Solar energy has increased exponentially in both popularity and availability in recent years. As energy costs and the costs of living continue to increase, whilst wages stagnate, the interest in an affordable, clean, renewable energy grows ever greater. Moreover, the fact that the world faces climate crisis, with a ‘Code Red for Humanity’ being reported in the media more and more often, solar energy seems to be our best hope for survival. Before buying into the solar energy revolution, whether on a personal and domestic scale, or as an investor on a massive, industrial scale, it’s important to read up on solar power, so that you can be as informed on the subject as possible.
The sheer amount of information on solar power can seem overwhelming. Thankfully, there are some really concise and accessible solar energy books out there which explain the history and applications of solar power in ways the layperson can easily understand. Here, we review the top 5 solar energy books in 2021.
In this guide, we present the top five best solar energy books available on the market today. We’ll look at their content, the pros and cons attached to each, and some frequently asked questions to do with their subject matter. We recommend, when choosing a book from our selection, to keep in mind that each solar energy project may have a different goal, or a different set of factors to consider. As such, you should bare these things in mind in order to choose the book best suited for your specific goal(s).
Here are our very favorite solar energy books, categorized by the information they provide and how they can best be used.
If you’re looking to learn everything there is to know about solar energy, solar power, solar panels and their application, then this is the best book out there. At 271 pages long, it’s quite chunky, but then so it should be: it contains chapters on pretty much everything there is to know about renewable solar energy. Super affordable, too, this best-selling book is available as a kindle/eReader edition here on Amazon.
If you already know all you need to know about how solar panels work and what solar energy is, but need a comprehensive guide on how to actually physically build and install a solar array for your home, then this is the book for you. This concise, clear text will lead you step by step through the purchasing, wiring, building and installation process, so that you can have your home running on renewable energy in no time, without having had any prior experience.
If you are completely new to not just solar energy, but renewable energy too, and if your current grasp of engineering and science is somewhat lacking, then what you need is a nice short and simple introduction to solar power. Well, look no further! This book is just 92 pages long, and designed specifically with ‘beginners’ in mind. In other words, this book is tailored to those with absolutely no understanding of solar power, who are keen to learn but don’t want to read anything too science-heavy.
Best Solar Energy Books: Top Picks
Having had a quick look at the best books in our three top categories, let’s take a more detailed, in-depth look at the very best, top 5 books the solar energy market has to offer in 2021.
1. Solar Electricity Handbook
- Pages: 271
- Language: English
- Publication Date: January 7, 2019
- Format: eBook
- File Size: 17,335KB (17.3MB)
This 271-page book, published in 2019, is perfect for the beginner looking to learn everything there is to know about solar energy. Michael Boxwell, the author, has been a solar energy professional for over 20 years, and brings his expertise in the field to this text.
Solar Electricity Handbook has been a bestseller since 2009, and is a great introduction to the philosophies of solar energy, with good beginner tips and strategies to implementing your own array. Though this book does not go into heavy scientific detail, it provides a great starting point for someone otherwise unknowledgeable on the subject.
- Great beginner information
- Author is highly-experienced in the field
- Covers several solar energy applications and methods
- Concise and accessible to the lay person
- Does not go into great scientific detail
- Whilst thorough, the already-informed reader may not gather any new information on the subject
- Only available as an eBook
2. Install Your Own Solar Panels
- Pages: 200
- Language: English
- Publication Date: June 30, 2017
- Format: eBook or Paperback
- File Size: 30,644KB (30.6MB)
Joseph Burdick and Philip Schmidt solar panel installation manual is a comprehensive 200 pages, and fairly up-to-date, having been published in 2017. The work focuses on the DIY approach to solar installation, and explains not only the installation of roof and ground-mounted panels, but the necessary steps to take in creating ‘battery banks’, wiring, and fitting the whole setup for a successful ‘off grid’ solution.
Install Your Own Solar Panels is fully illustrated and highly informative. For those already knowledgeable about where solar energy comes from, and what form it takes, this book could be key in helping you to cut the costs of your planned solar installation dramatically, by enabling you to do all of the work yourself.
- Very detailed explanations
- Illustrated for ease of understanding
- Focuses on ‘off grid’ solutions
- Can thoroughly explain the process and help save money
- Available in both paperback and eBook
- Alternative solar energy applications are not explained or examined
3. Mobile Solar Power Made Easy!
- Pages: 90
- Language: English
- Publication Date: May 15, 2017
- Format: Paperback or Spiral-Bound
William Errol Prowse IV’s book is perfect for those who dream of converting their mobile homes, RVs, off-road or water-based vehicles to run on solar energy. The book covers both beginner and advanced methods for DIY installation of solar arrays on the aforementioned vehicles. Mobile Solar Power Mad Easy! has lots of colorful illustrations, and can be read in its entirety or simply used as reference during installation.
Available as a paperback, or spiralbound (for greater on-site practicality) this book is intended as a comprehensive, step-by-step guide that can answer your questions on mobile home, RV, and boat solar installation from start to finish. The book is very direct and contains a lot of useful information, presented in accessible terms.
- Thorough and comprehensive
- The perfect reference for those planning to outfit their vehicles with solar power
- Focuses on mobile homes, RV’s, and vehicles
- Easy to understand
- Fairly short
- Does not deal with the installation of solar projects for traditional (static) homes
- Directs readers to the author’s website for purchasable material
4. Taming the Sun
- Pages: 493
- Language: English
- Publication Date: March 2, 2018
- Format: Audiobook, eBook, Hardback, or Paperback
- File Size: 16,855KB (16.9MB)
The longest of all the books on this list, Taming the Sun by Varun Sivaram studies the big picture concerning solar energy. The book is meant to inform those who are curious about solar energy of the positive effects it can have on our environment, economy, and the future of our planet. Taming the Sun encourages us to engage with solar, and reminds us that the need to protect our planet from climate crisis is immediate and real.
Though this book does not cover the practical application of solar energy for domestic, industrial, or mobile use, it is a wonderful read, and perfect for those interested in solar energy on a larger geopolitical, environmental, economic and philosophical level. Taming the Sun explains why solar energy should be funded and implemented in a way which would allow it to take the lead in energy production in the United States (and around the world).
- A great motivational tool, advocating the widespread implementation of solar energy
- Examines many aspects of solar energy, and the positive impacts it can have
- A comprehensive read perfect for those interested in the bigger picture, rather than practical applications and instruction
- Available in all possible formats, and can be listened to for free on Audible (with an Audible subscription)
- Contains no information on how to actually build or install a solar array
- A fairly long read
5. Solar & 12 Volt Power for Beginners
- Pages: 140
- Language: English
- Publication Date: August 14, 2017
- Format: Paperback or eBook
- File Size: 4,082KB (4MB)
Winner of our ‘Best Introduction to Solar Energy’ category, George Eccleston’s short and concise 2017 text is the perfect introduction to solar energy for those with zero prior knowledge in the field. The book details simple and small solar solutions (such as ways to power single plugs or small appliances like fans or laptops) as well as delving behind-the-scenes of larger projects.
Solar & 12 Volt Power for Beginners is perfect for you if you are easily overwhelmed by technical terms, in-depth diagrams, and other complicated explanations, because the language it is written in is concise and free of jargon. The goal of the book is to instil the ‘core knowledge’ necessary for the reader to begin their own journey toward ‘off-grid’ or grid-tied solar living. Short, concise, and inexpensive, this is a fantastic starting place if you’re completely new to solar energy.
- Very easy to understand
- Helps beginners grasp the core-concepts of solar energy
- Has projects and instructions to facilitate the practical application of your newfound knowledge
- Covers a lot of different applications for solar energy
- Does not go into detail, as is intended only as an introduction to the field
Solar energy has never been more necessary than it is today; in fact, it may be one of our only hopes in protecting the future of humanity. And yet, solar power can also benefit you directly: it can be an engaging hobby, and will save you money on your energy bills in the long run. If you’re looking to get a feel for the big picture, then we cannot recommend Taming the Sun by Varun Sivaram enough. If, on the other hand, you are already knowledgeable about solar energy, but would like a practical guide for reference when installing your own domestic or mobile arrays, then you should consider either Install Your Own Solar Panels, or Mobile Solar Power Made Easy! Lastly, if you’re a total solar novice, in need of a thorough introduction to solar power and its applications, then we suggest you look no further than the Solar Energy Handbook by Michael Boxwell.
A: With the proper knowledge and supplies, yes! Just remember that preparation is key. Hopefully one of these solar energy books can provide you all the information and assistance you need to complete your solar project(s).
A: Yes! As a matter of fact, DIY solar installation is becoming increasingly popular. There are today many DIY-enthusiasts who install their own solar energy systems. As long as you do your research and get the proper materials, you can join them!
A: The answer to this depends on your confidence and capabilities, as well as the size of the project and the availability of the necessary materials. It is very possible to install a solar array fairly quickly, however it is never a good idea to jump into any large projects without careful planning and adequate understanding.
A: Probably not. There is so much to learn about solar energy, it would be impossible to fit it all into a single book. Having said that, the books which we have reviewed on this list present the best opportunities to glean a comprehensive and practical working knowledge of solar energy, and solar energy application and installation.
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