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Electricity for Beginners

This is a introduction to some of the fundamental concepts of electricity. Think of electricity like water flowing through a pipe that‘s pitched on a hill.  Gravity is the force that pushes the water down the pipe- this would be your voltage.  The amount of water that moves through the pipe would be your current, or amperage. A volt is a unit that measures the force of electrical pressure that moves electrons.  An amp is measurement of the current flowing through a wire. One amp of current moving with the force of one volt is equal to one Watt.  Naturally, multiplying the volts by the amps will give you your total power in Watts. Volts (V) x Amps (A) = Watts (W) We’re all familiar with Watts, as they’re used to rate household appliances. One thousand Watts is equal to one kilowatt. 1000 Watts (W) = 1 kilowatt (kW) When electricity is being used, we typically refer to it as “energy,” which is expressed is watt-hours (or kilowatt-hours).   A watt-hour is when an appliances draws electricity at a rate of one Watt for one hour.   Your electric bill will show you how many kWh your home uses. Watt-hours (Wh) = Watts x Hours 1000 Watt-hours (Wh) = 1 kilowatt-hour (kWh) Back to the actual flow of electrons- current.  There are a couple kinds of electrical current:  Direct Current (DC) and Alternative Current (AC).   Direct Current (DC) only moves in one direction, just like in that pipe metaphor we used earlier.  DC current is the kind of electricity that solar panels produce or the kind of electricity that can be stored in batteries.   Alternative Current (AC) is the kind of current that’s constantly moving back and forth.  It’s the same kind of electricity that you use on a daily basis when you plug into an AC outlet in your home.  Utility companies provide AC electricity and the overwhelming majority of electronics that you use run on AC power.  Because solar panels produce DC and you use AC, your PV system requires an inverter.  The inverter turns the DC electricity that comes out of your solar panels into grid-quality AC so you can use it to power all your lights, appliances, etc. An electrical circuit is a “circular” path of electrons from a voltage source through a conductor (i.e. wire) to the load and then back again.   When this pathway is opened and continuity is broken, the electrons can’t flow through and in this example, the light will turn off.  When you flip the light switch, you’re opening an electrical circuit.  Kind of cool, huh? More on circuits next...

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Stop "Go Green California" Telemarketing
Apr18

Stop "Go Green California" Telemarketing

Let me guess.  A rude telemarketer claiming to be from “Go Green California something something” called your home multiple times attempting to set an appointment with you for a solar consultation, right? I’ll make this clear right off the bat- it’s not GoGreenSolar.com and it’s not GoGreenCalifornia.com. You’re sick of being harassed- you’ve tried calling back only to find that their caller ID sends you to some generic voicemail box.  You searched “go green solar” and now you’re talking to us. We are familiar with this story, but it’s not us. Over the past several months, we’ve had countless individuals call in to complain about a company operating a shady call center, falsely identifying themselves as Go Green Solar or using a name that’s similar at the very least.  This company will apparently make multiple unsolicited phone calls – even to numbers on the National Do Not Call list. Solar telemarketers like this often imply that they’re with a government organization or claim to be the utility company.  Businesses that depend on these tactics give renewable energy a bad name. So far, we believe we’ve identified one of these companies with a call center located in Van Nuys, California.   There could be more. Please understand:  GoGreenSolar.com does not do any telemarketing or door-to-door canvassing.   That being said, if you have any information about this company that is supposedly misusing our name, please help us put an end to their unethical business practices. File a complaint with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) by following the link below: File Complaint | FCC.gov  Thanks for your help. *On a side note, please remember that telemarketers are just employees- they’re often young people trying to make ends meet.  The person making the phone call usually takes the heat for the sleazy company that employs them.  Of course, this is never an excuse for rude or offensive behavior from that individual. *...

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How Many Solar Panels Do I Need?
Apr12

How Many Solar Panels Do I Need?

How to calculate a quick, easy GUESStimate for sizing a PV system. “How much will it cost to power my XX,XXX square foot house?” “How many solar panels do I need to eliminate my electric bill?” We get questions like this every day from homeowners in the beginning stages of going solar. For all intents and purposes, it’s pretty much impossible to give you a number based on the size of your house or the dollar amount of your electric bill – it’s all going to depend on the load.  Though I hesitate to give a rough number like this, sometimes you do need a ballpark figure to start things off. Alright, here we go: To begin, calculate your average energy usage in kWh.  Collect your electric bills for the past 12 months or more. Get an average of kWh used on a monthly basis.  Let’s say that this number is 1100 kWh per month. Now divide your average monthly usage by 30 to get your average daily kWh usage.  In this case, it would be about 37kWh per day. To keep things simple for this rough estimate, we’ll assume that a 250W solar panel will produce about 1kWh a day.  **Keep in mind that this is a rough estimate, based on a site location getting 4 hours of sunlight per day** Assuming that you use about 37 kWh per day, you would need about 37 solar panels to meet 100% of your average energy needs. Based on your current usage, how much of this do you want to offset with a solar power system? 100% …75%…. 50% ?    Multiply accordingly. Let’s say you wanted your solar system to account for 80% of your energy consumption. 37 kWh per day x 0.80  = 29.6 kWh Since one solar panel produces about 1 kWh per day, you would use 30 solar panels to account for 80% of your average consumption. The purpose of this is to give a rough idea of how many solar panels you will need.  This sizing tool provides a quick number to go off of as you’re shopping around- it’s not a replacement for having an electrical contractor design a system for you. Once you’ve calculated your average kWh use and determined the percentage that you plan to offset with solar, get a free solar quote from GoGreenSolar.com 😉  We’ll help you design a complete system that’s specific to your roof and geographical location. Any questions?...

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Conserve Energy & Reduce Your Heating Bill (Infographic)
Apr02

Conserve Energy & Reduce Your Heating Bill (Infographic)

Cook with the Sun! Another way to conserve energy is to cook with the Sun.  Solar cookers can cook, bake, dehydrate, or boil without using any traditional form of energy.    Cooking your food with solar energy locks in moisture and prevents burning and scorching that you often experience with conventional ovens.   All American SUN OVEN®      Sample Cooking Times     Beef Roast, 2.5 lbs = 1 hour, 20 minutes Baked Chicken, 3 lbs = 1 hour, 15 minutes Bread = 45 minutes Rice = 40 minutes Chocolate Cake = 35 minutes       Granola = 20...

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Suntech Bankrupt and Bosch Dropping Out of Solar

Suntech Bankrupt, Bosch cools it on solar. Another solar manufacturer bites the dust.  This time, it’s one of the world’s leading solar manufacturers, Suntech.  Suntech the first solar firm to go public back in 2005.  The Chinese solar manufacturer was compelled to file for bankruptcy after it was unable to make a payment for $541 million. Just days after the news of Suntech’s bankruptcy, Bosch, a German auto parts manufacturer, pulled the plug on their solar manufacturing for 2014.  Though Bosch Solar CISTech GmbH will continue to produce solar thin-film technology, Bosch’s ingots, wafers, solar cells, and solar panels will no longer be in production. Last year, Bosch lost one billion euros ($1,282,200,000 US Dollars). “The drastic changes in the market, particularly the rapid increase in capacity in China, simply couldn’t be foreseen… We are still convinced that photovoltaics will play an important role in the energy mix of the future. However, even we are not capable of sustaining such heavy losses forever,” says Bosch’s director, Dr Volkmar Denner. Denner explains how the dramatic increase in Chinese manufacturing has created oversupply of solar panels in the market.  Chinese manufacturing companies have captured about 80% of the global market for solar manufacturing- due in part to heavy subsidies from the Chinese government. Some have argued that the recent bankruptcy of Suntech could mean that days of price reductions in the solar industry may be coming to a close.  Low prices have meant that more solar panels have been installed on rooftops in the U.S. – which is good in itself.  It’s awesome that solar is cheaper and more accessible than ever, but it’s complicated. I’m not an economist, but even I can see that this seems to be a problematic situation. U.S. manufacturers have also blamed the Chinese for illegally subsidizing these solar exports and essentially “dumping” solar products in the U.S. below fair market value. While this hurt U.S. manufacturing, it meant cheaper prices for consumers.  Business models with leases and power purchase agreements used these low-cost solar panels on top on U.S. roofs.  If those Chinese companies go out of business, who will be left to honor those MegaWatts’ worth of warranties? Could the failure of the solar companies like Suntech and Bosch be a symptom of a larger problem?...

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