John Drake Services, Inc.
1427 E. 68th Street
Long Beach, CA 90805

voice line
(562) 423-4879

electricity from the sun by John Drake II     |    home
About Us   |   About this website.   |   Getting Started   |   Solar Panels / Photovoltaic Modules - Read Before You Buy   |   Make A Plan   |   PV System Layout and Parts   |   Start with the loads you are going to operate   |   Battery Types and Sizing   |   Battery Safety   |   Battery Charging Voltages and Temperature   |   Battery Trouble Shooting   |   Charging Batteries - You can't have everything.   |   Battery State of Charge and Measurement   |   Safety Devices Fuses and Circuit Breakers   |   Series & Parallel Wiring   |   Wiring and Power Distribution Connections   |   Photovolatic Module Specifications - Real or a Pipe Dream   |   Photovoltaic module solar panel location and positioning   |   Photovoltaic Module and Solar Panel Information   |   Charge Controller Types   |   Wire and Cable Types   |   Wiring  - Doing it Right   |   Connections for Wiring   |   Voltage Drop - Wire Loss, What are they?   |   Outdoor Connections   |   Wire loss - Voltage drop charts   |   D.C. to A.C. Inverters   |   Low Voltage D.C. Lighting & Color Temperature of Light   |   Battery System Monitoring   |   Dont fool yourself - Spending your money wisely.   |   Solar Converters GS-1AC   |   Linear Current Boosters for Water Pumping   |   Utility Grid Intertie Systems   |   Solar Insolation Chart   |   More Information   |   Alternative Energy Expectations   |   Power Needs Worksheet   |   Reference Sources   |   Contact Us
Getting Started
First off, educate yourself.

Knowledge is power, it can also help you keep from throwing money away.

There is a lot of good information out there, and a lot of garbage too.

The first source I would recommend is government publications, such as information from
the U.S. Department of Energy.

I suggest this as a first step as there are a lot of armchair solar experts out there.
Some of them don't know diddly (how would you know?), some have an axe to grind and
some are just trying to peddle their wares.

Use some common (or nowadays uncommon) sense. If it sounds like something out of left
field, it probably is.
In over thirty years, I have seen and heard so much nonsense that it is amazing that anyone still
believes in alternative energy.

Don't be one of the folks that call up sobbing because someone either burned them on an
installation or gave them some poor information.

Before you believe what someone says, give it the acid test:

Does it make sense?
Is it practical?
Does it sound like pie in the sky?
What are their credentials?
Are they telling you just what you want to hear?

Remember that when everything goes South, it will be you standing in the pile of compost.

There are a lot of "experts" out their who give nonsensical information.

One thing that gets us in trouble is trying to "go on the cheap" when setting up a system.

My mom was a Scot and she was very tight fisted with money.   

On the other hand, my Dad was not thrifty at all. BUT he was very careful when buying
tools, he was a heavy duty mechanic for close to fifty years. Once I asked him about the
life time warranty on some hand tools I wanted to buy. He said "buy the tools - not the warranty",
"when it is two in the morning, you are under a truck in the rain, in the middle of nowhere -
what good is a warranty when the sprocket in a ratchet wrench breaks or a socket splits?"

Long ago I figured he knew what he was talking about.

There are two kinds of warranties, the one for a great product that the manufacture has
confidence in and the one for junk where the manufacturer has enough profit margin to replace
a given percentage of failed items.

That said,
Buy what you know will work for your application, make sure that it is the best you can afford
(usually it pays to wait to save up enough money to get the best) and then you will not have to feel bad about it later.

I have seen many systems where maybe five percent of the project cost was saved by going the
cheapest route, and the system fails.