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Opinion

Want to collect solar power inside your apartment?

You can if you use something called Powerfilm. I tested it and it works great.

I live in  a NYC apartment. Since I can’t place traditional solar panels on a roof and I don’t have a balcony or outdoor space I have to get my solar through my window. I researched for weeks on how to do this. There is lots of information.

First you don’t get much energy through a window. A window tends to block 2/3 of the solar/UV energy. It makes sense since most people want windows to block the heat from the sun. This means that you can either open the window and be hot/cold, or try to find ways to work around the less solar energy.

I want to find a solution if possible that will not require a window to be open and could be used all the time. I looked for solar panels that work with low light conditions. I found a number of panels that claimed to do this. Powerfilm was one of them. I ordered the 30W panel on Amazon for about $300 and put it in my window. It worked!

I plugged my Iphone/solar light into it to charge and it charged both. It took about 3 hours from noon until 3 in the afternoon. It was a cloudy day and I was thrilled.  If it works on a cloudy day then for sure a sunny day will be no problem.

Now here is the rub. In summer solar panels are wildly efficient. They produce vastly more power than they do in winter. I have a small solar battery about 50 amps or 166 watts if that makes it more understandable. It is the energy size of a UPS that is 3 times its size and weight. So I could get perhaps 4 hours of power with my laptop and far more with my smartphone/ipad. An an emergency power system this is great. I can survive short power outages. Now my question has to be, how much power do I want to save and is it economical to do so?

If I want to continue to charge my battery in Winter, I will probably need to buy the 60W version at around $600. That is ok with me since it still is providing my power and allowing me to save money on electricity. However since I have a great 120W panel that is doing well in direct sunlight most days, and since my battery is full for the most part, the need to buy another solar panel right now doesn’t exist. If I increased my battery power and power stored of course I could justify another panel.

However how much power can I justify? I have some emergency food/water. I don’t need to store weeks worth of emergency supplies to survive. If a real emergency happened, this solar power that I have is enough. The roughly $500 I have spent will give me enough power for my laptop/iphone/ipad. What more do I need?

That choice is up to you. I am just giving you a framework to help make your decision with.

What technology can’t do

Technology can do many things, but we try to force it to do things it can never do.

We try to screen resumes with ATS system that look for keywords or other metrics. I have had this applied to me and as soon as I am done applying to a job I have been sent an email that I don’t fit the qualifications. Ok, but I had all of the requirements as stated in the ad. Where are the hidden qualifications occurring?

Technology is used to discriminate and then people say “Thats what the computer said.” That computer was programmed by people who had certain assumptions that may not be true. People are rarely given the opportunity to challenge the computer.

Take for example a bank that does redlining. They don’t need a map on their wall, they just need a programmer to put that racist assumption in there to discriminate. You don’t have to have in your face racism, to suffer racism.

Technology will never create equality or chances for people who deserve and can do the job. So many times I have interviewed for a job and the interviewer says “You can do the job but you aren’t the right cultural fit.” Fine. I accept that. However too often the cultural fit is for someone who fits what they think an ideal employee is, and not someone who can do the job and be professional.

I am not complaining over jobs I didn’t get. I am glad that I don’t work for companies that can’t appreciate me. In fact, I would go so far to say that I probably worked for some companies I shouldn’t have, but it was a learning experience for both of us.

Technology can’t give you any insight into the potential of an employee. You have to talk with them and see where they are at. I have worked with plenty of people who were motivated and knowledgeable and they were successful in their job.

Use technology for what it is good at.