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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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AC Sun’s Solar Air Conditioner

A while back I wrote about a solar air conditioner called the Greencore Air that was a highly efficient air conditioner powered by photovoltaic (pv) panels. This week a Danish company AC-Sun, announced they are developing a unique solar air conditioner. We’re fascinated with solar air conditioners because typically these are the largest and most expensive load on homes and businesses across the world, which can make a very cost effective application of solar energy if a company can release a reliable product. The most interesting part about AC-Sun’s solar air conditioners is that instead of using solar panels to generate electricity to power an AC, it uses solar thermal technology which boils water, creates steam to drive a turbine which can cool a room. It’s using the sun’s heat to cool a room! The AC-Sun’s system is based off an already known thermal process, which includes a traditional solar thermal panel that provides energy to an expander that ends up operating a compressor. A compressor is a critical unit in air conditioning and is important in the overall process of creating cool air. Unfortunately, you can’t buy AC-Sun’s solar air conditioner today, they are still developing the product and according to the company the product will be on the market in the middle of 2010. What do you think about solar air conditioners? This is a very interesting niche of solar energy, has anyone seen other companies dabbling in this...

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Touch-screen device for tracking solar panel and home energy usage

Open Energy a company I wrote about recently, that manufactured solar roofing tiles has also announced they are working on a device that helps solar power system owners visualize their home energy usage and solar panel production. The device has a wireless Internet gateway that can show solar power production along side electricity usage. The device can also pull in gas and water usage data that can help home owners make educated decisions on the fly about their resource consumption. Open Energy’s monitoring device will be out on the market next year and will cost between $1,100 to $1,400 USD which includes other monitoring services along with the hardware. More companies are developing ways for consumers to track energy production from solar panels and compare it to a home’s energy usage. Monitoring software and devices are becoming more of a standard when purchasing a solar power system. Traditionally consumers have to rely on reading the LCD screen on an inverter to figure out the production for that day. But a device or web software the analysis of the home energy usage and solar panel production can be analyzed in greater detail. Customers want to know in real time what the system is doing, we are very used to information on demand, these devices, software and hardware help solar electric system owners really understand how their system is...

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