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30-Year-Old Solar Panel Meets Original Specs
Oct23

30-Year-Old Solar Panel Meets Original Specs

Martin Halloway, a green building designer, had been living without electricity for five years before he purchased his first solar panel in 1980.  This exact module, an Arco Solar 16-2000, 33-watt solar panel, was manufactured in 1979 and continues to produce power today. Image Credits: www.greenbuildingadvisor.com/  A couple of years ago, Halloway decided to bring the solar panel down from his roof after 30 years and test it out.  It was an unusually crisp, clear day of about 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Halloway’s solar panel was designed for a 12-Volt battery (Max. Voltage of 16VDC), so he tested the module by connecting it directly to 12-Volt loads.   Halloway’s first test was connecting a 35 Watt, 12 Volt incandescent light bulb.  The light bulb lit up, passing test number one.  Halloway says that his Fluke multimeter showed the voltage of the module at 14.93 Volts with a full load of 2.015 amps. Next, Halloway connected the Arco Solar Panel to a 4.5 amp, 12 Volt blower. The blower drew a full 2.5 amps from the thirty-year-old module, which is actually higher than the module’s factory specifications. When Halloway called up the manufacturer to share the exciting news, they were surprised but explained how this was probably due to the cool weather during this test. The cooler temperature must have made for a 10% increase in performance. Warranties generally cover a solar module for up to 25 years at 80% nominal output.  To be considered effective by most manufacturers, a solar panel has to operate at least 80% of its rated peak output. So even when some older modules may not reach that 80% mark of the rated peak output, they can continue to produce smaller amounts of energy for years after their warranties are up.  This Arco solar panel, however, far outlived its warranty and is certainly working well into its old age. With the improvements to solar panels since 1979, how long into the future will some of today’s solar panels be functional?...

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new solar battery by Surrette

Surrette Battery, a company that has been manufacturing the Rolls deep cycle battery product line since 1935 has recently introduced a new addition to their family, the L-16 models are made specifically for solar and wind power systems. The s-600 model features high capacity, 450AH @ 20 hr and 600AH @ 100 hr which enables higher capacity battery banks with less connections. More battery manufacturers are designing products that are catering to renewable energy systems. Lead acid batteries are far from being the ultimate energy storage solution, although currently is the most popular method for people with off-grid...

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Morningstar Solar String Calculator

Morningstar Corporation, a company known for its high quality charge controllers has released a string calculator for estimating the proper sizing and configuration of solar panels when used with the Morningstar charge controller product line. One of the most difficult aspects of setting up a battery based system is the compatibility between the various system components which include solar panels, charge controller, batteries and possibly an inverter. The calculator takes into account the solar panel and battery specifications as well as information on the ambient temperatures to help you not only select the right charge controller for your project but to string the system properly to ensure proper function of your off-grid solar electric system. The results of the calculator show you the number of solar panels that may be wired in series and parallel to safely operate within the charge controller specified range. All you have to do is either select the solar panel you will be using from the list, or manually enter the specifications of the solar panel if you don’t see it on the list, enter the model of the charge controller, and enter the battery voltage and ambient temperatures and presto! The calculator will spit solar panel configuration recommendations. I’m glad Morningstar took a proactive approach to help customers figure out a confusing aspect of purchasing and using the right charge controller for their project. What do you think? Give the calculator a try:...

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Charge Controllers 101

What’s a charge controller? And why do I need one? Many consumers who are charging batteries with solar panels or have a grid tied system with battery backup will need a charge controller. A charge controller is a unit that sits between a solar panel and battery bank and regulates the charge so the battery is not over-charged. Over-charging a battery can lead to battery and solar panel damage, because once the battery is full, without a charge controller the electrical current can go back into the solar panel causing major damage to components. The picture above shows a morningstar sunkeeper charge controller which is a basic controller that does a great job regulating the electric current that comes from a solar panel into a battery. Charge controllers come in different voltages, for example the sunkeeper comes in a 12v or 24v….your charge controller has to match the voltage your solar panel puts out and how you have your batteries wired up. If you have a 12v solar panel, you would need a 12v charge controller and wire your batteries up in a 12v series. Even though most residential systems do not have a batteries and will never need a charge controller, those people who are working on off-grid systems or are building the next solar powered car, lawn mower or are trying to retro fit solar panels onto your devices, you need to understand why charge controllers are...

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Unleashing solar power to the people.

Dave McCoy, Founder of the Unleash Power for the People, a Non-Profit organziation helping schools in developing nations with their electrical needs, is soon headed to Banquet, Philippines to donate an off-grid solar power system to a school that has never had access to power. The 1.5 kilowatt offgrid solar panel system will provide the school with at least 30 years of clean green power. GoGreenSolar.com worked closely with the Unleash Power for the People organization to help design and package a system that meets the target budget of the organization and help the non-profit with its logical issues. This is a great project for GoGreenSolar.com to be involved in because it has such a great impact around the world. According to Dave, through this first project, they have recieved interest from schools all over the world who have no access to power. The organization is developing chapters from all over the world to keep up with the demand of schools that need power. The organization has raised $8,300 of its target of $20,000, although since Dave is so commited to his mission of helping schools and a sucessful first project, he is personally making a donation to cover the rest of the balance to make the project a realitity. His dedication to helping the unfortunate and renewable energy is commendable! Solar Power systems make an excellent donation not only because they allow people to experience what we take for granted, reliable power, but help the people learn about an important skill of sustainbility. With the world in a power play for energy resouces helping the future realize the benefits of solar panels and clean energy in general can be on of the best investments we can make for the future of human kind. If you want to help the organziation reach its charitbale goals, donate...

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