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Bernies Love For Solar Burns Brightest
Apr28

Bernies Love For Solar Burns Brightest

  Of the three presidential candidates hoping to secure the oval office in 2016, Bernie Sanders’ advocacy of solar initiatives outshines his competitors Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.   As for the latter, Mr. Trump, who believes that climate change is a conspiracy theory and has publicized his dislike of clean energy, the policy agendas between him and Sanders are flagrant; while the differences between Sanders and his party opponent Clinton are less obvious, though still substantial.   Both Sanders and Clinton have publicized plans to transition the country’s energy from fossil fuels to renewable options, but unlike Clinton, Sanders’ plan openly opposes the fossil fuel industry by aiming to rid politics of corporate lobbyists, ban fracking and exploration for oil on public lands. Clinton, on the other hand, whose campaign has taken money from the fossil fuel industry, has avoided outright attacks on it, instead focusing on large government incentives to urge more people to convert to solar.   A look at both candidates’ plans reveals that Sanders is much more detailed when it comes to how he aims to steer Americans to become 100 percent dependent on renewable energy. He also, touches on issues such as bringing the United States’ transportation emissions to zero and taking a much more aggressive position in the global theater to reduce greenhouse gasses–all of which are absent on Clinton’s side.   Sanders’ past political initiatives leave little room for doubt that he will fight for his vision. In 2015 he introduced the Low Income Solar Act, which would provide $200 million in loans and grants through the Department of Energy to make solar more accessible to low-income families and communities.   Then there’s the fact that the environmental super PAC Climate Hawks listed Sanders as the No. 1 climate leader in the Senate for the 113th Congress and endorsed him as its choice for president.   Though Sanders is currently trailing in the primary elections behind Clinton, his efforts have given voice to millions of supporters that are not shy to demand better environmental policies from their government.        ...

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Self Install Tips and Tricks
Mar31

Self Install Tips and Tricks

When it comes to do-it-yourself projects like converting your home to solar, tapping into that “handy fusion reactor in the sky called the sun” can at times seem an overwhelming project to undertake.   However, the benefits can equate to over a 50% savings in setup costs (not to mention well deserved bragging rights), which is enough to appeal to many a handy person to strap on their tool belt and give it a shot.     If you’re the type who enjoys taking on such ambitious projects, we’ve compiled a few basic tips and tricks that will hopefully save you time and frustration down the road: Divide by 4: The goal isn’t to cover every square inch of roof with as many panels as it can fit, but rather enough panels to meet your energy consumption.   A quick way to estimate how much energy you will need your panels to produce is to look at your energy bill, take your highest kilowatt usage and divide by four.   Four is the low-end estimate of average peak sunlight hours in most places on earth. Many places such as California and Arizona will get more than this, but staying conservative with your calculations of how much sunlight you expect the panels to receive is always a better call.   For example, the average U.S. household uses around 30 kw of energy a day according the US EIA and, at worst, probably gets around 4 peak sunlight hours, it would be safe to assume such a household will need enough panels to harvest around 7.5 Kws of power a day.      If you want to get specific with your calculations you can check out the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s Isolation Map to see how much light your longitude and latitude can expect to receive during the year.   Aim for the equator: When determining where to point your solar panels, a good starting point is to face them towards the equator.   With this general bearing in mind, do some research to determine if there are any shade obstructions in the area from mountains, trees or neighboring structures that might merit slightly shifting the direction of the panels to the east or west in order to collect the most sunlight.   If you can’t find an area that will always be shade free during peak hours, consider installing micro-inverters or power optimizers on your panels so you don’t dampen the power output of your entire system.   Hire a professional to create a permit package: We know, you want to do this project yourself otherwise you wouldn’t be scrolling...

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How to cash in on the IRS’ Investment Tax Credit
Mar24

How to cash in on the IRS’ Investment Tax Credit

Anticipating that the solar-plus-storage market could experience the same type of expansion the PV market did in the last decade, the IRS recently updated an eligibility ruling for a 30 percent Investment Tax Credit (ITC) on renewable energy storage.   The updated rule, passed before the start of 2016, extends the 30 percent ITC until 2021 and aims to clear up some of the confusion with regards to when solar energy storage qualifies for the tax credit.   “The federal government does not want to incentivize people to arbitrage energy from the grid,” Senior Consultant at the Engineering consultant firm DNV-GL Mike Kleinberg explains. “You cannot charge from the grid in the evening and then discharge during the day to supplement your PV — and also qualify for the ITC, because you’re not then really charging from renewable energy.”   In order to accomplish this, the IRS dictated that in order to be eligible for the ITC, taxpayers must not draw more than 25 percent of stored electricity from the grid. Additionally, if they draw more than 25 percent of power from the grid during the first year of applying for the credit, they will not be allowed to collect any portion of the energy tax credit in later years even if the system improves and complies.   In order to prevent batteries charging more than 25 percent from the grid, homeowners have taken to installing inverters on both their PV systems and their AC/DC power systems, linking them to a site master controller that monitors when and how fast storage units charge.   While the updated 2015 rule might seem more strict than the original one set forth two years earlier (which was much more vague about solar battery two-way grid charging) it also expands its definition of what constitutes “storage technology”, allowing for greater flexibility when applying for the credit.   For example, smart water heaters or ceramic heaters that know the weather and draw 25 percent or less from the grid would qualify....

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Cash in on net-metering while you still can!
Mar14

Cash in on net-metering while you still can!

The rationality of net-metering is hard to deny: If your home generates more energy than it consumes and that energy is added back into the grid, it’s only fair you should be compensated for the contribution. However utility companies, who usually end up footing the bill, are of a different opinion. As of January 2016 more than half of the 40 U.S. states with net-metering incentives have had their policies come under scrutiny. At the start of the year, homeowners in California breathed a collective sigh of relief as state regulators narrowly voted to uphold the existing net-metering benefits. However their neighboring solar enthusiasts in the state of Nevada weren’t so lucky. As more people are switching to using solar and generating their own power, state regulators have been forced to balance on a high wire of encouraging the trend while also pacifying the big energy companies that power houses during non-daylight hours. Check out the map below to see if you’re in one of the blue states where net-metering incentives are still applicable. If you are, and haven’t yet made the switch to solar, time might be running out to cash in on making more sun energy than you...

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#DIY | Do It Yourself Solar Installations
Mar03

#DIY | Do It Yourself Solar Installations

Solar panels are a smart investment for modern, eco-conscious homeowners, but many people feel inhibited by the cost of installation. Fortunately, materials are starting to decrease in price and installation is becoming more manageable. At Modernize, we are watching homeowners reap the rewards of solar energy while saving thousands of dollars by tackling large scope projects like this on their own. If you are relatively handy, have a Smart Phone or Internet access, and are ready to harness the sun’s abundant energy for your home, it’s time to consider DIY solar installation. Know How Are you comfortable working with wiring? Safety is always the first priority in any home improvement project. Make sure you are well-versed with the dos and don’ts of high voltage wiring before attempting this project. Determining the correct panel placement and angle to harness maximum energy is pivotal. Precision is key to making this project worth your time and money. In addition to handy know-how, you also need to be prepared to navigate compliance laws and obtain permits before beginning your project. If you have the time and resources to do your own research and legwork, you will save the cost of hiring a company paying multiple people to perform these duties. Help From The Internet If you have Internet access, you have help with your installation. There really is an app for almost anything. Search for online calculators to determine the size of the kit that you will need, based on information found on your utility bills.   Measuring Solar Energy Savings Once your solar panels are installed, you will want to see how long it takes to recoup the cost of the materials. While you will save thousands of dollars by installing your solar panels yourself, this project will still be costly up front—but it won’t be long before you break even, and possibly profit from the investment.   After installing home solar, you may be eligible for a federal tax credit, and possibly a state tax credit. Be sure to research your state’s requirements, as some do require that the installation is performed by licensed installers. If these incentives are awarded, a sizable percentage may be recouped right off the bat. Finally, the value of your home will increase substantially with the addition of solar panels. A buyer’s offer may pay for your project in full if the attractive feature of energy-saving, money-saving solar panels sparks a bidding war. Research Make sure you have all of your research done before spending a dime on this project. You want to be sure that you are capable of handling the project in its entirety....

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