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Intergrated Inverter DC/AC Disconnects

Disconnects for safety reasons rapidly disconnect from a power source. Disconnects are on / off switches and are required by National Electrical Code (NEC). With a solar power system for your system to pass inspection and meet all UL and NEC requirements your system must have a DC/AC Disconnects. Over the last few years inverter manufactures have been integrating dc, ac or DC & AC disconnects right into the inverter or as an external unit. Many inspectors are familiar with integrated DC / AC disconnects which is a good sign of the wide acceptance. The picture above shows a SMA Sunny Boy Inverter with an integrated disconnect, a knob style switch quickly shuts off the power in case of an...

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Buying a Small Wind Electric System

Are you thinking about purchasing a small wind power system? Small wind energy systems are the fastest growing form of distributed power generation systems. Many people considering to power their homes or businesses are not familiar with a wind power system don’t even know the right questions to ask to make an educated decision. The California Energy Commission (CEC) has a free consumer’s guide called Buying A Small Wind Electric System which focuses on grid tie wind electric systems to ease the decision making process for many consumers shopping for wind turbines. I think the most important part of the guide is the zoning, tower height and permitting issues which is covered in the guide, many consumers get stuck in the permitting process I have encountered while helping people install their wind power systems. Another important tip the guide mentions is you have to talk to any neighbor 500 feet away from your property who maybe able to see your wind turbine to mitigate the risk of issues with neighbors after the wind power system has been...

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PanelClaw makes mounting solar on a flat roof a snap.

PanelClaw, a manufacturer of solar panel mounting systems, has launched a new product line called the Polar Bear. The Polar Bear is a easy to install non-rail based, ballasted mounting system that is designed to save money and time for everyone involved in the installation process. Polar Bear mounting system was independently tested in a wind tunnel at the Colorado State University and was beta tested at three large scale commerical installations, so the product has some real world field testing under it’s belt. Three people can install 16 solar panels under 20 mintues with the Polar Bear mouting system. The slip sheets and ground lugs come pre-installed which saves time in the installation process. Best of all this innovative solar photovotaic mounting system is made in the good ole...

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Why efficiency is key on deciding what solar panel to buy.

As more solar panel producers enter the market, consumers are confused on what brand to buy. What should you look for when purchasing solar panels to power your home or small business? Not all solar panels are created equal, efficency matters! If you are a homeowner with limited roof space, well you should care more about efficiency more then anyone. The more efficient the solar panel, the more watts you generate per square foot, that’s the bottom line. Sanyo Solar Panels are highly efficient and this is why we like them, because you produce more electricity with every panel. Even though Sanyo’s are priced at a premium compared to value or cheap solar panels, the return on investment is much quicker on a Sanyo system because of the efficiency. So the first thing to do when comparing two brands of solar panels is to look at the specifications sheets and compare the efficiencies, you will be surprised how much more efficient premium panels are. What do you think are highly efficent panels always worth it or is it better to go with more cheaper...

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Grid Tie Solar Power System w/ Battery Backup Drawing

Earlier this week we featured a drawing of a simple grid tie system. A common misconception about grid tie solar electric systems is that you will have a power source when the power goes out, although unless you have a battery backup system your system will go down when the grid goes down. Some people who need backup power and don’t mind the maintenance and replacements every few years of a battery bank consider a grid tie system with battery backup. Today’s drawing also comes from the Guide to Photovoltaic System Design and Installation by the California Energy Commission and features a battery backup system. As you can see compared to the simple grid tie system, the battery backup system is a little more complex. It includes a battery system, which is typically a group of lead acid batteries, a charge controller to keep the system from cooking the batteries from an overcharge and a critical load sub-panel. The point of a battery backup system is not to power you entire house through a blackout but to provide backup power to your most important electrical loads in your home or business. The downsides of a battery backup system are the increased cost of the overall system, the maintenance of the batteries and the installation time of the system with batteries jumps up 40% compared to a system without batteries. So it really depends on where you live, how reliable your utility company is and if you have loads in your house that need to be redundant. What do you think? Is adding batteries to your system...

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An affordable small scale wind turbine.

The Air Breeze by Southwest Windpower is a small 17 pound wind turbine for remote and low power applications. The Air Breeze packs a punch with it’s blades designed to operate quieter and only takes wind speeds of 6 MPH to start generating power. The wind generator can produce power anywhere from 6 MPH – 110 MPH wind speeds giving you a wide range of wind speeds to maximize your return on investment. A major improvement over other small scale wind turbines in terms of power output at low wind speeds and ease of operation. The Air Breeze will need a pole, inverter and batteries (if you a planning a stand alone system) for a compete system. At 28MPH the Air Breeze is rated to produce 200 watts, thats quite the power for the small unit. In terms of kWh (kilowatt hours) produced the graph above shows the pure effectiveness at lower wind speeds. Has anyone had experience with small scale wind? have you considered wind power for your home or...

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