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Stronger, Easier to Install Solar Panel Racking

Make sure your solar panels aren’t gone with the wind, your making a long term investment so having a reliable solar panel racking system is critical. Released in 2003 the SunFrame manufactured by UniRac has redesigned their product as a stronger and easier to install solar panel mounting frame. The new SunFrame is compliant to the 2007 California Building Code, which minimizes your chances of running into problems with a building inspector during the final check off of your completed solar power system. Grounding your solar power system is simple with the SunFrame therefore it not only reduces your installation time but also means you have to make less penetrations thus reducing the risk of compromising the roof. The SunFrame is offered in anodized silver and...

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More affordable solar panels in 2009?

Generally most consumers don’t go solar because of the high upfront cost, but moving forward in 2009, not only are there more tax credits and other financial incentives for you to reap but the prices of solar panels are predicted to drop because of oversupply. This is great news for you as the consumer because a majority of the cost of a complete solar electric system comes from the solar panels. The solar power industry has been growing at about 40% each year and there has been high demand for limited amount of solar panels which was one reason for the higher cost of solar panels. Now more manufacturing capacity has been deployed, therefore causing the oversupply in the market, thus dropping down the cost per watt. Do you think that more people will adopt solar power for their home or business next year? Do you think the challenges in the financial markets will slow down the growth rate of the solar power...

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National Electric Code and Solar Electric Systems.

What’s the National Electric Code (NEC) all about? You’ve probably heard this term if your considering to install solar panels yourself. The code refers to the United Standards for the safe installation of wiring and electrical equipment. The NEC is part of the fire code and is written by National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) the comprehensive and authoritative safety standard includes best pratices for solar electric systems. If you are considering installing solar electric system yourself or want to learn more about the saftey standards of installing solar pv systems, you should use the 2005 NEC code as a starting point in your jorney. You can download the NEC 2oo5, through this...

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Lead Acid Battery 101

Considering a off-grid or grid-tie with battery backup solar panel or wind power system? Well make sure the batteries you purchase are deep cycle. Lead Acid Batteries are common with renewable energy systems because their upfront cost is lower and they are available worldwide. There are many sizes and capacities of lead acid batteries to meet the needs of your solar panel system but the most important difference is to understand the difference between shallow cycle and deep cycle batteries. Shallow cycle batteries are not meant to be discharged more than 20%, otherwise the lifetime of the battery will be very short, therefore you will have to replace the battery very often and do not make a good choice for a solar power system. Deep cycle batteries on the other hand are designed to be discharged by as much as 80% of their rated capacity, therefore they are a cost effective fit for a solar panel system because they will last much longer then your typical shallow cycle battery. Letting any type of lead acid battery remained fully discharged for days at a time can permanently damage the battery and can cause a loss of charging capacity. Therefore if you are considering a system with batteries, be prepared to maintain and keep an eye on the battery bank to make sure its being charged. With proper care deep cycle lead acid batteries will have a long service life and will be compatible with most power generation systems such as solar panels or wind turbines although with poor treatment and lack of maintenance the battery life will be very short. Many customers who have electric service want to go “off-grid” but don’t really understand what they are getting themselves into when working with batteries. Off-grid solar and wind power systems should be used in areas where there is no access to electric service. If you currently have electrical service at your home or small business you are better off purchasing a grid tie solar power system or a grid tie wind turbine. Grid-connected systems often break even faster and require less maintenance because these types of systems require no batteries. Any extra energy produced is stored right into the gird and the utility gives you credit for future use of that electricity. Potentially you can develop a system that can offset 100% of your yearly electrical usage, basically zero out the amount you are charged for electricity consumption. Connecting your system to the utility gird is called “Net-Metering”. If your considering a small battery for backup power, you might want to consider the Xantrex Xpower 1500, which deep cycle battery...

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SMA Sunny Webbox – Visualize your performance

Typically once a solar power system owner installs solar panels, they get enjoyment of seeing their meter spin backwards. Although more system owners these days want more detailed output of how the solar power systems are performing. Customers who have purchased a SMA grid tie inverter have an easy option to add detailed performance monitoring through an add on device called the SMA Sunny Webbox. The Sunny Webbox can interface with up to 50 SMA grid tie inverters which connects to the internet through your router and uploads performance data to the free Sunny Portal. Historical data is also recorded on the Sunny Portal therefore installers and system owners can keep an eye on the system from anywhere in the world to make sure the solar panels are operating most efficiently. The internet is a great place to share information and critical data such as a solar power system performance should be easy to access, analyze and share to extend the experience of a solar power system after the installation is complete. The data can be access through any standard web browser, which is great because it will work on all types of operating systems. The Sunny Webbox connects to your SMA Sunny Boy through a RS485 cable and gives the solar power system owner the ability to remotely configure the...

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PVWatts makes estimating solar power easy

PVWatts is a performance calculator for grid connected solar power systems developed by NREL (National Renewable Energy Lab) to help non-solar expert conduct estimates for grid-connected solar photovoltaic systems within the USA. The calculator uses hourly Typical Meteorological Year weather data to forecast how many kilowatt hours (kWh) you will generate on a monthly or annual basis. You can enter parameters such as fixed mounted solar panels, solar panels on a tracker and even the azimuth to properly forecast different solar power system setups. Both version 1 and 2 of the calculator are provided for free on the PVWatts Website. I ran a estimate of how a 4.0 kilowatt (kW) solar power system would perform in Los Angeles using version 1 of the PVWatts calculator. Check out my assumptions and system performance: Station Identification City: Los_Angeles State: CA Latitude: 33.93° N Longitude: 118.40° W Elevation: 32 m PV System Specifications DC Rating: 4.0 kW DC to AC Derate Factor: 0.770 AC Rating: 3.1 kW Array Type: Fixed Tilt Array Tilt: 33.9° Array Azimuth: 180.0° Energy Specifications Cost of Electricity: 12.5 ¢/kWh Results Month Solar Radiation(kWh/m2/day) AC Energy(kWh) Energy Value($) 1 4.44 401 50.12 2 5.35 441 55.12 3 5.62 506 63.25 4 6.05 522 65.25 5 6.19 548 68.50 6 6.17 526 65.75 7 6.48 567 70.88 8 6.68 582 72.75 9 5.78 487 60.88 10 5.43 480 60.00 11 4.84 420 52.50 12 4.46 398 49.75 Year 5.63 5879 734.88 Whats the performance of a 4.0kW system in your neck of the woods? go ahead feel free to post and discuss your results...

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