Solar made easy

Solar made easy
Solar made easy. Photo credit tupungato

Installing a solar panel system on your home may seem complex and bewildering, but a residential solar panel system required for most homes is fairly simple.

Here’s a quick summary of the components that you will need to start converting the sunlight that falls on your roof into low cost, renewable energy that your family can use:

Photo Voltaic (PV) Solar panel are the most important component of the system. It’s the panels that actually capture the light so that it can be converted into a useable power source. The panels installed on your home should be of high quality and be backed by a warranty. Investing in a good quality solar panel insures that your system will provide years of low maintenance service. The panels we use for our customers are backed by a 25 year warranty.

The PV panels will be installed on a rack that is physically attached to your roof.  To order prepare for the installation, the roof needs to be in good repair. Your installer needs to have the knowledge, skill and experience needed to do the job right the first time. You always want to deal with a reputable installer who stand behind their work.

The next step in converting the light captured by your PV panels into useable energy happens in the inverter. For residential installations, a simple device known as a string inverter is used to make the energy received into the solar panels ready for use in your home or for entering the grid if you have a grid-tied system. This step is necessary because the solar panels produce electricity that is direct current (DC) but alternating current (AC) is what we need in our homes.

Those are the two necessary components needed to start converting sunlight to electricity. Your solar consultant will go into details about other accessories and components that may be needed for your installation.

With the basic system described – solar panels plus inverter – electricity needed when the panels are not active will be supplied by the grid. However, adding a battery system allows storage of the electricity produced during the day to be used round the clock. A battery back-up system can also be used when electricity from the grid is not available, such as in the aftermath of a storm.

Converting your home to solar is as easy as 1-2-3 and the first step is scheduling an appointment to find out how you can get started saving money on your electric bills.

Quality solar panels deliver more solar energy

Quality solar panels deliver more solar energy
Quality solar panels deliver more solar energy

GoProSolar is the leading supplier of residential solar panel installations in our part of Texas for many reasons. One of them is that we use the highest quality solar panels currently on the market. Combined with our years of experience in the home construction industry and our strong, ethical business practices there’s no reason to look anywhere else.

In case you do, thought, one of the questions to ask any provider of solar panels for your home is what brand of solar panels will be used for the project.

At GoProSolar, we install high quality solar panels from Solar World. With so many providers in the marketplace, why did we choose them as our provider?

Here’s why:

Solar World is an established company with over 40 years of experience in manufacturing solar panels. In recent years, interest in the financial benefits of solar and consumers interest in more renewable energy resources has resulted in many entrants into the solar manufacturing arena. However, only Solar World has the real depth and breadth of experience it takes to serve our customers.

From an installers perspective, no other company comes close to matching Solar World in terms of service and support. That’s because they are an American company with their US Headquarters located in Oregon. Solar World is the top choice for solar panel installers who hold themselves to high quality and customer service standards.

We find that many of our customers are interested in a high-quality product that will help them save money on their electric bills for years to come. That goal can only be achieved when the panels installed stand the test of time. Solar World performs extensive testing on their panels so that they withstand normal wear and tear and are tough enough to withstand weather hazards, too.

If that’s not enough, we are proud of the track record the have established as an ethically run business that provides good jobs for American workers. In recent years, they have been recognized numerous times in such categories as the most recommended provider by US installers, sustainability in solar manufacturing, green manufacturing, and as the Manufacturer of the Year (2016) for Portland, Oregon. If you’d like to know more about their awards and recognition, you can find it here: http://bit.ly/SolarWorldAwards

Want to know more about how the GoProSolar’s commitment to quality and customer service can help you lower your electric bills for years to come? Schedule a consultation today: http://www.goprosolar.com/consultation.html

Solar customers are best prepared for power outages

solar customers best prepared for power outages
Solar customers are best prepared for power outages. Photo © blueringmedia

Did you know that a solar panel system with battery back-up is a great way to prepare for an unexpected disruption in the grid? Whether the outage is caused by weather conditions like a hurricane, tornado or ice storm, or by strain placed on the grid during peak hours, solar customers fare better than most.

For solar electric homes and for those who depend entirely on the grid, there are a few important steps to take so you will be prepared for power interruption, regardless of the source of the problem.

Make a habit of always keeping batteries in cell phones and computers charged and ready to use. When the power is out, limit use of devices to critical communication. Change the power setting on your phone to low power. Whenever possible, communicating by text rather than voice helps, too.

If you don’t have an emergency kit already, assemble one and store it in a safe but readily accessible place. Check the kit regularly and replace items that have may be past their “use by” date or in poor repair.

It’s a good idea to sit down with your family and create a plan about what to do when the power goes out. When the lights go out or flood waters are rising and everyone is under duress it’s too late to decide about what essential tasks need to be taken care of and who’s best suited to handle them. Planning is especially important if you have young children or an aging parent in your home.

If there is someone in your home that depends on a life-support system, contact your utility company, let them know about your situation and find out that they offer their customers in terms of emergency support.

Does your city have an emergency alert system? If so, sign up for it to get text messages when there are threatening conditions in your area. Check with your utility company, too, and sign up for any emergency alerts they offer.

If you are a customer of Austin Energy, sign up here for text alerts about power outages

https://austinenergy.com/ae/outages/get-outage-alerts

A little time spent planning can help you and your family avoid stress and maybe even enjoy a short break from the constant connectedness of modern life.

If you haven’t already, now is the perfect time to explore how installing a solar panel system can help you save money on electricity and be better prepared for the storms and power outages that spring frequently brings.

Solar technology breakthroughs on the horizon

solar technology
solar technology is being developed by traditional industries, too

Solar technology is constantly improving as scientist in the lab make new discoveries that are making solar energy more cost effective.

Here are some examples of solar technology developments that are moving us toward making clean, renewable energy available to help more homeowners and businesses lower their electric bills.

Batteries are one of the keys to making solar more practical and more reliable for residential consumers and businesses, too. Scientists in university labs are working toward finding new technologies that will be more efficient than the lithium ion batteries that are currently used.

Materials scientists are working on ideals that seem like science fiction today but may be developed into usable technology soon. One example is the concept of the thermal battery. A recently discovered material can hold energy at an extremely high ratio to it’s weight. The energy is then released slowly when triggered.

An even more promising development, car manufacturers are leveraging their expertise in developing battery systems to bring new solar battery storage solutions to market.

Tesla was the first car manufacturer to move into the power storage system, with the roll-out of the PowerWall in 2015. In 2016, the company developed PowerWall 2, which allows consumers a high degree of flexibility and customization in managing their energy usage.

Quickly following their lead, Daimler (the German automotive group that manufactures Mercedes Benz) now manufactures batteries that will store energy generated by solar panels and wind turbines, too. Their system is suitable for residential customers and can be scaled for commercial use, too.

Since 2015, Renault has been involved in projects to improve the energy storage systems used in their electric vehicles and

Now, Nissan is developing a home solar energy storage system that will recycle batteries used in their electric car, the Nissan Leaf. They system consist of solar panels plus batteries aimed at offering consumers an integrated system to help them take control of their home energy.

The entry of car manufactures into the solar storage business is an outstanding example of how traditional industries are using their  deep experience and expertise to develop technologies and products that support renewable energy.

More efficient and cost effective solar storage option are on the horizon so that more consumers and businesses can take advantage of the benefits of solar energy.

Schedule a consultation with Go Pro Solar to find out how to take advantage of the benefits available to you by going solar.

Solar technology is constantly improving as scientist in the lab make new discoveries that are making solar energy more cost effective.

Here are just three technology breakthroughs that are moving us toward making clean, renewable energy available to help more homeowners and businesses lower their electric bills.

Batteries are one of the keys to making solar more practical and more reliable for residential consumers and businesses, too. Scientists in university labs are working toward finding new technologies that will be more efficient than the lithium ion batteries that are currently used.

Materials scientists are working on ideals that seem like science fiction today but may be developed into usable technology soon. One example is the concept of the thermal battery. A recently discovered material can hold energy at an extremely high ratio to it’s weight. The energy is then released slowly when triggered.

An even more promising development, car manufacturers are leveraging their expertise in developing battery systems to bring new solar battery storage solutions to market.

Tesla was the first car manufacturer to move into the power storage system, with the roll-out of the PowerWall in 2015. In 2016, the company developed PowerWall 2, which allows consumers a high degree of flexibility and customization in managing their energy usage.

Quickly following their lead, Daimler (the German automotive group that manufactures Mercedes Benz) now manufactures batteries that will store energy generated by solar panels and wind turbines, too. Their system is suitable for residential customers and can be scaled for commercial use, too.

Since 2015, Renault has been involved in projects to improve the energy storage systems used in their electric vehicles and to give them a second life as solar storage devices.

Now, Nissan is developing a home solar energy storage system that will recycle batteries used in their electric car, the Nissan Leaf. They system consist of solar panels plus batteries aimed at offering consumers an integrated system to help them take control of their home energy.

The entry of car manufactures into the solar storage business is an outstanding example of how traditional industries are using their  deep experience and expertise to develop technologies and products that support renewable energy.

More efficient and cost effective solar storage option are on the horizon so that more consumers and businesses can take advantage of the benefits of solar energy.

Schedule a consultation with Go Pro Solar to find out how to take advantage of the benefits available to you by going solar.

Solar energy incentives 2018

solar energy incentives
Solar energy incentives help you save money Copyright: rukanoga

After the federal tax bill was passed in 2017, there has been uncertainty and concern about what this means for solar energy incentives, rebates and programs in 2018.

However, there’s really no need for upset. The Federal Investment Tax Credit (FITC) remains in place with no changes. This means that, as a residential homeowner, you can still claim a tax credit up to 30% of the cost of your solar panel installation if you qualify. As always,  you need to discuss  any type of tax credit with your tax preparer or other financial advisor to determine how it applies to your individual situation.

While Texas doesn’t have a statewide incentive program, there are rebates, incentives and other benefits to going solar.

There is no state income tax here in Texas, but property taxes may be affected by the installation of a solar system because it does increase the appraised value of the home. While that’s good news, it can also increase the property tax owed. To avoid creating a negative incentive for going solar (increased property tax bills) the State agreed to exclude the value of a solar panel system from home values for tax purposes.

In other good news for Texas homeowners and business who are interested in saving money and the other benefits of using solar and other renewable energy sources. There is a long list of solar energy incentives and other programs, so here are just a few highlights of what’s available from Austin Energy for both residential and commercial customers.

1) Net metering is available for non-residential (small business and not-for-profit organizations) customers who install a variety of renewable energy systems, including solar. System size is limited to 20 kilowatts.

2) Residential customers can qualify for a rebate on energy efficiency equipment through Austin Energy’s Power$aver program. Equipment that may qualify includes solar photovoltaic systems along with energy saving windows, thermostats and other equipment.

3) Rebates are offered for approved residential solar photovoltaic panel systems installed by an approved contractor.

You can get more information about these programs and others offer by other utilities, cities and more at: http://bit.ly/TaxCreditsRebatesSavings

If you are ready to find out how solar will help you save money on your electric bills in 2018, GoProSolar.com is ready for you. Schedule your consultation today.

Solar energy grows from strong roots

solar energy part of mix
Solar will grow in 2018 as part of sustainable future Copyright: nexusplexus

Solar energy and other alternatives are making up a larger part of the energy mix in 2018. It comes as no surprise that Texas is a leader in solar, wind and other renewables along with coal, oil and gas. In terms of energy leadership, the Lone Star State has some significant advantages.

Geography is one of the most important. Our location lends itself to a high number of sunshine days with warm temperatures that keep snow and ice away. Beneficent geography also makes Texas a leader in wind energy as harnessing the wind that sweeps across the plains of west Texas generates clean, renewable energy. And, of course, we can’t forget the petroleum industry that first put Texas on the map.

The long history Texas has in the energy industry is important to our energy future. It’s no accident that our state leads in both traditional and renewable energy production. The knowledge and skill base that allowed Texas to thrive in the oil, gas and coal era is transferable to alternative energy.

In 2018, all of these forces will continue to play a role in making Texas a leader in solar and other renewables.  Here are recent examples of how our public universities are leveraging strong programs in energy science, created originally with a focus on traditional sources, to expand into the renewable and sustainable arena. See last week’s blog post for more.

For example, the University of Texas at Austin has a Solar Energy and Renewable Fuels Laboratory that is engaged in projects ranging aimed at improving current technologies and discovering new ones to forward the goal of providing clean, renewable and cost efficient power for human needs.

UT Austin also participates in the Center for Next Generation Photovoltaics, a project of the National Science Foundation Industry. The goal is to work with research institutions and industry to refine and improve current photovoltaic technology. Visit their website for a list of all projects and initiatives they are part of.

The University of Texas at San Antonio’s Texas Sustainable Energy Institute launched LeapTran in December 2017 LeapTran. In line with their mission of creating a sustainable energy future, the institute has received significang grants for projects such as renewable energy storage and the Sun Shot initiative. They recently received a $1.5 million grant from San Antonio’s CPS to improve power technologies.

In terms of energy leadership, Texas has it all: favorable geography, historical leadership in energy production, infrastructure and institutions that support the energy industry. What might be most important, though, is the can do Texas spirit!

What can you do to create your own independent energy future? Schedule a consultation today.

Solar Future lies in Texas

The future of solar lies in research that will improve the efficiency of solar panels, battery storage systems and related technologies. At Universities and institutes across Texas, research and innovative projects are paving the way for the growth of solar in the coming decades.

On December 15, 2017, NASA announced the finalists in the 2018 Breakthrough, Innovative and Game-changing (BIG) Idea Challenge. Texas A&M was awarded a finalist position for their Applied Photovoltaic Power Array (APPA). The university teams participating in the challenge were tasked with designing components for a solar power system that would land on Mars in anticipation of human travel to the Red Planet.

Other finalists included Norwich University, Princeton, The University of Colorado and the University of Virginia. The goal is to develop innovative and breakthrough technologies that will harness the sun’s power for travel, and the development of potential colonies, on Mars.

The University of Texas at San Antonio is focused on improving energy efficiency and sustainability through five projects currently under development. They are part of a Strategic Alliance between the Texas Sustainable Energy Research Institute (TSERI) and CPS Energy. The Institute was founded in 2010 to take advantage of UTSA’s knowledge in the areas of energy, engineering, information systems, cybersecurity and mathematics.

There are other projects under development at the University of Texas at San Antonio. They recently launched LeapTran, Inc, a company that will utilize artificial intelligence, hardware and software projects to optimize building comfort and incorporating solar, micro grid distributed energy resources such as solar power and battery energy storage systems. The goal is to reduce energy waste in buildings using technology. The project

In November 2017, The Daily Texan reported that the University of Texas system is leasing tracts of land in West Texas to several developers who will build solar farms on the property. This will be the first solar development on the land, but the land has been leased by oil and natural gas companies for drilling. In addition to the five projects currently planned, there are also several wind energy projects.

As we move in to 2018, Texas is focused on continuing to grow solar as a sustainable, cost effective energy source. Shouldn’t you be, too?

Solar and microgrids have potential

microgrids with renewables
Weather and natural events point to microgrids as a solution. Photo copyright: vencavolrab78

A significant eclipse and two major hurricanes in 2017 have given rise to a new idea for keeping the electric supply more stable: microgrids.

Here are some of the highlights in solar energy news this year.

A major solar eclipse crossed the country on Monday, August 21. Coming as it did during peak load times and during the peak production season for solar electricity in the continental US, it was an opportunity to study how solar electricity impacts the grid.

While there were dire predictions of brown outs and other system failures, none of the predicted problems materialized. In fact, the temporary decrease in solar electricity production showed how resilient the grid is.

The eclipse, which obscured the sun to such a degree that solar power generation dropped to zero in some areas, gave electric utility operators hand-on experience in managing the mix of renewable and traditional power sources. This is important knowledge as renewables, particularly solar and wind, make up an increasing portion of power generation capacity across the US and around the globe.

In the late summer and fall, the future of solar was put to another test when two major hurricanes made landfall.

The first struck the Texas Gulf Coast on August 25, resulting in power outages for approximately 300,000 homes. Like the eclipse, Hurricane Harvey continued to draw attention to one of the issues highlighted by the eclipse: the stability of the electric grid when electricity production, whether from traditional or renewable sources, is interrupted.

The area where Harvey made landfall is responsible for a significant portion of the oil and gas production in the use. In the days following the massive storm’s landfall, oil and gas production experiences a significant decline because of the storm’s impact.

A little less than one month later, Hurricane Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico, wiping out the power grid and leaving millions without electricity because the power grid, in poor repair before the storm, was effectively wiped out. Since then, the island has had a series of struggles in restoring power to many areas of the island.

Tesla founder Elon Musk grabbed headlines when he coordinated a solar panel installation that restored power to a hospital in late October. This feat introduced a glimmer of hope for the devastated island, and the current conversation about the future of Puerto Rico’s electric utility will depend heavily on renewable resources.

As we wrap up 2017, the events that have transpired this year point to a new direction for the development of solar energy: the microgrid. Microgrids are a localized system that can be connect to or disconnected from the traditional electric utility grid. The appeal of a  microgrid system is in the flexibility the speed with microgrids can be restored after a storm or other catastrophe causes a loss in power.

Get ready for 2018 and take your first step to be prepared for what every unfolds in the coming year by scheduling a solar consultation.

Productive solar panels all winter

Productive solar panels
Productive solar panels save money all year long. Photo Credit Ur Fingus

Will the shorter days of winter affect how productive solar panels are? That’s one of our frequently asked questions from people who are considering a solar panel installation this time of the year.

Solar electricity and long days with intense sunshine intuitively seem to go together, and it’s true they do. Sunny climates like ours here in Central Texas have optimal conditions for making use of the sun’s bounty as a cost-effective source of clean, renewable energy.

However, solar as an energy source is growing across the US, including places like New York, Boston and Seattle. Improvements in technology make going solar more attractive even in less than ideal climates. One of the world’s leaders in solar energy production is Germany – a country with sunshine days roughly equivalent to Seattle, but with a huge commitment to clean energy.

This also means that today’s solar panels are productive throughout the Texas winter. When days are shorter and temperatures are cooler, a well designed and installed solar panel system remains productive. Cooler temperatures tend to enhance solar panel productivity because the chemical reaction that converts light to energy is more efficient at cooler temperatures. This higher efficiency works to balance the effect of shorter periods of sunlight.

Did you know that even a snowy day can be a productive day for solar panels? Because the panels are converting light to energy, a bright, sunny day following a snow storm can be highly productive. Of course, the panels need to be free of snow to take advantage of the opportunity.

To take advantage of this benefit and keep saving money all winter long, you need to pay attention to these areas:

Have you cleaned your panels of all debris, like last fall’s leaves, pine needles, etc.? If not, plan to do that (or have it done) as soon as possible. Also trim any overhanging branches and git rid of anything that might obstruct the maximum amount of sunlight from reaching your panels.

Are your panels properly adjusted to take advantage of the available light? Taking care of this is a top priority if you want your panels to be as productive as possible this winter.

Minimize the amount of electricity you use by adjusting thermostats, using energy efficient lightbulbs and manage use of appliances wisely.

Your productive solar panels are an investment that will continue to produce a return year in and year out. Want to know more? Schedule a consultation today.

Solar panels and landscaping work together

Year round, your solar panels can continue to produce electricity that will lower your electric bill as well as other benefits consumers seek with solar energy.

However, to get the maximum value from your solar investment, you need to make sure that you take action to keep your panels productive.

One of the opportunities for greater solar production that homeowners sometimes neglect is their landscaping.

In a hot, humid climate such as the one here in Central Texas, landscaping can contribute both shade and cool summer breezes.

Trees are an important element in landscaping your yard. When you have solar panels, the selection and placement of trees is critical. They need to be placed properly to provide valuable shade without blocking sunlight from reaching your panels for maximum benefit. Choosing the right size and type of tree is also important to gaining both aesthetic value and climate control from your trees. Your goal is to reduce your homes interior temperature without diminishing the amount of sunlight available to generate solar electricity.

In addition to shade, trees have other functions in managing the heating and cooling of your home. A strategically placed row of trees can serve functions such as directing cooling breezes in summer and providing a windbreak in winter.

While we usually think about trees when we think of cooling shade, there are other ways to incorporate plants into your plan to keep your home more comfortable, reduce cooling costs and beautify your surroundings, too.

For example, a vine covered trellis can be used to shield southern facing windows from bright sun. Such an arrangement reduces cooling cost and creates an attractive landscaping feature, too. This and similar well-placed landscaping elements can have a surprising impact on the amount you pay to cool your home in summer.

Shrubs, groundcover and bedding plants all play a role in a beautiful, functional residential landscape, too. Studies show that well-designed landscaping can help reduce summer cooling costs as much as 50%. Working with a landscaper who knows how to utilize plants to help cool your home in summer and reduce heating cost in winter is an investment that will pay for itself in a fairly short time.

Savvy homeowner today are looking for home improvements that deliver value by helping them save money, reduce maintenance costs, increase comfort and aesthetic appeal.

Have you scheduled a solar consultation? It’s the first step to managing your electric bills!