8
May

Nanotechnology A Radical Technology for the Future

  Nanotechnology is a study, which deals with the development and manipulation of matter, materials, and structures that are sized between 1 to 100 nanometers. One nanometer is equal to one billionth of a meter. Though nanotechnology can be considered as recent technological advancement, the groundwork for this technology was formulated and conceptualized in the early 1980s. In simple terms, a comparative size of a nanometer to a meter is the same as that of a marble when compared to the size of the earth.

The groundwork laid for nanotechnology was further enhanced by the invention of scanning tunneling microscope in 1981 and the discovery of fullerenes in 1985. The invention of the scanning tunneling microscope really triggered the study of nanotechnology. The scanning tunneling microscope enables the viewing of imaging surfaces at the atomic level at a good resolution of 0.1 nanometer and a 0.01 nanometer depth resolutions. At these resolutions, scientists were able to view individual atoms within materials and manipulate them. Another invention which aided the development of nanotechnology was the birth of cluster science and the invention of fullerenes. Fullerenes are molecules composed entirely of carbon, in the form of a hollow sphere, ellipsoid or tube.

The credit to the formulation and conceptualization of nanotechnology is shared by a number of scientists. The speech given by Richard Feynman in the late 1950s is considered to be the inspiration for the development of nanotechnology. Norio Taniguchi coined and used the term nano-technology in 1974 to describe processes such as thin film deposition and ion beam milling. In the 1980s, Eric Drexler took steps to promote the technological ideas of nano-scale phenomena and nanomaterials through speeches and books.

Nanotechnology can be further subdivided into various other related categories such as nanomaterials, nanomedicine, molecular self-assembly, and nanoelectronics. All these categories are subject to research and the early results are positive. Nanotechnology also deals with conventional device physics, and also implicates the application of fields such as surface science, organic chemistry, molecular biology, semiconductor physics, and microfabrication, among others.

Nanotechnology applications are used across various industries such as medicine, environment, energy, communication, heavy industry, and consumer goods. In the medicine and pharmaceutical industry, the technology is used for diagnostics, drug delivery, and tissue engineering. In the environment related industry, it is used in nanofiltration, nanotechnology, and other environmental applications. In the energy industry, nanotechnology is used to reduce energy consumption, increase energy production, and clean nuclear waste. In the information and communication space, it is used in the development of memory storage devices, novel semiconductor devices, novel optoelectronic devices, displays, and quantum computers.

For all those on the lookout for an engrossing field of study, nanotechnology is your prime option and it will certainly prove to be a noteworthy career option. To know more about nanotechnology and the related fields, get into a public library and ask the librarian for some famous books on nanotechnology. If you could afford to get a Cheap Internet connection with minimal download speeds, you could research and read through e-books and articles on nanotechnology, on the other hand, you can also gain access to nanotechnology journals and comment on related blogs and forums.

As with all new technologies, there is a sort of skepticism among people when trusting this new technology, but there will be a day when this technology will certainly answer all the critics. Akin to the dot-com bubble in the late 1990s, it is certain that there will be another technology bubble, this time relating to the field of nanotechnology. With nanotechnology catering almost all the vital industrial sectors, it is sure to dominate the marketplace with its innovations in the near future.

8
May

How to Be a Gadget Minimalist

What is a Gadget Minimalist?

A gadget minimalist is someone who knows how to deal with new and old gadgets for the welfare of the environment. He or she is someone who knows how to conserve energy and someone who practices recycling. In short, a gadget minimalist is an eco-geek: a simple environmentalist and a tech-savvy in one.
There are a lot of ways to be one. For example, if you are a person who needs a cellphone to use, you should consider these practices to be a smart shopper and a gadget minimalist all at the same time.

1. Buy Used Cellphones
Buying used cellphones or any pre-owned device will give you two benefits. When you buy used cellphones, you are already extending its lifetime while lowering its carbon footprint. Also, you are saving money.

If you will consider the huge chunk of companies churning out new gadgets in a New York minute, then being able to buy barely used cellphones will be something fun to do.

2. Think like an Expert
When you are planning to buy used cellphones or other gadgets, you must first take time to look at Energy Star ratings, EPEAT ratings, Consumer Reports, and other professional sources to make useful comparisons among what is smart to buy. Keep in mind that doing this will bring you a lot of benefits, such as getting the best gadget to purchase with all its eco-friendly advantage.

3. Go for Recyclable Gadgets
Hey eco-geek wannabe! Going for used cellphones is not enough to be a gadget minimalist! You must also check if the gadget you want to buy is something made from recycled materials. If it is, then consider it a green light! If not, consider other models. But if you really want what you have chosen but it does not fall under this category, it is okay to buy it as long as when you are done with it, you will consider reselling again. Being a gadget minimalist means you should never run out of green choices to make!

4. Going Multifunctional
Say you are already done with the “buying used cellphones” phase and you have your new toy with you, now is the time to get the most out of your multifunctional device. Now that gadgets are manufactured with a lot of features and functions, you can do a lot of multitasking.
By doing this, you no longer have to have too many gadgets to fulfill a certain task. This is a very minimalistic approach as you can limit the use of too many things using only one gadget. As you have a phone that is not just a phone, that should suffice.

5. The Ooh-Shiny Syndrome
Okay, the Ooh-Shiny syndrome is something malignant nowadays considering the growing number of tech-savvy individuals. A piece of advice, avoid it. If you are able to focus on buying used cellphones instead of new-fangled ones, congratulate yourself. This just means that you are already on the verge of becoming a gadget minimalist.
A friendly reminder: if you are already feeling the unwanted frustration and “itch” to buy that certain shiny thing, think of other green options. Go for sites that sell used cellphones which are considerably new. Then and there you’ll do away with this contagious disease.

6. Make money by selling used cellphones or other used stuff
Making money is something very easy if you know where to go and what to do about it. If you want to buy used cellphones, you can sell these things too. Nowadays, it is not a rare thing to find used cellphones in your household. What to do? Take charge of it! Go to refurbishing sites and sell it. You can always choose to dispose of it in a green way by having something green in your pocket in return.

7. Raid your household!
Go all out! Clean your house and get all the e-waste you can find. This is not just about buying or selling used cellphones. This is all about going all-out for the environment. Do you have used laptops or any other electronic device you do not want to use anymore? Either Sell it or donate, but recycling is by far the best choice you can take.

Implement all these things and congratulate yourself. Being a gadget minimalist can be one of the noblest things you can do. Convert now and give your green goal a green light!

19
Apr

Magnet Technology

Magnets are normally viewed as substances which have the property to attract metals like iron, nickel etc. Their major role in a layman’s life may have been in a science laboratory in school or college. However, very few people know about magnet technology. Magnets have emerged as important components in various industrial fields like conveyor belts, cell phones, electric motors and generators, credit/debit, ATM cards, speakers and microphones, televisions, LCDs and so on. Magnetic technology has found diverse applications by providing assistance at construction sites for material handling, assistance in drilling etc. Many construction companies use magnets for cleaning up their construction sites. New kind of magnetic sweepers have emerged as an efficient tool in this field.

Magnets and magnet technology are playing vital role in various fields. To begin with transportation their use has been found in the form of Magnetic levitation transport or maglev which is a form of transportation that suspends, guides and propels vehicles like trains though electromagnetic force. These trains are found largely in countries like China where the magnetic technology is very well developed. Magnets are also used in various types of electromagnetic toys.

Magnetic technology has also led to the development of magnets as fail safe devices for some cable connections like in laptops many a times magnetic power cords are used to prevent accidental damage to the port when tripped over example the MagSafe power connection to the Apple MacBook. Coming to the industrial use of magnetic technology these are widely used in conveyor belts. These conveyor belts are specifically used in plastic recycling to move plastic parts by conveyor to a grinder.

The entertainment industry also makes use of magnets as there are VHS recording tapes which have magnetic tape used to encode the video and audio. TV and computer screens contain a cathode ray tube which employs an electromagnet to guide electrons to the screen. Magnets are also used in speakers and microphones as most speakers employ a permanent magnet and a current carrying coil to convert electrical energy into magnetic energy.

Some high tech uses of magnetic technology has also been found in new type of residential windows by a Japanese company that self-darkens itself to provide privacy to the home owner.
Not only these are used in big industries and large machines, magnets are found in almost every item of our day to day life be it cell phones or toys or even smart cards. Magnets are also used largely in the health care industry wherein hospitals use them for MRI scans which shows detailed information of the human body.

15
Apr

The Impact of Technology on the Transcription Industry

The Impact of Technology on the Transcription IndustryTechnology is always evolving, and has become so ingrained in our lives that we never stop and really notice how much easier life has become with it around. Technology has taken mundane and time-consuming chores that are required in everyday living and business and reduced them to simple tasks that a machine can easily handle.

However, the transcription industry is a large market and many medical professionals rely on human transcriptionists to convert their audio files to text. There’s been a lot of scrutiny over technical systems that have been developed to handle transcription work. Systems like speech recognition and Electronic Medical Records (EMR) are being used, but are not completely flawless and still require a human to check through the results and compare them with the audio file. In fact, there are still a large percentage of lawyers and hospitals that outsource all their transcription tasks to a company that employs human transcribers.

Speech recognition has a large potential to really overtake any human transcriber, but the advances aren’t quite there yet. The technology has gotten so advanced that they can record every word a doctor speaks with ease, but there are still a lot of grammar and punctuation problems. Since the English language is so complex, the software has yet to get the proper commas, periods, and question marks down on record, and punctuation can really make all the difference in the tone of a dictation.

Most modern-day speech recognition software uses a statistical language model, which can be incredibility troublesome because it needs to access a huge database. Since the machine needs to refer to this database constantly, and as more and more language possibilities become available to it, this takes up a lot of processing time and can dramatically affect production levels and accuracy.

There will still be a need for a medical transcriber even if speech recognition is used in the majority of hospitals, at least for another decade. They will still need to listen to the audio and cross-check it with the machine’s punctuation and accuracy. We’re still not really sure if a lengthy editing session for machine-induced grammatical errors would be an advancement over just using a human transcriber in the first place.

The EMR system has increasingly been adopted throughout the US. In 2008, it was reported that 38.4{24dd5b97eb604df08618aafdc739153a2ef83e0a069346e40607192e69f3aad3} of office-based physicians were already using the system. Many doctors are taking to this method because it reduces paper usage and filing cabinet space. Hard disk space is very inexpensive nowadays and does not require any office space, so many personal doctors and hospitals are really cutting costs by going digital.

However, the main problem with this system, and probably the main reason why hospitals have not fully adopted it, is that there is no standardization for it. Many hospitals are also aware of patient security and the risks of having all their data on a digital system. Anything that is digital can be hacked and hospitals could be sued over leaked patient data, and many of them understandably do not want to take that risk.

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9
Apr

Benefits of Green Energy

Green energy is becoming progressively more popular day by day as it provides myriads of benefits. It is a sustainable, reliable and comprehensive source of energy that requires little or no maintenance and is beneficial in the long run. Using green energy is an extremely reliable way to save your monthly expenditures on electricity bills. It is a renewable form of energy that utilizes sunlight to produce electricity.

Solar energy is beneficial for our health as it neither pollutes the environment nor does it release any harmful substances into the air. In this article, I will discuss some of the most effective benefits of this renewable energy so you can easily understand the importance of this reliable alternative source.

1. Sustainable Energy

Solar energy is a sustainable form of energy. Solar photovoltaic cells use sunlight to generate electricity and continuously provide you with a sustainable source of energy for long-term daily usage.

2. Energy-Efficient

Solar energy panels are energy efficient and require little maintenance. Once the solar panel is installed, it generally doesn’t require any fuel or lubricant. Solar electric system offers maximum efficiency and has no recurring costs.

3. Environmentally-Friendly

Solar energy is a natural form of energy that does not contribute to global warming. Unlike fossils fuels solar panels don’t release any greenhouse gases, carcinogens, carbon dioxide or other poisonous gases in the atmosphere. The use of green energy for residential and commercial purposes can help reduce transport fuel which further reduces carbon emissions. In this way it can also reduce industrial and electrical pollution.

4. Healthy for Humans

The major advantage of using green energy is that it does not cause any adverse effects on human health. Since, it is environmentally-friendly and promotes a clean atmosphere for all of us therefore, risks of respiratory diseases, cardiac dangers and eyesight impairment are also reduced.

5. No Noise Pollution

Solar photovoltaic cells produce energy silently and do not make any noise. This is another positive effect of green energy which makes it a more reliable and cost-effective alternative source of electricity for homeowners.

6. Budget-Friendly

Solar panel installation is little bit expensive but once it is installed, it will generate inexhaustible amount of energy that will definitely save you money in the long run. In fact, it is the most reliable and easiest way to drastically decrease your monthly electricity expenditure. The solar energy system produces more energy than your daily usage; so you can also store it for future use.

7. Extremely Reliable

Reliability is the most significant benefit of green energy. There is no need to worry about replacing any part of a solar electric system as it has the ability to produce a huge amount of solar energy with little maintenance.

8. No Power Outage

Since, solar panels are self-efficient and can generate inexhaustible amount of energy therefore, there is no need to worry about power outage.

If truth be told, installing solar electric system is a viable option if you want to achieve maximum benefits of green energy. It saves you money and provides a considerable amount of solar power for your daily use.

8
Apr

Personal Security and The Technological Threats

The free market and globalization changed our lives for the better. These two innovations made our lives more convenient and comfortable but along with it, it has brought a number of threats to our personal safety and security as the internet has made our private information accessible to everyone blessed with technical knowhow. With the mounting threat of global terrorism, using innocent civilians as targets and medium to mount their plans, the government is spending huge amount of government funds in billions of dollars to maintain peace and order.

We see these in movies where private individuals whose lives were put into danger just because of a case of mistaken identity or just because somebody else is assuming anothers identity. Odessa Permian High School’s quiet and ordinary days were put under media eye in May 2010 as a basketball player, under the name of Jerry Joseph, does not really exist. Reports say that his true identity is Guerdwich Montimere, a 6 foot-5 Haitian-born, star player of the high school basketball varsity team. Due to the former acquaintances, his identity was revealed and confirmed through Google, a multinational web search engine, along with the trail of lies that he is living with. To date, he is the subject of identity check by the Immigration of the American government, and will be facing a number of charges such as possible deportation to Haiti.

Our bank and credit card accounts are not safe as it can be accessed easily by the so-called hackers, and bingo! You will be incurring fraudulent transactions and expenses totally alien to you, or worst, rob you of your savings. Plus, cleaning-up the mess takes ages and you will be one lucky if the bank does not charge you.

On the other hand, the mobile phones that we carry wherever we go, no matter how small it is, enables us to accomplish multi-tasking from and to all points of the earth. Additionally, it has become a security tool that makes us connected to civilization when our car breaks down in the middle of a forsaken nowhere. But little do we know that such miniscule of an object can threaten our security and privacy. Terrorists and kidnappers can easily abduct us for whatever purposes they have in mind as cell phones can be wire-tapped and locate our location.

As dangers to national and personal security come in various forms using several medium and dimension, the government, combined with the ingenuity of scientists in different fields of studies have continuously engineered equipment such as night vision devices used in surveillance and methods in fighting terrorism and curtailing terroristic plans.

But security agencies operating under license from the authorized licensing government entities, have continuously provided a steady stream of services ranging from consultancy to provision of security personnel to individuals who have potential threats to their lives and properties. You must comply with some of the federals licensing bodies with regards, for example, to the security equipment, training for personnel, firearms, security vehicle and among others, before being issued a permit to operate if you are contemplating on putting-up your own security or detective agency.

24
Mar

The Smart Batteries How Much Do You Know

The battery has the inherit problem of not being able to communicate with the user.Neither weight,color,nor size provides an indication of the battery’s state-of-charge (SoC) and state-of-health (SoH).The user is at the mercy of the battery.Help is at hand in breaking the code of silence.An increasing number of today’s rechargeable batteries are made ‘smart’.Equipped with a microchip,these batteries are able to communicate with the charger and user alike.Typical applications for smart batteries are notebook computers and video cameras.Increasingly,these batteries are also used in biomedical devices and defense applications.

Lithium Battery for Financial POS Machine

There are several types of ‘smart’ batteries,each offering different complexities and costs.The most basic smart battery may contain nothing more than a chip that sets the charger to the correct charge algorithm.In the eyes of the Smart Battery System (SBS) forum,these batteries cannot be called ‘smart’.What then makes a battery ‘smart’?Definitions still vary among organizations and manufacturers.The SBS forum states that a ‘smart’ battery must be able to provide SoC indications.Today,several manufacturers produce such chips.They range from the single wire system,to the two-wire system to the System Management Bus (SMBus). Let’s first look at the single wire system.

The Single Wire Bus

The single wire system delivers the data communications through one wire.This battery or lithium battery uses three wires: the common positive and negative battery terminals and one single data terminal,which also provides the clock information.For safety reasons,most battery manufacturers run a separate wire for temperature sensing.Figure 1 shows the layout of a single wire system.

Single wire system of a smart battery

The single wire system stores the battery code and tracks battery readings,including temperature,voltage,current and SoC.Because of relatively low hardware cost,the single wire system enjoys market acceptance for high-end two-way radios,camcorders and portable computing devices.Most single wire systems do not provide a common form factor;neither do they lend themselves to standardized SoH measurements.This produces problems for a universal charger concept.The Benchmarq single wire solution,for example,cannot measure the current directly;it must be extracted from a change in capacity over time.In addition,the single wire bus allows battery SoH measurement only when the host is ‘married’ to a designated battery pack.

The SMBus

The SMBus is the most complete of all systems.It represents a large effort from the electronics industry to standardize on one communications protocol and one set of data.The Duracell/Intel SBS, which is in use today,was standardized in 1993.It is a two-wire interface system consisting of separate lines for the data and clock.Figure 2 shows the layout of the two-wire SMBus system.

Two-wire SMBus system

The objective behind the SMBus battery is to remove the charge control from the charger and assign it to the battery.With a true SMBus system,the battery becomes the master and the charger serves as slave that must follow the dictates of the battery.Battery-controlled charging makes sense when considering that some packs share the same footprint but contain different chemistries,requiring alternative charge algorithms.With the SMBus,each primary battery receives the correct charge levels and terminates full-charge with proper detection methods.Future battery chemistries will be able to use the existing chargers.

An SMBus battery contains permanent and temporary data.The permanent data is programmed into the battery at the time of manufacturing and includes battery ID number,battery type,serial number,manufacturer’s name and date of manufacture.The temporary data is acquired during use and consists of cycle count,user pattern and maintenance requirements.Some of this information is renewed during the life of the battery.Some lower cost chargers have emerged that accommodate SMBus batteries but are not fully SBS compliant.Manufacturers of SMBus batteries do not fully endorse this shortcut.Safety is always a concern,but customers buy them because of low cost.

35 and 202 series smart batteries

Among the most popular SMBus batteries are the 35 and 202 form-factors (Figure 3).Manufactured by Sony,Hitachi,GP Batteries,Moli Energy and others,these batteries work (should work) in all portable equipment designed for this system.Although the 35 has a smaller footprint than the 202,most chargers accommodate both sizes.A non-SMBus (‘dumb’) version with same footprint is also available.These batteries can only be charged with a regular charger,or one that accepts both types.In spite of the agreed standard and given form factors,many computer manufacturers have retained their proprietary batteries.Safety,performance and form factor are the reasons.In the absence of competition,these batteries can be sold for a premium price.

22
Mar

Zero Point Energy Generators

Almost all our current energy needs are met from fossil fuels. Coal and petroleum are the two most important fossil fuels. However they have several disadvantages. Not only do they emit green house gases and produce harmful by products, they are also finite in amount. As these have been used for centuries, they are now on the brink of exhaustion. That is the reason why your utility companies keep increasing the price of electricity.

Scientists and technologists have been searching for alternative forms of energy to replace the fossil fuels. Solar energy and wind energy have become the most popular of the alternative energy resources. However, there is another source of energy that is small but everlasting. This last characteristic is the reason behind the increasing interest in this source of energy. This is the zero point energy.

What is zero point energy?

According to the laws of physics, every mechanical system has some energy inherent in it at the ground state. Simply put, there exists some amount of background energy even in stable systems or in a vacuum. This energy is known as the zero point energy. This energy is small, but it will last for ever.

How can we extract this energy and use it for our needs? The energy inside the stable systems is converted into heat. This heat is stored in such mediums as coolant water. It is then redirected to generate electricity. Atomic energy is similar to the zero point energy.

Magnetic energy generators

The force of attraction inherent in a magnet is a type of zero point energy. Magnetic energy generators convert this force of magnetic attraction into electricity. The amount of electricity is not much, but it will last as long as the magnet does. The principal is that the energy input is less than the energy output. This seems too good to be true and many scientists are still skeptical about the claim. However, magnetic energy generators are being used for running small household appliances. Utilized properly, they may well fulfill all your energy needs. Industries have also began to experiment with the larger versions of magnetic energy generators.

How do magnetic energy generators operate?

Magnets have two poles: the North Pole and the South Pole. According to the laws of physics when the same poles of two different magnets are brought near each other, they repel each other. On the other hand the two opposite poles of two magnets will attract each other. As a result of these forces of attraction and repulsion the magnets physically move towards or away from each other. This force is inherent in the magnet and not dependant on any outside force. So this is a form of zero point energy. You can build a generator which utilizes this force of attraction and repulsion of two magnets to turn a rotor and generate electricity. The amount of electricity generated will depend on the size and power of the magnets. Bigger and more powerful the magnets, greater is the energy generated. This energy is in the form of direct current. It is then used by a system of controller and batteries.

14
Mar

Is Technology Shackling You

 Is technology shackling you? Although technology may offer many benefits as a small business owner, it is sure to be tough in other ways. There are so many things to learn and keep up with as technology advances. This has a variety of unexpected ways that technology may actually hold you back at times. So it is important to recognize if technology is shackling you.

How does the influence of technology affect your online presence as a small business owner? The truth is, you may not even know the answer to this question. So this is one of the main ways it can influence your small business, by being unable to understand it. How your website, blog or other online presence work is dependent on your understanding of the search engines and other factors for your small business. Understanding and utilizing technology effectively has benefits for any small business. The biggest benefit is it saves money and time. Your online presence is positively influenced by the benefits from well chosen technologies. Your small business is exponentially expanded by the influence of well organized technologies.

What is the real purpose for technology now that we have it? The true purpose of technology is to make things simpler and more accurate for the small business owner. If technology is not doing this for you, then it maybe necessary to simplify your technological strategy. It may also be necessary to upgrade your understanding of the technologies you are using. Remember it is not all about the machines, they are a tool to make your small business run more efficiently. As a tool it should be as useful as possible. The real purpose of technology is to serve the user well. Always recognize this factor and technology will serve you better.

Are there ways to utilize technology more effectively? Of course, these include upgrading, hiring experts to help you and of course education. The main thing to keep in touch with is the positive impact that technology. If it is serving your small business well, then keep with it. It is not always necessary to have that new upgrade, especially if it is unrealistically expensive. It is also not necessary to incur technical support costs, if all you need is a basic workable website. There are many things to consider and will make your goals easier, if you utilize technology effectively.

Is technology really necessary? The best answer to this is no. Technology is only as useful as the way that it is implemented. Do not be fooled into thinking that you need anything, just because it is new and flashy. Integrate the technologies that will be an asset to the way your small business runs. Put as much faith in the person running the devices, then make good choices about equipment based on the user capability. Taking time to mesh the right people with the right technological advancements is key to using them both equally well today.

So is technology shackling you? It does not have to, technology can be a friend. The key is to analyze how you are using it, but keep up with how it is influencing your small business. Technologies do not have to be a burden if understood and used effectively.

11
Mar

Types Of Solar Electric Systems

Types of Solar Electric Systems
There’s more than one way to generate solar energy. It all depends on the type of solar electric system you choose. You need to understand the various classifications used for types of solar electric systems.
There are two main types of solar electric systems: those connected to the local energy grid, and those that stand-alone, but some systems function as hybrids of these two types. Each system type has its own advantages and disadvantages, though grid-tied solar electric is becoming much more common worldwide, making up close to 70% of the residential solar market today.
Grid-Connected Solar Electric Systems
A grid-connected solar electric system goes by several other names, including utility interactive, grid inter-tied, and grid-tie systems (GTS). The basic set-up of a grid-connected solar electric system involves solar panels that are linked to the local electric utility grid. But of course, the connection between the solar array and the utility grid is a bit more complex than that. The following are the required components for a grid-connected solar electric system:

    • Solar panels
    • Inverter
    • DC disconnect
    • AC breaker panel
    • Kilowatt-hour meter
    • Utility disconnect
    • Electrical wiring in your home

All of these components function together in an intricate design to collect and distribute clean, renewable energy. It starts with the solar panels that collect sunlight and convert it into an electrical current. The electricity that these panels produce is direct current (DC) energy, but since your home and the grid function on alternating current (AC) energy, the raw solar energy needs to be converted.
The solar electric system relies on an inverter (sometimes called a power conditioning unit, or PCU), which is one of the most important components in your solar electric system. The inverter will convert the DC energy to AC energy which can then be used inside your home and or be safely sent to the local utility grid. From there, the electricity travels via your home’s normal wiring through the AC breaker panel.
A grid-tied solar electric system also requires an array DC disconnect, which is essentially a switch that allows you to stop the flow of electricity from your solar panels. This is used to shut the system down in emergencies or when maintenance needs to be performed. You will also have a utility disconnect which is used by the local utility to stop the flow of energy when they need to perform maintenance on the utility grid.
A kilowatt-hour meter provides a read-out of how much power your solar array has produced in order to calculate your monthly utility bill. When connected to the existing power grid and producing energy, your solar panel will pump all excess clean energy you produce into the grid. Through a program called net metering, which many (but not all) communities now have, you will get credit from your local utility for all of the power fed into the grid. In essence, the meter will spin backwards during these times!
At night and during times when your solar system doesn’t make enough energy for your home, you can draw power from the local utility grid. As a result, most grid-connected solar system do not include a battery since all of the energy is consumed as it is produced.
Stand-Alone, Off-Grid Solar Electric Systems
A stand-along solar electric array is usually sized to provide a minimum amount of energy in order to generate an entire home’s energy requirements (sometimes combined with geothermal, wind, or hydro power). Most grid-connected systems, on the other hand, normally provide only a portion of the energy needed by the home.
The components used in an off-grid solar electric system are very similar to those used in a grid-tied, but for a few additional components. Here’s the complete list:

    • Solar panels
    • Inverter
    • Back-up generator
    • DC disconnect
    • Batteries
    • AC breaker panel
    • Kilowatt-hour meter
    • Utility disconnect
    • Rectifier
    • Electrical wiring in your home

So how does an off-grid solar system differ from a grid-connected one? It collects solar energy in the same way and then converts it into an electrical (DC) current, but in this case, it can either funnel the electricity into your home or the battery system. It does not ever send electricity into the local electric utility grid.
In a stand-alone solar system, sometimes the DC energy is pumped straight into the DC battery, but it can also send the energy through an inverter to convert the DC energy into AC energy, just as before. Most often the electricity is then piped into your home or the batteries which can either store the energy for later use or be consumed immediately by your home, depending on the time of day and the amount of energy being produced and used. As with a grid-tied system, your off-grid solar array will also have a DC disconnect to allow you to shut the system down in an emergency and for maintenance, but it will also have a rectifier which is like a reverse inverter for changing AC to DC power for charging the batteries.
Batteries are finicky pieces of equipment, and as such they require some additional components to ensure they run well and last a long time. A system meter, for instance, will measure how full your battery is and how much energy is being produced by your panels versus how much you are using. This will give you a detailed look at how well your system is performing and whether or not you have any problems.
Another important component for battery health is the charge controller which also monitors and manages the charge coming from the panels into the batteries. For homes that are completely off the local electric grid, a back-up generator is usually part of the energy package as well. This gas or diesel-powered system provides electricity during periods of lesser sunlight and at night as needed. These can, however, be very noisy and produce a lot of fumes, so are often not preferred by solar owners.
Hybrid Solar Electric Systems
A hybrid solar electric system combines some of the best characteristics of an off-grid and a grid-tied system. These systems are connected to the local utility grid, but also have a battery back-up system. The battery allows the homeowner to store energy for use during non-producing hours (at night or during black-outs). These systems are ideal for homes where the energy grid is unreliable because of inclement weather, an unstable utility generation system, and so on. This is of particular importance for those who rely on a constant source of energy for their home or business.

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