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Solar Power For Your Home

People have been using solar power in their homes for decades, but there have never been as many ways to take advantage of it as there are now.

When you're ready to make the big investment in going solar, there are several offerings that could get you the biggest bang for your buck.

On Tuesday's The Early Show environmental lifestyle contributor Danny Seo ( points to some he feels make the grade, as they use the power of the sun to create energy.

In Part One of a three-part series, he looks at the biggest and newest solar devices that can power your home.

On average, a homeowner can expect to spend $20,000 to $40,000 to install solar panels on a home. The bigger the home, the more expensive.

When you install solar panels on your home, you're not taking your own home off the electrical grid. On cloudy or overcast days, when your panels aren't generating optimum electricity, you don't have to worry about your lights going dark. Instead, you're converting your home into a hybrid-powered home: one that uses solar energy and then supplements the excess with traditional electricity.

On days that you're actually overproducing solar electricity, your home becomes a mini-power plant, putting electricity back into the grid. That generates a credit on your utility bill. You could eventually be making money from the power company.

If this new form of energy interests you, here are a few choices for your home:

  • Camouflage solar panels: The problem with installing solar panels on the roof is that they can look unsightly. But Sharp Solar ( modules come in a variety of rectangular and triangular modules, which means they fit and blend into even multi-faceted roofs. They are designed to be flush with the roof, not jet out of the roof like traditional panels.

    Installing Sharp solar panels is a two-step process. First, Sharp does an in-home analysis of your current electrical needs, along with a diagnostics check of your roof's sun intensity. Sharp also offers a quote that includes federal and state rebates and what your true energy goals are: to be completely powered solar or to simply supplement your existing needs.

    Sharp also coordinates building permits, inspections and rebate forms and then finally installs everything.

    If you're building a new home and you're not ready to install solar panels, you can do the next best thing: pre-wire for solar technology. Having pre-existing wiring installed during construction will eliminate the hassle of running wires from the rooftop solar panels to your electrical system in the future.

  • The Brilliance solar energy system by GE: The new Brilliance solar energy system lets homeowners buy the three required components of solar energy all in one purchase. Homeowners have the option of choosing systems ranging from 1,000 to 10,000 watts output. The lower the watt output, the lower the price — but the lower use of solar energy in the home. It all depends on what your needs and goals are.
  • Solar tent: Even when you're roughing it in the Great Outdoors, you can use the power of the sun to light up your temporary home, your tent. Eureka's "Solar Intent" ($239.99, has built-in LED lights and integrated solar panels to power the energy-efficient LED lights. The whole tent is just 16 pounds and can accommodate six people.
  • Solar golf cart: People often forget that golf carts are one of the first electric powered modes of transportation ever created. Additionally, many golf carts feature a flat roof ideal for the installation of solar panels. As most golfers are spending bright, sunny days hitting the courses, it makes sense to have a cart that recharges itself in the sun throughout the day using solar energy.

    CruiseCar ($6,500, is a manufacturer of solar-powered golf carts called SunRay. While the cart itself can be recharged traditionally by plugging it in, it can also be recharged entirely by a rooftop solar panel in as little as three days.