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Solar Power Cables – Ensuring Maximum Efficiency without Compromising on Safety
Dec22

Solar Power Cables – Ensuring Maximum Efficiency without Compromising on Safety

Image Source: ecopoweredsolutions.com.au Ecological concerns are catalyzing the adoption and use of solar power in a variety of environments – from rooftop solar systems to large-scale distribution plants. Eco-friendly and inexpensive, the solar energy is efficiently addressing environmental concerns by generating non-polluting electricity. The recent developments in solar technology include safe and reliable solar power cables used in the generation and transmission of power. These cabling solutions are designed for improving efficiency and reducing cost while ensuring reliable performance and durability. Solar installations and photovoltaic panels are driving innovation in solar cable technology and new standards are being established for robust and safe designing of solar power cables. Emerging Trends for Power Cables in Solar Applications Solar energy systems offer considerable benefits for the environment as compared to conventional sources of energy. However, generating solar energy from renewable sources requires a robust cabling system that is designed to maximize energy-efficiency and minimize the risk and losses. This enables optimum generation of power that can reach the respective substations for timely transmission to the grid. Cables used for solar power generation must offer a much higher voltage range as compared to the standard rating of 600V used in conventional applications. Solar power cables to be used between substations and transformers should be developed to incorporate improved resistance to UV rays and ozone while ensuring lower line loss and cooler operations. Engineered to serve a high voltage range of up to 2000V, solar power cables are subjected to long-term sunlight exposure. The end-use of solar power cables is very different from the power cables used in wind and thermal generation. In order to ensure safety, reliability, flexibility and performance even in sub-zero conditions, solar cables must be resistant to water absorption and deformation under extreme installation conditions. Keeping all these factors in mind, special solar power cables have been engineered to ensure complete reliability and safety. These cables are specifically designed to facilitate fast and easy connections in utilities and large-scale power generation plants. Cables that simplify the installation process and eliminate inconsistencies that arise in field terminations are also being designed. Feeder cables that are used for connecting inverters with combiner boxes are now available as an all-in-one solution that does not need a conduit. PV power cables also come in different color codes to facilitate easy identification of output, source, and circuits, thus eliminating the need to tag cables. Key Challenges in the Development of Solar Power Cables Despite the fact that solar technology has a promising future and given the recent developments in solar power cables, this emerging trend is not without challenges. Standards, regulations, and codes make...

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Everything You Need to Know: DIY Solar Installation
Dec09

Everything You Need to Know: DIY Solar Installation

Solar power is becoming a more and more popular option for energy. This is the age of going green with hybrid cars, e-books, and, you guessed it, solar power. It may seem like a major expense, but it’s one that eventually pays for itself in savings. Keep reading to find out everything you need to know, consider and do to install it yourself. What You Should Know Before Installation Be sure to do tons of research before starting this project. Use the internet for its wealth of knowledge and search for instructional videos to see how exactly it’s done. It’s important to acquire some wiring and voltage knowledge. Read up on each before beginning. Familiarize yourself with the laws and regulations of your town for projects like this. Learn the process for obtaining any permits you need to start and complete the solar power installation. Decide whether you are doing an “on the grid” or “off the grid” power source. In most cases, it is best to do on the grid. This means you stay connected to your utility company. If you don’t generate enough power for your needs you’re covered by the utility company. What You Need to Start Your supply list should include: solar modules, a power inverter, PV disconnect, your breaker box, and a net meter. The solar modules are the panels you’ll be installing. These are what collect energy from the sun. A power inverter is needed to turn the energy current collected by the panels into a current your house can use. PV disconnects allow you to cut the power so no one is electrocuted while working on the system. The collected solar energy connects to your home through your breaker box. Finally, a net meter measures how much energy you give or take from the power grid. Calculate Your Energy Calculating your energy is important in determining the kit you’ll purchase and the layout you’ll install. There are calculator apps you can use right on your phone to calculate your energy uses. All you need is your electric bills. Your electric bill will tell you how much energy you consume. You’ll also need to find out the peak sun hours of your location. This is a number of hours your area gets sunlight. Take the energy amount you use in a day and divide it by the number of daily peak sun hours and that amount is the kW you’ll need in panels. What Kind of Panels Will You Need Crystalline and thin-film are the two basic types of panels. Crystalline panels are the more commonly used option. They have a 40-year lifespan...

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Roof Mount Innovations
May19

Roof Mount Innovations

Pigeon coops, gardens, athletic facilities and power generation–over the last century, roof tops have seen a diversification of uses in addition to their job of keeping out nasty weather. When it comes to mounting solar panels on your roof, it’s important to keep in mind its original function, and make sure any new additions don’t stop it from completed its first and foremost job. Staving off the elements is no easy task–sun, rain and wind can damage even the toughest of materials over time, which is why heavy duty shingling and tar are commonly prefered for their robust qualities. Drilling holes to mount solar panels into a roof can compromise the material’s integrity and, sometimes, using the proper mounting technique is not enough. New age solar mounting technology and hardware like those made by our industry favorite, IronRidge anticipate the bad weather a system is likely to encounter and include subtle design features that make a huge difference. The IronRidge FlashFoot attachment, which holds racking mounts to a roof, uses a patented bushing that snuggly compresses into an L-foot cavity. This seal creates a dual shield with complete protection against water intrusion. This small design tweak eliminates the need for depending on caulking, which will eventually dry up, crack and cause leaks. Additionally, the 12 inch flashing support squares that support the attachment have an elevated platform to control watershed so water doesn’t pool up.     The innovation continues with the IronRidge Mounting RX system, which has a curved shape to resist the vertical and lateral pressures that panels might incur due to high winds. Previously, the industry standard was to use flush roof supports and shape the rails square at 90 degrees. Small design design changes such of as these can lead to thousands of dollars in savings on eventual roof repairs.   As the industry continues to grow and mounts become more common, no doubt even more innovations will occur helping our roofs evolve to become one of the home’s most useful...

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Self Install Tips and Tricks
Mar31

Self Install Tips and Tricks

When it comes to do-it-yourself projects like converting your home to solar, tapping into that “handy fusion reactor in the sky called the sun” can at times seem an overwhelming project to undertake.   However, the benefits can equate to over a 50% savings in setup costs (not to mention well deserved bragging rights), which is enough to appeal to many a handy person to strap on their tool belt and give it a shot.     If you’re the type who enjoys taking on such ambitious projects, we’ve compiled a few basic tips and tricks that will hopefully save you time and frustration down the road: Divide by 4: The goal isn’t to cover every square inch of roof with as many panels as it can fit, but rather enough panels to meet your energy consumption.   A quick way to estimate how much energy you will need your panels to produce is to look at your energy bill, take your highest kilowatt usage and divide by four.   Four is the low-end estimate of average peak sunlight hours in most places on earth. Many places such as California and Arizona will get more than this, but staying conservative with your calculations of how much sunlight you expect the panels to receive is always a better call.   For example, the average U.S. household uses around 30 kw of energy a day according the US EIA and, at worst, probably gets around 4 peak sunlight hours, it would be safe to assume such a household will need enough panels to harvest around 7.5 Kws of power a day.      If you want to get specific with your calculations you can check out the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s Isolation Map to see how much light your longitude and latitude can expect to receive during the year.   Aim for the equator: When determining where to point your solar panels, a good starting point is to face them towards the equator.   With this general bearing in mind, do some research to determine if there are any shade obstructions in the area from mountains, trees or neighboring structures that might merit slightly shifting the direction of the panels to the east or west in order to collect the most sunlight.   If you can’t find an area that will always be shade free during peak hours, consider installing micro-inverters or power optimizers on your panels so you don’t dampen the power output of your entire system.   Hire a professional to create a permit package: We know, you want to do this project yourself otherwise you wouldn’t be scrolling...

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#DIY | Do It Yourself Solar Installations
Mar03

#DIY | Do It Yourself Solar Installations

Solar panels are a smart investment for modern, eco-conscious homeowners, but many people feel inhibited by the cost of installation. Fortunately, materials are starting to decrease in price and installation is becoming more manageable. At Modernize, we are watching homeowners reap the rewards of solar energy while saving thousands of dollars by tackling large scope projects like this on their own. If you are relatively handy, have a Smart Phone or Internet access, and are ready to harness the sun’s abundant energy for your home, it’s time to consider DIY solar installation. Know How Are you comfortable working with wiring? Safety is always the first priority in any home improvement project. Make sure you are well-versed with the dos and don’ts of high voltage wiring before attempting this project. Determining the correct panel placement and angle to harness maximum energy is pivotal. Precision is key to making this project worth your time and money. In addition to handy know-how, you also need to be prepared to navigate compliance laws and obtain permits before beginning your project. If you have the time and resources to do your own research and legwork, you will save the cost of hiring a company paying multiple people to perform these duties. Help From The Internet If you have Internet access, you have help with your installation. There really is an app for almost anything. Search for online calculators to determine the size of the kit that you will need, based on information found on your utility bills.   Measuring Solar Energy Savings Once your solar panels are installed, you will want to see how long it takes to recoup the cost of the materials. While you will save thousands of dollars by installing your solar panels yourself, this project will still be costly up front—but it won’t be long before you break even, and possibly profit from the investment.   After installing home solar, you may be eligible for a federal tax credit, and possibly a state tax credit. Be sure to research your state’s requirements, as some do require that the installation is performed by licensed installers. If these incentives are awarded, a sizable percentage may be recouped right off the bat. Finally, the value of your home will increase substantially with the addition of solar panels. A buyer’s offer may pay for your project in full if the attractive feature of energy-saving, money-saving solar panels sparks a bidding war. Research Make sure you have all of your research done before spending a dime on this project. You want to be sure that you are capable of handling the project in its entirety....

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The U.S.-China Trade Case Determination and What It Means for Solar Installers and Consumers
Jun19

The U.S.-China Trade Case Determination and What It Means for Solar Installers and Consumers

A few months back, we published a post on All You Need to Know About the US-China Solar Trade Dispute and how it might affect solar installers and consumers if the case isn’t settled. Well, a preliminary decision is in. The Department of Commerce (DOC) has made a preliminary determination on June 10th in favor of SolarWorld, the German/U.S. solar panel manufacturer who filed the suit. Before we get into the penalties being proposed and finalized, we should remind readers that there are two parts to this case: Part 1: The DOC Decision The first part, now in the preliminary determination stage, has to do with SolarWorld accusing China of illegally subsidizing its solar panel manufacturers with low interest loans and other cash-related subsidies that allowed Chinese manufacturers to manufacture solar panels and export them to the U.S. (and the rest of the world) at below their actual cost. The 2012 DOC decision determined that was the case and imposed over 23% to 254% in countervailing duties (CVD) on various solar cells made in China. However, Chinese manufacturers got around these tariffs by manufacturing their solar cells in Taiwan and other nearby countries, then assembling the rest of the panel in China. Consequently, this new 2014 DOC preliminary determination now includes solar cells and other basic solar panel materials being made in Taiwan and shipped back to China for assembly and export. So, how much in duties will be tacked on to the price of imported Chinese solar panels? The preliminary CVD varies and depends on the brand: For Suntech solar panels, the tariff is 35.21%. For Trina SolarEnergy, the tariff is 18.56%. For all other Chinese brands, the tariff is 26.89%. That means that the wholesale price of all Chinese-made solar panels coming into the U.S. may be increased by as much as 35.21%, and at the very least, by 26.89%! The DOC will make its final determination by August 18, 2014. But wait, there’s more: Part II: The ITC Decision Remember, we said that there were two parts. Now that the DOC has ruled, their evidence has been handed over to the International Trade Commission (ITC). The ITC is deciding whether China is intentionally overproducing (“dumping”) their artificially inexpensive Chinese solar panels on the U.S. market in order to flood the U.S. solar market, forcing SolarWorld to lower their prices to compete. The ITC previously said this was the case in the earlier 2012 decision, so most industry analysts think they’ll do so again, but now include solar panels and cells from Taiwan. Should the ITC rule in favor of SolarWorld again, then additional antidumping duties may...

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