Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Live Green - Make a Solar Cell at Home

Selecting the guide that will successfully help you make a solar cell at home is a bigger task than I first expected. I needed to set up some criteria for selecting which guide to use. Each guide I looked at claimed to be great and of course some of them were quite complete. Is that enough? I'm considering doing something that has both economic and environmental implications. So I decided to base my decision on several factors and they include social responsibility of the company, product reviews and the overall quality and content of the guide. Two of these criteria, reviews and overall quality of content I think our relatively easy to measure. However, Social responsibility is a bit more subjective and harder to quantify. So let me take a moment to define its meaning As it applies the subject and then tie this all together.

Social Responsibility:

To paraphrase Wikipedia, Social responsibility begins as a way of thinking. It further implies that a person, place or organization has an obligation to act in a way that is a benefit to society. As a supplier of a homemade solar cells guide your social responsibility barometer can be measured in several ways.

· Is the company actively involved in the advancement of environmental issues or are they only focused on the bottom line?

· Are members of the organization viewed as experts in the field and if so are how are they giving back to society?

When looking for answers to these questions I found the "about us" section of the company's website was a good place to begin. Two other good resources beyond this include the Better Business Bureau and the Solar Industry Association. These agencies are fantastic resources for unbiased information. You are truly reviewing information from a neutral third party that has credible ways of collecting their information.

Customer reviews:

Each company should feel strongly enough about their homemade solar cells guide to present customer reviews as part of their presentation. However it can be argued that their presentation is promotional in nature. I agree that those reviews by themselves are not sufficient. I also argue that simply writing the company's name, followed by the word review in a search engine is equally problematic. Many of us who operate a blog are aware that comments can be accepted or not. Not all comments make it to the blog so the publisher of the blog introduces a bias either pro or con. That's why I recommend you check out the ratings on established referral resources such as the Better Business Bureau or Consumer Reports. They're not without their biases, but at least they can be held accountable for what they say. If a business has a good rating and no complaints filed you can generally assume that they are responsible organization. This is one more checkmark in your process of deciding which guide will help you the best to make a solar cell at home.

Quality and Content of the Guide:

The quality and content I'm referring to goes beyond attractive packaging of these do-it-yourselfers homemade solar cells guide. It is embedded in what I call the "safety net" of a company's product.

Having 30 years of consumer product experience helped me key in on a set of criteria that I was looking for in order to take on a project like this and make a solar cell at home. The key elements that I believe are necessary when considering any homemade solar cells guide or plan are listed below.

· Precise instructions Containing step by step preparation of the materials.

· Illustrations should accompany the instructions so that you have a visual affirmation upon completion of each step.

· Photographs and/or video available to assist you in visualizing what the instructions and illustrations are telling you.

· Complete list of all parts required, illustrated and numbered along with contact information for 24/7 customer service for assistance.

· Complete list of all tools required to complete the tasks specified.

· An exhaustive list of resources for purchasing hardware, fasteners, cells, etc. from dependable vendors.

· Assurance that product works or a money back guarantee.

Using these parameters will help you develop an opinion not only about the quality of the guide but also for the quality of the company behind the guide. My belief is that if a company presents themselves, as something special there should be third-party evidence of it. In other words, they should "walk the talk". These references can be used as tools to help you form an opinion and make a decision that it is socially responsible; customer centered and delivers a quality homemade solar cells guide with good content. Ultimately there should be three winners in this process. You should have the solar system you desire; the provider of the guide should have a happy customer and a strong review; and last but not least the environment has benefited because you chose to be responsible.

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