I just returned from incredible India where I walked into caves that were temples carved into mountains with walls that were carved recordings of the life of civilizations that existed in the 7th century B.C. I experienced and felt the respect for religious freedom, religious tolerance and harmony among the people.

In Kerala I walked through streets where there were Hindu temples near a synagogue, near an Anglican cathedral, near a Catholic cathedral, near a Muslim temple, and it took us about 40 minutes to walk to each of these temples of worship.

I was amazed to find out that 60 percent of the population uses cell phones. I was more a-mazed to see a house boat using photo-voltaic panels, which are now called solar panels, to generate the electricity to run the air conditioner in the bedrooms aboard.


Yes, solar panels on a house boat in India!

So this brings me to a very hot topic in Hawaii: The cost of electricity and the buying decision in selecting a solar system for your project. The manufacturing of solar panels is global, and there are hundreds of manufacturers of solar panels worldwide. When making your buying decision, do your homework. Inter-view the supplier and the contractor. Find out how long they have been installing solar panels. Find out how they warranty the roof penetrations. Get testimonies from their customers and get referrals from your friends. Go look at their installations.

Here are a few guidelines on how to select the solar panels for your project:

1. Select a manufacturer that is well known, one that has a track record and most importantly one that has the financial capital to stand behind the warranty.


2. Know what kind of warranty is being offered in the written literature from the manufacturer, because different warranties vary greatly.

3. Select the most efficient solar panels to maximize the electricity production in the space you have on your roof.

Take advantage of the solar tax credits being offered by both the State of Hawaii Tax Department and the IRS. Visit the web-site www.biahawaii.org to research your solar questions!

Karen Nakamura is executive vice president/CEO of the Building Industry Association of Hawaii.