5 Reasons to Go Solar

Going solar is not only good for the environment, but also for your wallet! While the upfront costs may seem pricey, you’re saving a lot of cash in the long run. Installing solar panels on your home will also increase your property value.

#1 Your Electricity Bill Will Decrease

No matter what, you will notice a decrease in your electricity bill. Depending on the type of solar system you choose, you may even eliminate your bill altogether.

Even if you could care less about the environment (which hopefully, you do)- your wallet will reap in the benefits. You’ll be spending less money on utilities and more towards what you truly want. If you ever sell your home in the future, having solar panels installed on your home will also increase its value. It will look great in a listing and will attract tech-savvy buyers.

#2 You Will Become Independent

By going solar, you will no longer have to fully rely on a utility company to supply you power. When installing your solar system, you can also choose to have an energy storing system alongside it. If you’re looking to go completely off-grid, this will ensure you have enough juice to power your home throughout the night and during cloudier days.

If you still want to be connected to the grid, you can opt-out of having an energy storing system. If your solar panel system isn’t generating enough electricity for your needs, you can borrow some power from your utility company. Some may even pay you if you generate more power than you use and supply it back onto the grid. Either way, you are still coming out ahead with generating your own electricity!

#3 Reduce Your Carbon Footprint

Your carbon footprint will be significantly be reduced when you choose to go solar. Around 40% of all carbon emissions in the United States are due to buildings. You will be helping out the environment and sustaining a better future by relying less on the grid.

#4 Solar is Dependable and Reliable

You may have been led to believe that solar power can only be used when the sun is shining. However, that is not entirely true- if you choose to install a battery system alongside your solar panels, you can store energy for when the sun isn’t at its fullest potential.

Your solar system will begin generating electricity as soon as you can see sunlight. Whether to sun is rising or setting, whether it is raining or snowing, you will be generating electricity for your home. Solar panels also last a very long time and hardly ever need to be maintenanced. Once your system is installed, you’re ready to go for a long time.

#5 You Will Feel Amazing

I don’t know about you- but knowing that I have solar panels on my home is an inspiring feeling. I not only feel great about myself for making a step into the future, but for the environment. I find it fascinating that we can now harvest energy from the sun and use it just as plants have been doing for billions of years.

So what do you think? Are you going to go solar? Let me know in the comment section below! It may cost a bit to install your new solar system upfront, but the benefits are well worth it. You can become energy dependent, reduce your carbon footprint, and end up saving lots of money in the long run. Personally, I also enjoy looking at the statistics of my solar generation and consumption each day- it’s fun to me.

Whether you choose to go solar now or not, just keep it in the back of your mind. I wish you the very best in your journey!

Apple Card – The Tea Has Spilled

If you’ve been keeping up with the news lately, then you’ve probably heard of Apple’s new Apple Card. It’s basically just a credit card that is offered by Apple- but unique, of course.

The Tea

Apple Card will begin accepting applications sometime in the summer of 2019 (this year). The credit card lives on your iPhone, in the wallet app, and is then immediately available for use via Apple Pay. For merchants that do not yet accept that method of payment, however; Apple has something special in store. An Apple-designed titanium card that can be used anywhere in the world.

Apple-designed titanium credit card

Apple Card offers 2% cash back on every purchase and 3% cash back on purchases made to Apple.

Daily Cash

Unlike most credit card companies which reward cash back on a monthly basis, Apple Card rewards its cash back daily. It goes straight to your Apple Cash Card – daily – which you can then spend exactly like cash. It’s that simple.

Spending

The Apple Card offers charts and uses location data to help you better understand your spending. This could be useful if you’re spending a lot but not realizing how much you’re actually spending overall. It’s useful if you’re trying to stick to a budget or see where your money is going without putting in much effort.

Interest

Apple claims to offer the first credit card that actually helps you pay less interest. The Apple Card enables you to see how much interest you’d be paying based off of what you put forward as your payment. The more you pay now, the less you’ll pay later. This is true everywhere, but Apple makes it clearer to see with minimal effort.

It Could Be Better

The Apple Card seems more like an attempt to keep you locked into Apple’s ecosystem than anything. You can only apply via an iPhone and the Apple Card itself lives inside of an Apple App. However, its adoption will likely promote payment systems like Apple Pay to be more widely accepted- which is a good thing.

The cash back that Apple is offering isn’t all that great either. Amazon offers 5% cash back along with a $50 sign-up bonus on their credit cards, while Apple is only offering 3% overall.

I’ll be interested in keeping up with Apple’s new Apple Card as time progresses. It’s an interesting move but there is definitely more work to be done.

AmazonBasics 3D Printer Filament: Is It Any Good?

I have been 3D Printing for a while now. One day, while browsing Amazon for a new roll of filament, I came across the AmazonBasics 3D Printer Filament. I was skeptical- but decided to go ahead and try it out anyway.

I’ve been using AmazonBasics Filament for a few months now. To be honest, I have to give Amazon props for this one. I am very impressed with the results that I have been *constantly* getting. Up until now, I have stuck with Hatchbox PLA. It’s a very reputable brand that also yields very good results.

[ I will update this post and place pictures of my prints here ]

According to Amazon, the dimensional accuracy of their filament is around + / – .05 mm, which seems to be on par. I haven’t had any issues or jams when using the filament. Speaking of which, it is also claimed to be “engineered” to reduce jamming.

The AmazonBasics Filament itself comes in a resealable bag that helps protect the filament once you’re done using it. The spool also has a cool window/built-in gauge that helps you see the approximate length and percentage of filament you have left. It is also backed by an AmazonBasics’ 1-year limited warranty.

Is It Worth It?

Yes. Amazon’s 3D Printer Filament is definitely worth the cost. From my experience, it performs just as well as other well-known brands of filament. It is definitely worth a try and you should have no trouble using it alongside whatever it is that you are currently using. They offer a variety of colors and types of filament to choose from.

I have Amazon’s copper filament, glow filament, and yellow filament. They have all performed great, adhered to the bed without issue, and every print came out successful. My favorite would have to be their glow filament- it’s just so cool! The texture also feels smooth and premium.

If you were on the edge of whether or not to give Amazon’s 3D Printer Filament a try, I would for sure go ahead and do so. You won’t regret it.

My 3D Printer

In case you were wondering what 3D Printer I use, it is the MonoPrice Mini Select v2. You can view it on Amazon by clicking here. They have two colors- black or white. I’ve had it for quite a while as well and it is one of the best I’ve ever had. I had the Anet A8 before it. The MonoPrice, however, comes pre-assembled and ready to print out-of-box. It produces premium prints and the experience overall feels premium. It’s my main “go-to” machine and I have been using the AmazonBasics 3D Printer Filament in it with no trouble at all.

Should I Cut Cable?

Everyone around me seems to have made the decision to cut their cable (except for their high-speed, unlimited internet of course). As we continue to work our way into 2019, is there really any reason NOT to cut cable?

If you are a tech-savvy person then cutting the cord totally makes sense. You are aware of all the online alternatives including Hulu, Netflix, YouTube TV, Amazon Prime Video, etc. You can even snag a 30-day free trial for Amazon Prime by clicking or tapping here. There are many different services out there that can replace and even outdo the content that you could barely squeeze out of your cable TV subscription. Even with a few online services, the cost is still usually cheaper than your hefty cable bill.

For local channels that you might miss out on when relying on online streaming services, you can buy a cheap HD TV antenna on Amazon ($27) or pick one up at a retail store near you.

When I decided to cut the cord and cut cable, I ordered an Amazon Fire TV Stick off of Amazon ($40). For the price, the Fire Stick is more than worth it for what it has to offer. It has a remote than can be controlled with your voice- which is amazing in itself, using Amazon’s Alexa technology. You can easily download the apps for Hulu, Netflix, etc. I have found that Amazon Prime is one of the best values for your money. You get access to Kindle eBooks, free 2-day shipping, Prime Video, and much more. It’s only $12.99 per month and even cheaper if you choose an annual subscription. Here’s the link again for the free 30-day trial I mentioned above.

Cutting cable is a wise move in my opinion. It forces the cable companies to rethink how they are running their business. When all of your users are dropping your service- you know that you need to make a change. Opting-in to online streaming services pushes you and everyone else into the future of entertainment.

Cable TV may seem like the easiest option but it’s definitely not worth it for the prices that are typically offered. Channels are crammed full of ads and you barely have any choice in what you get to watch. You have to conform to what the channel guide tells you.

Grab yourself a Fire TV Stick and a Digital Antenna. Cut out your cable TV subscription. It is well worth the switch as long as you are willing to make the change. If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment below and I will be sure to get back with you. Thanks!

Food for Thought

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Amazon Kindle Paperwhite

Amazon has a special right now that you can take advantage of- $30 off of the all-new Kindle Paperwhite. That’s a price tag of only $99.99 instead of the usual $129.99. But, don’t wait too long, as this offer expires on March 15, 2019. So if you’re interested, be sure to make the purchase now rather than later. You can view the Amazon Kindle Paperwhite on Amazon here.

No Glare, Even in Bright Sunlight – phones and tablets have reflective screens, the Kindle Paperwhite looks just as if you were reading off of paper itself

Can Last Forever on a Single Charge – the Kindle Paperwhite can last up to six weeks on a single charge (based on reading for 30 minutes per day with wireless off and the brightness at ten)

Won’t Tire Your Eyes in the Dark – the Kindle Paperwhite has a display that guides light towards the surface of the display rather than towards your eyes (like most phones and tablets do)

For more information on the Amazon Kindle Paperwhite, you can view its details on Amazon by clicking the link here. By doing so, you can get it for $30 off so be sure to visit using the links on this page. Remember, this special offer expires on March 15, 2019! You can also activate this special offer by clicking or tapping the banner below to make your purchase. Happy shopping!

Food for Thought

Interested in fast, 2-day shipping on some of the items listed above? Start your free trial with Amazon Prime today.

Anet A8 vs. MonoPrice Select Mini v2

About two years ago, I became extremely interested in the world of 3D printing. I watched countless hours of YouTube videos and read up on many articles. I came to a conclusion: I was going with the Anet A8 (which I had to assemble myself).

My decision, though, was made more on the grounds of cost rather than what I knew about the printer. The Anet A8 sells on Amazon for $180 (view it here). Although it is not a bad machine, it is definitely not the best 3D printer out there for someone just beginning at 3D printing. If you’re brand-new to the scene, I would more than definitely recommend the MonoPrice Select Mini v2 3D Printer. It goes for $190 on Amazon (view it here). It is only $10 more and it is well worth it. More on that later.

Anet A8

You will love the Anet A8 3D printer if you want to learn how a 3D printer works and enjoy putting things together. Though it may become a bit of a pain trying to put together a machine that you have no clue what to do with at first. It comes with a numerous amount of parts that you will have to assemble. Personally, I used YouTube videos to help put it together correctly along with online guides.

The Anet A8 took well over a few hours for me to assemble and many modifications before it would even begin to print at all. This may be discouraging to some who have a low tolerance when it comes to stress and hassles. My first print was a pyramid that came pre-installed on an included SD card that I got with mine.

Pros:

  • Not too expensive
  • Allows you to learn how a 3D printer works
  • Easy to modify

Cons:

  • Assembly can be time-consuming and stressful
  • Requires a lot of trial and error
  • Not the best quality prints

MonoPrice Select Mini v2

This is my current 3D printer and also my favorite. It came pre-assembled and ready to print straight out of the box. This is perfect for beginners and those who want something simple that just works. All you have to do is load in your filament, select one of the pre-loaded 3D models on the included SD card, or save one of your own to it.

The design of the MonoPrice Select Mini v2 is just gorgeous in my opinion as well. It has a PEI sheet included on the heated bed and has a bowden extruder which is better to use (it helps the prints stick better). It has a beautiful screen and a knob-like-dial that makes navigation seamless and easy.

Another important thing to note is that I can print ABS filament on this printer but never could get anything to print in ABS on the Anet A8- but maybe that was just me not knowing how to properly configure and setup the machine itself. The prints on the MonoPrice Select Mini v2 were also significantly better over those I printed on the Anet A8.

Pros:

  • Ready to use, straight out of the box
  • High quality and intuitive design
  • High quality prints

Cons:

  • Hard to repair or modify the 3D printer itself

Conclusion

Winner: MonoPrice Select Mini v2 (view it here)

I would have to pick the MonoPrice Select Mini v2 as the best 3D printer. It is ready to print as soon as you get it which is very exciting to someone who is just entering the 3D printing world. It prints better, looks better, and in my opinion, is better in every way. I wish I would have bought this printer over the Anet A8 when I first started out. It would have saved a lot of time and stress. I was always having to mess around with the Anet A8 to get it to work.

However, if you are interested in learning about 3D printing and don’t mind putting it together, the Anet A8 is a fairly good machine in itself. I just did not have the patience to deal with modifying the machine to make it work so I settled for the easier of the two options.

Food for Thought

Click here to view MonoPrice Select Mini v2 on Amazon.com

Click here to view Anet A8 on Amazon.com

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The Increasing Use of Solar Energy

I was driving down the Interstate when something caught my eye. I looked to my right and saw a field full of solar panels. I was amazed and went out of my way to come back around just to see them again.

It got me thinking about renewable energy and the increasing use of solar energy. I have always been fascinated by technology and science; which of course includes solar panels. There is so much that humanity has to learn about the way the universe works. Once we begin harnessing the benefits that it holds (in a healthy way) – we will flourish. It’s apparent that we are living at the forefront of this new era as it can be seen all around us.

How Do Solar Panels Work?

Solar panels contain photovoltaic cells that capture energy from the sun and turn it into electricity. This works by allowing particles of light to free electrons from atoms within the panel itself. It is this that generates an electrical current and voltage.

Not too long ago my fiancĂ© purchased a solar panel for me as a gift. It was a Newpowa 10 watt 12 volt solar panel ($24 on Amazon). I loved it and went to try it out immediately. It was astonishing to me that a device with no moving parts could generate electricity with what seemed like barely any effort. I still use the solar panel today, mounted on the roof, to keep a spare lead-acid battery charged for when it’s needed.

I have put some links to their solar panels below. I would highly recommend a solar panel from Newpowa. They’re an amazing company with great prices for such high quality products. If you are looking to start a solar system you will also need to look into charge controllers, which I will go over in the next section.

Solar Panel System

Next to the solar panel itself, the charge controller you choose has to be one of the most important decisions you make. It takes the electricity from the panel(s) and optimizes it in the most efficient way to charge your battery storage system and/or directly supply a constantly safe DC voltage for you to use.

You can choose to store you energy or use it directly. Using a storage system with batteries will ensure you are saving some energy, for when the sun is not giving you as much as you need when you are demanding it. You can opt into building a lithium-ion system or linking together traditional lead-acid batteries.

If you require the energy you are producing from solar panels for AC usage, the kind that you’d get out of an outlet in your house, you will need to grab an inverter as well. It converts DC that the solar panels and batteries give off into AC.

Food for Thought

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Works Cited