Top 5 Reasons to Invest in Solar Energy in 2016

Author: Sunny Dublick

I am sure you have heard it before: “invest in solar energy”, “the time is now. . . .”The big question though is: “why?” There are the obvious answers, and then there are ones that may surprise you. Take a look below at the top 5 reasons to invest in solar energy in 2016:

1. It Saves Money

Whether you plan on purchasing solar energy for a business or for a residential property, there is no denying the monetary benefits. The price of electricity is often unpredictable, but also rising. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the residential electricity price is expected to rise 2.4% to 12.9 cents/kWh in 2017. While you will undoubtedly be saving—the real question is “how much”? Solar Nation estimates customers that invested in a 5 kW solar PV system saved an average of $44 to $187 per month during the first year that they owned their system. While savings can vary greatly due to any number of factors (state, amount of sunlight absorbed on the property, etc.) this calculator is one way to determine an estimated figure. With newer solar panels having a lifespan of 40-50 years, you can rest assured your investment will be returned many times over.

2. It Protects the Environment

The impact of solar energy is far more expansive than just saving on your bills. Creating a “sustainable future” is a paramount issue globally. The toll we have taken on our environment can only be rectified by changing the way we consume energy. Solar energy is clean energy—drawing power directly from the sun. Not only does it reduce our dependency on fossil fuels that damage our environment, it also cuts our greenhouse gas emissions, which lead to global warming. My Domino estimates that 1 residential solar panel system can eliminate 3-4 tons of carbon emissions each year, which is roughly the equivalent of planting over 100 trees every year.

3. Its more affordable than ever before

Contrary to popular belief, solar panels won’t break the bank. Although the cost is not anything to laugh off, technological advancements in the field have made them more accessible and therefore less costly. Also, as mentioned earlier, they provide a great return on investment for years and years to come. One last important thing to note, is that there are numerous tax incentives available for those who embrace solar technology for their homes and/or businesses. Considerations like this are very important in justifying the expenditure.

4. It increases property value

According to EnergySage, homes with solar panel systems have property values 3-4% above similar homes in the same area and sell twice as fast as the competition. This value is expected to increase with solar popularity as appraisers and consumers become more educated on the benefits that solar energy provides for homes and commercial buildings.

5. It makes a statement

Having a solar panel on your property is a statement to your family, friends, employees and customers that you are committed to creating a greener future. For many businesses and organizations this falls under corporate or social responsibility, and can become an important aspect of corporate culture. On the individual level, this purchase signifies an early adopter mentality to what is sure to be a solar future. Often time’s residential purchases are stemmed from referrals of other solar panel users who are delighted with the results of their green endeavor.

For more information on solar energy, or to request a quote for the ConnecTable solar charging station, please contact us at info@theconnectable.com or 267-419-8496.

With summer right around the corner we all have dreams of the great outdoors dancing in our heads. Festivals, beach trips, and camping excursions await– it’s time to start preparing for adventure. Before we set off however, it is essential we plan activities in a way that still preserve the amazing environment we seek to explore. According to The World Counts, tourism contributes to more than 5% of global greenhouse gas. Have you thought about how you can combat the negative impacts of tourism in your travels?

At the ConnecTable, we are big proponents of creating a more sustainable environment through the use of solar energy. Therefore, we wanted to show our fans some of the newest, coolest, most unique portable solar powered items you can use off-the-grid this summer season. In no particular order, here is our list of the “coolest” solar gadgets:

 

Solar powered bike lock

Solar powered bike lock

Designed for the avid biker, the Skylock is a solar powered “smart” bike lock that connects to your smartphone to provide keyless entry, theft detection, crash alerts, and a social network for bike sharing.

 

Solar powered backpack

Solar powered backpack

Need to charge your phone while on the go? The Birksun line of backpacks was designed for the eco-smart traveler and allows you to charge devices while on the move, through solar power or by plugging in the pack to an electrical outlet in advance.

 

Solar powered tent

Solar powered tent

Festival goers will delight at this concept from Kaleidoscope. Through a partnership with Orange Communication and the Glastonbury Festival, the team designed a new tent with a sustainable twist. Coated solar threads are woven into conventional fabric, eliminating the need for fixed solar panels, directional glides can be moved throughout the day to maximize solar efficiency and energy collection. Inside, there is a wireless control hub which powers mobile phones and other portable devices and also provides Wi-Fi. Additional features include an internal heating system and “glo-cation” technology (allows campers to send texts to trigger a glow function to see tent from a distance). Don’t toss your old tents yet though, this was designed as a promotion for the festival and has yet to go into production.

 

Solar powered portable phone charger

Solar powered portable phone charger

A product by the makers of the ConnecTable, Grid2Go is a portable charger that is both lightweight, cost-effective and efficient for the avid traveler. Powerful and versatile, the Grid2Go can charge 2 devices at a time and can also be plugged into grid-power on poorer weather days to serve as a backup battery anytime.

 

Solar charged speakers

Solar Charged Speakers

Can’t go a day without your iTunes? Who can blame you—there is a soundtrack to be made for every camping trip, hike, beach day… Lucky for us GoalZero created Rock Out– a solar powered speaker set, engineered with a DarkBass™ chamber for optimal sound quality and capable of syncing up with other speakers for an even louder party. It is also weatherproof, Bluetooth®-enabled, and able to play up to 10 hours of music on a single charge.

 

Solar powered reading lamp

Solar powered reading lamp

For all of the outdoor bookworms, this Sunnytech solar powered reading lamp features touch-controlled brightness adjustments, as well as the ability to charge devices through its USB port.

 

Solar powered cooler

Solar Powered Cooler

SolarCool Technologies has created a solar powered cooler that not only keeps your beverages cool for up to 18 hours at a time—it also can charge your devices. The company estimates 100 customers have the potential of offsetting a collective 5,000,000 pounds of CO2 per year.

 

Solar powered headphones

Solar powered headphones

These headphones from Helios use Bluetooth® to enable users to listen to music and make phone calls wirelessly without worrying about recharging. Power is drawn from natural light through the solar panel on the top face to recharge its internal battery.

 

Solar powered toothbrush

Solar powered toothbrush

No electricity. No toothpaste. No problem. The Ion5 uses solar power to generate negatively charged ions to break down plaque and tartar—without the need for toothpaste or batteries.

 

Solar powered grill

Solar powered grill

Who needs Propane when you can own a solar grill? GoSun has created a series of solar powered cookers using evacuated glass tubes. The technology creates insulation, allowing anyone to solar cook, rain or shine. By effectively capturing light from a broad range of angles, the GoSun does not require frequent readjustment, making it the lowest maintenance fuel free cooking device yet.

Have we missed any of your favorite gadgets? Leave us a comment and let us know!

Happy travels!

 

As sustainable architecture and solar solutions become a more prominent fixture in urban planning and construction, Property Managers are now responsible for seeking sustainable solutions for their clients. Solar panels are an obvious choice and can seemingly be found almost everywhere. There are other alternatives for solar sustainability solutions, however. Today, more and more properties are now considering solar charging tables—an off-grid solution using solar energy to charge mobile devices and allow users to remain connected outdoors.

As with most sustainable solutions, there is a lot of information to digest. At the base of it all, how do you know if a solar charging station is the right solution for you? Below are the top 9 considerations for Property Managers considering solar charging stations for any project:

 

  1. Is There a Need for Outdoor Charging Stations on Your Client’s Property?

When designing an outdoor space for your clients, do you observe people with their phones plugged into the wall, laptops or somewhere nearby? Are there areas on the property where employees/residents/patrons gather?  If so, a solar charging station would be a great solution. Often times, there is limited access to power outlets and generally no access outdoors. According to a Pew Research study, 90% of Americans own a smartphone and at least 60% need their phone to access the internet.When you combine this technological need with rising utility costs, it reinforces the need for alternative solutions to meet growing power demands.

 

  1. What is Your Clients Green Mission?

Does your client value sustainability? Do they pride themselves in being a leader in their community? If so, solar charging stations are an excellent way to address carbon neutrality goals by encouraging use of renewable energy instead of traditional sources of power for charging phones. Users are also able to gain first-hand experience with renewable energy for an every-day need such as charging electronic devices. In addition, solar charging tables can also be utilized for ongoing promotional opportunities and can be integrated to embody and reinforce an organization’s green energy mission in conjunction with a commitment to people’s technological needs. Leveraging the tables in annual Earth Day celebrations, and regular promotions via social media, local newspapers, or other media channels are great opportunities to build awareness of an organization’s “green” initiatives.

 

  1. How Might the Charging Stations Complement the Existing Interest and Use of Solar Energy or Other Sustainable Projects on a Property?

In asking about a client’s green mission, you may find that your client already has sustainability initiatives in place or is currently using solar power. While rooftop solar panels are an effective way to capture solar energy, they are neither easily accessible nor visible to all patrons. Traditional solar panels also have limited usefulness in power outages if they are connected to the grid. As a visible green symbol that enables users to enjoy and gain first-hand experience with solar, charging tables can become a natural extension of any solar project that may already deployed on site.

 

  1. Budget Concerns are Always an Issue, How Can I Address This Aspect?

We understand that outdoor landscape budgets can be notoriously tight. However, solar table charging stations can address multiple needs to enable you to get the most for your money. Below are some examples of how our product, the ConnecTable, can provide added value to any property:

  • Lighting– LED lighting can be integrated into outdoor venues for security purposes. The lighting feature can also be used to create a resort-like effect on a property at night.
  • Shade and Seating– The expanded shade panel option on the ConnecTable easily provides properties with additional shade and comfort.
  • Creating a Gathering Space– Similar to fire pits in residential sectors, the table provides a social gathering space for 4-6 people that enables modernization of a previously underutilized outdoor space.
  • Thinking “Outside the Cubicle”Internationally acclaimed landscape design professionals and industry trends indicate that the division of indoor/outdoor space is breaking down and that contemporary needs are for landscapes to be active and more programmed rather than simply being a backdrop. Additionally, commercial real estate trends reinforce that more work is being conducted outdoors with workspace expanding for meetings and other activitie
  • Modernizing a Property– The addition of a solar charging table to a corporate campus or commercial office complex helps development owners stand out and compete with newer and more modern properties.

 

  1. Are there any Tax Incentives for Installing a Solar Charging Table?

Installing solar table charging stations may not be as costly as your client thinks due to special incentives and tax credits available to businesses that install solar.

We recommend that organizations consult with a tax advisor for further information.

 

  1. What are the Power Capabilities of the Charging Station?

Not all charging stations are the same. It is essential for any property manager to gain the facts of the performance of a solar charging station to determine which is the best fit based on your client’s needs. For example, the Connectable is the only table with a 3/1 solar harvest to power ratio, designed for optimized battery recharging and autonomy.  It offers three-days autonomy and its high wattage solar canopy is designed to optimize solar energy harvest. Some other table canopy designs may compromise or limit solar harvest. Others may be small in size and wattage, accommodating only the basic and temporary utilitarian needs. As a result, their batteries take longer to recharge, thereby preventing users from charging their devices when needed. Each ConnecTable is powerful enough to support up to 75-150 handheld mobile device charges per day, an important metric when considering outdoor traffic.

 

  1. Will the Table Stand up to Weather Variables?

Based on your location, a solar charging table may have to hold up to very rigorous durability standards. Whether it be wind, rain, snow, or extreme temperatures, your solar solution needs to be able to handle the elements. In the case of the ConnecTable, it is rated for performance in -40 to +40 degree Celsius weather and offers a 90 MPH wind speed-rated, self-ballast structure with a 20-25 year lifespan. The ConnecTable also contains UL listed components and tropical rated components for humid conditions.

 

  1. What are the Product’s Safety Standards?

As with all elements of property planning and construction, safety should be paramount. At the ConnecTable we have taken many different precautions to ensure safety is no issue. A few of the many safety features we have in place for the ConnecTable are listed below:

  • Tables feature ground fault circuit interruption (GFCI) receptacles for the protection of users against inadvertent shocks as well as ground fault detection and interruption (GFDI) protection for the solar PV array wiring and DC side of the system.
  • The ConnecTable meets all applicable, current National Electrical Code and National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) safety requirements for all fixed location off-grid solar PV systems.
  • All 120V AC outlets are rated for outdoor use. Weatherproof enclosures protect all the receptacles and the light switch from rain and other weather.
  • Over voltage and over current protection is included for all electrical components and wiring, and will shut off the applicable component in the event of a hazardous condition.

 

  1. What Kind of Experience Does the Manufacturer Have?

It is essential, when purchasing a solar product, to understand the background of the carrier and their experience with solar products. For example, CarrierClass Green Infrastructure’s (CCGI’s) background is integrating infrastructure into Class A public facilities. From the implementation of solar on historic rooftop properties, we evolved to meet the newest market demands for off-grid solar. We established high quality product design standards from inception and brought together the best in architecture, structural design and engineering. By knowing the history and experience your solar company has you can be sure you are making the right choice. Ask for case studies and testimonials as well to see the impact of the solar table on other properties.

 
For more information on solar charging stations or to speak with a sales representative regarding purchasing a ConnecTable for your next project, please contact info@theconnectable.com or 267-419-8496.

As a sustainability company we take pride in creating a greener tomorrow.  Earth Day was a great opportunity to highlight some of the key ways for organizations to foster more sustainable environments, and sure was a busy time at the ConnecTable as we installed new charging stations at the University of Virginia and Loyola University Chicago.

All of this action got us thinking: while we can provide ways for businesses and institutions to make an environmental impact, what are some of the ways individuals can contribute? Below is a list of the top 12 ways that you can reduce your carbon footprint and provide future generations with the opportunity to meet their environmental needs:

  1. Commute to work/find alternatives to driving: Yes, we all love having the independence to come and go as we please, but I am sure all of the commuters reading this can agree we definitely do not love gridlock and having to refill the tank. See if you can take turns driving to work by carpooling with a coworker, or try taking public transportation or biking if you live close enough. Not only will it help to reduce emissions, it will also save you a significant amount of money and time road-raging.
  2. Turn off lights when you leave the room and unplug electronics when they are not in use: This one should be a no-brainer! Be sure to put your computer in sleep mode when you are finished using it, don’t leave your phone charger dangling from the wall, and unplug your TV when Game of Thrones is over. The environment and your electricity bill will thank you.
  3. Buy water bottle with a filtration filter: Did you know it takes three times the amount of water to produce a bottle rather than to fill it? Or that over 80% of the water bottles we use wind up in landfills? Rather than spending money purchasing new water bottle packs each week, use a water bottle with a filtration filter that can be used again and again.
  4. Cut down on your time in the shower and don’t leave the sink running while you brush your teeth/wash your hands: If you watched this year’s Super Bowl, I am sure you saw the new Colgate commercial urging the public to conserve water. According to their studies even the tiniest changes to your water consumption– like turning off the water while you brush your teeth– can save 3,000 gallons of water per year.
  5. Switch to compact fluorescent lightbulbs: Have you heard of CFL (Compact Fluorescent Lighting)? If not, Google it! CFL’s are 4 times more efficient and last 10 times longer than incandescent lightbulbs, they can also be purchased at all major retailers, making them as efficient as they are easy to shop for.
  6. Cut back on paper printing: I can almost guarantee everyone has heard this complaint from their boss due to the price of paper and ink, but I am just as sure that at some point you stopped to think how many trees were being killed in the process of your printing out reports. If you cannot view or send an item digitally and have to print it, try printing on both sides of the paper. What’s most important is being cognizant and resourceful with the paper you are using.
  7. Turn off the air conditioner: The average air conditioner produces 2 tons of CO2 annually, so open your windows and doors when you can and welcome in some fresh air. We are in the midst of the spring season after all- enjoy it!
  8. Plant a tree: Planting a tree is one of the most effective ways to reduce your carbon footprint; trees provide shade, consume CO2, and an average 10yr old tree releases enough oxygen into the air to support 2 humans.
  9. Eat less meat: Now we aren’t saying that you have to become a full vegetarian, but eating one or two more vegetarian meals per week will cut down on CO2 emissions. It is also important to note that 87% of all agricultural land in the U.S. is used just to feed the livestock we in turn wind up consuming. Think of how much energy we could save just by switching our protein habits a few nights a week.
  10. Buy local products and food: The term ‘Farm to Table’ should be nothing new. By buying local produce you help to reduce fuel use by removing the need of having your food and other products shipped to your location (helping out local businesses is an added bonus).
  11. Switch to clean renewable energy: Installing solar panels on your roof can help you cut back on your electric bill and save the environment. To top that off, solar energy is now more affordable than ever and is making new headlines every day for its impact on economies worldwide.
  12. Reduce/Reuse/Recycle: Again, not a new concept, but recycling helps to reduce landfill waste, energy consumption, and pollution. Think twice where you throw your waste to ensure appropriate items can be reused wherever possible.

That brings us to the end of our list! Obviously there are hundreds of ways you can help, but the above tips are those that are simple to do and can make a huge difference in the long run. Feel free to leave some of your favorite green tips in the comments section below!

For more information on the ConnecTable and how you can use solar energy to make an environmental impact please contact us at info@theconnectable.com or 267-419-8496.

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