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Find Solar: As Easy as it Sounds

7/31/2007 12:00:00 AM

Tags: electricity, solar, renewable energy, PV

When I first heard about the Find Solar Web site, I was skeptical. (Oh sure, it provides everything you need to know to buy solar panels in one place. What are the odds of that?)  But I was pleasantly surprised: This Web site is remarkably thorough and easy to use. In fact, if you're in the market for a solar energy system, you might as well skip the rest of what I have to say, and go straight to the Find Solar site.

On the other hand, if you're as skeptical as I was, keep reading and let me try to convince you that Find Solar is a wonderful source of information. Here are some of the Web site's best points:

  1. It's not a corporate site. When I first glanced at the Find Solar site, I was afraid it might all be the work of one company that sells solar panels, but that's not the case at all. According to their 'About us' page, Find Solar is a partnership between the American Solar Energy Society (ASES), Solar Electric Power Association (SEPA), U.S. Department of Energy, and on the software side of things Energy Matters LLC.

2. It covers all forms of solar power. Not only is there information on photovoltaic systems, there's also info on solar space heating and water heating. (There are also listings for companies that sell wind turbines, but the site is definitely geared toward people interested in solar.)

3. It has all the local information you need. Just fill in your state and county and you can get all the relevant details about incentives available in your area, and info on local retailers and installers. The information is detailed but easy to follow.

For example, I was in the section that helps you find local solar professionals. I did a quick search and found that there's one solar retailer in my town, and there are four others within a 100 mile radius. For each company, the site lists not only contact information, but also customer reviews, associations the business is a member of, and the number and types of solar systems they've installed. It's all very handy.

4. Getting an estimate is remarkably painless. I hate filling out online forms, but this one's easy. To get an estimate on a PV system, all you have to know is what county you live in, what utility company you use and about how much you pay each month for electricity. Then you click a button and it gives you an estimate that takes into account any local incentives.

5. There's good, general background information. If you're in the market for a renewable energy system, chances are you have a few questions about how it works. I was happy to see that Find Solar answers many of those questions with an extensive list of FAQ, which you can search by keyword.

Yes, it's that good! Whether you're actively looking for a solar energy system, or just exploring your options, I definitely recommend this site as a starting place.

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