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top 5 solar power site assessment factors

To determine if you have a good location to install solar panels to generate clean power you need to conduct a site assessment. Answering the following key questions will help you identify if you have an adequate project site to install a solar electric system: Will the location provide a clear solar window from 9am-3pm without being shaded at critical times? First, do you have access to install the solar panels south? if not, can you install the solar panels west facing? Would you like to mount the solar panels on your roof or is there a location on the ground that is better suited? ever consider pole mounted solutions? What would work best for your location? Is there an area with air flow and indirect sun to mount the grid tie inverter? Where is the main electrical service panel? how about the meter? is there is sub panel? How many feet from the solar array location to the electrical service panel? I hope this quick summary of what’s required in a solar site assessment will help you figure out if the location your considering to install solar panels is optimized to provide you the maximum return on...

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the photovoltaic effect

Albert Einstein is most commonly known about his theory of relativity, particularly the mass energy equivalence, E = mc^2. What most people don’t know is that Einstein conducted the most comprehensive theoretical work on the photovoltaic effect, which means turning light into electricity. In fact in 1921 Einstein won the Noble Prize for his explanation of photovoltaics. Einstein explanation stated that light was a stream of particles, called photons. His studies suggested that when you shine a light upon certain metals, a stream of particles, electrons are emitted from the metal. Einstein concluded in his studies of the photovoltaics: the number of electrons emitted depends on the intensity of the light beam. electrons move faster if the applied light has higher frequency. light has to hit the threshold frequency before electrons can be generated. Many physicists were perplexed because they thought of light as a wave, not a stream of particles. Although Einstein proved that light has a dual nature, it can act both as a wave or a stream of particles depending on the conditions. Looking back at history the first discovery of the photovoltaic effect happened back in 1839, so why are we still so behind in terms of adopting solar photovoltaic panels in our daily lives? It seems like the world has known about photovoltaics for such a long time but has not moved forward aggressively enough to take full advantage of the largest energy source known to man, the sun. Do you think photovoltaics is one of society’s best kept...

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whats the deal with open circuit voltage?

I want to talk about Open Circuit Voltage (Voc) since I know this important electrical rule is not understood by most people who buy solar panels. For example, lets say we have a nominal 12v solar panel and you take it outside on a sunny day without a load connected to the solar panel and test the voltage. The results might surprise you, if you don’t understand Voc since the voltage will read higher than the nominal or “rated voltage” on the solar panel. Voc is the maximum voltage a solar panel is able to output when there is no current flowing through the solar panel, once you connect a load to the solar panel, the voltage will decrease closer to the nominal voltage. This is one of the basic building blocks of understanding how solar panels work, so I hope you got some value out of this short explanation. Does open circuit voltage make...

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the simplicity of enphase mirco-inverters

I was on enphase energy’s website reading their case studies today and was amazed by the simplicity of Sreenivas family’s 2.3kW solar electric system using enphase micro-inverters. The system is made up of 13 sharp 175w solar panels which are connected to each other via AC interconnect cables that are already part of the enphase mirco-inverter. 12/3 romex is used through the garage attic from the solar array to a 1-15 amp backfed breaker in a 100 amp main panel. The Sreenivas family case study is a good example of how enphase makes deploying solar panels an easier process by avoiding stringing solar panels which has a direct impact on system complexity and how long it takes to install a solar electric system. The enphase micro-inverter is more then a grid tie inverter, they’re an “inverter solution” since performance monitoring is built into the system and is the only grid tie inverter that can monitor the system down to the individual solar panel. This installation looks quite simple, don’t you agree? What do you think about solar electric systems that use micro-inverters versus a traditional centralized inverter? Enphase Diagram of Sreenivas...

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a Consumer’s Guide to Alternative Energy

Recently, a community.gogreensolar.com member, Jeff Cooper sent me a DVD he produced called the future fuels series, a consumer’s guide to alternative energy. Before I watched the DVD I was quite skeptical on the quality of information that was going to be presented, but after I got a chance to view it, I was surprised that the 34 minute program turned out to be an unbiased resource since it covers both the pros and cons of alternative energy resources geared towards the alternative energy consumer. In a nutshell this DVD will: help you say no to foreign oil save money on your energy bills at home and at the pump reduce your overall carbon footprint The program will go over solar power, biodiesel, wind generators, ethanol, hybrid & electric cars. I think the best part of this DVD are the interviews with consumers that have actually integrated renewable energy technologies into their lifestyles. This DVD is perfect for someone who wants to learn more about alternative energy or to teach others about the benefits of green...

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top 5 advantages of grid tie solar power

Simple grid tie solar power systems without batteries have their advantages. This post will review the top 5 advantages of connecting your solar panels up directly to the grid without the use of batteries: Economics – Since grid tie solar power systems do not need batteries, this type of system is at least 30% less to install versus a battery based system. Typically simple grid tie systems are 90% to 95% efficient which makes the rate of return more attractive since solar electric systems with batteries are less efficient overall. Lower upfront cost – Batteryless grid connected systems avoid costs for batteries, charge controllers, control panels, and a backup generator, thus reducing the upfront cost of going solar significantly. Grid tie solar panel systems are expandable, meaning you can start a small solar array and build your way up to a larger system that increases your energy independence. Reliable – Maintenance is required with a battery based system and if they are not properly maintained then the life of the battery will rapidly diminish. Simple grid tie systems are more reliable since you don’t have to worry about maintaining a battery back. The downside is if the utility you are connected to goes down, than your grid tie solar electric system will go down as well, simple grid tie systems do not provide backup power. Flexibility – When it comes to designing a grid tie solar electric system it can be designed to your budget and desires of how much utility dependence you want to offset with your grid tie solar electric system. User friendliness – simple grid tie solar power systems get rid of a lot of parts, therefore they are easier to manage. These days many grid tie inverters include remote monitoring software which allows you to view the output, data and health of the overall grid tie solar electric system through your favorite Internet browser. A grid tie solar electric system is much more easier to install and maintain in the long run. Can you think of an advantage of connecting your solar panels directly to the grid without batteries that I have not covered in this...

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