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String Inputs on Your Grid Tie Inverter

The number of string inputs is the total pairs of solar photovoltaic (pv) panel positive and negative input terminal lugs provided by the inverter manufacturer. The maximum number of solar photovoltaic panels source circuits that can be connected to an inverter without wiring in a parallel connection is determined by the number of input strings. The larger inverter you have, the more terminals will be provided inside the inverter to connect solar pv panels onto, thus being able to hook up more solar pv panels per inverter. Sometimes it’s better or needed with a installation to string in parallel because of the type of equipment being used and the individual circumstances of the project, combiner boxes are used in these type of cases. We recommend people buy complete grid tied solar power kits because it takes the headache out of making sure the inverters and number of solar panels will be...

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Intergrated Inverter DC/AC Disconnects

Disconnects for safety reasons rapidly disconnect from a power source. Disconnects are on / off switches and are required by National Electrical Code (NEC). With a solar power system for your system to pass inspection and meet all UL and NEC requirements your system must have a DC/AC Disconnects. Over the last few years inverter manufactures have been integrating dc, ac or DC & AC disconnects right into the inverter or as an external unit. Many inspectors are familiar with integrated DC / AC disconnects which is a good sign of the wide acceptance. The picture above shows a SMA Sunny Boy Inverter with an integrated disconnect, a knob style switch quickly shuts off the power in case of an...

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The Path of the Sun Across the Sky

The sun raises and sets everyday, but the path the sun takes across the sky can differ between seasons. Azimuth is a concept defined as an angle measured in degrees between a reference plane and a point. When installing solar panels to ensure maximum system output you must consider the azimuth of the sun. Obviously, the days are longer in the summer and shorter in the winter, this is because the sun is traveling on different paths across the sky. In the winter the sun is low in the sky, on December 21st the shortest day of the year is called the Winter Solstice, at this point the sun is a the lowest point in the southern sky. Each day after Winter Solstice the Sun’s path goes up higher in the southern sky. The Summer Solstic occurs on June 21st which is when the sun follows a longer path through the sky. As the sun moves through its yearly rhythms is important to take note what may not be a shading issue in the Summer could be an issue when the sun changes its path in the winter. The diagram above provided by the US Department of Energy shows an example of the difference between the summer and winter sun in relation to a solar photovoltaic...

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PanelClaw makes mounting solar on a flat roof a snap.

PanelClaw, a manufacturer of solar panel mounting systems, has launched a new product line called the Polar Bear. The Polar Bear is a easy to install non-rail based, ballasted mounting system that is designed to save money and time for everyone involved in the installation process. Polar Bear mounting system was independently tested in a wind tunnel at the Colorado State University and was beta tested at three large scale commerical installations, so the product has some real world field testing under it’s belt. Three people can install 16 solar panels under 20 mintues with the Polar Bear mouting system. The slip sheets and ground lugs come pre-installed which saves time in the installation process. Best of all this innovative solar photovotaic mounting system is made in the good ole...

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Why efficiency is key on deciding what solar panel to buy.

As more solar panel producers enter the market, consumers are confused on what brand to buy. What should you look for when purchasing solar panels to power your home or small business? Not all solar panels are created equal, efficency matters! If you are a homeowner with limited roof space, well you should care more about efficiency more then anyone. The more efficient the solar panel, the more watts you generate per square foot, that’s the bottom line. Sanyo Solar Panels are highly efficient and this is why we like them, because you produce more electricity with every panel. Even though Sanyo’s are priced at a premium compared to value or cheap solar panels, the return on investment is much quicker on a Sanyo system because of the efficiency. So the first thing to do when comparing two brands of solar panels is to look at the specifications sheets and compare the efficiencies, you will be surprised how much more efficient premium panels are. What do you think are highly efficent panels always worth it or is it better to go with more cheaper...

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Grid Tie Solar Power System w/ Battery Backup Drawing

Earlier this week we featured a drawing of a simple grid tie system. A common misconception about grid tie solar electric systems is that you will have a power source when the power goes out, although unless you have a battery backup system your system will go down when the grid goes down. Some people who need backup power and don’t mind the maintenance and replacements every few years of a battery bank consider a grid tie system with battery backup. Today’s drawing also comes from the Guide to Photovoltaic System Design and Installation by the California Energy Commission and features a battery backup system. As you can see compared to the simple grid tie system, the battery backup system is a little more complex. It includes a battery system, which is typically a group of lead acid batteries, a charge controller to keep the system from cooking the batteries from an overcharge and a critical load sub-panel. The point of a battery backup system is not to power you entire house through a blackout but to provide backup power to your most important electrical loads in your home or business. The downsides of a battery backup system are the increased cost of the overall system, the maintenance of the batteries and the installation time of the system with batteries jumps up 40% compared to a system without batteries. So it really depends on where you live, how reliable your utility company is and if you have loads in your house that need to be redundant. What do you think? Is adding batteries to your system...

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