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The New StorEdge from SolarEdge
May05

The New StorEdge from SolarEdge

How does StorEdge compare to existing battery solutions? Fewer components, less expensive, easier to install, better Tech Support, more mature product line. Here is a typical StorEdge installation: Features that make StorEdge better: A)  All of the StorEdge components (including the LG Chem battery) are exterior rated.  The Sonnen is interior rated only. Most people do not have room in their garage for a Sonnen cabinet, let alone in their living room as shown in their brochures. B)  The StorEdge inverter is the solar inverter.  Sonnen recharges from the grid, and requires the addition of solar equipment.  The battery bank has the same high DC voltage and low amps as a solar array, so the inverter can easily invert the DC power to AC; whether it is coming from the solar array or battery. C) StorEdge allows the homeowner to install solar now (to cut utility bills) and add the battery later.  Sonnen is grid-tie battery backup only.  Solar is NOT included. D) StorEdge has the ability to perform Zero Export (do NOT backfeed the grid, self-consumption only) which is required for homeowners in Hawaii.  Sonnen can NOT perform this function and requires the solar equipment, such as a SolarEdge install, to do it. Technical Details: Many people wanting battery storage are familiar with the traditional 48v battery banks, but the StorEdge design is very different from the traditional 48V battery storage system. Anybody with a SolarEdge 7600 that wants to add battery storage can get it with an Autoformer and a LG Chem battery. The StorEdge marketing still makes a lot of noise about Powerwall 1 and 2 being compatible (which they are) but Powerwalls are NOT available to us through our distributors, so they are off the radar for DIY installs.  The LG Chem is a very good battery made by a bankable company.  They don’t have the media hype of Tesla, but it is every bit as good.  I have seen the LG battery up-close and personal, and they did a nice job on the enclosure. Here’s what makes the StorEdge design better: 1)  The 350v of DC power coming from the Optimizers is fed DIRECTLY into the battery. Note: In a traditional 48v battery system (such as the Sonnen), there is an Inverter/Charger that reduces the 350v to 48v.  Eliminating this step simplifies the design, and is more efficient since there is no conversion loss as the Charge Controller circuits adjust the output power.  It also eliminates an expensive piece of equipment, reducing the system price-point; as well as eliminating a point of failure.  Moreover, an Inverter/Charger is generally expected to last 5+ years.  Conversely, the StorEdge inverter life expectancy is 12 years...

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The difference between Power Optimizers and Microinverters
Aug05

The difference between Power Optimizers and Microinverters

A report by GMT revealed that more than half of residential solar PV installations have either a power optimizer or microinverter installed. But when it comes to deciding which Module Level Power Electronic to enhance your dwelling with, the difference between the two can seem as nuanced a choice as Coke vs Pepsi.   Grouped into the category of Module Level Power Electronics, both solutions aim to overcome the deficiencies found with the traditional central inverter systems, which can suffer massive power losses when one panel in the chain is shaded or malfunctions. Additionally, both claim to improve the power yield of solar modules by up to 25%.   So let’s break it down:   With a traditional inverter system, PV panels are wired together like a string of christmas lights, collecting energy from the sun and dumping it into a central inverter system, which then converts the DC electricity to AC. While this might sound simple enough, if a panel in this system experiences any issues, the entire energy output of the system is dragged down.   To avoid this energy loss, microinverters such as the Enphase 215W or the APS YC500A, are installed on each (or every other) panel, decentralizing the conversion of DC to AC from a single point to smart web of panels   Optimizers, such as the SolarEdge 3kW SE3000A-US-U, are similar to microinverters in that they are also located on each (or every other) panel. Instead of converting the energy at each panel, however, an optimizer “conditions” the DC electricity before sending it to a central inverter, mitigating the energy loss that might occur on individual panels, which can drag a whole system down. The benefits of optimizers is that since don’t convert the DC to AC on each panel, they include less parts than microinverters and are considered easier to install and scale. Conversely, since optimizers feed the DC electricity into a central inverter, if that inverter goes down the entire system can fail, whereas a failure with microinverters only affects one module.   Ultimately, the deciding factor on which MLPE to go with depends on the specifics of one’s home. Optimizers are good for harsher weather environments and micro-inverters are good for a home with panels that need more independent control....

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World’s Oldest Solar Power Plant
Jun27

World’s Oldest Solar Power Plant

When it comes to having the “world’s oldest”…well, anything, California doesn’t hold many distinctions.     Somewhere hidden in the state’s White Mountains there’s a 5,068 year old tree that’s the world’s oldest bristlecone pine.   and somewhere in Downey there’s the world’s oldest McDonald’s. But conifers and Big Macs aside, California also has the distinction for housing the world’s first and oldest solar power plant, which was built way back in 1985. Owned and built by NextEra Energy Resources, the 354 MW facility houses nine operational solar plants, with the newest being completed in 1990. It facility covers 1,600 acres and houses nearly a million parabolic mirrors. According to NextEra, it can power over 230,000 homes during peak energy production. The plants, which are referred to as Solar Energy Generating Systems (SEGS), use panels that are different than the more commonly used photovoltaic ones, which transfer and store energy into batteries. Instead, the SEGS use mirrors that are 94% reflective (compared to typical mirrors with a 70% reflection rate) to direct the sun to heat a synthetic oil called Therminol. The focused light is nearly 80 times more powerful than normal sunlight. The heated oil then super-heats water, producing steam to power a turbine. The plant is estimated to displace about 3,800 tons of pollution per a year, which, when added up over the decades is a savings of about 60,000 tons of waste. So next time you’re driving through the Mojave desert and want to make a historical pit stop, check out the oldest solar fields in the world. And be sure to bring your sunglasses!...

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5 Ways To Prepare For Solar
Jun16

5 Ways To Prepare For Solar

In the same way you’d tape off areas before painting a room, or stretch before running a marathon, there’s some steps you can take to prepare your house before switching to solar.     X2 check permitting guidelines   Often times the most difficult part of converting to solar is dealing with local regulations and permitting processes. Most city utility companies require the following documentation before installation can begin: Level 1 interconnection Application and Agreement for inverter-based generating systems Electrical diagram of proposed generating system Specifications of inverter Application for electrical service (if you’re going to use meters) If you’re the do-it-yourself type of person, perhaps the best place to spend money on outside help is on a solar design and permit service. Municipalities are not known for their speed, and a red-flagged permit takes longer to get through the second time than the first. Also, it makes sense that you know the rules before you play the game. In some cases you might even uncover hidden rebates or government incentives.     Make sure your roof can handle the weight   Consult with a building inspector or engineer to determine the maximum load that is safe to put on your roof. Solar arrays can be heavy, and the weight of these plus any racking systems and microinverters can add up. So think of this maximum load number as Gandolf…     …and make sure to tally up the weight of every item you install.   3) Check your roof’s condition Any repairs you’ll need to make to your roof after installation will require the removal of the solar panels. Make roof repairs before adopting solar energy and don’t cut corners on using the best materials. Saving a few dollars in the short run could end up costing you thousands down the road.   4) Plan your angle of attack In the northern hemisphere most panels are mounted on south-facing roofs to capture the maximum amount of sunlight. If you have a roof with an east or west orientation you or an installer will need to position the array at optimal angles. If it’s too flat it will collect water and if it’s too tilted you’ll miss out on precious rays of power. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory of the United States Department of Energy has helpful guidelines on how to optimally angle your array.   5) Build a Sun Cabinet Call it a utility storage nook or sun cabinet–we just like the fancy name–but build or designate a closed space to house all your solar equipment. Batteries, inverters, Balance of System (BOS) modules all help enhance a home’s...

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4 things you might not know about solar
Jun12

4 things you might not know about solar

1) Solar Panels Work in Cloudy Weather Don’t believe us, just ask someone from Germany, which is one of the world’s leading markets for solar. This cold climate country, along with some of its scandinavian neighbors has shown that solar can thrive even in cold climates. But of course, if you’ve ever gotten burnt on a grey day, you’d already know the sun doesn’t stop working just because of some clouds.   2) Solar panels don’t require much maintenance Yup, with no moving parts, and robust hardware, it’s rare that a PV system will fail within the lifecycle of its 25 year warranty. Some homeowners care for their panels by giving them an annual cleaning, but some don’t even do this. Why lift a finger when the rain or snow can do the job for you? Solar monitoring software allows users to spot drops in power generation immediately, so if a large piece of debris falls on one of the panels, it’s easy to locate. In some cases the panels have even been known to improve the strength of the roof:   3) These surprising statistics More than half the united states solar panels have been installed within the last three years The amount of solar energy that hits Texas each month is equal to the entire amount of energy ever produced by oil and gas, according to CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), Rhone Resch. The amount of solar energy that hits the world every minute is enough to meet its power needs for a year.   4) Solar is more cost effective than fossil fuels At first look it might appear that the fossil fuel per a KW hour cost is cheaper than solar, but in some areas, a combination of federal, state and local incentives can slash up to 60% off the cost of a home PV installation. Additionally since conventional energy is a limited resource and the cost is guaranteed to rise, locking in a net-metering rate now is an easy way to stabilize future finances. Unlike fossil fuels, solar pays for itself within 7-15 years once it is installed, usually bringing in two to four times their worth in savings on electricity bills. Indeed The Wall Street Journal has shown that to install a new coal or nuclear plant today, would be less cost effective than encouraging homeowners to switch to solar, since the plants are so expensive to fund:     And then there’s all the nasty health and environmental side effects of fossil fuels, which, when considered in calculating its per KW hour cost make its price-tags more than double....

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What happens when renewables are overproduced?
Jun06

What happens when renewables are overproduced?

The writing is on the walls, or in this case, the roofs. We all knew the time would come sooner or later, the day government solar incentives began to decline. While America has yet to see such a trend, some countries around the world have begun to produce more renewable energy then they are capable of consuming.   Most recently there was Chile, which produced so much solar that it was giving it away for free. A Bloomberg chart shows how spot prices reached zero for 113 days through April since the beginning of 2016 And then there was Germany, which generated so much renewable energy in May that it saw power prices go negative for several hours–meaning that power companies were actually paying customers to consumer energy!   The list goes on: last year in 2015 Denmark produced 140% of its energy needs through renewable energy and began exporting its excess to neighboring countries; Costa Rica ran its entire country on renewable energy for 75 days; and then there’s Austria, Norway and Iceland–all of which achieved close to 100% renewable power years ago and, well, see the writing on the roofs now?   Incase it’s still difficult to read, perhaps Ray Kurzweil’s accurate predictions about the exponential growth of installed PV panels along with this neat graph might get the point across:   The world is shifting to solar fast, and that means the government incentives to do so are quickly disappearing.   It’s not unimaginable that in the near future, homeowners will be faced with the choice of either continuing to purchase power off the electrical companies or become independent suppliers of power to the electrical companies. While the latter will provide freedom from big corporations it will also have the drawback of no longer being subsidized–making it much more of an upfront financial burden to bare.   No doubt the energy companies have read what the solar trend spells for their future–it’s been a message we’ve known for a long...

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