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Trees and solar panels don’t get along

Installing solar panels? Consider the trees around you, not just on your property but your neighbors property also. There was recently a landmark court case in which a tree blocking a neighbors solar panels, the famous solar panel vs. tree court case. Until today, according to California law solar panels have rights over trees, even if the tree was planted there first. Today, Gov. Schwarzenegger signed a law fixing the law so if that a tree was planted before solar panels came into the picture existing trees would have the right to exist over a solar panel system. Shading can be a detrimental to the return on investment on a solar power system, so before you install your solar panels take a look at your surrounding, make sure there are not any trees that may grow and eventually put shade on your solar panels. If you have neighbors with trees, go talk to them and let them know you are considered to install solar panels, try to come to an agreement about keeping the trees trimmed so they don’t eventually grow into your sun path. Trees and Solar Panels don’t mix like oil and water. Want to learn more about the Tree vs. Solar Panels case? Visit the URL below: In trees vs. solar battle, old trees score a new...

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The basics of Solar Panel / Wind Power building permits

Add it to your project costs, it is going to cost you to acquire building permits to install solar panels to your roof or put up a wind turbine in your back yard. Yes the city will make some money from you. It’s unfortunate, but its just part of the solar / wind power installation process. Each city is different from what they will want to see to approve you for a building permit, typically they want to see engineering drawings which you should be able to get from your retailer (dry stamped) or a certified engineer (wet stamped). The average cost to secure building permits for a residential clean energy project can be anywhere from a couple hundred dollars to a few thousand dollars. After you secure you building permits you are read to install, congrats your finally over the boring part and now reaching the fun part of installing your own solar or wind power system, a skill that will prove to be very valuable over time. Once you have installed the system a building inspector from the city will inspect your system to make sure it meets the cities building codes. Depending on the city getting past the inspection can be a breeze or a...

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Solar Photovoltaic Panel Warranties

Solar Panels that turn sunlight into electricity typically have 25 year warranties because the panels have no moving parts and do not wear down for a long time. The average warranty from a solar panel manufacturer is between 10 and 25 years. Each warranty is different, therefore a smart consumer should read the warranty information on the manufacturers website or call the company to really understand the terms of what is covered under the warranty, when buying solar panels you are making a long term investment therefore its very important you understand the terms of the warranty making the investment. During the 1970s in the USA there was a solar power rush and many of the companies during that time went out of business and customers were stuck holding warranties that were worthless if something went wrong with the product. In general solar panels are very reliable and most customers don’t have problems. To minimize your risk go with a reputable brand name like, sanyo, evergreen, sharp, BP Solar..etc There are many new companies jumping into the solar power bandwagon, so please review warranty information carefully so you know what you’re getting into right off the...

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Sundown at Intersolar US

Today was the last day of Intersolar US in San Francisco. A very successful show here in the USA, there was a high demand for renewable energy in the US and the conference proved it by attracting over 12,000 visitors and 2oo exhibitors. Intersolar has been going on in Europe for many years, this was the first year the conference organizers brought the show to the US, and I have a strong feeling that they’ll be back in the USA next year. Let’s dive into some interesting products we saw to conclude the coverage of Intersolar US. Solar Panels are getting larger and producing more output, the picture above shows a 250watt solar panel! That is one monster solar panel. It seems like in the near future with increases in output and solar panel size consumers could be using less solar panels in certain installations. Thin film solar glass is an interesting yet expensive concept not ready for the residential market although its interesting to see the development of windows that can produce electricity. As this technology evolves consumers should expect to see more efficient better looking solar power windows that we’ll even see at the residential level. We’re seeing more combination solar panels being presented at solar power conferences, the last one we saw were at Solar 2008 in San Diego made by an American company. The Combination Panel (made by a German company) shown below heat water and produce electricity using the same panel. Traditionally, solar electric and solar hot water were two different systems…this product is unique because it turns two different systems and combines them into one panel that could save customers surface area and money, while reducing both electric bills and natural gas bills for water heating. Killing two birds with one stone. Even though Intersolar was geared more toward the utility scale projects, we still had a chance to interact with other solar power professionals and meet interesting people from all over the world who are working on interesting products that help the industry move forward in the residential and small business...

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Day two at Intersolar.

Continuing the coverage of new products at Intersolar in San Francisco this week, our team has made some interesting observations. Lumeta a company that focuses on BIPV (Building Integrated Photovoltaics) showed off two interesting products, one which we covered yesterday was solar panels that mount flat onto roofs with adhesives; we got some close-up shots of these easy to install solar panels. The flat thin solar panels are made for large flat commercial building rooftops. Lumeta has not forgotten the residential folks; aesthetics is often a concern for residential solar panel shoppers which can be mitigated with solar panels that are integrated into roofing shingles. Lumeta showcased a unique solar shingle product line at the expo which caught our eye. Power Outages / Blackouts are something every solar power shopper wants to avoid when buying a grid-tied solar power system, although in reality grid tied systems go down when there is a power outage. Inverters automatically shut down when there is a blackout because there is no where to send the power generated. Adding battery backup to your grid-tied system is an expensive option because of the upfront cost and ongoing maintenance of the batteries. This typically discourages grid tied solar power shoppers to add a backup battery system. TerraWatt Power is working on a new inverter, that does not need batteries to keep your home up and running during a blackout during the day. Instead of the inverter, “going to sleep” or shutting down during a blackout, TerraWatt Power’s grid-tie inverter stops feeding the grid and directly powers your home! So you would survive a blackout during the day and no need for batteries! TerraWatt Power’s grid-tie inverter is a great example of how solar / clean energy equipment is...

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