Solar Energy and Power

All things Solar

Solar Gable Fan

Do you want to get a gable fan to help keep your attic cool in the hot summer months? If you do then you will want to know about the benefits of solar gable fans for your attic. A solar attic fan will not only help remove the heat from the attic, but will do so without increasing your electric bill as it is run by solar power.

Does Not Require Connection To Electric System

When you are looking at this you will notice it is marked as a solar gable fan. So if you think that by the heading here that it will not require electric that would be a mistake. However, one thing that it is not going to need is connected to the electric system in the home. That is because this solar fan is going to allow you to have this set up to its own solar power and run solely off of this power.

Now, you may find that some of these are going to have battery backups. However, this may not be something that is common and even then it will not require you to hook the fan up to the electric system inside of your home.


Can Cool The Attic Off Quickly

This is the key thing that an attic exhaust fan is supposed to do and that is keep your attic cool. You may think that any fan can do that, but you need to realize a gable fan is the most effective way to keep the attic cool and this in-turn will reduce the amount of heat in the home as well. So, having a solar powered attic fan in place in the attic is going to be a great thing because it will help to keep the attic cool and from being so hot: and one that does not require running more electric in the attic is even better.

Run By Solar Power So Works Great On Sunny Days

You may have heard that solar power does not work that well on cloudy days. However, that was the first generation type of solar power and many changes have since been made to attic vent fan technology, so, not only is this system going to work great on sunny days, but it will still work on the cloudy days as well. So this is something that you are going to want to consider because it will make it easier for you to have a great gable vent fan that is still not going to require electric from an outside source.

Easy To Install Compared To Most Gable Fans

The ease of installation of a solar vent fan is going to be something you are going to enjoy as well. You may think that when you are installing these fans they are going to be difficult to put in. However, since this does not require a tie-in to your home electric power you will see it is easy to set up and does not require you to have any knowledge about the electric in your home to get it hooked up.

When you want to get your home cooled off quickly, it will often start with keeping the attic cool. This is when you should know more about the benefits of getting a solar gable fan. Once you know these benefits it will be easy to see this is one of the best ways to cool your home off without adding anything to your home electric load.

Solar Steam Train

CREDIT: By Oxyman [GFDL (, CC-BY-SA-3.0 ( or CC BY 2.5 (], from Wikimedia Commons

Basically, we all are aware that solar energy can be used to generate electricity or heat for our homes or whatever machine in question that may be using the solar technology. What we may not know however, is that if combined with technology from a steam engine then the solar powered steam originating from the sun can be harnessed as solar steam power and used to manufacture clean mechanical energy as well which can be used in the working of a solar steam generator such as the idea for a solar steam train.

Steam engines in the olden times used firewood or coal to burn and boil water in a reservoir to produce steam concentrated at high pressures which is useful in rotating a piston by the steam engine but these methods produced a lot of soot, smoke and carbon emissions, harmful to the environment, which contributed to activities aimed at finding a newer more reliable and less wasteful steam generator.

This saw the proposal of the solar steam train come to be.


The use of solar may be a bit less efficient as compared to the regular more polluting fuels but it is a lot more environmentally friendly which is a better win on any day. Since the energy given off by the sun is in abundance, pollution free and is as well free of charge, it doesn’t make it unreasonable to want to convert it and use it mechanically to drive our machines-in this case, the solar steam train. The sun’s energy however is dissipated across a wide region and to be able to harness it would mean concentrating it at one certain point to produce enough heat to convert water into pressurized steam.

A few components are used in this process such as a solar collector, which is the lens used to concentrate the sun’s rays to a certain point where it can be collected, the heat transfer point where the sunlight is focused onto a metal transfer case which allows for the heating of water to turn it into steam with supporting high temperature and high pressure equipment and finally the steam engine which is the chamber that focuses the pressurized steam and normal atmospheric pressure to move pistons which in turn move shafts which are then used to turn the mechanical apparatus.

It however does have some challenges facing it before its successful integration to make a working solar steam engine such as; the amount of power dissipated from a steam engine is not the same as from an internal combustion engine which produces significantly more power output. It may take more than one steam engine to do the equivalent work of one internal combustion engine. They also require more regular maintenance as compared to ordinary engines.

Solar steam power is also focused purely on the sun and as such is limited to day times and clear skies but ways are being worked on that will see steam produced from solar energy being stored for use at times when solar energy is unavailable. To provide enough heat from the sunlight as well that can be used to heat water and create steam needs concentrated light which would need large reflective mirrors placed at a central location with no obstruction most probably the top of the train. These large lenses or as well parabolic mirrors can be used, are very expensive and putting up a number of these together enough for the project will be expensive. They also have to constantly be aligned to follow the movement of the sun.

Though the use of solar steam technology for trains is not as efficient or even convenient, it is a non-polluting energy source and with continued improvements to technology and solar steam energy to be specific, it will find practical use in the near fast-approaching future.

Steam As Energy Storage

Credit: CSIRO [CC BY 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

The world is going green. With each passing day, we learn of new evidence that anthropogenic causes are the leading causes of climate change and global warming. In recognizing that we as human beings are the main culprits in the destruction of mother nature, we are now diverting more of our resources to finding new and cleaner means of powering our economies. Importantly, the financial resources and manpower being invested in these kinds of research is aimed at ensuring that the renewable and sustainable energy sources we exploit can be done so economically. Otherwise, the drive to go fully sustainable will not be tenable.

One of the ways of making renewable energy sources, solar energy in particular, economical is to enhance the storage potential possible so as to even out the peaks and troughs characteristic of solar power generation. This means that by storing the excess solar energy produced during peak hours when the sun is shining the brightest, you can use the stored energy for when production dips significantly due to lack of solar radiation (at night) or there being less than stellar conditions for solar energy production (cloudy days).


While many people will consider batteries as the only way to store energy, there are many other ways of storing solar energy. One alternative to batteries is the concept of steam as energy storage. The idea itself is not new. It was invented in 1874 by Andrew Bettis Brown, a Scottish engineer. However, what is new is the way the concept is implemented. With new technology and new material, it is now possible to store solar energy using steam in a cost-effective and efficient manner, making solar energy production more lucrative and reliable.

How Steam As Energy Storage Works

Just like any other energy storage technology, steam as energy storage works by charging and discharging.

The Charge – The charging process involves filling the steam storage tank half-full with cold water. Thereafter, steam generated through solar heating is blown into the tank through perforated pipes located near the bottom of the tank. As steam rises, some of it will condense and heat the water in the tank. The remaining steam will penetrate the water and fill the empty space left at the top of the tank. At the end of the charging process, the water will have significantly risen in temperature, pressure, and water level (up to about three-quarters of the tank).

The Discharge – For discharging, steam can be drawn out of the tank to drive a steam turbine that produces electricity (or the steam can be used as is in manufacturing processes). During the discharge process, the pressure will continuously drop as more and more steam is released. However, the reduction in pressure causes the water left in the tank to boil and release more steam, thereby constantly recharging the tank with steam until the overall system does not have ample pressure and steam to produce more steam. The gradual reduction in temperature and pressure allows the energy stored to be released gradually.

A good example of this technology in use is the PS10 solar power plant in Spain near Seville. There are even newer and better versions of such system, including EnergyNest AS and Aalborg CSP A/S. An even more audacious plan to use this technology was mooted – a fireless locomotive in Sacramento back in 2009. The plan was to install thermal solar energy harvesters in portions of the Sacramento Rail Yards to collect solar energy. The energy produced by PG&E steam plant would also be used to supplement energy supply around the area. However, the vast majority of the steam was to be used to charge and recharge fireless steam locomotives that are used in the popular tourist trains.

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