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Kilowatt hour (kWh), huh? It’s on your electric bill.

When purchasing a grid connected solar or wind power systems its important to start by looking at your electric bill to see how many kilowatt hours you consume each month. After you figure out how many kilowatt hours you are using per month, figure out how many kilowatt hours a solar panel or wind power system produce to determine out how much energy you can offset. Many people who are considering a clean energy system, never even consider looking at their electric bill to analyze their usage. It all starts from how much you are using and what rate your paying per kwh to estimate if solar or wind power is right for you. Below I have included a sample electric bill to help you locate how many kilowatt hours you use. Feel free to post your usage here, we can brainstorm ways we can reduce your kilowatt hour usage even without a clean energy...

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The Clean Energy Evolution.

Remember the cost of a computer in the 80s and the time when only the biggest hot shot executives had cell phones? Technology typically start off at a very high price and through economies of sale it is finally taken into the mainstream. Taking a look around you today, it’d be crazy to live without a cell phone or computer. Well, the same evolution of technology is happening to solar panels and wind power. The cost for the technology is dropping each year and the products are becoming more affordable and being accepted by the general public. 10 years from now solar panels, wind power and clean energy in general will be as common as cell phone and computers. Solar Panels have been evolving by becomming more efficient, thinner and better looking, there is so much top talent pouring into the clean energy sector today that its being innovation in this industry to a new level. The clean energy revolution has begun and even big oil can’t stop it...

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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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Solar panels can learn from plants.

Plants are smart, they’ve figured out the power of the sun long before humans. Plants are self-sustaining because they understand a process called photosynthesis. The process in which a plant converts sunlight into glucose (energy) for the plant to grow and even produce fruits and vegetables. Remember this stuff in grade school science class? Photovoltaics is the process in which a solar cell turns sunlight into electricity. Solar Panels are made up of a bunch of solar cells which make up a panel. When sunlight hits the panel it goes through a process similar to photosynthesis to covert sunlight into an electrical load. Leaves on a plant are designed flat with surface area to capture sunlight similar to an array of solar panels which makes up a solar electric system. Solar panels have a lot to learn from plants even though there are some similarities, solar panels are typically 20% efficient while plants covert 95% of sunlight into energy. Imagine if solar panels were able to covert 95% of sunlight into electricity, all the cost concerns at that point would go out the window. This comparison highlights we have a lot to learn from nature’s most basic life...

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Estimating the size of a solar power system using the square footage of your home or business

Many consumers always tell me the square footage of their home or business and expect a quote for a solar power system based off the square footage. You can use a general rule of thumb to estimate the size of a system of 2 watts of solar power per square feet. So lets say you had a 2000 square feet home and you were looking to size up a solar power system to eliminate your bill. 2 watts * 2000 square feet = 4000 = 4 kilowatt So in the case above for the homeowner above, they would need 4kW system to meet their entire electrical needs. This is obviously a very rough estimate of how much solar power you would need to eliminate your electric bill, although I suppose it is a great place to start your analysis. If you are looking for a more accurate estimate start by gathering 12 months of electric bills and look at your monthly kWh (kilowatt hours) usage. This will give you an idea of how much electricity you are using which can give you an accurate picture of how much solar power you would need to reduce your...

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What is the PTC rating on a Solar Panel and why is it important?

When receiving a quote for solar power, it’s best to make sure the solar panels quoted output are using the PTC benchmark. But what does that mean? Well there are two types of tests used to quote the output of solar panels: STC (Standard Test Conditions) – the solar panel’s output is tested in a lab, the output stated by the manufacturer PTC (PVUSA Test Conditions) – the solar panel’s output it tested in real world conditions at the PVUSA testing center in Davis, California. The PTC rating is typically 10-15% lower than the STC rating. The real neat part of the PVUSA testing center is the setup. PVUSA lines up solar panels from different manufacturers and puts them head to head and records the output data, an independent test of output, which is great number for consumers to look at when shopping for solar panels. Below are some satellite images of the PVUSA testing center. The PVUSA testing center is a 800kW facility with all the latest solar...

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