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How Many Solar Panels Do I Need?
Apr12

How Many Solar Panels Do I Need?

How to calculate a quick, easy GUESStimate for sizing a PV system. “How much will it cost to power my XX,XXX square foot house?” “How many solar panels do I need to eliminate my electric bill?” We get questions like this every day from homeowners in the beginning stages of going solar. For all intents and purposes, it’s pretty much impossible to give you a number based on the size of your house or the dollar amount of your electric bill – it’s all going to depend on the load.  Though I hesitate to give a rough number like this, sometimes you do need a ballpark figure to start things off. Alright, here we go: To begin, calculate your average energy usage in kWh.  Collect your electric bills for the past 12 months or more. Get an average of kWh used on a monthly basis.  Let’s say that this number is 1100 kWh per month. Now divide your average monthly usage by 30 to get your average daily kWh usage.  In this case, it would be about 37kWh per day. To keep things simple for this rough estimate, we’ll assume that a 250W solar panel will produce about 1kWh a day.  **Keep in mind that this is a rough estimate, based on a site location getting 4 hours of sunlight per day** Assuming that you use about 37 kWh per day, you would need about 37 solar panels to meet 100% of your average energy needs. Based on your current usage, how much of this do you want to offset with a solar power system? 100% …75%…. 50% ?    Multiply accordingly. Let’s say you wanted your solar system to account for 80% of your energy consumption. 37 kWh per day x 0.80  = 29.6 kWh Since one solar panel produces about 1 kWh per day, you would use 30 solar panels to account for 80% of your average consumption. The purpose of this is to give a rough idea of how many solar panels you will need.  This sizing tool provides a quick number to go off of as you’re shopping around- it’s not a replacement for having an electrical contractor design a system for you. Once you’ve calculated your average kWh use and determined the percentage that you plan to offset with solar, get a free solar quote from GoGreenSolar.com 😉  We’ll help you design a complete system that’s specific to your roof and geographical location. Any questions?...

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How Much Will Solar Cost You?
Jan09

How Much Will Solar Cost You?

Infographic by Visual News

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Send Power Directly into Your AC Outlet
Nov30

Send Power Directly into Your AC Outlet

GoGreenSolar.com is proud to present our original product, the SunPlug Plug n’ Play Solar Kit. This all-in-one unit is comprised of a 235 watt solar panel, a micro-inverter, and a racking frame that gives you the option of easily placing the SunPlug on the lawn, deck or anywhere else the sun shines, rather than being permanently installed on the roof. Simply place the kit in the sun (ideally facing South), plug into a standard 110 volt outlet, and the SunPlug will immediately start generating power that is sent back into the grid, off-setting a portion of your electricity usage with clean, renewable energy. SunPlug, the new plug and play solar kit from GoGreenSolar.com The SunPlug is incredibly easy to use, but that doesn’t mean that you won’t still have questions about it! Below you will find a list of answers to common questions about this kit. The most pertinent questions have been included, but feel free to leave additional questions in the comments and we’ll get them answered post-haste! Q: Will my meter spin backwards when the SunPlug is in use? A: Before answering this, it should be noted that most electricity meters that spin to record usage are being replaced with digital smart meters that have no moving parts. So if you have a smart meter that is “spinning backwards,” you would see an arrow pointing left to indicate that your kilowatt-hours (kWh) are being reduced because more electricity is being sent back to the grid than the home is using. That being said, one SunPlug will not generate more electricity than what the home is using. For example, if your home uses 1 kWh every hour and you’re using one SunPlug that offsets .235 kWh (235 Watts per hour) for every hour that it receives peak sunlight, then in that hour your home’s net energy usage will be .765 kWh. Keep in mind that solar panels really only produce significant amounts of energy during peak sunlight hours, and in the United States peak sunlight hours range from 4-5.5 hours per day. So if the 1 kWh per hour home had 5 235 Watt SunPlugs (totaling 1175 Watts per hour or 1.175 kWh/hour) then the meter would “spin backwards” for the duration of peak sunlight hours, but that extra energy that was sent back to the grid would just go to offset part of the home’s usage at night. Q: How many SunPlugs can be used on one branch circuit? A: Circuit breakers on residential homes typically have 20 Amp branch circuits. Rather than breaking down the math, suffice it to say that it’s recommended to put no...

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Cross-Mating PV Connectors
Oct10

Cross-Mating PV Connectors

DIY Solar Tip:  Cross-mating may not be the best idea. There are over thirty other connector manufacturers in the PV industry today: Amphenol, Weiland, Radox, Tyco, Bizlink, and SMK, just to name a few.   MC4, or Multi Contact connector for four square millimeter cable, is the standard locking system in the PV industry today. There are some manufacturers that will make the claim that their connectors are compatible with MC4. It is important to note that even though it is often possible to physically connect these, it does not mean it is an approved connection.  Though H4 connectors are often marketed as “fully intermateable with industry standard,” this interconnection is not approved by UL, or Underwriters Laboratories. Amphenol, the manufacturer of H4 connectors, has released reports TUV tests to confirm the compatibility between H4 with MC4.  In fact, these connectors have frequently been intermated with MC4 connectors, but it still does not have UL approval.  Even if both connectors have UL approval individually, connecting the two is not approved by UL. Cross-mating can cause additional problems, therefore GoGreenSolar.com does not recommend cross-mating connectors as a general rule of thumb.    Unless the connectors come from the same manufacturer, they often times have different chemical compositions, which can lead to oxidation and other complications. When different connectors are interconnected, potential gaps in the connection can also cause arcing and ultimately, failure. Just because they will “fit” doesn’t mean it is kosher. ...

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Pure Sine Wave Inverters vs. Modified Sine Wave Inverters
Jun19

Pure Sine Wave Inverters vs. Modified Sine Wave Inverters

True Sine Wave or Modified Sine Wave?Because the AC electricity from the electric grid is in the form of sine wave, the inverters we use aim to produce a current that is as close to sine wave as possible.  While modified sine wave inverters present an inexpensive alternative, there is no comparison to the clean, undistorted sine wave provided by pure sine wave inverters.   Pure Sine Wave Inverter    A pure sine wave inverter, also known as a true sine wave inverter, produces a clean, undistorted electrical output.  Depending on the manufacturer of the product, pure sine inverters have a perfect sine wave output that’s in phase with the AC grid of the utility company.  Because of the sinusoidal form, pure sine wave inverters are used for grid-tie solar systems and work for virtually any AC load.  Cotek SK3000-148, 3000 Watt 48V Pure Sine Wave Inverter Because they produce no harmonic distortions in the frequency, pure sine wave inverters allow any electronic device to function well without overheating or creating an irritating “buzz” sound.  Though pure sine wave inverters are undoubtedly the best and most versatile kind of inverter, they are more expensive than modified sine wave inverters.   Pure sine wave inverters are necessary for highly sensitive products such as digital clocks, audio equipment, and video-game consoles.  As a general rule of thumb, if you’re powering any electronics, you’ll probably want to stick with a pure sine wave inverter.  The image below displays the difference between a pure sine wave and a modified sine wave.   Modified Sine Wave Inverters   The cheaper alternative to a pure sine wave inverter is a modified sine wave inverter.  A modified sine inverter converts DC electricity to a nonsinusoidal AC wave that is “modified,” or distorted.   When an inverter produces modified sine wave, the voltage output (represented in the Y axis of the image) essentially jumps from zero volts to positive, where it plateaus and drops back to zero, to negative voltage, and then back to zero again. This is signified in the image by the squared edges seen in the modified sine wave, which is contrasted by the smooth oscillation of a voltage that is produced by a pure sine wave inverter.  The modified sine wave is a stepped waveform that is designed to mimic a true sine wave.  Because it is not a clean form of energy, modified sine wave does generate a certain kind of interference called harmonic distortion (though not as much as a square wave). Modified sine wave inverters can work for the majority of low-end appliances, but take caution when using them for your...

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Central Inverter vs. Microinverters: The Pros and Cons

So you’re installing a photovoltaic (PV) system.  Do you go with microinverters or stick with a central inverter? What does an inverter do? The task of an inverter is to convert the direct current (DC) electricity produced by your solar panels into alternating current (AC), which is needed for the overwhelming majority of electrical devices.  The AC power that isn’t used by your home is back-fed into the utility grid, hence the term “grid-tied.”Click here to learn about the basic components of a PV system. Microinverters Microinverters convert the DC electricity from each panel into usable, grid-quality AC electricity.   They attach behind individual solar panels in the array, allowing each module to operate independently instead of optimizing for the “weakest link.”  Turning the solar panels’ DC electricity into AC at a modular level means there is no single point of failure and you’re maximizing the potential output of your system. Because of this, microinverters are particularly advantageous for systems in locations that have shading or some potential coverage (i.e. dirt, snow, chimneys, etc). Microinverters also use a technology called Maximum Power Point Tracking (MPPT), which optimizes the electricity output by responding to the varying levels of light every couple of minutes. In addition to maximizing the yield of your system, micoinverters’ easy design, installation, and scalability have made them popular for residential applications.   Besides getting up on a roof and pulling a permitting, adding to your existing system with microinverters  like the Enphase M215 microinverter should be little trouble.   Each microinverter has its own IP address so it can be monitored remotely with web-based software.  Microinverters also allow for module level monitoring and comprehensive analytics, making it possible for you to view how much energy is being produced by each solar panel. The main disadvantage of microinverters is the price tag- they still cost more per Watt than central inverters.  Critics of microinverters have also made note that these sensitive electronics can exposed to elevated temperatures on the roof and there is lack of field data to go along with their 25-year warranty. Enphase Energy currently dominates the microinverter market and has been increasingly popular for residential applications, particularly in California.   Enphase offers a twenty-five year limited warranty on their microinverters. Microinverters are recommended for residential and DIY solar applications, especially if there are shading concerns or there’s a chance of expanding the system in the future. Pros: • Easy design, installation, & scalability • Maximum Power Point Tracking (MPPT) • Optimized for shading • Remote monitoring capability Cons: • Less of field data • More expensive • Relatively new technology Central Inverter Traditionally, central inverters have...

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