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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   When it comes to solar, it’s not hard to imagine a future where the outdated energy production models of the 20th century have gone the way of Blockbuster, and the companies that come out on top are the ones that shift their thinking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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Documentary Shines A Light On The Solar Solution
May05

Documentary Shines A Light On The Solar Solution

What do an American worker, a Tea Party activist and a Chinese entrepreneur have in common? They’re all are racing to lead the global future of clean energy and their journeys are featured in Catching the Sun, a new documentary that showcases how doing good by the environment has created a boom in the renewable energy job sector.   “I was fascinated by the idea that solar power could democratize and decentralize energy in a way that creates economic opportunity for workers and entrepreneurs,” said Director Shalini Kantayya.   Kantayya’s film jumps between countries around the world that are fast-tracking solar production and follows some of the stories that have unfolded in its wake.   Among these stories are  Zhongwei Jiang’s , an entrepreneur in Wuxi, China, who grew up without electricity until he was 7. In 2003 Jiang took out a small interest loan from the Chinese government to start a solar company WesTech, which has grown by 50% every year and has expanded to Germany.   Other stories include those of solar installers in America who’ve found job opportunities in the burgeoning industry and a mayor who has fought tooth and nail against an oil corporation’s interests after a spill devastated her town.   The movie shows how one out of 83 new jobs created in the U.S. in 2014 was in the solar industry as a result from nearly 784,000 homes and businesses in the country embracing solar to save money and elevate property values.   Catching the Sun can be viewed on Netflix, downloaded on Vimeo or seen at select screenings taking place around the country....

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grounding your solar electric system

According to the National Electric Code (NEC), all solar panel systems need to be grounded to code. At a minimum the NEC requires that all systems must have equipment-grounding conductors that connect the metal surfaces of the solar panels to a ground rod. typically grounding systems include the following items: code compliant ground lugs screwed into each aluminum rail that touches the solar panel grounding rod driven into the earth near the solar panels stranded copper wire or solid wire connected to the ground lugs and then to the ground rod. In Europe, grounding is not required, although here in the US it’s a must, Homepower ran an excellent article about solar electric system grounding, check it out...

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Ohio budgeting for solar panel incentives

One of the largest barriers of going solar is the upfront cost. Many cities in California are now offering homeowners low interest financing for a solar electric system that is paid back through property taxes. The money is raised through a bond and then paid back as the residents make the monthly payments on their solar panels. If the owner of the home decides to sell the home, the payments on the solar electric system are continued by the new owner until the system is paid off. When municipal financing is available to residents the number of solar electric system installations skyrocket. Ohio’s state government has made legislative improvements to allow cities across Ohio to raise money for residential solar installations for it’s residents. What do you think about muni-financing that allows more people to access solar...

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making sure your solar power system is running right

Many times dirt on your solar panels or shading can reduce the power output of your solar electric system, not achieving your maximum potential could result in many lost kWh (kilowatt-hours) every year. IBC Solar has developed the “SolControl” which is a device that compares your solar electric system’s power harvest to current weather data. The SolControl basic has built in sensors which collects the weather data and then determines how much power your solar electric system should be producing under the given weather conditions. If the solar electric system is not achieving the maximum power yield then the system owner is remotely notified, who can check and fix the problem. The SolControl can be used with any inverter and is offered in three different models which accommodate different sized solar panel arrays. This is a great tool for solar electric system owners who want to make sure hey squeeze every drop out of their solar panels. What do you think about the...

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