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Does solar and electricity seem too daunting to understand? Don’t be that...

Does solar and electricity seem too daunting to understand?

Don’t be that guy that says “Amps per hour”.  It’s like saying “miles per hour per hour” and it doesn’t make any sense.  In order to talk like a solar expert, or to avoid confusing a solar expert you are seeking help from, it’s important to understand the terminology.

Guest article by: Garret Towne, President
A.M. Solar, Inc.

Let’s start with the basics and build from there:

Atoms – Atoms are the building blocks of matter, and an atom consists of a nucleus with positively charged protons and neutrally charged neutrons surrounded by negatively charged electrons.  Different types of atoms have different numbers of protons in their nucleus. Think of an atom as a mini solar system, with the protons and neutrons being the sun and electrons being the planets.  The wires in your electrical system are made of matter, which is made of atoms.

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Electrons – Because opposite charges attract, electrons are drawn to the protons in the nucleus, similar to how gravity keeps planets in orbit around the sun.  Unlike planets, with their slow elliptical orbits that create centrifugal force to keep the planets from crashing into the sun, electrons repel each other due to their charge, and they orbit the nucleus at the speed of light in a path that is best described as a “probability cloud”.

Voltage, Volts, V, Potential, Charge – Because like charges repel, and electrons all have negative charges, this repulsion force builds up as a "pressure" when electrons are in close proximity to each other.  This “pressure” in the context of an electrical system is known as Voltage.

Amperage, Amperes, Amps, A, Current, I - When electrons flow from a high voltage (pressure) area to a low voltage area, the flow rate is measured in Amps.  An Amp is one coulomb per second. A coulomb is 6.241 x 10^18 (or 6,241,000,000,000,000,000) electrons.

Resistance, Ohms, Ω - Along the path from high voltage to low voltage areas, electrons encounter resistance.  This resistance controls the flow rate like a nozzle on a hose. This resistance is measured in Ohms.  

Watts, Energy, W – When flowing electrons encounter resistance, work can be performed.  This is what makes electricity do things. This work can be measured in Watts and is equal to Volts times Amps (Watts = Volts x Amps).

When sunlight hits a solar panel, voltage is created, which produces current.  This current, pushed by voltage, flows through wires in an electrical system to perform work when it encounters resistance, which can be measured in terms of watts.

Now read this a couple more times and it might make sense.  

Side note:  Don’t be that guy who buys a solar charger system, installs it, complains it doesn’t work, sends pictures of the installation to tech support and quickly learns that mounting solar panels in the middle of his living room (in a house with a roof) is the cause of his problem.  It has happened.

School Bus Conversion

Valerie Bus

National Parks pin and patch freelance artist converts a short school bus into a boho chic skoolie.

You may remember Heidi Miller from the Life In The Bus Lane documentary and her short appearance of when she was in the beginning stages of her short bus conversion. Now with the bus conversion nearly complete Heidi has already shown her bus at the Tiny House Living Festival stop in Portland summer 2017.

Professional photographer Heather Jackson was shooting Heidi's engagement photos and decided to take some of her skoolie as well. Enjoy the photos and be on the lookout for this school bus conversion to possibly show up on AirBnB just outside Eugene, OR.

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Valerie Bus


Heidi Miller enjoys tea inside her hippy chic short school bus conversion.

School Bus Conversion

Kyle Volkman

Roof raise and all, this 1986 school bus conversion only ended up costing $10-$15k

Kyle Volkman demonstrates that you only need a few skills to get started on a school bus conversion. Everything else will come later as you make mistakes and learn from them. Check out all of Kyle's unique ways of utilizing space in his bus conversion.

This vegetable powered school bus conversion is home for Kyle and his business. Professionally converting school buses, vans and even an ambulance, Kyle travels to the clients location with all the tools he needs to complete a conversion on the road.

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Kyle Volkman


Kyle Volkman spent many hours on the fine details and finish work inside his school bus conversion.

School Bus Conversion

Wild And Free Lawsons

Wild and Free: Nine Family Members. One School Bus. Unlimited Possibilities.

"We would definitely recommend this lifestyle to any family because of the freedom. Living a more simple life allows for the things that really do matter to take preference. Cultivating the things that matter most."

This family of nine lives full time on the road while shooting wedding photography and homeschooling the kids. Trading the mortgage for gas money this large family has become rich in experiences.

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Wild And Free Lawsons


The Lawson's beg to differ when it comes to the myth that you can't raise a family in a school bus conversion.

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