The solar energy conversation is buzzing with the introduction of Tesla’s solar roofing tiles. But you don’t need to buy a $50,000 solar roof to clean up your energy footprint.
There are less expensive ways to dip your toes in the wellspring of solar energy. The answer is a solar station, which also opens the possibility of utilizing your solar capabilities at home and on the road.
What’s A Solar Station?
A solar station is an structure of any shape, size, and functionality that integrates solar panels into its structural design. With a solar station in place you have extra electricity that you can use to power your lights, charge your laptop, or just store for an emergency.
There’s a lot of space for creativity when designing your own solar station—but with options comes inevitable indecisiveness.
We here at Insteading decided to do a little digging and find out what ideas make the most out of this style of solar capture.
A solar pergola is a smart way to provide your backyard with shade while reaping the sun’s energy. Your pergola can be any size—you’re in control of where your solar station will be and how much space it’ll take up. Here are a few examples.
- PV Pergola, design by Mike Taylor, research director for the Solar Electric Power Association.
- Solar Shade Pergola, design by Mark Dickson of solar system installers Oasis Montana.
- Solar Pergola, designed by Hugh Lofting Timber Framing.
If you want to go smaller, maybe a solar umbrella? California State University, Long Beach, students can sit and study at outdoor tables shielded by solar-generating shade panels.
6,000 miles away in Belgrade, Serbia, designer Miloš Milivojevic used the same concept to develop solar shade “trees” in a public park.
Small-Scale Solar Roofs
If you have chickens or want chickens use solar panels for the coop roof, like this homesteader in Alaska.
Or, if you need to replace the roof on your garden shed, use solar panels to help pay for the job.
Building Your Own Solar Station
All these ideas are great and you can design them to your specifications. But if you’re an on-the-go type and want to bring your solar with you, you really need to check out SolarStation.com.
Developed by inventor and designer Ben Peterson, Solar Station integrates optimal solar performance with livability and transport.
You can use it as a shed in your backyard or even a self-sustainable office.
The Solar Station will not only power all your outdoor appliances, but can tie-in to your grid and supplement energy to your home.
I think one of the greatest uses of the Solar Station isn’t in the backyard, but out on the road!
Solar Station was designed to attach to a small trailer and travel. Being able to power your RV or camper via the sun opens up heaps of destinations that don’t supply electricity.
The solar station is great for camping as you can store tons of your gear inside of it, plug in whatever you need, and at the end of the day sleep inside it to keep warm.
The solar station is also perfect for an extended hunting trip for all the reasons listed above. After a long day hoofing it in the back country, there’s no better feeling than getting into dry clothes and kicking back under a roof.
The Solar Station is also a good option for those with limited building and solar panel installation experience. Go to Solar Station’s webpage and purchase the $25 book. This video shows you the basic process that the book will take you through.
It has all the plans and directions to get you from step 1 to completion. There are also videos to help you with the construction of your Solar Station, so you won’t be building in the dark!
No matter which direction you go, going solar is a step in the right direction. We hope you take the leap and enjoy where you land.
Josef Olson works in Seattle as a carpenter and keeps busy off the clock with an assortment of DIY projects.
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