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SMA Sunny Webbox – Visualize your performance

Typically once a solar power system owner installs solar panels, they get enjoyment of seeing their meter spin backwards. Although more system owners these days want more detailed output of how the solar power systems are performing. Customers who have purchased a SMA grid tie inverter have an easy option to add detailed performance monitoring through an add on device called the SMA Sunny Webbox. The Sunny Webbox can interface with up to 50 SMA grid tie inverters which connects to the internet through your router and uploads performance data to the free Sunny Portal. Historical data is also recorded on the Sunny Portal therefore installers and system owners can keep an eye on the system from anywhere in the world to make sure the solar panels are operating most efficiently. The internet is a great place to share information and critical data such as a solar power system performance should be easy to access, analyze and share to extend the experience of a solar power system after the installation is complete. The data can be access through any standard web browser, which is great because it will work on all types of operating systems. The Sunny Webbox connects to your SMA Sunny Boy through a RS485 cable and gives the solar power system owner the ability to remotely configure the...

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Ice Bear 30 Hybrid Air Conditioner

Have you ever noticed in the rate section of your electric bill that you pay a significantly higher rate per kilowatt hour (kWh) during what the utility calls “peak hours”? If you are on a “Time-of-Use” rate the electric utility company charges you a premium per kWh consumed during hot summer days when everyone is using air conditioners and the demand for electricity is skyrocketing. This peak hour usage accounts for a majority of most peoples annual electric costs, depending on how much you use your air conditioners. Typically air conditioners are the largest load on your electric service, therefore commercializing an efficient air conditioner is the holy grail of energy efficiency. I have wrote about the GreenCore PV Powered Air Conditioner and the AC Sun solar thermal air conditioners in the past, although the Ice Energy‘s Ice Bear 30 Hybrid Air Conditioner uses Ice, the same type that comes out of our refrigerators as a storage method for cool air. The Ice Bear 30, is a piggy back unit that connects to most air conditioning systems and requires no modification to existing duct work or structure, Ice Bear hybrid A/C unit integrates seamlessly with the conventional 3-10 ton rooftop and split-system air conditioners that cool most light-commercial and residential buildings. Now this is the “cool” part, quite literally. The Ice Bear 30 stores cooling energy at night, when electricity generation is cheaper per kWh, cleaner and more abundant, by freezing water within an insulated storage tank to create and storing cooling capacity for the next day. During the day, the Ice Bear, using the energy stored the previous night to provide cooling by circulating chilled refrigerant from the tank to a modified evaporator coil within the conventional air conditioning system. Ice Energy already has Ice Bear 30 units successfully installed, the company is manufacturing product and setting up their distribution network, which is great to hear because most companies in the “smart air conditioning” space do not yet have a product to offer to the public. You maybe thinking, how is this post related to solar photovoltaic panels or solar energy in general. Well its always better to “Reduce then Produce” as a strategy to get the most out of your solar power system. Many times a solar power system will require too many panels to offset your total usage because your home or business is energy inefficient. Products such the Ice Bear 30 combined with a solar power array could be a very cost effective and reliable application of solar energy production and energy efficiency. What do you...

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UniRac’s Laminate RapidRac PV mounting solution

UniRac, a well know solar panel mounting solutions product manufacturer has released a new product line that is engineered to rack frameless laminated solar panels to commercial flat top roofs. The ballasted solar panel mounting application is wind tunnel tested and weighs less than 3 lbs per square foot. UniRac makes the installion simple with only a four page installation guide, one tool, and 6 components, solar panel installation has never been faster or easier. UniRac conducted time trials which have proven RapidRac is being installed at 1 kilowatt (kw) per man hour. The RapidRac is code compliant and documentation is included for easier bulding permiting. UniRac is using the Internet to serve RapidRac installation instructions (as well as instructions on mounting products via Unirac Mobile, a micro-site accessible from mobile devices such as cell phones, blackberries and PDAs. www.unirac.com/mobile, next time your on the roof and need to figure out how to install a UniRac product, well you’ll have the information at your...

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SMA Windy Boy: Grid Tie Wind Turbines

SMA is known for its world class grid tie inverters for solar panels and is a very popular inverter that is trusted on many solar electric systems around the world. SMA Windy Boy product line offers a solution to grid tie small scale wind generators from their 700u model that can handle wind turbines that are rated a couple hundred watts to the Windy Boy 7000US which is the highest capacity grid tie wind power inverter offered by SMA. The SMA Windy Boy runs on the same technology as its sister inverter the SMA Sunny Boy, there is a special version of software on the Windy Boy’s Central Processing Unit (CPU) that allows the Windy Boy to be compatible with a wind turbine. The neat aspect of grid tie inverters is they use the grid as a battery, therefore it greatly simplifies the installation process, reduces overall maintenance, and reduces costs of installing wind or solar panels. The Windy Boy is UL certified and has a five year warranty, the Windy Boy is completely modular meaning you can scale a wind power system’s capacity up as your budget increases in the...

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Outback Power Introduces SMARTRE

Outback Power, a company that typically focused on off-grid inverters showcased a new product line at the Solar Power International 2008 trade show in San Diego, CA called the “SMARTRE” product line. SMARTRE is short for Smart Renewable Energy which is a grid tie with battery backup inverter line that focuses on easy installation. The SMARTRE inverter operates similar standard grid tie inverter, although during a utility outage, the Outback SMARTRE will switch to the battery bank and still keep your critical loads powered through an outage. For customers who want security when the grid is down but also want to take advantage of being connected to the gird, the SMARTRE solution is the product that meets those needs. The SMARTRE product line will be available in power levels up to 6.3kw and is suitable for residential and small commercial projects. The SMARTRE inverter’s integrated AC switch, transfers to the battery bank flawlessly when the grid goes down without effecting data sensitive loads like computers. SMARTRE is capable of providing as much as 69 kWh of storage during outages. The inverter charges the AGM batteries using a multi-stage charging process which prolongs battery life up to 10 years. The SMARTRE is a versatile product and can be installed both indoor and outdoors and can be either wall or pad mounted. Outback Power backs the SMARTRE grid tie inverter with battery back up with a 5 year warranty, which is odd because in California for your grid tie solar power system to qualify for the rebate your inverter needs to have a 10 year manufacturers...

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What is anti-islanding on a grid tie inverter?

Linemen who work for the utility company have a dangerous job because they are the people who are dispatched when an electrical line has gone down. Even though most linemen assume the line is live when they reach the scene to repair a broken connection, its still important to think about their safety. That is why most grid tie inverters on the market have an “anti-islanding” function built into the inverter’s software. The term “anti-islanding” refers to a feature of a grid tie inverter that senses when there is an power outage and shuts itself down and stops the production of electricity. There is a common misconception within solar panel and wind turbine consumers that if there was a blackout their grid tied system would keep them going through an outage, well this is not true because of grid tie inverter anti-islanding feature will stop the production of electricity when the gird goes down. You have to realize that when you own a grid tie system, the energy is stored in the grid, so the system is as reliable as the grid itself. When the grid goes down, the anti-islanding feature on the grid tie inverter will realize that either there was a sudden change in system frequency, voltage, rate change of frequency, increase in kW beyond normal levels, or a change in kVAR and shut down the inverter. When the inverter shuts down your system is no longer producing electricity for the safety of the people who will be working on the grid to repair it. There are grid tie inverters that are still under development such as the TerraWatt Power inverter which works during an outage because the inverter redirect the power being generated by a system back into the property without shutting down and keeps the linemen safe because the TerraWatt Power inverter does not send electricity into the grid when it senses there is an...

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