6/8/2010 10:05 AM
Growing up in the small coastal town of Angourie in Australia, Ry Cuming had dual passions for surfing and music. Years later, surfing would act as the catalyst to launch his music career. After participating in a surf competition in Costa Rica when he was 18, Cuming set up a busking spot in the hallway of a hotel and started playing guitar and singing. As luck would have it, a Los Angeles-based film/music exec heard him there.
That serendipitous moment brought Cuming to L.A., where he collaborated with Maroon 5, Phantom Planet, and Rooney, and signed a deal with Jive records, who will release his self-titled album on July 20. But as his profile grows and he gains more exposure in the fame-focused metropolis of L.A. and beyond, he hasn't abandoned his small-town, rustic roots and love for nature.
Below, Cuming talks about his solar-studio setup, the advantages of natural power, and his advice for studio owners thinking of going solar.
"The key with this particular solar studio," Cuming says, "is that it is linked into the grid. This is really beneficial for two reasons:
"The first being that there isn't a need to create, buy, and use batteries, which are not particularly effective in energy storage or kind to the environment. Nor is there a need for generator use.
"The second is that there is always power. If it's a long night in the studio, the system will automatically take from the grid (SCE or your provider). And if you don't use all the power that has been generated that day, it will feed straight down the power line for your neighbor to use. That's sustainable.
"There are a few technical factors that are important. You need to know how much energy you will need to run your studio/house, and then you need to install the appropriate number of solar panels to exceed that, so you always have enough.
"On this cottage/studio I work in, we have basically half the roof covered with six solar panels. Along with this there are two circuit management systems and a running meter displaying the intake of energy from right over our head. With this relatively small system we generate enough energy to run the studio for hours on end (and to accommodate living in the house with it) without drawing much, or at all from the national grid.
"Not every roof has the correct orientation or angle of inclination to take full advantage of the sun's energy and most systems in the Northern Hemisphere should ideally point toward true south. This allows for the most usage of the day's sun. And living in a place like L.A. means that there is a always a lot of that... beautiful warm sun.
"One of the greatest beauties of having solar is getting to manage it. To see how much energy you are receiving and directly relate that to how much you are using. That is something so simple, but also something that doesn't happen enough in today's world.
"Living on solar, or with solar, is about learning to understand that we can create our own sense of sustainability wherever we live and work, without having to lose out on the modern way of life. We can turn on a light, or run into the studio, and make use of energy from the sun. It couldn't be any more simple, and simple is always good!"