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Outback Power Introduces SMARTRE

Outback Power, a company that typically focused on off-grid inverters showcased a new product line at the Solar Power International 2008 trade show in San Diego, CA called the “SMARTRE” product line. SMARTRE is short for Smart Renewable Energy which is a grid tie with battery backup inverter line that focuses on easy installation. The SMARTRE inverter operates similar standard grid tie inverter, although during a utility outage, the Outback SMARTRE will switch to the battery bank and still keep your critical loads powered through an outage. For customers who want security when the grid is down but also want to take advantage of being connected to the gird, the SMARTRE solution is the product that meets those needs. The SMARTRE product line will be available in power levels up to 6.3kw and is suitable for residential and small commercial projects. The SMARTRE inverter’s integrated AC switch, transfers to the battery bank flawlessly when the grid goes down without effecting data sensitive loads like computers. SMARTRE is capable of providing as much as 69 kWh of storage during outages. The inverter charges the AGM batteries using a multi-stage charging process which prolongs battery life up to 10 years. The SMARTRE is a versatile product and can be installed both indoor and outdoors and can be either wall or pad mounted. Outback Power backs the SMARTRE grid tie inverter with battery back up with a 5 year warranty, which is odd because in California for your grid tie solar power system to qualify for the rebate your inverter needs to have a 10 year manufacturers...

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What is anti-islanding on a grid tie inverter?

Linemen who work for the utility company have a dangerous job because they are the people who are dispatched when an electrical line has gone down. Even though most linemen assume the line is live when they reach the scene to repair a broken connection, its still important to think about their safety. That is why most grid tie inverters on the market have an “anti-islanding” function built into the inverter’s software. The term “anti-islanding” refers to a feature of a grid tie inverter that senses when there is an power outage and shuts itself down and stops the production of electricity. There is a common misconception within solar panel and wind turbine consumers that if there was a blackout their grid tied system would keep them going through an outage, well this is not true because of grid tie inverter anti-islanding feature will stop the production of electricity when the gird goes down. You have to realize that when you own a grid tie system, the energy is stored in the grid, so the system is as reliable as the grid itself. When the grid goes down, the anti-islanding feature on the grid tie inverter will realize that either there was a sudden change in system frequency, voltage, rate change of frequency, increase in kW beyond normal levels, or a change in kVAR and shut down the inverter. When the inverter shuts down your system is no longer producing electricity for the safety of the people who will be working on the grid to repair it. There are grid tie inverters that are still under development such as the TerraWatt Power inverter which works during an outage because the inverter redirect the power being generated by a system back into the property without shutting down and keeps the linemen safe because the TerraWatt Power inverter does not send electricity into the grid when it senses there is an...

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Touch-screen device for tracking solar panel and home energy usage

Open Energy a company I wrote about recently, that manufactured solar roofing tiles has also announced they are working on a device that helps solar power system owners visualize their home energy usage and solar panel production. The device has a wireless Internet gateway that can show solar power production along side electricity usage. The device can also pull in gas and water usage data that can help home owners make educated decisions on the fly about their resource consumption. Open Energy’s monitoring device will be out on the market next year and will cost between $1,100 to $1,400 USD which includes other monitoring services along with the hardware. More companies are developing ways for consumers to track energy production from solar panels and compare it to a home’s energy usage. Monitoring software and devices are becoming more of a standard when purchasing a solar power system. Traditionally consumers have to rely on reading the LCD screen on an inverter to figure out the production for that day. But a device or web software the analysis of the home energy usage and solar panel production can be analyzed in greater detail. Customers want to know in real time what the system is doing, we are very used to information on demand, these devices, software and hardware help solar electric system owners really understand how their system is...

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Open Energy’s SolarSave Roofing Tiles

Open Energy Corporation , a company focused on building integrated photovoltaics (BIPV) for the residential, commercial and industrial markets showcased a product called the SolarSave Tiles. These tiles have photovoltaic cells embedded within them that create clean energy while maintaining the natural look of your roof. The materials and electric power has a warranty of 25 years and can easily be installed by roofers without any demolition. Unlike traditional solar panels you do not need racking or structural reinforcement for the SolarSave Tiles. The tiles are weather resistant, fire rated, and virtually require no maintenance. There are not that many solar tile products out on the market, although the SolarSave tiles claim to have the highest watts per square foot. Similar to traditional solar panels solar tiles can are scalable, since the product is modular you can grow the system by adding more SolarSave Tiles as your budget increases in the future, the product is easily expandable. The SolarSave Tiles come in black, red and brown colors. What do you think about...

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Got Dirty Solar Panels? Powerboost to the Rescue!

How much money are your dirty solar panels costing you? Yes, keeping your solar panels free of bird poop and other debris is extremely important because depending on how well you keep your solar panels clean has a direct impact on the overall return on investment of your solar electric system. Especially out here in Southern California, it has not rained in a while, imagine how dirty most solar panels are and the impact on the bottom line of solar power system owners. Sure, every now and then, mother nature can wash off your solar panels for you. Although many system owners want to keep their solar panels as clean as possible to harvest the most electricity. Until recently most solar electric system owners had no cleaning solution to turn to. Thanks to SolarFrameWorks for introducing the PowerBoost Solar Panel Cleaner, a revolutionary solar panel cleaner designed specifically for photovoltaic cells. Available for both residential and commercial applications, PowerBoost can be applied within minutes, the intense foaming solution contains high-quality surfactants that remove grime thereby increasing the level of solar insulation that is able to reach the solar cells. PowerBoost works on all types of glass, such as the tempered glass layered on the top of most crystalline solar panels. PowerBoost not only enhances the cleaning process but leaves behind a specially-formulated coating to reduce the number of cleanings required. Don’t worry, PowerBoost is environmentally friendly, because its completely biodegradable and only costs pennies per panel to clean and protect panels from debris that can reduce your solar power system’s performance by up to 20%!! Shown in the picture above, Powerboost residential cleans up to 5 kilowatts (kW) of panels and comes in a cost-effective applicator designed for use on solar electric systems. The applicator hooks up to any garden hose and is fast and easy to...

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How Electric Power is Measured in Watts

Talking to many solar power consumers everyday, I’ve noticed one of the common issues people have a difficult time understanding how watts are measured. This post is dedicated to help you understand how watts are measured as kilowatt hours (kWh). We buy electricity in kWh from our utility company, which typically displayed on our monthly electric bill. To understand how much energy a solar power system will produce, you need to understand the following metrics. Kilowatt (kW) = 1,000 Watts Megawatt (MW) = 1,000,000 Watts So what is a kWh? Lets say you have a 100 watt light bulb and you run it for one hour, at that point you have consumed 100 watt hours and if you run that light bulb for 10 hours you would have used 1 kWh. 1,000 watt hours = Kilowatt Hour (kWh) 1,000,000 watt hours = Megawatt Hour (MWh) For example, If you purchased a Sanyo 1.0 kW solar power system and lived in Los Angeles which has average sun hours of 5.5 per day, the system would produce 5.5 kWh per day depending on the pitch, orientation, possible shading issues and other...

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