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Why home solar works better than solar power plants
May27

Why home solar works better than solar power plants

If you’re thinking about making the switch to clean energy, but are waiting for a community solar farm to pop up in your area or a utility company to construct a massive project that harvests the sun, might want to think again.   But first, let’s talk about Blockbuster. Remember them? That blue and yellow chain of video rental stores that could be found in nearly every suburban neighborhood in the 90s?     Yeah, I barely do, either. And that’s because when the internet changed the way people consumed movies, the behemoth company stubbornly refused to shift its model of distribution.     With the conversion rates of people switching to solar becoming more common across the globe, we’ve begun to notice a similar flub on the part of large scale solar production plants.      While these grand undertakings are exponentially better for the environment than their carbon emitting alternatives, recent problems with such projects prove the energy source is much better suited to be captured by autonomous individuals than in concentrated areas on large tracts of land.   This past March a sector of Ivanpah, one of the world’s largest solar power plants, emphasized this point as it went up in flames.     With nearly 200,000 sets of focused mirrors superheating steam to generate electricity and tons of small moving parts, it was a difficult (and expensive) project to keep running smoothly. Add to this the sprawling 3,500 acres of land it takes to house the plant and you’ve racked up a bill costing nearly 20 cents per a kilowatt hour.   Photovoltaic home solar systems on the other hand are much more scalable, only require rooftops or backyards as necessary real estate and have the advantage of making electricity where it is used–reducing its kilowatt per hour cost down to 6 cents or less.   When it comes to solar, it’s not hard to imagine a future where the outdated energy production models of the 20th century have gone the way of Blockbuster, and the companies that come out on top are the ones that shift their thinking about how the public produces, access and consumes electricity....

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free standing solar arrays

I ran into an interesting product called the Sun-A-Ray “free standing array” which is an simple way to ground mount solar panels without having to dig deep holes. The free standing array can be bolted down to a concrete pad or 4 piers. The unique solar panel mount has a clamping system that fits most solar panels right out of the box. The picture above shows a 1kW free standing solar array which can be tilted since the solar array is capable of dual axis movement, this means you can pitch the solar panels in an optimal pitch to get the most out of your solar power system. The company, Sun-A-Ray Technologies has free standing array models that range from 1kW to 5kW sizes. The 2 kW model can be assembled by two people within 2 hours, since the the product has been designed to be a faster, simpler, and less expensive method to deploy solar panels. What do you think about free standing solar arrays? Would you mount your solar panels on one of these...

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boost solar electric system performance by 11%

After extensive field testing, ACT Solar has released limited quantity of their PowerString unit a power management system that piggy banks onto a solar electric system and boosts the efficiency by 6 to 11%. According to the company the gain in efficiency over a 25 year period can equal up to 40% more electricity produced. Pretty bold claims? Well that’s why ACT Solar has released their product on a limited scale to confirm their field tests. How it works, is by allowing a centralized inverter to recirculate small amounts of electricity to maintain the balance of the solar array which provides maximum power output. The company calls this process “Injection Boost”, pretty interesting wouldn’t you agree? The PowerString was tested at Santa Clara University 50 kilowatt (kW) solar electric system and increased the power output of the system by 16.2%, impressive! I wonder what the PowerString will cost? Taking into consideration the tests have been conducted on larger solar arrays, do you think the PowerString would benefit solar electric systems on homes and lite commercial...

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dupont deploys ground mounted array

Dupont, the company well known for making paint, recently installed a one acre ground mounted solar array consisting of 1,500 evergreen solar panels. The solar electric system is located at Dupont’s research and development facility in Kauai, HI and has the capability to generate 706,205 kilowatt-hours (kwh) per year, which means Dupont will save about $200,000 per year. Dupont is no stranger in the solar photovoltaic industry, the company has been supplying materials and technology for photovoltaic development over the last 25 years. Hawaii, is a good location to install solar electric systems because electricity out on the island is very expensive. In fact, HI has the highest electric rates in the nation which makes solar electric systems an investment with a higher return. The economics have to make sense for most people to go solar, so if you have a high electric rate, it may make sense for you to look into a system for your home or business. Very few customers buy solar panels based solely on the environmental...

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Want more power out of your solar array?

Don’t cook your batteries, when your dealing with a off-grid or grid tie solar with battery back up solar electric systems, you need a charge controller to protect the battery from overcharging which causes battery damage. Standard charge controllers can be fairly inexpensive compared to MPPT charge controller, but for the people who want the most power output, the MPPT is worth the extra price. What is is MPPT all about? Well, it stands for maximum power point tracking and what it does is keeps your the solar panels’ voltage and current at a point in which it maximizes the output of the solar array. Follow me? MPPT charge controllers are relatively new technology that first started being used in the late 90s, although today MPPT based controllers have evolved and became more reliable and are generally used in larger systems. If your using solar panels to charge a couple batteries then the benefits of a MPPT charge controller will not outweigh the cost. Although if your using solar panels and batteries for your home or business, well it would make sense to look into a MPPT controller. The picture above shows a Outback MX-60 MPPT charge controller with a LCD screen that shows important charging status. Do you think its worth the extra cost to go with MPPT based...

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