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Increase the performance of a solar array 25% to 30%

Solar panels are typically mounted stationary although on larger solar array installations it makes sense to add a system that tracks the sun across the sky to increase the overall performance of the system significantly. Unfortunately, the majority of residential solar power systems are not on trackers because they increase the upfront cost of the solar power system and require maintenance costs because of the moving parts. There are two major type of solar photovoltaic trackers: single axis – follows the sun’s azimuth but not its altitude dual axis – follows the sun’s azimuth and altitude Typically trackers are used in large utility scale or commercial solar panel installation, although I have heard of home very savvy homeowners who built their own tracking systems, but I have no idea how much performance they increased and the ease of operation of a home built tracking systems. When most people ask me if a tracking system is good for their home solar power system, I let people know that current tracking technology is not at a point in which it makes sense for smaller solar array installations. The graph above shows the performance of the RayTracker by EI Innovations over a conventional fixed mount solar array. The company claims that there is no scheduled maintenance associated with their tracking system, that’s pretty impressive. Wouldn’t you say...

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The importance of ground fault protection

Don’t want to get electrocuted by your solar power system? Make sure you have ground fault protection in check. Most grid tie inverters such as the Xantrex GT Series have built in ground fault protection. According to NEC (National Electric Code) for solar photovoltaics states all roof mount solar photovoltaic arrays must have ground fault protection. What ground fault protection does is grounds the inverter itself through a grounding rod which prevents you from being shocked when touching the inverter. The picture above is the Xantrex GT series PV Ground Fault Breakers that disconnects the solar photovoltaic array if a ground fault occurs in the wiring. Grounding your system also limits voltages due to line surges, lightning, or accidental contact with higher voltage lines. In addition grounding stabilizes voltages because the earth is a common reference point for the system. If there are over current devices on the system grounding provides a path for these devices to operate. Does this make sense? Without being too technical, its important that your system is grounded for obvious reasons, and since most grid tie inverters come with ground fault protection you have no excuse not to ground your solar photovoltaic...

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top 5 tips to size a solar power system that fits your budget.

My day consists of helping many people size their solar power system to fit their budgets. If your considering a solar power system for your home or small business, I would consider the following 7 tips to help you size you solar power system: 1. Figure out what is the maximum you are willing to spend on a complete solar power system. Are you going to install yourself or hire a professional? The answer to this question will have an impact on your budget. 2. How much space do you have to install solar panels? If your in the northern hemisphere of the world, which includes the USA. Then the best location to point your panels is south. In the southern hemisphere of the world you would point your panels north to maximize on the peak sun. 3. How much of your electric bill do you want to offset using solar panels? Remember solar power systems are expandable so you can add more capacity in the future. 4. Investigate tax credits, rebates from utility companies, government incentives, and other incentives that you qualify for. call your utility company and ask if they have a solar power rebate program. If your in the USA, ask your tax consultant about the federal tax credit for renewable energy systems. 5. Popular ways to finance a solar power system include for your home are home equity loans, loans from your 401k, lines of credit, and unsecured credit. For small businesses, equipment leases and power purchasing agreements are popular. what do you think is the most difficult aspect of getting started with solar? Is it difficult to figure out how many solar panels you...

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hot weather, bad for solar panels, is that right?

You would think that during the scorching summer, you would produce to most electricity out of your solar panels, but most likely you won’t. I will tell you how you can produce more electricity out of solar panels during the hottest days, but first we have to understand why solar panels do not perform well in hot weather. Heat in the case of photovoltaic solar panels is a electrical resistance to the flow of electrons. During hot conditions, not only does a solar panel become less efficient but the voltage decreases thus meaning you will produce less kWh (kilowatt-hours) on days 75 degrees and above. You have to remember, the temperature on the roof is higher then inside your home. Airflow on all sides of solar panels is critical to the overall performance of your solar power system. Some solar panels, such as the Sanyo Solar Panels are specifically designed to have a better temperature coefficient which perform better then standard solar panels in high heat conditions. So when comparing multiple solar panels you should always look into the temperature coefficient and make sure your panel will perform well when the weather gets...

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Batteries designed for Renewable Energy
Dec04

Batteries designed for Renewable Energy

Trojan Battery Company, a popular battery manufacturer has recently introduced their RE series batteries specially designed for renewable energy systems. Traditionally people who deploy battery based solar power or wind turbine systems use standard deep cycle batteries. Trojan built upon their standard deep cycle battery and designed it for renewable energy, the RE series based batteries offers the following features: Duragrid – 10 year lifespan, high charge efficiency. Maxguard XL – durable, extended life, low maintenance, Alpha Plus – optimal performance, optimal performance. Polyon – rugged case design stands up to harsh environments. The RE series is offered in 2 volt and 6 volt sizes and is backed by a 7 year international warranty. It’s great to see batteries that are specifically designed for renewable energy because many times people hook up standard lead acid batteries that require high maintenance and have short...

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Is thin film the future of solar?

Sharp Solar is betting on thin film. The company announced, they’re increasing their thin film production line from 15 megawatts to 160 megawatt capacity annually with the completion of it’s factory in Katsuragi, Japan. Sharp Solar increased the second generation thin film solar panel efficiency rate to 9% and offers a rated output of up to 128 watts per solar panel. Don’t expect to put these solar panels up on your house anytime soon, since the efficiency per solar panel is lower than traditional silicon based solar panels, thin film is better suited for projects with a vast amount of surface area. For example, if you were putting up a solar farm and space was no issue, well thin film would make sense, because you make up the lack of efficiency with space. But if you have a small roof, less surface area to work with, you want a highly efficient solar panel such as the Sanyo HIT solar panel, since it produces more watts per square foot. Until thin film technologies increase their efficiencies significantly the technology will not gain serious traction in the residential market. What do you think? Will the residential solar market see a highly efficient, dollar per watt thin film solar panel anytime...

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