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mounting solar panels hasn’t been this easy

Veranda Solar, a start up company is developing a plug and play solar panel system that can be easily clipped to gutters and balconies or may be hung from your window. The unique looking solar panels can snap together and is similar to a solar power appliance which can be installed in a couple hours. The company was founded by two students at Stanford University in spring 2008 who developed their unique solar panel design as a product design thesis, according to their website they expect to have their system on the market by the end of 2009. This concept looks really good, but I think they will have challenges with making sure the solar panels can resist high wind loads and also connecting the solar panels to the grid, how will they interconnect? Will they use a plug n play grid tie inverter? The current grid tie inverters on the market that can be plugged directly into an A/C outlet are not UL listed. I wonder how efficient the solar cells are? Will the mounts be able to tilt the solar panels in the optimal degree to maximize power generation? There are just so many unanswered questions today with this product but I think this company is on the right track by developing products that make solar panels more “plug and play”. What do you think about this unique small scale solar power...

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meet the enphase m190 grid tie inverter

Enphase Energy, the manufacturer of the revolutionary micro inverter system has released a new and improved version of the micro inverter called the m190. Enphase recently put out their preliminary datasheet of their newest addition to the Enphase product mix. The m190 is compatible with 60 and 70 cell solar panels and has the following improvements over the m175 and m200 product lines: a wider temperature range the micro inverter can operate in. The enphase m190 can operate in ambient temperatures between -40c to +65C mean time between failures (MTBF) of 365 years, which triples the MTBF rating of the M175/M200 models. According to the company this was verified by testing the micro inverter for 10 million unit hours of operation in the field. The M190 makes installation even easier by reducing the number of cables to manage to one 6′ cable versus two 3′ cables on the M175/M200 models. You thought the M175/M200 was small enough? The new m190 has a 30% smaller footprint than its predecessors. upgraded racking bracket makes it easier and more flexible to install the m190 face up or down and allows for easier cable routing. The Enphase M190 marks a significant milestone in how the micro-inverter is evolving. In my opinion it’s a good sign that Enphase Energy is making continuous improvements with their product because the results are going to be a more a even smaller, easier to install grid tie inverter solution. Check out the preliminary datasheet below. What do you think about the Enphase...

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whats the deal with open circuit voltage?

I want to talk about Open Circuit Voltage (Voc) since I know this important electrical rule is not understood by most people who buy solar panels. For example, lets say we have a nominal 12v solar panel and you take it outside on a sunny day without a load connected to the solar panel and test the voltage. The results might surprise you, if you don’t understand Voc since the voltage will read higher than the nominal or “rated voltage” on the solar panel. Voc is the maximum voltage a solar panel is able to output when there is no current flowing through the solar panel, once you connect a load to the solar panel, the voltage will decrease closer to the nominal voltage. This is one of the basic building blocks of understanding how solar panels work, so I hope you got some value out of this short explanation. Does open circuit voltage make...

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wiring solar panels in series vs parallel

Dan from Green Power Science does a great job in this video to explain the difference between wiring up solar panels in series or parallel. Understanding the key concepts in this video will help you build a strong foundation to understand of how a solar electric system works. In a nutshell the difference between series and parallel would include: Series Circuits: connections are made at the positive (+) end of a solar panel to the negative end of another solar panel in your array. When solar panels are connected in series the voltage increases but does not increase the amperage. Parallel Circuits: connections are made from positive (+) to positive (+) terminals and negative (-) to negative (-) terminals between the solar panels. When the solar panels are wired in parallel the voltage remains constant and the amperage or current is additive. Follow me here? Is this a good explanation between series and parallel...

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the simplicity of enphase mirco-inverters

I was on enphase energy’s website reading their case studies today and was amazed by the simplicity of Sreenivas family’s 2.3kW solar electric system using enphase micro-inverters. The system is made up of 13 sharp 175w solar panels which are connected to each other via AC interconnect cables that are already part of the enphase mirco-inverter. 12/3 romex is used through the garage attic from the solar array to a 1-15 amp backfed breaker in a 100 amp main panel. The Sreenivas family case study is a good example of how enphase makes deploying solar panels an easier process by avoiding stringing solar panels which has a direct impact on system complexity and how long it takes to install a solar electric system. The enphase micro-inverter is more then a grid tie inverter, they’re an “inverter solution” since performance monitoring is built into the system and is the only grid tie inverter that can monitor the system down to the individual solar panel. This installation looks quite simple, don’t you agree? What do you think about solar electric systems that use micro-inverters versus a traditional centralized inverter? Enphase Diagram of Sreenivas...

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securify your solar panels

(Photo Credit: J. Emilio Flores for The New York Times) With the economy nosediving we’ve been seeing an increase in solar panel theft. That’s right thieves are trolling around town eyeing the solar panels on top of your roof. There have been police reports filed claiming that thieves have climbed on top of roofs at night and under one hour have weaseled away hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of solar panels. The majority of solar panels on roof tops do not have any security devices besides the homeowners insurance that provides protection therefore it takes very little effort for a thief to get away with some very valuable solar panels they can easily sell at a flee market. Heliotex, a company based out of Palm Desert, CA has recently announced their solar panel security fasteners product line which stops thieves dead in their tracks by creating a lock and key bolt that only the owner can unscrew. Obviously this solution is not bullet proof, a thief has the option to use a saw to cut the security fasteners, but it’s going to make the job of stealing your solar panels much more difficult and hopefully it will deter people from stealing solar panels. It’s about time that a company focuses on simple yet effective solutions to add value to a solar electric system. The security fasteners as simple as they are add so much value to a solar electric system and is a good example of how much room for innovation is left for solar panel systems. What do you think about security devices that help mitigate solar panel losses? Will these security fasteners be a fire code issue, since firefighters would have a difficult time removing solar panels incase of fire? please share your...

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