Introducing Your Family to Solar Energy
by Jim Fritz

One of the difficulties that solar and
renewable energy have faced in the
past is that it requires people to learn
about it. People are busy and they are
also reluctant to change and learn. It is
much easier to get energy from
traditional sources that seem to
“magically” transfer power and
electricity to homes through the wires of
the electricity grid.   However, we are
becoming increasingly aware of
problems with this entrenched attitude.
We seem to hear almost daily about
power blackouts and brownouts, along
with warnings about dwindling energy

One way to begin to educate yourself
and your children about energy and
electricity is to purchase one of many
different kinds of small solar energy
systems.  From solar toys to solar lights
to portable solar panels, small solar
electric systems make it easy to learn
some of the basics of energy. You can
learn about the generation of energy
and get an idea of how it is limited by
certain factors. Your kids can use a
small solar toy or solar energy kit to see
directly the relationship between energy
generation and availability. From your
solar light, you will learn that a sunlit
day will make the light shine powerfully
that evening. Conversely, you will notice
a relationship between cloudy days and
dimness or lack of light from your solar
light.   While a small portable solar panel
provides energy for your boat or RV, it
can also teach the need for energy
storage (the battery) and conservation.
Even a solar light gives you a micro-
version of all electricity systems: the
panel generates energy, the wires
transfer it, a battery stores it and the
light bulb uses it.

One of the unfortunate effects of the
convenience of the energy grid is that
people remain largely unaware of
aspects of energy production and the
need for its proper management. When
we plug into a wall and get instant
energy, it’s easy to forget that energy is
finite and inhibited by circumstances.

The effect of holding a small solar
electric system in your hands takes
some of the mystery out of energy and
power. Energy is no longer something
“made” at a distant generating station
or power plant. The effect is, well,
empowering. It’s similar to the way that
personal fitness and some styles of
alternative health give you a measure of
control over your own health.  Build on
the knowledge you get from a small
solar electric system, learn about
generating your own energy and you
will have increased authority over your
household power, a vital area of your

Purchasing a small solar electric system
like those found in solar toys or other
gadgets can be a simple and efficient
way to introduce both you and your
family to solar energy. This knowledge
just may come in handy in the coming
years, as solar energy and other kinds
of renewable energy systems become a
bigger part of grid generation and more
popular as the publicly owned “power

Jim Fritz has been researching the
benefits of solar energy for several
years and is a contributing writer for
- a
site that offers information about solar
energy, solar panels, information about
the costs of solar energy and much
The Frugal