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To Catch the Sun is the first book created from this much exclusive Appropedia content on photovoltaics. It is was successfully crowdfunded on Kickstarter. See to get your own copy.
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To Catch the Sun by Lonny Grafman and Joshua Pearce is part of a series on people coming together to use their own resources and creativity to meet their needs with instructions on how you can do it too.

Sign up to get a free copy of the ebook at or purchase a softback on Amazon.

Brought to you by backers on Kickstarter. 440 backers brought in over $20,000 to help make this book a beautiful addition to your library.

ISBN 978-1-947112-62-9 Library of Congress Control Number: 2021947789

In Spanish:

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In French:

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Who the Book is for[edit | edit source]

The sun lands on us with incredible power. Yet we often find ourselves without sufficient power for our needs. This book is for anyone looking for inspiration and capability with small-scale solar power in order to meet their needs. We focus on small-scale, but the learnings in this book can be applied to large-scale micro-grids or even larger solar farms. That said, our focus will be mostly on off-grid systems that are 1 kW or smaller. Some specific examples include:

  • A small home in a financially rich country
  • A few homes in a financially poor country
  • School rooms and community spaces
  • Isolated loads like electric gates, pumps, and telecommunications equipment
  • A tiny home or van life
  • Glamping and backpacking equipment
  • Emergency supply, e.g., powering an oxygen machine during a power outage
  • Zombie-apocalypse equipment
  • Laptop and cellphone chargers
  • Solar entrepreneurship devices

To Catch the Sun emphasizes adaptability and iteration to meet your needs. It is one of the few photovoltaic books to cover very small systems with and without batteries, in a global context, for everyday designers everywhere.

This book can also be utilized in curriculum so that students have context for learning about electricity, power and energy, photovoltaics, spreadsheets, and basic math concepts.

There are many resources and professionals out there to help in building larger systems. This book will mostly focus on the small-scale, distributed, resilient systems that you can build yourself. In addition, this book is meant to be a deep knowledge starting point. Ultimately, you might find a video online that is exactly what you want to build. This book can help you determine what to build, what to avoid, and assess if the video is accurate. Building a deeper and broader understanding will help you leverage the most current research, resources, blogs, YouTube videos, etc., so that you can adapt to your, and your community’s, specific needs.

This book is for anyone looking to build solar projects and knowledge:

  • Students and teachers. Especially high school and undergraduate university levels in science, math, engineering, environmental and social justice, and technical fields.
  • Community organizers and builders looking to build solar projects.
  • Entrepreneurs and inventors looking to build solar products.
  • Families looking to learn together!

Videos[edit | edit source]


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Problem Sets[edit | edit source]

Coming soon

Guides[edit | edit source]

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This guide provides instructions on how to create a 40 W solar power array with a 120 Wh energy capacity and the ability to supply power to both DC and AC loads. The total cost to build this system is around $200 USD (depending on sourcing) including the required tools.

Check out our first 40W step by step guide at Step by step 40W solar manual.

Examples[edit | edit source]

Solar PV Studies[edit | edit source]

In the Media[edit | edit source]

More Media

Projects[edit | edit source]

Please share your projects with us. The best way is by creating a page here on Appropedia sharing your project with the world. Also, feel free to reach out to us on social media to share your stories, photos, or thoughts! Links listed below at #About the Authors.

Here are some projects that used this book (some of them when the book was still in its 1.5 year beta!):

About the Authors[edit | edit source]

Joshua Pearce[edit | edit source]

Lonny Grafman[edit | edit source]

More links[edit | edit source]

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