When I was studying alternate energy in school many, many years ago (1974-1980, if you must know), it was not easy finding good alternate energy products. And, in our classes at the University of Guam and the University of Hawaii Manoa Campus Guam Extension, we wound up making our alternate energy items--including a solar water heater, a solar oven, and a solar cooker.
As students, we each acquired the plywood, copper pipes, solder, butane torch, nails, flat-black spray paint, glass/glazing, glass-cutter, duct-tape, and other tools necessary to build these things. It required some heavy lifting, some hot soldering, teamwork with holding the copper pipes while they were being soldered and for heavy lifting of the assembled units.
I was taking the classes as a public school science teacher (taking additional classes to satisfy my teaching certification requirements)--so the units I made wound up being part of the science curriculum at the high school I was teaching at-- and those things may still be in the science department storeroom.
But the solar energy principles and the learning experience of hands-on work with building the units have stayed with me ever since.
Now? Maybe instead of building my own solar water heater and solar cooker and solar oven (although I probably could easily do this, if I had the inclination), it might be better to buy those that are now available commercially.
My experience with building the things is helpful now when evaluating the quality and performance of the commercially-built units.
Why buy a commercial unit? Even though it may seem costly, you may get a higher-quality product. If you are not a metal-worker or experienced carpenter or construction worker or engineer, you might not get a good unit even after all the time you've put into assembling an alternate energy unit. If you buy a commercial unit, chances are good that the assembly is well-put-together and it will have a warranty on it.
You can always meet the solution half-way -- you can buy a solar or alternate energy KIT -- which provides you with a box or shipping crate of the proper components, and all you have to do is assemble it on your intended location. This ensures that the basic components are good and functional and saves you on the installation costs.
There are many different ways of looking at alternate energy resources for your home or business--I hope these help with your decision to act on avoiding the oil monster.
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