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What California’s New Solar Mandate Means for Home Builders
Jul20

What California’s New Solar Mandate Means for Home Builders

The future of solar in the golden state is shining much brighter now that that the California Energy Commission unanimously voted to require that all new homes built after Jan 1,  2020 have solar panels. Updates to the Title 24 Standards decree that builders who obtain construction permits issued after the mandate goes into effect must fit new houses with a solar array that has an annual electrical output equal to, or greater than, the dwellings annual electrical usage. If you’re a home builder in California, here’s three reasons this change will be advantageous for you:   LOWER MONTHLY HOME PAYMENTS In a market where home prices are already high, the requirements are estimated to add nearly $9,500 to construction costs or an additional $40 a month in mortgage payments. So how does that save the eager home buyer money, you might wonder? According Energy Commission spokeswoman Amber Beck, increased home energy efficiency will shave on average about $80 off monthly bills. Subtract that from the increased mortgage and you have a net gain of $40. Even better is the fact that it’s a pretty sure bet electrical rates will continue to rise over the next few years, and suddenly it becomes much more appealing to own a new energy efficient home fitted with solar than an older one that costs more money to power.     LOCATION IS EVERYTHING! Much like selling a house, location is everything when it comes to decking out a house with a solar array. The location of a home will determine how many panels it needs to satisfy the Title 24 Standards, and will make building in areas that have a higher Sun Number more appealing. For reference, California’s average system size accross its different climates comes to around 3.38 KW, or about twelve 3ft x 5ft solar panels. Location will also come into play when it comes to knowing where to source bulk deals on equipment to maximize profits. Wholesale online dealers such as GoGreenSolar will usually go the extra mile and help with contracting out the installation and offering advice on the best direction and angle to build a roof.   UPSELL The new building standards are also offering a credit for solar capacity combined with on-site energy storage. The credit is meant to encourage builders and/or buyers to include energy storage systems to increase the efficiency of their solar array and can be offset with monthly payments. Ultimately, while the code is might appear ambitious at first read, it leaves a lot of interpretation and wiggle room up to the builders to determine how they will implement it. If necessity...

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60 Cell Vs 72 Cell Modules
Jul16

60 Cell Vs 72 Cell Modules

When shopping for PV modules, you must choose between 60 cell and 72 cell modules. The extra cells mean extra wattage and while many people make the assumption that more is better, this isn’t always the case. There are two basic ways that the extra cells will make the solar panels different, voltage and physical size. Both of these factors should be considered when making the choice. Because all the solar cells in a PV module are connected in series, the 72 cell module will be about 6 volts higher than a 60 cell module. If you are using them with a string inverter this means less panels on each string. If you are using them with microinverters or DC optimizers, you will have to make sure the equipment you choose is designed to handle the higher voltage. Microinverters and DC optimizers for 72 cell modules will typically have a maximum input of 60 volts to prevent issues in even the coldest of temperatures. So now let’s talk about size, which definitely does matter. All standard solar cells are similar in size and efficiency, so the 72 cell PV module is going to be a bit larger. You may be getting more wattage, but your wattage per square foot is still the same. The typical solar module is 6 solar cells wide, so a 72 cell module is the same width as a 60 cell module, but it is about a foot longer and 8 pounds heavier. The typical size for a 60 cell module is 66” x 40” and weighs in at 40 pounds while the 72 cell module is going to be about 78” x 40” and 48 pounds. It doesn’t sound like much of a difference, until you are the one that has to move it around. Carrying a standard 60 cell module on a steep sloped roof is awkward, but the 72 cell module, which is likely taller than your biggest crew member, can be a real bear. If it is a two story house, lugging it up to that roof is not going to be fun either. Another challenge of the size is trying to maximize the wattage that you can fit on a residential roof. With limited roof space, the flexibility of the smaller 60 cell module can be a great advantage. Especially as more states are adopting stricter codes for fire access, using a shorter module often means being able to install a whole second or third row which will result in a larger overall system size. Transport also needs to be considered. Trucking companies already don’t like our non-standard sized pallets...

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You Can Add Energy Storage to Grid-Tie Solar
Jul11

You Can Add Energy Storage to Grid-Tie Solar

Energy storage systems for solar are becoming more popular. People want to have back-up power during power outages and changes in net metering and time of use electric rates can give energy storage options a better payback. When going solar, many people feel pressured that they must make the decision about energy storage up front. But the truth is that adding energy storage to an existing grid-tied system is easy. The best part is that you do not have to remove or change any of your existing grid-tie system when you add batteries. This surprises many people who understand traditional solar power systems with batteries, but it is all about DC coupling versus AC coupling. For many years, solar with energy storage was always set up as a DC coupled system. Solar panels were connected to a charge controller which managed the solar power going into the batteries and kept the batteries from being overcharged. The power from the solar panels and the batteries is all DC, hence the term DC coupling. Then a battery-based inverter was used to convert the DC power from the batteries to AC power to feed the loads. This technology is all still used for some systems, but it is no longer the only option. This is great news for anyone who has grid-tied solar already installed and wants to add energy storage. Grid-tied systems have the solar panels connected to an inverter (or microinverters) that change that DC power from the solar to AC power from the loads. These grid-tied inverters do not work with batteries, and until the last decade, installing a battery system meant removing that grid-tied inverter and replacing it with a charge controller and battery-based inverter. But now there is a better way that is rapidly gaining popularity and it is called AC coupling. In an AC coupled system, you connect the AC output of a battery-based inverter to the AC output of a  grid-tied inverter. This will work with any grid-tied inverter or microinverters, but you must be careful in your choice of the battery-based inverter as it needs to have the right functionality. Inverters like the Outback GS Radian are specially designed with AC coupling in mind. Outback even packages it with batteries as a complete kit to make the choice easy. If you have a grid-tied solar system, you probably already know that it does not work during a power outage. The reason for this is that grid-tied inverters will not make AC power unless they have AC power coming to them from the grid. When you install the battery-based inverter, it creates AC power that...

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SolarEdge Vs. Microinverters
Jul05

SolarEdge Vs. Microinverters

With so many options on equipment, it is easy to get lost in the decision making process. One of the most common customer questions is the difference between microinverters and a system like SolarEdge that incorporates DC optimizers with a string inverter. First, let’s look at the ways these two systems would be the same. Both SolarEdge and microinverters will maximize the power from each individual solar module with maximum power point tracking (MPPT) technology. Having an MPPT device at each solar module helps mitigate shade and orientation issues that can occur with the standard string inverters. Another common element is that both SolarEdge and microinverter systems will provide module level monitoring so you can see how each solar module is performing individually. Both systems also meet the 2014 NEC Rapid shutdown requirements in that if the system is shutdown with the disconnects that are accessible at ground level, the conductors from the roof will not be energized. So, how are microinverters and SolarEdge different? It’s all about where the power is converted from AC to DC. The solar modules produce DC power and a microinverter converts that DC power to AC power at the solar module. In a SolarEdge system, there are DC optimizers that do the maximum power point tracking at the module but they don’t convert the power to AC. The “conditioned” DC power flows in the conductors that come down from the roof and it is converted to AC power at the central inverter which is typically installed near the main service panel of the building. Now for the fun part…. Which one is best? Everyone in the solar industry has an opinion and the bottom line is you have to decide for yourself. Let’s look at some of the factors that will help you make this decision. Cost The cost of the whole system needs to be considered in this. When buying microinverters, you will pay for the microinverters, the monitoring system and the trunk cable (which is a separate part for some brands and not others). When purchasing the SolarEdge system you will buy the DC optimizers, the string inverter and possibly a monitoring option depending on how you want the monitoring to operate. The individual microinverters will cost more than the DC optimizers (you are paying for all the DC to AC conversion electronics in every microinverter). The monitoring equipment is typically the same cost for either system. Then with SolarEdge, you have to buy the inverter. The result is the total system cost on microinverters less than SolarEdge if you are doing a small system (under 3.8kw) and microinverters cost more...

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Duke Energy Attempt to Foot Home Solar With The Bill, Fails
Jun07

Duke Energy Attempt to Foot Home Solar With The Bill, Fails

A recent settlement brought an end to an attempt by Duke Energy Carolinas to shoulder North Carolina residents switching to solar with hefty fixed rate increases. To help fund a proposed $13 billion grid modernization program for the state, Duke Energy sought to foot North Carolinians switching to solar with the bill by increasing their utility costs up to 50% according to Vote Solar’s Regulatory Director Caroline Golin. Opponents against Duke’s fixed utility rate increases argued the charges would undermine customer’s ability to utilize net metering payments, where people make money for selling the excess power their home generates back to the grid. Duke’s $13 billion Power/Forward Carolinas grid proposal, which was introduced last February, set out to modernize the state’s power grid and “support renewable energy initiatives.” Upon closer inspection of the bill, however, solar supporters in North Carolina discovered it did the very opposite by targeting people who used net-metering with higher out of pocket costs to pay for the utility company’s upgrades. “…Duke’s plan puts solar out of reach for customers, makes it much harder for clean energy companies to survive, and makes it more expensive to do business in North Carolina,” Golin writes in her blog. The recent settlement with Duke has lowered the time period of the modernization initiative from 10 to four ears, and cuts spending down to $2.5 billion, reducing the potential rate increases that will be seen by customers. The decision comes as an added win for the state’s clean energy advocates as the energy company recently rolled out a $62 million solar rebate program in January, paying residents back up to $0.60 per installed watt. To learn more how to qualify for a solar rebate, contact GoGreenSolar.com or call (888)...

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Only 600 spots left for North Carolina’s huge home solar rebate
May29

Only 600 spots left for North Carolina’s huge home solar rebate

As summer ramps up on the east coast, people in North Carolina are lining up to get a chunk of the state’s $62 million solar rebate. Last month the North Carolina Utilities Commision approved Duke Energy’s rebate program, which is aimed at reducing the upfront costs of installing solar panels, shaving 40-50% off the cost of home solar installation when combined with the federal tax credit. The North Carolina Solar Rebate Program is capped at 5,000 kW for home solar, or roughly the equivalent of 600 homes. Under the program, residential customers will be able to earn back $0.60 per watt, and nonresidential customers $0.50 per watt. The typical North Carolina home is expected to make between $3,000 to $5,000, with the maximum rebate amount capped at $6,000. The North Carolina Utilities Commission decision to pass the rebate stems from House Bill 589, which passed last year in an effort to encourage more solar ownership. Upon success of the Duke Energy rebate last month, the company has filed two more renewable energy programs to expand renewable options for the 3.2 million customers it serves in the state. “Our customers want more renewable energy options and both these programs will provide alternatives to on-site solar power,” said David Fountain, Duke Energy’s North Carolina president. “We look forward to working with our large customers as well as environmental organizations, municipalities and solar developers to bring these offerings to areas where they are most desired.” North Carolina is second in the nation for solar capacity. Sign ups for the rebate program begin at the start of summer, Monday, July 9 2018. To learn more how to qualify for a chunk of the change Duke Energy is offering solar homeowners in North Carolina before the program fills up, contact GoGreenSolar.com or call (888) 338-0183....

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