvest the sun's energy for heat and electricity, but I was in doubt about whether the technology was dependable or affordable. Steven Strong's book erased my concerns. While the science of converting the sun's rays to electricity eludes me still, I found Steven's down-to-earth examples reassuring - so much so that we engaged him to design our solar home in Maine. This book will help us all envision a new Millenium with less pollution and more independence.
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41 of 42 people found the following review helpful
on 30 January 1999
Steven Strong's book "The Solar Electric House" is the most comprehensive book available regarding the application of solar-generated electricity (photovoltaics). The book is well organized, well written, and easy to understand.
Although this book was first printed in 1987, it is amazingly current today (1999). I have been using this book since 1987 when I build my stand-alone PV-powered home in Prescott Arizona, and referred to Mr. Strong's book on a regular basis during design and construction of the solar-electric system. I still use this book today -- as the primary textbook in two classes that I teach at Arizona State University: "Introduction to Solar Energy and Photovoltaics" and "Photovoltaic System Design".
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VINE VOICEon 8 July 2010
This seems a comprehensive book, but as stated in the title, it is biased towards the American market, a famous quote from a very influential British gardener is the 1900's was that 'every garden should have a few acres of woodland', this book has almost got that feel in that the concepts are sound, but my garden is a fraction of an acre in size ...

But as said the book seems sound in what it says, but ideas need to be scaled towards what we can do in GB, planing restrictions etc, I will finish it and I am sure it will be a great reference work, but I will also research and obtain another book(s) geared to using solar energy in GB.
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If you are paying to install Solar PV Panels on your home, I would get this book as it show's you other options you can use then the standard fit. Explore options like selling your Electric to the Grid, while maintaining a Battery Back-up, incase of Power Grid Faliure in 2012, with Solar Storms.

I Live in the UK in Farnham Surrey, and this is the book that I have recommended to my Solar Electrican, which he has just bought! It might have been written 20 years ago, but it is right up to date in it's theory.
This is the best book out there, especially for those Solar Options.
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