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national electric code requires product changes

Recently updates to the NEC (National Electric Code) have required solar panels and other solar power products to change up connectors to MC4, also known as locking connectors. MC4 connectors have been more common in Europe before they became required in the USA. The revisions to the NEC in 2008 require solar power product manufacturers to update their offering with lockable connectors for compliance purposes. Older MC3 connectors could potentially pose a safety hazard since they can accidentally become undone. The industry has moved towards the MC4 as a standard due to NEC’s influence it has over products that are offered in the solar power...

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usa vs. china: race for energy independence

Recently, I have been reading a lot of chatter in the news about China making huge commitments towards a renewable energy future, particularly wind and solar energy. China is pushing by 2010 to produce 10% of the country’s energy needs through wind, solar biogas and hydro generation and 15% by 2020, slowly easing the country from coal based generation. Not only is the country more aggressively investing in generating more of their own needs from wind turbines and solar panels but they’re also manufacturing the equipment. In fact China is the world’s #1 producers of solar photovoltaics (solar electric panels), the country has more than 200 manufacturers and collectively manufactured 1700 megawatts worth of solar panels, nearly half the world’s production. On the other hand the US is lagging behind China in both production of solar panels and installed wind power capacity. Why do you think China is ahead? Do you feel the lack of environmental controls in China give their solar panel manufacturers an unfair edge to produce more product and offer lower prices? Should price alone be the only factor when you’re evaluating multiple solar...

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new Kyocera solar panels coming soon

Kyocera is getting ready to present two brand new solar photovoltaic panels at the end of this month at Intersolar 2009 in Munich, Germany. The KD185GH-2PU and the frameless FD135GH-2P polycrystalline solar panels are composed of “high performance” solar cells which has efficiencies of up to 16%. Higher efficiency solar panels means you will be able to harvest more kWh (kilowatt-hours) of electricity per year. The KD185GH-2PU has a 48 cell configuration with an output of 185 watts. The frameless FD135GH-2P has 36 solar cells with an output of 135 watts. Framless solar panels are used for building integrated photovoltaics (BIPV), which is a technique to install solar panels that become the facade of a building, BIPV has a very appealing aesthetics value that some people prefer over generating more watts per square foot. The great part about Kyocera solar panels is their warranty, the company has been in business for 50 years and has never has recorded a financial loss. They are a diversified business which means their warranty holds a lot of weight. There are a lot of new companies manufacturing solar panels today that are offering warranties on their solar panels of 20 years or more but as a consumer you have to ask, “how long will they be in business” At least with Kyocera solar panels, the chances of the company being around in the future are...

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cities overcharging for solar power permits

The Sierra Club, an environmental protection advocacy group did a study of solar panel permitting fees in the Bay Area (Northern California) and the results are shocking. Solar power is associated with a high upfront investment to get started and cities that charge extravagant fees for people to install solar panels are not helping push the green energy revolution forward. They’re a hindrance to the process of helping our environment and economy get back on track by making solar power more accessible to it’s citizens. Many cities across the USA have made acquiring a building permit for solar panels completely free but on the other hand cities like Cupertino, CA charge $11,737 dollars for a building permit for a 49kW (kilowatt) commercial solar electric system, a system valued at $475,000. A year ago Bethel Lutheran Church in Cupertino installed 150 solar panels reducing the church’s electric bill by 40% and the environmental benefits the system contributed. The church was shocked when they received a bill for $5,700 from the city for the permitting fees! After three meetings with the city council Pastor Randy Pabst was able to bring down the fees to $1,o00. What do you think about solar panel permitting fees? are they excessive in your city or are you lucky to live in a progressive city that does not charge for solar panel...

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los angeles county solar map

erickb of bloblive L.A. tweeted a link to a new web resource called the Los Angeles County Solar Map which helps you visualize the number of solar photovoltaic (pv) installations within the cities scattered around the county. I was browsing through the cities and noticed Venice, CA has over 300kW of solar pv installed! that’s equivalent to 92 solar electric systems, it seems like solar panels are a hot bed for the citizens of Venice, I wonder why? Los Angeles not only has great rebates since we’re in California but we have average sun hours of 5.5 which is quite high on the scale, I’m surprised there are not more solar electric systems installed in L.A. San Fransico also has a SolarMap , currently the Northern California has more solar panels installed than sunnier Southern California, maybe they’re more progressive up...

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