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Tech Culture: The Green Show: Solar power 101

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Tech Culture: The Green Show: Solar power 101

3:41 /

In this week's show, our green tech expert Martin LaMonica talks about solar power and we show a few devices powered by wind and water, as well as a cheap Netbook made from biodegradable materials.

>>[background music] Hey folks I'm Mark Licea and this week, solar, wind and water power plus a cheap Netbook made from biodegradable materials. The Green Show starts now. ^M00:00:11 [ Music ] ^M00:00:18 >>Mark: Going solar at home can cost a lot but it can also save you a lot in the long run. Here's our green tech expert, Martin Lamonica to explain. >>Martin: [background music] Hi Mark and welcome to my backyard. So when people think about green at home they say, oh I should really go solar. So what's the deal? You can get solar hot water systems or solar electric panels. Last year I had solar electric panels installed up there and my electricity bills have shrunk really small. So should you do it? First question is do you have good sun? Second question is can you afford it? A good installer is gonna give you a good idea of your sun resource and all the rebates and financing options available. How does it work? Sun hits the solar panels, makes electricity, goes down the wire to my basement where there's an inverter. The inverter's job is to convert the direct current coming down from the panels into the household alternating current. It also tells me how many watts we're producing, 991, which is not bad for a cloudy day and how much electricity it produced over the course of the day and how much money it saved. So how much money does it save me? Well last months electric bill was $1.28, which is not bad. The bad news with solar power is that it's expensive. You're gonna spend anywhere between $20,000 and $30,000 up front to get them installed. Now the good news is that you can get rebates, tax credits and increasingly leasing options which are very interesting. You can always start small. Right here I have a solar panel that's about $100. It's not big enough to charge your laptop but you can do your cell phone or your iPod very easily. I'm Martin Lamonica for CNET, thanks for watching. [noise] >>Mark: For more information on green tech from Martin, head over to CNET.com/greentech. [noise] There are a lot of portable chargers that you can use to power small gadgets. Here's one if you're an outdoorsy type. It's a compact hybrid wind and solar powered generated called the K3. >>[background noise] It generates from both wind and solar. If it's wind only it will take about 27 hours to charge a device if it's completely dead. Solar will take about 8 hours to charge. >>Mark: The company claims that fully charged the K3 can power a mobile phone more than five times and the device should be out in late June. [noise] The low cost, low power Netbook is getting solar powered. Spanish company IUNIKA plans to release the Netbook overseas for the starting price of about $176. The unit will run Lenox and weigh in at about 1 and a half pounds. The speed won't be great considering that it uses a 400 megahertz processor but the materials are comprised of bioplastics and they're biodegradable. Best of all, the $220 model has a solar panel on the back of the display. The Netbook should be out overseas sometime in July. [noise] And finally a new edition for your emergency kit. It's a mini flashlight powered by water. The NoPoPo mini lantern has a special battery that uses a combination of magnesium and carbon that can be mixed with a variety of fluids to create a charge. Water, soda and beer can charge the batteries. It can even use urine, talk about emergencies. They sell for $39 bucks but don't expect miracles from the battery. It's low power and it can only be recharged four times but the NoPoPo batteries are double AA size so you can just swap it out for something less green but more socially [background music] acceptable. [noise] And that's it for this week. Send your feedback in greenshow@cnet.com. I'm Mark Licea, thanks for watching. [ Music ]

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