App determines best spot for solar panels
The SunFinder app from developer Luca Polverini is designed to help users discover how much energy they can expect to draw from the sun, as well as discovering the best location to install a solar power system. Here's how it works: By positioning and tilting a smartphone as if it were a photovoltaic panel, SunFinder calculates the yearly solar radiation on the surface (simulated by the phone display) plus the expected annual production per kilowatt-peak installed. The app also calculates and displays the user's GPS coordinates, azimuth angle (compared with the south), and tilt angle of the installation. It performs these calculations by extracting data from its database of solar radiation, which includes weather data for 240 places in the U.S. and thousands of other locations around the world. SunFinder is compatible with iPhone, iPod touch, iPad, and Android devices. Download for $5.99 from the iTunes store or market.android.com.
Phone-friendly catalog features electronic components
Mouser Electronics Inc., a global distributor of semiconductors and electronic components, has launched its Mouser Mobile Compatible Catalog, the latest of four device-enabled ways to browse, compare, and shop from its expansive product selection. While the new catalog works best on tablets (such as iPad, Android, and Windows devices), users can also browse, view, and search from anywhere in the world using smartphones or laptops. Another useful feature includes the ability to quickly search every word in English, German, French, Chinese, and Italian. For more information, visit mouser.com/catalog.
Smartphone app helps manage appliances
It's 10 p.m. Do you know what your appliances are doing? A new smartphone app that is part of a comprehensive home energy-monitoring system can help. Computer science researchers at the University of Arkansas and University of San Francisco have developed an automated management system that monitors energy generation and consumption in both off-grid and grid-tied homes that use solar energy or wind power. As part of the system, an iPhone app warns homeowners of critical battery situations, suggests appliances to turn off, recommends the best time to perform tasks, and adjusts power states to reduce energy consumption. Researcher Nilanjan Banerjee says the system strikes a balance between totally automated control, which can be irritating, and manual techniques that may not do enough. The team is seeking additional off-grid and grid-tied homes for further studies on how different appliances use energy. For more information, e-mail [email protected].