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Morningstar Solar String Calculator

Morningstar Corporation, a company known for its high quality charge controllers has released a string calculator for estimating the proper sizing and configuration of solar panels when used with the Morningstar charge controller product line. One of the most difficult aspects of setting up a battery based system is the compatibility between the various system components which include solar panels, charge controller, batteries and possibly an inverter. The calculator takes into account the solar panel and battery specifications as well as information on the ambient temperatures to help you not only select the right charge controller for your project but to string the system properly to ensure proper function of your off-grid solar electric system. The results of the calculator show you the number of solar panels that may be wired in series and parallel to safely operate within the charge controller specified range. All you have to do is either select the solar panel you will be using from the list, or manually enter the specifications of the solar panel if you don’t see it on the list, enter the model of the charge controller, and enter the battery voltage and ambient temperatures and presto! The calculator will spit solar panel configuration recommendations. I’m glad Morningstar took a proactive approach to help customers figure out a confusing aspect of purchasing and using the right charge controller for their project. What do you think? Give the calculator a try:...

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Calculating the Economics of a solar power system

Solar Power shoppers always want to know how to size a system and the output of a system to eliminate their entire bill. Today we’ll cover how to calculate the economics of solar photovoltaic panels. First we need to start with your electric bill so go grab it and have it in front of you, and find out how many kWh (kilowatt hours) you are averaging per month. Step 1 – Figuring out your kWh usage per day For example, your bill indicates you are averaging 600 kWh a month. 600 kWh————– = 20 kWh / day30 Days Step 2 – Calculating the size of solar panel array you will need To figure out how many square meters of solar panels we will need to eliminate your usage. A solar insolation map will be needed to see how much sunlight falls on your south facing surface. Use the one below to find your area For our example, lets use an insolation of 5 sq. meters of sunlight / day 20 kWh/day—————————————————— = 33 sq. meters of panels5 sq. meters/day * 0.12 efficiency The efficiency number can be obtained from any solar panel specification sheet, the efficiency of solar panels range depending on the solar panel you purchase, so if you are looking for accuracy, find the spec sheet and plug in a real efficiency number in your calculation. Step 3 – Output of the system Now that you know how many sq. feet of solar panels you will need lets calculate how many kW (kilowatts) of solar power will the system output for you. 0.12 efficiency of solar panel * 33 sq. meters = 3.96 peak kW Step 4 – Cost of electricity over the life of the system.Now you will need to figure out how much you are being charged per kWh by looking at your bill…depending on where you are planning to install the solar power system, your cost per kWh can range, it can be very cheap to highly expensive. In the United States the cost per kWh ranges from .04 cents per kWh to higher than .20 cents per kWh. The MSRP for a 3.96 kW system is about $35,000 dollars, so lastly lets calculate the how much a solar power system would cost per kWh through its lifetime. $35,000 MSRP cost of system——————————————————————— = 0.16 per kWh20 kWh * 365 days * 30 years system life There you have a short 101 course on how to calculate the money factor for a solar power system. Go ahead, calculate your own requirements and see if solar power makes sense in your area. I’d like to...

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Solar calculators that help you make accurate installation decisions.

Installing solar panels could be a difficult task if you don’t understand the sun. I mean we can all agree that the sun raises and sets, although its really more complicated then it seems. Depending on your geographical area the sun travels over your property differently. Therefore understanding the path of the sun is a key element for your solar power system to maximize its output thus increasing your return on investment. The Earth System Research Laboratory has created the Sunrise / Sunset and Solar Noon Calculator and the Solar position calculator to help you better understand the path of the sun in your area. All you have to do is select a city from the drop down menu and the critical data for your project is automatically populated. According to the website, “The calculations in the NOAA Sunrise/Sunset and Solar Position Calculators are based on equations from Astronomical Algorithms, by Jean Meeus. The sunrise and sunset results have been verified to be accurate to within a minute for locations between +/- 72° latitude, and within 10 minutes outside of those latitudes.” The calculator is really helpful when designing a system to find out the ideal pitch and position of the solar panels. I would recommend everyone considering to install solar panels to play with the calculators to better understand the path of the sun because its the most basic element to solar power that can make or break your project. Sunrise/Sunset and Solar Noon Calculator Solar Position...

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