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Another DIY Solar Success Story
Jun05

Another DIY Solar Success Story

John and Renee Shean’s DIY Photovoltaic Installation If you’re at all like John and Renee Shean, you’re probably turned off by the solar companies that want to charge you an arm and a leg for PV installation.  Maybe the lease or power purchase agreement (PPA) models just don’t cut it for you.  John Shean is one of those people.  John is an electrician who just wanted to work with a knowledgeable supplier that would offer fair price on the materials needed for a complete PV system.  Earlier this year, Renee and John Shean had been trying to “go green” over time.  First came dual-pane windows, then a tankless water heater and pellet stove.  Installing a solar system was just part of this natural progression.   Renee explains how she and her husband made the decision to go solar: “We probably would have done it a lot sooner, but it was just too costly.  Most of the cost was in the installation and since John is an electrician he knew he could install the panels himself.  However, we found it impossible to find anyone that would sell us just the panels, that is until John found Deep at Go Green Soar.  So now we are the proud owners of our own solar system, furthering our quest to ‘Go Green’!” As an electrician with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW),  John wanted to find a supplier that would get him the right equipment for the job so he got in touch with us at GoGreenSolar.com.  He explained how he’s an electrician and just wanted to discuss the different options available, purchase the equipment, and install the system with his own hands.  John chose to work with an Ironridge racking solution and Sharp solar panels, which are manufactured in Memphis, Tennessee by IBEW workers. “John is more focused on the mechanics of it all,” says Renee, “Being able to see the meter running backwards and being able to pull up the system online and monitor each panel and the energy it’s producing, although I think that part is pretty cool too!” “Oddly enough, my favorite part about our solar system is actually seeing the panels on the roof every time I drive into the driveway.  It makes feel happy knowing I can say to myself, I’m creating my own energy!  I say odd because not too long ago seeing the panels on the roof was considered ‘unsightly.’  I remember my parents were approached in the 70’s to put panels on the roof to heat our pool and they considered it until they found out you would be able to see the panels from...

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Top 5 Items You Need to Get Your Home on Solar Power
May28

Top 5 Items You Need to Get Your Home on Solar Power

Solar power is a great alternative for powering your home or business. It is a renewable source of energy that is both better for the environment and better for your pocketbook.  You can choose to add a few solar-powered items to your home to make small but positive changes, or you can decide to undergo an entire green makeover and put your whole home on solar power. Switching to solar power doesn’t need to be complicated or burdensome. You can easily make the switch by getting a few key pieces of equipment. Here are the top 5 items you will need to get your home on solar power and start reaping the environmental and financial benefits of choosing this renewable energy resource: Solar Panels Of course, the most important piece of equipment you’ll need is a series of solar panels. You can purchase them individually or buy a solar panel kit that has multiple panels and other pieces of equipment you’ll need, such as micro inverters and racking. Determining the number of solar panels you will need depends on an equation that takes into account how much power you need to run your home and how much sun-hours your home gets. It’s best to consult with a solar representative to help you determine your individual needs.   Grid-Tie Inverters Grid-tie inverters are necessary to help you convert direct current (DC) to alternating current (AC) power from your solar panels. Solar power energy is direct current, whereas the type of power you need for your home is alternating current.  Grid-tie inverters also allows for net metering, which can help you to sell surplus energy that your solar panels create back to the energy company. Racks and Mounts You’ll need a way to mount your solar panels, and racks and mounts will help you do that job. Obviously, the best place to mount solar panels is a south-facing location where they will get the most direct sunlight during the day.  For many homes, this will be the roof. However, you may also find a good location to ground-mount your array. If you’re considering adding battery backup…  Charge Controllers The intensity of the sun will vary from day to day. On especially bright days, you may get more voltage in your solar panels, which can overload your battery bank. By using a charge controller, you regulate the charge to your batteries so they don’t become overcharged and damaged. You’ll want to be sure your batteries are always protected in case you need to rely on them for power backup. Backup Battery You never know when you’re going to get a patch of...

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Small Scale Solar Electric Power Systems
May03

Small Scale Solar Electric Power Systems

In the natural world, solar energy has two primary effects: heating and photochemical. The primary photochemical effect is photosynthesis, which is the foundation upon which all carbon fuels are built. Coal, oil, natural gas, wood, alcohol and any other fuel built by life are all forms of stored solar energy. The heating effects of solar energy can be used for both heating and cooling by proper design of buildings, a practice that goes back many thousand of years. Wind power and ocean current power systems are basically means of capturing solar power for human use. A sail boat is a solar powered boat, even though most people don’t usually think of it as such. In the modern technological world we have learned to use focused sunlight to generate heat and, perversely, power refrigeration systems utilizing absorption type refrigeration. Focused sunlight can be used to power steam operated electrical generation plants and very high temperature ovens for scientific research. The ancient Greek scientist Archimedes was said to have used focused sunlight to set Roman ships on fire during the siege of Syracuse in 214-212 B.C. Modern technology has a much simpler system for producing electrical power from sunlight. The photovoltaic effect ( a very distant relative of photosynthesis) produces electricity directly from sunlight. Devices called solar cells capture sunlight and produce electricity. Solar cells are usually small, perhaps a few square inches at most. They are not very thick and are usually supported and protected by glass or plastic and can be arranged in panels with up to several hundred cells connected and supported by some sort of framework. GoGreenSolar.com offers a considerable selection of panels providing power up to 250 watts or as small as 7 watts. Portable power systems are usually designed to charge batteries and provide constant regulated power. In many parts of the world, even in remote parts of the United States, electrical power is hard to come by. If you live 50 miles from the nearest power line, the connection fee for electrical service can be quite prohibitive. Many businesses and ngo’s have designed solar power systems to provide electricity for remote sites. GoGreenSolar.com offers portable systems suitable for remote sites. They also offer components to create permanent off-grid power systems. An off-grid system can be as simple as garden lighting or a charger to allow you to sit in the park or on a mountain trail with your portable electronics, whether a cell phone or lap-top computer. Perhaps it can be a back-pack system to provide power for a back-woods camping trip. Off-grid systems can be an emergency power system or a complete power...

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5 Cheap DIY Energy Fixes
Apr29

5 Cheap DIY Energy Fixes

The hot months of summer come upon us like an uncomfortable rash, sending us scurrying around looking for a solution. However, turning up the AC isn’t always the best option. Here are a few energy fixes and tips that could save you money and keep you cool all year long. Get Comfortable at Home Image via Flickr by RLHyde Dressing down at home is just common sense. Change into the lightest clothing you can wear, and get cozy. It’s your house, after all. When you wear lighter clothing you might even think your warm house is a bit chilly. However, even if it’s too warm for you, you won’t have to drop the temperature nearly as much in short shorts and a tank as you would need to in thick jeans and a cardigan. Common Sense With Windows In the evenings you should keep your windows open and enjoy the draft, that is, as long as you have a screen. The screen will keep the bugs out, making the fragrant breeze a nice change from electrical drafts that don’t smell like fresh flowers. As important as it is to keep your windows open from evening to morning, it is just as important to keep them tightly shut from morning to night. Day time heat can be overwhelming. It fills a house with humidity and a dense sensation of oppressive heat. Just a Few Degrees of Comfort By turning your thermostat up just two degrees you can save a lot of money every month of summer. Just two degrees makes a world of difference for your energy bill. However, two degrees isn’t much for your body. So, if you think you like your house at 68, kick it up to 70 and see if you even feel the difference: most likely the only change you’ll notice is the drastic drop in your electrical bill. Choke Your Chimney Today Make sure the seal on your chimney is good and tight, even if it means asking a tough young neighbor over to choke it for you. This overlooked seal often causes a large hole in your pocket every month by leaking cold air. When the winter months are over and you’re sure there won’t be another indoor fire all year, then it’s time to seal the chimney. Make sure you have it done every year and you could save hundreds in runaway cooler air. Check Your Seals Along with your chimney you need to have every seal checked annually. Leaking window seals can cost you more than two degrees a month! By having someone scan your house for these temperature leaks you...

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Basics of Wiring Parallel and Series
Apr23

Basics of Wiring Parallel and Series

An introduction to series and parallel circuits Series connections: When a positive (+) end from one solar panel is connected to the negative (-) end of another module it is called a series circuit or a “string.” When wired in series, the voltage increases but your current will remain the same. For every connection made in series, multiply the voltage by the number of solar panels. For example, let’s say you have four solar panels that are 12VDC, 10A.  When you wire all four of them in series, just multiply the voltage of one solar panel for the number of solar panels in the string.  In this case, this will be a total of 48VDC. Keep in mind that connections in series do not change the amperage.  The amps of one solar panel = the amps of all four solar panels connected in series. Parallel connections:  When positives(+) are connected with positives(+) and negatives(-) with negatives(-), this is called a parallel circuit.   When wired in parallel, the current (amperage) will increase with each panel. In this case, if you were to wire the same four 10A, 12 VDC solar panels in parallel, they’d have a current of 40 amps.  The voltage wouldn’t have increased, so it would still be 12VDC. One last note- always talk with an electrician before attempting any sort DIY solar project and stay in compliance with any laws, fire codes, etc. that are specific to your area.  Any questions?  ...

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