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20 dollar billsOctober 15 has been chosen as Blog Action Day, a day when the blogging community seeks to unite in voice for a common cause. The declared focus for this year involves our earthly environment and how we bloggers can aid in spreading the word about things we can all do to improve our stewardship of our world's resources. While the debate on "global warming" has been muddled to the point that the concept is now being called simply "global climate change," with scientists pointing at every conceivable cause, one core reality remains clear. That reality is the truth that our earth is a finite resource, and has always been deserving of our best efforts to take good care of it.

My Blog Action focus today is about "getting off the grid" via solar power, mainly because that's a pet concept of mine. The reason is simple: every volt of electrical energy that can be generated and utilized without involving existing utility structures reduces demand for exhaustible fuel reserves. So, in pursuit of reducing your dependence on commercially generated electrical power, here's a simple guide to solar-powered battery chargers, and other solar devices that you can buy or build yourself.

  • There are a couple compact solar battery chargers revealed by Interior Design Room. Both the chargers displayed there are already commercially available.
  • Sundance Solar is an online source for all kinds of solar chargers and power sources. Of particular interest to me was this build it yourself solar battery charger kit, which appears very simple in design and execution. At about a $40 price tag, it would seem to be a "break even" proposition as far as saving money on your electric bill, but when you add in the cost reduction for buying replacement batteries, I'd bet this kit will save you money in the long run.
  • I also like this unit from Sundance, which is a completely self-contained charger and comes with four of its own rechargeable batteries. The price tag is about $30, which I think might be recoverable within a year depending on your battery usage requirements.
  • Sundance also has do-it-yourself and pre-built solar energy systems that can get you started on your efforts to get off the grid. These systems are still a ways away from reaching "grid parity," but with electrical generation costs increasing every day it won't be long before these types of systems and their offspring become economically viable for daily dependence. Grid parity is the point where electricity generated from solar energy becomes cost competitive with electricity generated by currently accepted methods. Current estimates predict grid parity in as little as five years. I claim we'll reach that goal within three years because most current estimates fail to account for the compounding effects of rising oil prices.
  • For you hardcore DIY fans, The Sietch provides detailed step-by-step instructions for building your own battery charger from scratch. The site gives full instructions, starting from choosing materials and going right through to completion.
  • The good folks at Affordable Solar provide all manner of solar components for building any size solar project. They also have all the equipment needed for integrating solar electricity into your existing electrical system. You might be surprised to find that they market solar panels wearing the British Petroleum logo. Yup, solar panels from a major oil supplier... how telling is that!

There you should have enough information to keep you going on solar ideas for the rest of the week. If you start following links through the leads I've provided, that should keep you busy until Blog Action Day next year! For a little additional input on the solar subject, please read my recent solar focused blog post at

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