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Solar calculators that help you make accurate installation decisions.

Installing solar panels could be a difficult task if you don’t understand the sun. I mean we can all agree that the sun raises and sets, although its really more complicated then it seems. Depending on your geographical area the sun travels over your property differently. Therefore understanding the path of the sun is a key element for your solar power system to maximize its output thus increasing your return on investment. The Earth System Research Laboratory has created the Sunrise / Sunset and Solar Noon Calculator and the Solar position calculator to help you better understand the path of the sun in your area. All you have to do is select a city from the drop down menu and the critical data for your project is automatically populated. According to the website, “The calculations in the NOAA Sunrise/Sunset and Solar Position Calculators are based on equations from Astronomical Algorithms, by Jean Meeus. The sunrise and sunset results have been verified to be accurate to within a minute for locations between +/- 72° latitude, and within 10 minutes outside of those latitudes.” The calculator is really helpful when designing a system to find out the ideal pitch and position of the solar panels. I would recommend everyone considering to install solar panels to play with the calculators to better understand the path of the sun because its the most basic element to solar power that can make or break your project. Sunrise/Sunset and Solar Noon Calculator Solar Position...

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The truth about solar shingles.

Consumers often ask about solar shingles, typically solar shingles have a higher cost per watt than solar panels. The shingles are typically black in color so they still do stand out on a roof although some people like solar shingles better than solar panels. The downside to shingles are that they don’t produce as much power as solar panels do. Solar Panel are more efficient than shingles thus making solar panels a better value. Solar Shingles don’t have the long track records in durability like a solar panel does. There are Solar Panels still in operation today from the 1970s, Solar Panels are a proven application of solar power with solar shingles the lifetime of the product may not be as reliable as a solar...

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Using Beer Bottles to harness the Sun

I wanted to highlight the works of Ma Yanjun, of Qiqiao village, Shaanxi province, China because of his innovative work in solar energy. Ma, a Chinese Farmer made his own solar water heating panels with empty beer bottles and hosepipes. Ma’s invention is simple, he attached 66 beer bottles to board which are connected with each other so the water flows through, sunlight hits the bottles and heats up the water, its that simple! Ma claims the home made solar hot water panel provides enough hot water for three family members to shower each day. 10 families in the village have been inspired by Ma’s DIY Solar Hot Water project and are taking a project up on their own. This is a perfect example of someone with limited resources taking solar energy into their own hands and how successful a do-it-yourself solar energy project can work for the average...

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How can I figure out how many kilowatt hours one panel will produce yearly?

Many consumers out there are confused because they don’t understand how many factors play a role in forecasting yearly kWh production of a solar panel. Using the numbers provided in product specification sheets you can figure out the yearly output of one solar panel using the following equation: PTC Watts (PVUsa Test Conditions Rating) * Inverter Efficiency Percentage * Sun Hours Daily * 30 (days) * 12 (months) = yearly kWh output for one solar panel PTC Watts & Inverter Efficiency Percentage – You can find this number in the specifications sheet, check our shop or the solar panel manufacturers website. Sun Hours Daily – Use the chart below. This is an important equation to know when shopping for solar power because output is what makes or breaks a system financially. Obviously this assumes optimal conditions and does not account for...

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Shopping around for solar power.

It’s always best to get multiple quotes when making any major purchasing decision and its common when making a large investment such as a renewable energy system. It’s recommended that consumers get multiple quotes when shopping for renewable energy services and products by the department of energy itself. But the problem is that most consumers don’t compare product quotes apples to apples. Many times the lower priced quote may not be all what it seems to be when you start comparing the real facts. A consumer should compare products and complete solar power systems with the following in mind: 1. How many watts are the solar power systems being quoted? 2. What type of warranty are the products backed by? 3. How about after sales support? Will the retail outlet or service provider be responsible for your questions after the sale? 4. What is the output quoted? Is the same output shown on a competitive quote? Are both quotes using the same standard in quoting the output of the solar panel or wind turbine? 5. Which organization gets back to your emails / phone call faster? There are many times consumers in this industry shop for the lowest price and regret it afterwards. In the renewable energy industry its better to shop for the best value compared to the lowest price. The lowest price many times ends up costing more in the long run, therefore when comparing two quotes make sure you are comparing...

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Heat your water, generate electricity, one panel.

At the ASES Solar 2008 conference we saw some great technology improvements and creative out of the box thinking in the solar industry itself. One technology that stood out was a solar PV panel with the ability to heat water. One panel does the jobs of two different technologies (Solar PV & Solar Thermal) The great part of the new solar energy collector is not only to heats water and produces electricity with less surface area, but the water within the panel water cools the PV Panel before the water is heated and used for hot water. According to the company there is a 10% gain in efficiency of the PV Panel. The industry seems like to get much more innovative. According to representatives at the booth the founder of the company used to work for Intel and understands how to cool silicon since heating of silicon was a common problem in the computer processor industry. The solar energy collector snaps on top most solar pv...

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