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solar electric systems and your utility meter

Grid tie solar electric systems connect to your existing electrical service and send extra power you generate back to your utility company. Your utility company in return, depending on their interconnection agreement give you a credit based on the number of kWh (kilowatt hours) you contribute to the grid each month. This is called net-metering, it allows you to offset or eliminate your electric bill through solar panels without leaving the reliability of the electric grid itself. This concept is converting homes and businesses across the world into mini power plants that give back to the grid versus just being a liability to it. When you are using electricity from the gird, your meter spins forwards in the normal direction. On the flip side, when you install a grid connected solar electric system and you produce more then you are using, your electric meter will spin backwards! Although before installing you solar electric system be aware of the type of meter you have on your home or business, because some older electric meters records the number of time the meter spins and does not register if the meter is spinning backwards or forwards. In this case if you do not have a “two-way” meter you would be billed for the power you contribute to the grid, yikes! Most locations have two-way meters although if you are unsure, call your utility company to confirm. If you find out you only have a one-way meter, you can always upgrade your...

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welcome to balance of systems 101

If you in the process of shopping for a solar electric system, more than likely you have ran into a key term called balance of systems (BOS). What role does BOS play in a solar electric system? Today I’ll write about why the BOS components are the foundation of your solar electric system. BOS parts are all the pieces of the solar electric system besides the solar panels. The parts that make up BOS include: inverter batteries & charge controllers (if your system is off-grid or grid tie w/ battery backup) overcurrent protection devices electrical enclosures junction boxes support and security structures. disconnects Some of the parts in your balance of system will be rated for outdoor exposure such as most grid tie solar inverters while other parts such as batteries would need an electrical enclosures. BOS parts are typically located close to the electrical service panel, although close proximity is not required. The layout of the BOS parts within the system must be done in a neat manner which allows easy access, testing and disconnecting the system. For solar electric systems operating at 48 volts or less its important to minimize the distance of the dc wiring for efficiency purposes. Solar panels are just one part of the solar electric system, all the components that make up the system must work harmoniously for you to maximize your solar harvest. Selecting the right components can be overwhelming for people who are just get started with clean energy systems, that’s why we have our complete pre-engineered solar grid tie systems, our systems include everything you or your installer needs to get your system up and generating electricity without having to worry about the compatibility of the wide range of products that make up a solar electric...

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toyota’s solar power car, fact or fiction?

There’s been a lot of buzz on the Internet about a full electric car being developed Toyota that can be recharged by the sun through built in solar panels and a solar electric system on your home. I think many people mistranslated the news about Toyota’s solar power plans released by Nikkei Japanese Newspaper and assumed that the entire car could be recharged through its built in solar panels. The story has created a lot of controversy if Toyota could develop a car charged completely by solar panels. What I think is with current solar technology the built in solar panels into Toyota’s solar powered car could only aid in recharging the battery and the car would have the capability to plug into an AC outlet to fully charge the battery. Today, solar cells are not efficient enough to be very effective on limited surface area of a car. In the near future as solar panels become more efficient and you can generate more watts per square foot, a car will have enough surface space to generate a lot of power, but its going to take at least 5 years to get to that point. What do you think? By the way, the idea of people charging their electric cars from their solar electric system on their home is being done by pioneers who have been advocating electric vehicles and solar power for decades. I’ve met people here in southern California who have been living with solar panels and electric cars on the National Solar Homes...

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genasun charge controller for lithium-ion batteries

Typically when people have a battery based solar electric systems they are composed of deep cycle lead acid batteries. Although lead acid battery technology is not the newest type of battery on the market, there are more advanced batteries called Lithium-ion batteries, which are typically found in our consumer electronics, such as cell phones, ipods, digital cameras..etc. Lithium-ion batteries have the best energy-to-weight ratio, so they’re significantly lighter then lead acid batteries. Another great feature of lithium-ion batteries is that they have no memory effect, means they won’t hold less charge as the battery gets older. Compared to lead acid batteries, Lithium-ions have a slow discharge rate when not in use. More people are now using lithium-ion batteries with their solar electric systems, thanks to Genasun who recently released the GV-4-Li charge controller which is a maximum power point tracking controller that is optimized for use with lithium-ion batteries. Do you think people will finally be ditching old lead acid battery technology for lithium-ion...

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first Solar Feed-In Tariff in America?

image credit: SMA Solar Technology AG Gainesville, Florida is on the map because they’re doing something very revolutionary in terms of motivating it’s citizens to install solar panels. If the city can pull off their plans, it would be the first city in America that would offer a feed-in tariff for grid connected solar electric systems. The city approved a feed-in tariff of 32 cents per kWh (kilowatt hour) that would have to paid by Gainesville Regional Utilities (GRU). A feed-in tariff is different from a rebate because it allows solar electric system owners to earn a profit for the clean electricity generated versus just offset their electric bill. According to terms, GRU would sign a 20-year contract with home and businesses owners to buy the clean electricity generated. Feed-in tariffs is the primary reason solar power reached wide market acceptance in Germany, Japan and Spain. At a rate of 32 cents per kilowatt hour, the feed-i n tariff could provide a system owner a 3 – 5% rate of return, do you think that is enough? GRU currently gives a rebate to also to help bring down the upfront cost of going solar. The downside is that the ratepayers of GRU will see an increase in their electric bill of 42 cents per bill to fund the solar incentive program. Do you think that its fair to GRU’s ratepayers who have no intentions of going solar to face the rate increase? If this plan passes obviously the solar power market in Gainesville is going to see rapid deployment of solar electric systems. I think this is great and every utility across America should allow anyone that contributes to the electric grid to earn a profit, don’t you agree? The program is supposed to launch in March 2009, do you think the city will be able to execute on the plan and successfully offer the first feed-in tariff in...

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