Mark Whitaker

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I've been interested in solar electricity since I was a teenager. In 1994, I put together a small photovoltaic system on the roof of my house in Portland, Oregon, and used it to run one room of my house. I wrote an article about it for Home Power magazine.

I left the city in 1995, and lived for the next six years off the grid, using those first two solar panels to provide most of my electricity. Along the way, I designed and built several small PV systems for friends in Northern California, Oregon and even one here in SW Washington, where we get 120 inches of rain a year. I've worked on a lot of other alternative energy systems, too, including micro-hydroelectric setups.

For a couple of years, I sold solar panels on eBay, and at one point had put together a web based storefront as well, but, as the Germans and the Japanese got into solar in a big way a few years ago, the fluctuations in what was available and when made it hard to keep on top of selling online. These days, I do custom systems and sell components on a case by case basis.