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Solar Power, Solar Cooking, Solar Watches, Sundials, and Sunflowers

Updated on December 26, 2017
. . . Sun, Solar Panel and Sunflower . . . image credit: stockxpert Francis50
. . . Sun, Solar Panel and Sunflower . . . image credit: stockxpert Francis50

The Sun Is Your Friend

Sit outside on a cold winter’s day. Feel the warmth of the sun as you absorb its Vitamin D-producing energy. Sense the energy of its light as it helps fight seasonal affective disorder (SAD).

The sun is your friend.

Let the sun shine in your life.

Learn about Solar Homes by Visiting Solar Decathlon 2017 in Denver Colorado

You can find many good articles on solar poer on the Internet. Or you can visit the upcoming DOE Solar Decathlon in Denver 2017 where teams from colleges and universities around the world will build, display and interpret solar homes of their own unique design.

These homes and their solar "green" applications are judged by a panel of experts. They will be open to the public and you can see for yourself.

I visited the Solar Decathlon when it was held in Washington DC a few years back. I can strongly recommend that everyone interested in the sun and solar power visit the decathlon. What impressed me were not only the solar homes, but the knowledge and enthusiasm of of the students who designed and and built the homes.

There were lots of informative displays and ideas presented at each home. Even if solar power was not your first interest, you could take away ideas on sustainable home design.

Competing in the Solar Decathlon is a big thing for the colleges and universities who choose to participate. College administrators, professors and students focus their talent and resources on this program. It's good for education and good for their institution's reputation.

This artist rendering shows Peña Station Next in Denver, Solar Decathlon 2017. | Image courtesy of City and County of Denver.
This artist rendering shows Peña Station Next in Denver, Solar Decathlon 2017. | Image courtesy of City and County of Denver. | Source

Generate Your Own Home-Made Electricity from the Sun

Save money on your electric bill, reduce your carbon footprint, begin your switch to a sustainable power source for the 21st century. You'll not only save money, you'll be doing something good for the planet by "reducing your carbon footprint;"

If you find the out-of-pocket costs of a installer-provided home solar system too expensive, start small. If you are a motivated do-it-yourselfer you can make an inexpensive solar panel yourself. Do your research. Get good solar panel guidance materials. Learn the science and craft of home solar power.

Involve your family in a solar science project. If your child has an upcoming science fail at her school, choose a solar project.

Solar Cooking – A Rediscovered Practice

People are rediscovering solar cooking – it saves electricity and money, it is transportable (think camping and backyard cooking), it keeps oven heat out of the kitchen,and -- for those with a bent for history – it connects with cooking practices of times past.

Here are 4 books on solar cooking and 2 solar cooker/ovens. You’ll find instructions on how to build your own solar cooker, tested recipes for tasty solar-cooked food -- and you’ll learn the ancient art of solar cooking.

If you are not interested in building your own solar cooker, you can purchase one of several solar ovens now available -- two are shown below.

  1. Cooking with Sunshine: The Complete Guide to Solar Cuisine with 150 Easy Sun-Cooked Recipes (Paperback) by Lorraine Anderson (2006) 224 pages. Basic instructions on building your own solar oven and lots of recipes.
  2. Cooking With the Sun: How to Build and Use Solar Cookers (Paperback) by Beth and Dan Halacy (1992) 114 pages. An age-old appliance updated for today with instructions on how to build various types of cookers.
  3. The Sunny Side of Cooking - Solar Cooking and Other Ecologically Friendly Cooking Methods for the 21st Century (Spiral-bound) by Lisa Rayner (2007) pages. Based on extensive experience and research, updated for the 21st century.
  4. Solar Cooking for Home and Camp (Paperback) by Linda Frederick Yaffe (2007) 128 pages. Instructions on how to build solar ovens, includes recipes and other resources.
  5. Global Sun Oven (R) by SUN OVENS International. World’s most widely used sun oven – used in 126 counties.
  6. Hybrid Solar Cooker Sun Oven Portable Cooker by Sun BD Corporation. A hybrid solar oven – cooks by solar heat or electricity as back-up.

Sundials and Solar Watches – Which is More Accurate?

Sundials are ancient devices -- designed, placed and interpreted correctly they can be quite accurate. Solar-powered watches are recent inventions. Good solar-powered watches never need battery replacement. Each is "more accurate" in its own way.

Solar-Powered Watches Never Need Battery Replacement

Solar-powered watches first came on the market in the 1970s. They were perfected in the 1990s by the Citizen Watch Company. Here's how a solar-powered watch works:

". . . sunlight and artificial light are absorbed by a solar panel behind the crystal. . . This solar panel converts the light into electrical energy to power the watch. The watch will usually store energy in a rechargeable cell to power itself during the night or when covered such as by a person's sleeve." (Source: Wikipedia)

Sundials for Your Time-Keeping Pleasure and Your Garden

Learn how to make your own sundial. You’ll find that they come in many different styles and shapes. You’ll also learn about the ancient science of gnomonics (pronounced 'noh-mon-iks' -- a gnomon refers to a sundial’s “arm,” or "style").

Here are a few books on sundials.

  1. Sundials: Their Theory and Construction (Paperback) by Albert Waugh (1973) 230 pages. A good comprehensive text on sundials.
  2. Sundials: History, Art, People, Science (Hardcover) by Mark Lennox Boyd (2006) 176 pages, A Patron of the British Sundial Society, the author says there has been a resurgence of interest in sundials, both in the historical forms and the modern ones which come in strange and "undial-like" shapes.
  3. Sundials: Their Construction and Use [UNABRIDGED] (Paperback) by R. Newton and Margaret W. Mayall, (2000) 320 pages.
  4. Sundials: Design, Construction, and Use (Springer Praxis Books / Popular Astronomy) (Paperback) by Denis Savoie, (2009) 186 pages. Easy to read.
  5. Sundials: Easy-to-Make Wooden Sundials (Paperback) by Milton Stoneman (1982) 64 pages. Simple, practical projects with little theory.

Sunflowers -- Food for the Human spirit, Food for People and Birds

Few things symbolize the power of sun to bring cheer and color to the human spirit more than the sunflower.

The yellow and brown faces of sunflowers follow the daily track of the sun across the sky.

Subject matter for artists, choice food for birds, sunflowers are also a source of healthy foods for people.

Sunflowers are perennial favorites for home decorating and gardens.

Sunflower seeds -- Favorite Food of Birds around the Home

One of the pleasures of the soul is to watch the birds as they gather around your bird feeder.

You probably have noticed that black oil sunflower seed is the choice food of many of the birds you see in your yard. When I drive by a field of sunflowers and see their cheerful flowering heads facing the sun, I marvel at the power of the sun. When I see birds feasting on sunflower seeds I marvel at the the sun's power transformed into energy for my beautiful bird friends.

If you have a bird feeder be sure to have plenty of sunflower seeds on hand.

What is your Favorite Sun Activity?

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