ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) – The latest in eco-friendly technology will be on display at The Living Green Expo, which opens this weekend on the Minnesota State Fairgrounds.

And advances in solar technology are one of the highlights at this year’s event.

The technology used to be so expensive that most of us couldn’t get our hands on it.

But now, thanks to the Minnesota company GoSolar!, you get your hands on solar energy for under $600. The price tag is just a drop in the bucket from the tens of thousands of dollars you would have had to put down just a few years ago to get solar technology at home.

Tammy Truong, manager of the Living Green Expo, is astounded by the technological advances. “It’s really becoming so much more affordable these days, with the cost of gas when you’re looking at electric options for transportation whether it be a bike or a car, it really is,” said Truong. “There are so many more options now.”

And affordable solar panels come in handy for charging the small stuff.

“It’s amazing,” said Truong. “I had a solar panel that powered small appliances like my phone, my iPod.”

And it doesn’t stop there. Joaquin Thomas of GoSolar! touts the other money saving possibilities.

“We’ve got heater blankets, which is a big thing for my wife, so I can turn the heat down at night,” said Thomas.

Basically, if you can plug it into your car’s power port, you can plug it into the solar-charged battery.

And GoSolar! makes it easy. They offer a workshop on the basics of solar energy, and at the end you get to build a solar panel yourself.

The hope is to get people over the first green-living hurdle – and closer to a more eco-friendly lifestyle.

“Get them something that they can get their hands on that they can actually start using so they can actually understand the concepts of solar,” said Thomas. “And hopefully they can scale up from there.”

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