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Battle of the Solar Panel Brands

Have you ever hear of Battle of the Bands? It’s contest in which many bands, usually rock bands but often from a range of different styles, compete for the title of “best band”. The winner is determined by judges, the response of the audience, or a combination. The winning band usually receives a prize in addition to bragging rights. These days there many solar panels flooding the marketplace that it’s becoming more difficult for consumers to make informed decisions, most customers just can’t tell the difference. Why not take different brands of solar panels and make them compete head to head in my backyard? So I called up my friend Dennis Epp, President & CEO of Heritage Solar, a leading solar contractor in Southern California and teamed up to bring to you The Battle of the Solar Panel Brands. Even though solar panels look very similar to each other, not all are created equal. Each make/model of solar panels have their unique characteristics which allow them to produce more or less power in different environments. By adding Enphase Micro Inverters to each solar panel and connecting the system to the internet, we will be able to share live production data with you through our website 365 days a year. But before we can get to the competition we have to build the stage. I got a big backyard with limited shading, therefore we have plently room to install a ProSolar GroundTrac mounting structure to secure the solar panels in a 30 degree pitch facing true south (192 degrees in our case) We’ll be installing the following six solar panels to kick off the competition off: #1 – Sanyo HIP-215NKHA5 #2 – REC REC215AE-US #3 – Sharp ND-U230C1 #4 – Canadian Solar CS6P-230 #5 – SolarWorld SW 230 #6 – Solon P220/6+/01 230Wp Our goal is to get the solar array up and running before January 1st, so we may begin collecting solar panel production data from the first day of the new year. We’re still waiting for the City of West Covina to approve our permit to build GoGreenSolar Labs and hopefully the weather will cooperate with us the rest of this month so we can finish this project as soon as possible. Stay...

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install unisolar pvl laminate on a metal roof

I’ve had a couple people ask me how to install Uni-Solar’s flexible thin film laminate PVL product line on a metal roof. The unique part of Uni-Solar PVL product is it can be bonded directly to a metal roof between the ridges. Traditional solar panels would need racking and mounting components that are not required with a uni-solar PVL installation, therefore installing the laminate reduces balance of system costs. Also these thin film laminates are extremely durable since they are not made of glass like traditional solar panels. I think the uni-solar product line works well when you have a lot of surface area to work with, aesthetics is a major concern in the project, or have a shady/cloudy project since thin film solar panels perform better than crystalline solar panels in those conditions. The video below is a good overview of how these unique thin film solar panels can be installed on a metal roof. What do you think about the uni-solar PVL thin film flexible solar...

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energy needed to cook our turkeys

As Americans across the nation flip on their ovens to cook their Thanksgiving turkeys, I’m sitting here thinking the nation’s electric grid is going to take a big hit today to supply the energy required to power this historic day. So how much power is it really going to take to cook our Thanksgiving meals? Has attempted to estimate how many kilowatt-hours (kWh) will it require to cook our country’s beloved turkeys? I think not! I feel like doing some math today, so let’s get to the bottom of this ever so important question. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, more than 45 million turkeys are cooked and eaten in the U.S. for Thanksgiving. American per capita consumption of turkeys has soared from 8.3 pounds in 1975 to17.5 pounds in 2007. Most of the ovens in America are electric, according to Mr. Electricity’s, How much electricity does my stuff use? the average oven uses 4,400 continuous watts when cranked up all the way, which is$5 typically required to cook a Turkey throughly. It takes approximately 4 hours to roast a 17lb turkey in the oven. 4,400 watts (oven) * 4 hours (time to cook) = 17,600 watt hours 17,600 watt hours / 1,000 watts = 17.6 kWh per turkey   45,000,000 (number of turkeys cooked) * 17.6kWh = 792,000,000 kWh Since most people can’t relate to 792,000,000 kWhs, let me quantify kWh to $. The average nationwide cost per kWh is 12 cents. Therefore it will cost $2.11 in electricity costs per turkey roasted today. 45,000,000 (number of turkeys cooked) * $2.11 (electricity cost) = $94,950,000 So I guess the Turkey suppliers aren’t the only ones making a lot of money on Thanksgiving but the companies providing you electricity to cook your turkey are making close to 100 million dollars today! 792M kWh is a lot of energy, in fact I went to NationMaster to check up how much electricity is produced on an annual basis from all sources for each country around the world and I realized that 56 countries generate less than 792M kWh on annual basis! I hope that makes a good comparison of how much electricity is consumed to celebrate Thanksgiving by roasting turkeys in the oven. I got a couple suggestions of how you can offset your dependence on the electric grid next Thanksgiving by going solar without breaking your pocketbook. Global Sun Oven – Solar Cooker When pointed in the optimal direction the can boil, steam, roast or bake food at cooking temperatures of 360° F / 182° C, making it ideal for cooking the majority of foods, including most turkeys. The...

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solar technology trends at #solpwr09

With over 26,000 thousand people attending Solar Power International 2009 at the Anaheim Convention Center on the last week of October, the conference broke attendance records. The massive exhibition hall featured 929 solar companies throughout the entire solar industry supply chain. This year show was so large in scale, it was way too easy to get lost between the aisles of exhibitors. My objective of being at Solar Power International 2009 was not to visit every booth, but to scout out cutting edge solar photovoltaic technology. Here’s what I think was cool at the show this year: Solar Micro-Inverters: The new Enphase D380 “TwinPack” Micro-inverter offers double the power at half the labor. The new D series product line focuses on the needs of a commercial installation in which it’s much too cumbersome to install an Enphase M190 unit behind each solar panel. The Enphase D380 is called a “TwinPack” because it has two Micro-inverters within one housing. The benefits include, reducing installation costs through the two in one design, Reduced balance of system costs and installation time are realized through a 50 percent reduction in the number parts, 33 percent fewer connections and junction boxes, the Enphase D380 also reduces installation time by an innovative cabling system. Soon Enphase Energy is not going to be the only one offering a solar micro-inverter. DirectGrid, a company based in New York is developing it’s own version of a micro-inverter that will initially only work combined with thin film solar panels and also have the option to add on smart grid compatibility. Direct Grid Technologies is a new player in the solar micro-inverter space but is a subsidiary of Island Technology which is in the business of the design, manufacture and support of utility power grid monitoring & distribution systems. The picture of the mirco-inverter above shows the Direct Grid Technologies DGA-S300, which has an AC output of 300 watts 120/240 volts 50/60 hz. The DGA-S300 has a nominal DC input range of 12-170 volts, which is a wide range to accommodate many types of thin film solar panels. AC Solar Panels: Solar Panels that come off the manufacturing line with micro-inverters integrated are going to be the next trend in photovoltaic technology. As solar micro-inverter technology continues to improve and shrink in size, this could be the game changing technology that can make solar much simpler and more cost effective to install. Enphase had an interesting AC module for display that had a prototype inverter built into directly into the solar panel! Solar Power Industries has partnered up with veteran solar inverter manufacturer, ExelTech to offer their own version of...

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a smarter solar panel

Traditional solar panels are extremely sensitive to even the smallest amount of shade and mismatch. Typically solar panels must be properly matched and balanced in a string although tenKsolar has developed a new breed of “smart” solar panels that’s not only improving photovoltaic performance and but making them easier to install. Based on their propriety RAIS (redundant array of integrating solar) technology the smarter solar panel has no single point of failure. Most traditional solar panels have a number of single points of failures which include a spot of shade, a short, or physical damage to in one place will dramatically drop the energy output of the whole panel. tenKsolar’s solar panels designed with RIAS technology are completely redundant, meaning they’re not bothered by a little shade and if part of the panel should somehow be damaged, the rest of it operates as it should, no single point failure! That’s why the folks over at tenKsolar call their product smarter than the average solar panel. Also there are a couple features that increase the ease of installation. First the tenKsolar panels are universal and self balancing therefore mixing these solar panels into an array of other model solar panels will not result in mismatch. The tenKsolar product increases saftey because of it’s low voltage output and their unique ability to not generate any power until they’re connected to a load. Traditional solar panels always put out power when the sun shines on them. This makes tenKsolar panels far safer and easier to work with during installation. What do you think about tenKsolar...

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rail-free solar panel mounting

Traditionally, solar panels are a tedious process to install because the process of installing solar panels on a residential rooftop involves the rails to be cut, spliced together and the metal frame of the solar panels and rails themselves have to be grounded according to code. Currently the process is quite primitive and can be time consuming even though the two most popular solar panel mounting companies, UniRac and ProSolar are offering new products to reduce parts and installation time, the companies fail to remove the rails. ZepSolar, a startup solar panel mounting manufacturer will be introducing a new way to mount solar panels to your home’s roof without rails at the upcoming Solar Power International trade show in Anaheim. The rail-free, auto-grounding drop-in solar panel mounting system is an ultra efficient method of attaching solar panels to your roof that according to the company installs 6 times faster than conventional systems and greatly reduces material waste while enhancing the structural integrity and aesthetics of solar panels. Prices of solar panels have been dropping like a rock, since there is an oversupply of solar panels in the market. Although other system components such as inverters and racking systems have not dropped in prices as fast as solar panels. ZepSolar claims that by removing cumbersome rails out process of installing solar panels can save up to $1,000 per kilowatt installed. What do you think about ZepSolar’s innovative approach to simplifying solar panel...

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