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Central Inverter vs. Microinverters: The Pros and Cons

So you’re installing a photovoltaic (PV) system.  Do you go with microinverters or stick with a central inverter? What does an inverter do? The task of an inverter is to convert the direct current (DC) electricity produced by your solar panels into alternating current (AC), which is needed for the overwhelming majority of electrical devices.  The AC power that isn’t used by your home is back-fed into the utility grid, hence the term “grid-tied.”Click here to learn about the basic components of a PV system. Microinverters Microinverters convert the DC electricity from each panel into usable, grid-quality AC electricity.   They attach behind individual solar panels in the array, allowing each module to operate independently instead of optimizing for the “weakest link.”  Turning the solar panels’ DC electricity into AC at a modular level means there is no single point of failure and you’re maximizing the potential output of your system. Because of this, microinverters are particularly advantageous for systems in locations that have shading or some potential coverage (i.e. dirt, snow, chimneys, etc). Microinverters also use a technology called Maximum Power Point Tracking (MPPT), which optimizes the electricity output by responding to the varying levels of light every couple of minutes. In addition to maximizing the yield of your system, micoinverters’ easy design, installation, and scalability have made them popular for residential applications.   Besides getting up on a roof and pulling a permitting, adding to your existing system with microinverters  like the Enphase M215 microinverter should be little trouble.   Each microinverter has its own IP address so it can be monitored remotely with web-based software.  Microinverters also allow for module level monitoring and comprehensive analytics, making it possible for you to view how much energy is being produced by each solar panel. The main disadvantage of microinverters is the price tag- they still cost more per Watt than central inverters.  Critics of microinverters have also made note that these sensitive electronics can exposed to elevated temperatures on the roof and there is lack of field data to go along with their 25-year warranty. Enphase Energy currently dominates the microinverter market and has been increasingly popular for residential applications, particularly in California.   Enphase offers a twenty-five year limited warranty on their microinverters. Microinverters are recommended for residential and DIY solar applications, especially if there are shading concerns or there’s a chance of expanding the system in the future. Pros: • Easy design, installation, & scalability • Maximum Power Point Tracking (MPPT) • Optimized for shading • Remote monitoring capability Cons: • Less of field data • More expensive • Relatively new technology Central Inverter Traditionally, central inverters have...

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Please Vote for GoGreenSolar.com

We’ve applied for a grant with Chase but we need your help!  In order to qualify, we need your vote today.  Every vote counts and we really appreciate your support. Here are some directions on how you can help us out: 1. Go to MissionSmallBusiness.com 2. Click LOG IN & SUPPORT 3.  The next page has a search bar. Type in “Go Green Solar” and press SEARCH. Below you will see “GoGreenSolar.com, Go Green Solar” 4.  Click “VOTE” 5.  Share it with your friends on facebook and twitter! You can also read the application that we submitted to learn more about us and our business: Tell us about your business; how successful is it and why is it unique? At Go Green Solar, who we are as individuals is intimately connected to who we are as a business. Not only do we live with solar energy, but we also live solar energy. Having spent years cultivating a detailed understanding of green technology, we strongly believe that green energy makes economic sense. By implementing green energy into our communities, we will also improve the air we breathe and reduce the negative impact that fossil fuels have on our planet. We are aware that millions of people around the world do not have access to basic electricity. When green energy becomes mainstream, with economies of scale, it is our belief that renewable energy will be accessible to everyone. All people deserve to have access to reliable, efficient energy. This is what we hope to see, and this is why we are steadfast in our pursuit of a sustainable future for our planet. At Go Green Solar, we understand that a need for change that has been thrust upon our world. We have the foresight to visualize the changes that will occur in the years to come and plan to play an integral role in creating a sustainable world for future generations. What makes Go Green Solar successful is that we are different. Our passion, technical expertise, and commitment to exceptional customer service sets us apart from our competition. Our staff is composed of enthusiastic individuals who understand green energy inside and out. Every team member is dedicated to providing precise information about the products we offer, whether a customer is inquiring about LED lighting, wind turbines, or looking to build their own solar system from scratch. We frequently attend seminars and courses on emerging technologies to expand upon our existing knowledge. Our constant vigilance of the rapid evolution of green energy keeps our competitive edge sharp, allowing us to better serve our clientele. Our customers know that they can trust us...

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Monocrystalline or Polycrystalline?
Jun01

Monocrystalline or Polycrystalline?

Most solar modules used today are either polycrystalline or monocrystalline, otherwise known as mono and poly. So what is the difference between poly and mono? For the sake of brevity, the difference between the two is that monocrystalline is composed of a single crystal of silicon, while polycrystalline is composed of many crystals.  Generally speaking, mono solar panels are more efficient but poly solar panels are a better use of your money. Monocrystalline Monocrystalline, which is also called mono or single crystalline, is the older of the two technologies and has been around since 1955.  Monocrystalline is still used to manufacture photovoltaic cells today and is arguably the most efficient material available. A monocrystalline solar cell is composed of a single crystal of silicon, a purity that can be identified by a dark, even coloring.  Extensive filtration is required to purify the silicon so it can be used for monocrystalline solar cells.   A single monocrystalline silicon seed crystal is slowly pulled from the high-heat molten silicon.  As it’s drawn upwards, the silicon cools and solidifies as a single ingot.  This cylindrical ingot is then sliced into thin pieces that are then cut into the cell shapes you see on a monocrystalline solar panel. Monocrystalline solar panel panels will typically have higher efficiency rates (15-20%), converting energy particularly well in low-light and lab conditions.  Mono panels will generally have higher nameplate ratings than poly.  Because monocrystalline solar cells usually have higher efficiency, these solar panels will make good use of limited roof space. The biggest draw-back is cost.  Mono solar panels come at a premium so unless you’re particularly limited on roof space, they’re not the best use of your money. Pros: • High efficiency • Good for limited space • Performs well in low-light conditions Cons: • High Cost • Sensitive to soiling and shade • More silicon is wasted in the manufacturing process Polycrystalline Polycrystalline, which is also called poly or multicrystalline, has been used since 1981.  Until recently, polycrystalline solar panels were easily identified by their solar cells that have a textured look resembling a granite countertop or shattered glass.  Most poly solar panels just have a dark blue color now. Polycrystalline cells are composed of multiple silicon crystals, which is a cheaper way to manufacture solar modules.  Polycrystalline cells are commonly made with a cast of molten silicon.  When these cells are being created, they cool faster, creating smaller crystals.  Just remember that poly means many because it has many crystals.  Because poly solar panels are easier to produce, they’re less expensive – making them the ideal choice for most people.   Though monocrystalline is still...

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Does Mitt Romney Really Understand Energy?

It’s time to set the record straight.  When it comes to Mitt Romney’s energy policy, all you’ll need to remember is “oil and gas.”  It is clear that former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney is dedicated to the big oil interests that are helping his campaign. Let’s get some background on Mitt Romney before we delve into this.  Romney’s views on global climate change have been shifty over the years, but he has shown the world that his loyalties are to big oil and other fossil fuel-based energy.   Though Romney used to acknowledge humankind’s role in creating global climate change, his “view” has changed over the last several years. Romney recently said “My view is that we don’t know what’s causing climate change on this planet,” while claiming that reducing fossil fuel emissions “is not the right course for us.”  Furthermore, Romney is actually against the regulation of greenhouse gas emissions by the EPA and even opposes fuel efficiency standards for vehicles. Despite the increase in domestic drilling during Obama’s presidency, Romney has criticized Obama for not moving forward with projects like the Keystone XL oil pipeline.  Whether or not you agree with President Obama’s energy policies, it is clear that Mitt Romney heavily favors fossil fuels over clean alternatives such as solar energy. Not only is Romney’s stance on global climate change scientifically ludicrous, he claims that clean energy is not a practical solution to America’s energy predicament: “To begin with, wind and solar power, two of the most ballyhooed forms of alternative fuel, remain sharply uncompetitive on their own with conventional resources such as oil and natural gas in most applications” – Mitt Romney, 2011. Romney’s previous outlook on this matter seems to be in polar opposition with his current stance.  It’s almost amusing that back in 2003, Romney believed that green jobs were a viable investment for our nation’s future: “Now is the time to refocus its assets in such a manner that it can become a major economic springboard for the commonwealth by focusing on job creation in the renewable energy sector.” – Mitt Romney, 2003.   Romney has since done an about face, calling Obama’s “obsession” with green jobs “unhealthy” and his policies “old and outdated.”  Put simply, Romney no longer believes that green energy can produce a significant amount of jobs in the United States.  Yet, clean energy continues to show promise.  The Huffington Post reports that 3.1 million Americans are working green jobs.  Let’s review this a minute.  According to Romney, we don’t know what’s causing climate change, so we should continue to exploit fossil fuel-based resources.  Moreover, reducing fossil fuel emissions is...

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UPDATE: Chinese Evading Solar Tariffs!

A recent decision to impose substantial anti-dumping tariffs on Chinese solar cell manufacturers shook the solar world.  The intention of these duties is to prevent unfair “dumping” of Chinese solar products in the US market, which hurts American manufacturers.  Those in opposition to these tariffs feel that they have created anxiety within trade relations and threaten to stifle the growth of this global industry. So what have these tariffs actually done thus far?  In the aftermath of a preliminary decision by the Department of Commerce to tax Chinese-made solar cells, many are wondering what exactly has changed. As anticipated, Chinese companies found a loophole, allowing them to keep solar panels at low prices in the US market. The tariffs are surely an inconvenience to many Chinese manufacturers, who must now produce solar panels with cells that were manufactured outside of China. If you recall, these tariffs were only placed on solar cells that are manufactured in China.  Because these tariffs to not include the completed panels, it has left an opportunity open for Chinese companies to work around the anti-dumping duties. Many Chinese firms have been leveraging relationships with manufacturers of solar cells in Taiwan, Vietnam, South Korea, and other countries. For this reason, some American manufacturers are pushing to extend these duties to Chinese-made solar modules.  Accordingly, critics speculate that if this were to happen, Chinese companies would work through Taiwan-based firms to produce the actual solar modules.   It seems that no matter how the US tries to maintain control, Chinese companies discover new means of evading tariffs.  By branching out into nearby counties, Chinese solar manufacturers are able to circumvent the law. Shen Danyang, of China’s Ministry of Commerce, described the US Department of Commerce’s new tariffs as “trade protectionism.” Tensions remain high around this issue.  Retaliatory measures could be taken against the US, bringing about a trade-war.  This could include the Chinese government placing duties on US silicon imports to China, further exacerbating trade relations and making matters worse for the global solar market.  European companies may be pushing for similar actions against Chinese-based solar firms.  There is still much to unfold in this trade saga. Having an vested interest in these issues, we’ll keep an eye on this and let you know about any further developments.  Fortunately, pricing has not been fluctuating much, which means our prices have not increased.  Just as operations in China are relatively normal, it’s business as usual at GoGreenSolar.com. What are your opinions on this matter? Tell us what you think!...

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