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Earlier this year, I was lucky enough to tour Germany.

What, you ask, does Germany have to do with a book review on getting electricity from solar panels?

Practically everything. You see, Germany is the world leader in photovoltaic solar energy production. They produce more than the rest of Europe combined, so they are clearly way ahead of their time. I saw entire towns being powered by solar voltaic cells.

So when I returned to the United States, I had a real interest in learning more. I know the electricity itself is free, but I was wondering if it was cost effective to install the solar systems here that would provide the electricity?

There seem to be two types of books available on the subject. One goes deep into the technical aspects of solar power, is many pages long, and costs from $30 and up.

The other “type” is a basic little “solar instructions” book like this one. AJ O’Brien cautions readers that this book is small, and it is. O’Brien suggests to readers that it is for those just beginning their “solar journey” (like me).

The book has only a few chapters. Chapter names follow a “who, what, when, where, why, and how” format. Here are some of the chapter names:

  • Why solar?
  • How does a solar cell system work?
  • How do I choose the right system for me?
  • What do I need to know before buying?

He ends the book with a section titled “Five Things to Know About Solar Power.”

The book is rich in basics, light in details, as the author promised. One of the interesting things that he covered is that solar-generated electricity is probably the future in the United States and other countries, whether we like it or not. The reason is that we are running out of other options. In Florida, where I live (and where the author apparently lives as well), we use coal and nuclear power to produce electricity. Coal burns dirty and it takes a lot of effort and energy to clean up the effluent. Nuclear power, of course, has its own problems, as the Japanese have learned. Solar panels, on the other hand, produce clean, unlimited electricity and have no “side effects.” We’re not ready for that yet because of the cost. But we are coming.

O’Brien covers all the basics of a starter book. He has a Resources section for those, like me, who want to learn more.

This book is probably worth reading as a starting point. I would like to see a little more detail. However, it’s a pretty decent starter book for your “solar journey” or just learning the basics of this topic quickly. I recommend it for those purposes; after reading this book you can decide if you want to go deeper.

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