If the 8 billion square meters of suitable roofs in the US were covered in solar panels, the country could produce 40% of the total electricity currently used each year.

On a smaller scale, if you live in a sunny state and energy rates are high, you could save a substantial amount of money by powering your home with solar panels.

Not to mention, you will be doing your part for environmentally friendly energy that reduces your carbon footprint. The cost of solar panels has dropped by 80% since 2008.

So if you are interested in installing solar panels in your home, read on to learn how to prepare your roof before installing solar panels.

Know Your Energy History

The first thing you need to do when installing solar panels is to know how much energy your household uses. This will give you confidence that you are installing the right amount of solar panels for your usage.

Gather a one-year history of your electrical usage. This is usually measured in kWh per month. You will need a year’s history because your energy usage might change depending on the time of year.

Next, take your month-to-month usage and calculate your average use You can do this by adding up all the numbers and dividing by 12. Now divide your average monthly usage by 30 to get your average daily kWh usage.

Each solar panel produces about 1 kWh of energy per day. So if you want 100% of your energy usage to be solar powered, you will buy the same number of panels as your average daily kWh use.

For example, if your daily KWh use is 30, you will need 30 solar panels to generate 100% of the power you typically use.

Some people are OK with solar panels offsetting their energy usage at a lower percent.

So if you want your solar panels to generate 80% of your power, you will multiply your daily kWh by that number in decimal form. Keeping the same example as above, you would multiply 30 X 0.80. In this example, you would need 24 solar panels to give you 80% of your energy usage.

Another variable that affects how much solar power your panels generate is the number of hours of sunlight your roof gets.

We suggest going with more solar panels that you estimate you need. When a set of solar panels produces more energy than you need, you can sell your solar energy for a little bit of extra cash.

Keep in mind that this calculation is a rough estimate. Your solar panel contractor, if you choose to use one, will give you an exact figure.

Ensure Your Roof Is in the Sun

To make solar panels perform at peak efficiency they need to be in direct sunlight.

Roof mounted solar panels are the most common. To make sure that roof-mounted solar panels will work for your home, take a look at your roof orientation.

If you live in a sunny state, chances are roof orientation won’t matter too much. However, you still need to check for trees that could be making shade on your roof. If needed, trim the branches to make sure your roof gets as much sunlight as possible.

Don’t worry too much about cloudy days. The sun is a powerful energy source. In fact, just 1 day of sunlight could power the planet for 30 years – here are some more fun facts about solar energy to share with your friends.

Inspect Your Roof and Attic

Inspect your roof and attic for potential problems. If possible, have a roofing specialist conduct the examination. A licensed professional is trained to notice issues that could cause problems later on.

If you do the inspection yourself, look for mildew and issues such as leaks or stains in the attic or walls. This is likely caused by poor ventilation. Attics that are not properly ventilated is common and can make a new roof necessary sooner than average.

When inspecting the roof, keep in mind that each solar panel weighs about 40 pounds. That doesn’t include the mounting racks and hardware.

You might need as many as 12 panels or more to power your home. It’s imperative that your roof has the needed structural support to be able to handle the weight.

When conducting a roof inspection, look at the placement of chimneys, antennas and satellite dishes. You might have to relocate these items to another part of the roof so that your solar panels can get the best, most direct sunlight possible.

Chimneys and vents can be more problematic to move, but it may be possible. Talk to your roofing specialist about the likelihood of these changes being made.

Consider Roof Replacement

Installing solar panels on roofs can last up to 20-30 years. So it’s not a good idea to go to all the effort and cost if your roof is due for replacement.

Don’t be tempted to skip roof repair if the damage is slight. Small issues can easily grow into big problems over time.

Remember, when installing solar panels, workers will be walking on your roof and carrying heavyweight panels. Minor issues before work begins can become more serious under the strain of this installation.

As a general rule, if your roof will need to re-replaced in the next 5 years, it is worth replacing the roof with Jasper Roofing prior to installing solar panels. If you don’t do it now, a solar contractor must move solar panels from the old roof and install them on the new roof. This can be costly and also risk damage to your expensive parts and panels.

Final Thoughts on Solar Panels

The amount of solar power capacity expected to be added in the coming years is equivalent to 70,000 new solar panels every hour. That is enough to cover 1,000 soccer fields each day.

Clearly, solar power is the way of the future. We hope this article has helped you get a good understanding of everything you need to know before installing solar panels on your roof.

Next, read about other solar technology that makes life easier.

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The Near Future of Artificial Intelligence (The Road to Super Intelligent Apps and Machines)

Artificial intelligence (AI) is here to stay. The AI revolution is changing lives but scaring millions. AIs are already everywhere, supporting the human mind in the pursuit to make the world better and our way of life even easier.

They’re in your phones and favorite apps, helping you stay connected and do what you do best in the shortest possible time. And they’re doing a better job than anything else could.

The opportunities are endless and uncertain. Human development cannot be stopped. The future can only be better but with lots of questions.

I am no expert in artificial intelligence. But the rise of super intelligent machine and software is upon us and I am just as curious as you are about what AI can (and will ultimately) do. The future of AI is bright but frightening.

Technology giants are cashing in on the next big thing. Mark Zuckerberg made a $2 billion bet on Oculus Rift (a virtual-reality headset) in 2014. And Facebook has over 50-person AI lab. Google wants a breakthrough in AI that could change history, hence the acquisition of the DeepMind team last year. Google’s DeepMind defeated legendary Go (an ancient Chinese board game that has long been considered one of the great challenges faced by AI) player Lee Se-dol in historic victory earlier this month. IBM has bet billions on the success of Watson, its Jeopardy question-answering supercomputer.

Meanwhile, a russian millionaire is exploring ways to upload the human brain to a computer. “The ultimate goal of my plan is to transfer someone’s personality into a completely new body,” he says.

“Within the next 30 years,” promises Dmitry Itskov, “I am going to make sure that we can all live forever.”

Elsewhere, Elon Musk wants to start selling self-driving cars next year. His company, Tesla and other car manufacturers like Honda, Nissan, Ford and more are testing semi-autonomous cars. Even Uber is seeking to buy self-driving cars.

Musk’s Tesla Motors assembly plant is powered by lots of intelligent machines. Tesla is reinventing the American auto industry. And don’t forget Musk has been sending rockets to space for sometime now. His SpaceX company has partnered with NASA to explore reusable rockets.

Richard Branson has not given up on getting millionaires to other planets as tourists after that fatal accident. Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin is also exploring spaceflight technology. Billionaires are now counting on super machines to do things humans could only think of as of the seventeenth century.

It’s Musk, again. He wants to build Hyperloops that will make it possible to work at the far east of the US and still be able to live at the far west. He is already considering designs.

MIT student engineers won a competition to transform Musk’s idea into a design for a Hyperloop to move pods of people at high speed.

The Hyperloop is a high-speed ground transport concept proposed by Musk to transport “pods” of 20 to 30 people through a 12-foot diameter tube at speeds of roughly 700mph (1,127km/h). How cool is that?

In other news, Google has fallen out of love with robots. Alphabet, the parent company is trying to sell Boston Dynamics, the high-profile robotics startup it bought in late 2013.

With all the hype, AI is still in infancy. There is still a lot to explore and experiment. But the rate of technological impact in recent times means that humans are closer to getting machines to do our current jobs.

Employees in big companies don’t like that. Actually, nobody is secured about their jobs. Robots are eating jobs. But most businesses value profits more than anything. And they will do everything in their power to reduce their reliance on humans to do routine jobs.

Robots are now becoming supremely capable in medical diagnosis, manufacturing, assembly, packing and packaging, surgery, weaponry, research and more. Are we headed into a jobless future?

What AI apps are already doing

You are probably using a lot of AI apps. Facebook uses AI to make sure your newsfeed is exactly what you want. Apple’s Siri uses AI to learn your voice and to translate your vocal requests into search, search them, and provide you an answer.

Google’s search function enables you to find what you’re looking for. Microsoft’s Cortana helps you get things done by letting your PC and smartphone work together.

Apps like GetYana, Tempo, Microsoft Fetch, Blippar, Bernie, Virtual Talk, Snips, Alice and a lot more are using artificial intelligence in one way or the other to help people get the right information and service they want.

What will AI apps do in the future?

Smartphones are still not very helpful at getting us information or data based on what we are already doing. We still have to touch a lot of apps and buttons to access exactly what we want. With all the power in our hands, we should be doing better.

AI apps of the near future will practically blow your mind. Based on what innovators are experimenting and exploring, your smartphone promises to be the best mobile super computer you can ever own.

You will be able to download advanced AI apps like other apps int the future. And they will possibly spread out into other devices and computers you permit them to. Even your walls, clothes, office, car, luggage. Internet of Things (IoT) will be a lot more beneficial and interesting tomorrow or the next decade.

AI apps will be able to not only read your email and write responses but they could go through them, find you what matters and what doesn’t, monitor which ones were read and report back to you.They will log on to all your apps, using your passwords, check updates, respond to them.

They will even change your passwords if they are compromised without your knowledge. And if you are worried about big brother watching you, you AI apps will handle your encryptions and keep your data private.

Reading news and summarising them for you will be basic. You won’t even have to flip through all those news apps you have installed.

Investing will solely be done by intelligent apps that will be made public. You won’t have to study the stock market and trends. You will be able to assign research tasks to machines whiles your AI apps take care of where to invest your money.

AI investment apps will know when to exactly pull out of a deal and when to cash in. They will give you reasons why those stock options are best for you based on your age and interests.  Technology-driven brokerage will operate with significantly less overhead.

AI apps will soon file your tax returns like humans. Your accountants will be very worried, but you will choose machines over them.

The combination of super intelligent computers, intelligent software, and APIs will open up new opportunities for even smarter apps that will be able to do a lot more than we will be able to imagine.

As impressive as the AI powered suggestions for replies to your emails are, they’re just not very useful yet. The likes of Siri, Google Voice, Cortana and Robin have a lot to learn.

What will you do with all the free time on your hands when machines are busy at work?

But there are downsides to a utopian world where machines and intelligent software rule and make lives better, faster and more efficient.

The big question is: why, then are humans interested in building machines whose intelligence will overwhelm us and even scare the hell out of us?

Humans evolve. That’s how we have come this far. The people of the fourteenth century will be amazed at what we have been able to accomplish today. It’s human nature to learn as much as we can and to build the best machines and tools we can.

And we will stop at nothing to do what we think it’s possible. Technologists, engineers and innovators are in business to build the most potent machines they can, not to worry about consequences, at the moment.

The basics of life like awesome cars, fast trains and aeroplanes, super computers, smartphones etc are all innovations that have changed how we work. But we want more than that. We are not impressed. Every generation expects more. We thrive on improved technology.

Are we there wet?

AI today is nowhere near understanding the human mind, yet. There is still a lot to do and comprehend. But the good and scary news is that corporate giants are investing billions of dollars into super computers, robotics, Internet of Things etc.

It’s a race of the giants. The more we learn, the more carefully, critically and intelligently we can observe what AI can do and the limits we need to overcome.

Geoffrey Hinton, an artificial intelligence (AI) expert and Google AI ‘godfather’ believes machines could match human abilities in five years.

On whether people should fear AI, he said in an interview with Macleans off the back of Google DeepMind’s victory against AlphaGo:

“Any new technology, if it’s used by evil people, bad things can happen,” said Hinton. “But that’s more a question of the politics of the technology.”

He continued: “The main thing shouldn’t be, how do we cripple this technology so it can’t be harmful, it should be, how do we improve our political system so people can’t use it for bad purposes?”

The risks of AI are real. Can we handle it?

Dr. Joscha Bach of the MIT Media Lab and Harvard Program for Evolutionary Dynamics says:

“The risks brought about by near-term AI may turn out to be the same risks that are already inherent in our society. Automation through AI will increase productivity, but won’t improve our living conditions if we don’t move away from a labor/wage based economy.

It may also speed up pollution and resource exhaustion, if we don’t manage to install meaningful regulations. Even in the long run, making AI safe for humanity may turn out to be the same as making our society safe for humanity.”

Technologists, innovators and engineers will continue to do everything they can to get machines as intelligent as possible. But no artificial mind will ever come close to the human mind. No computer will ever feel anything like we do. Software can only simulate feeling.

The human mind is no static, rational machine. Feeling and consciousness can only happen (so far as we know now) to organic beings and animals. It can’t be produced, no matter what, by mere software on a computer.

Our machines are here to serve us but will they take over our lives? Will our robots outthink us and even harm us?

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