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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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The Vatican harness Solar Energy.

SolarWorld, A German manufacturer of solar panels has donated 2,700 solar panels to the Vatican. The panels will provide over 300,000 kilowatt hours (kWh) per year. Pope Benedict XVI’s has made conserving the Earth’s resources a top priority during his tenure as the pope. Benedict XVI has become the first pontiff to harness the power of the sun to provide energy for the Vatican. Since the Pope was elected in 2005 he has been speaking out against the “the unbalanced use of energy” in the world. The grid tie solar power system will be installed on top of the 6,000 seat hall and when the hall is not in use the energy will be sent back into the grid and be used by other parts of the Vatican. The best part of this project was SolarWorld donated the solar power system to the Vatican, I think its a good move on the part of both SolarWorld and the Vatican because we hope it can show people that solar energy is real and reliable enough to use on the prestigious...

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Phoenix Suns teams up with solar panels

The Phoenix Suns announced yesterday at a press conference with Kevin Nash that the organization will be supporting solar power by installing 1,125 Suntech Solar Panels at the US Airways Center. The 194 kW (kilowatt) system will be installed next spring on the fifth level of the parking garage. The Arizona utility, APS will provide financial incentives through the renewable energy incentive program. The solar power system will be grid tied, meaning it will provide excess electricity back into the grid to help the community during peak hours and also help the Sun’s hedge against the raising cost of electricity. The Architect’s model of the proposed solar power system which will produce enough electricity for 26 games. The system is projected to cost 1.5 million dollars. This is going to be a great example how solar power can be used to power a large user who needs reliable power. We hope that the Sun’s promote the project to the thousands of fans that attend the US Airways every year. People idolize sports teams and we feel this project is a great way to get more people introduced to solar power. Maybe people will notice the solar power system when they’re watching the Suns and consider solar panels as an option for their home or...

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Grid Tie Solar Power System w/ Battery Backup Drawing

Earlier this week we featured a drawing of a simple grid tie system. A common misconception about grid tie solar electric systems is that you will have a power source when the power goes out, although unless you have a battery backup system your system will go down when the grid goes down. Some people who need backup power and don’t mind the maintenance and replacements every few years of a battery bank consider a grid tie system with battery backup. Today’s drawing also comes from the Guide to Photovoltaic System Design and Installation by the California Energy Commission and features a battery backup system. As you can see compared to the simple grid tie system, the battery backup system is a little more complex. It includes a battery system, which is typically a group of lead acid batteries, a charge controller to keep the system from cooking the batteries from an overcharge and a critical load sub-panel. The point of a battery backup system is not to power you entire house through a blackout but to provide backup power to your most important electrical loads in your home or business. The downsides of a battery backup system are the increased cost of the overall system, the maintenance of the batteries and the installation time of the system with batteries jumps up 40% compared to a system without batteries. So it really depends on where you live, how reliable your utility company is and if you have loads in your house that need to be redundant. What do you think? Is adding batteries to your system...

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How grid connected solar panel systems work.

After speaking with many customers over this week, I noticed there is confusion with some solar / wind power shoppers about what the grid really means and how a grid connected solar photovoltaic (solar panel) system works for a home. So I decided to focus today’s post about some of the basics. According to Southern California Edison the definition of “the grid” is the following: “a large interconnection of both generation and transmission electrical subsystemsto facilitate efficient distribution of electricity to consumers and businesses.” The grid is a network in which electricity gets consumed and produced, therefore a grid connected system turns your home into an electricity producing asset that shares extra power with the grid. With a grid connected solar panel system you send extra power back into the grid, and receive a credit from the utility company for every kWh (kilowatt hour) you contribute to the grid. The of US Department of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy has created a good illustration of how a grid connected system works with a typical...

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