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 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?

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 energy and passive solar = more savings

solar energy
modern sustainable design

A well designed solar energy system is the place to start saving money on your electric bills. But it doesn’t stop there.  There are passive solar features that can be retrofitted into your current home as part of a remodeling project.

There is growing interest in creating homes and other types of buildings that are easier and more efficient to maintain at comfortable temperatures so that reduces energy use and more saving is possible. If you are willing to make and investment and a commitment to using more passive solar energy, consider creating a sunroom or a sun space along that wall of your home.

A sunroom or a sunspace is an enclosed area designed to capture and utilize sunlight. In the past, such spaces were commonly used for additional casual living space. Today, homeowners are seeing these spaces as a means of capturing passive solar along south facing walls. When carefully designed for this purpose, sunrooms produce heat that is vented back into the primary residence.

An architect or designer who is a specialist in this type of project can design a system that uses vents and other air movement techniques to move the warm air from the sunspace into the interior of your home. In the ideal situation, air circulation is accomplished without mechanical devices. However, if that proves to be inadequate or impractical, fans and other methods can circulate air as needed.

The passive solar captured during cold winter months is a benefit, but keep in mind that the space will capture heat year-round. In the summer months, an awning, shades, etc., will need to be installed to combat the effect of sun on south facing glass. It is also important to consider factors such as humidity and how the space will be used so that appropriate features are included in the design. For example, using a few plants in the room is recommended, but too many will raise the humidity and reduce or even eliminate the passive solar potential of the room.

The use of solar energy is being improved year after year with the advancements in technology. Scientists and researchers are discovering new ways to use solar power to the fullest.

As the technology continues to improve, there is little doubt that solar will offer more opportunity for improving the efficiency and comfort of our homes.

A solar consultation is the first step to taking advantage of the savings available.

Photo (c) aNdreas Schindl

Residential solar storage necessary to reach energy goals

Residential solar storage is one of the keys to increasing the use of solar energy. Solar storage, provided by battery systems, makes energy produced during sunny days available so that it can be used at night and on days when sunshine is limited.

Using current technology, it’s possible for homeowners to customize the residential solar power system so that the solar energy they generate can be used in emergencies. To get the best coverage, a qualified solar consultant can help.

Here are a few things to consider in designing a residential solar storage (battery back-up) system

  • How much capacity does each battery provide, or how many kilowatt hours of energy can be stored?
  • What is the batteries power rating? This tells you how much power the battery can deliver at one time.

The answer to these two questions is used to determine how many batteries are needed to reach your goals. Residential solar batteries are designed to be highly customization to individual needs. For example, if your goal is to keep a few crucial appliances running for a long time, then your residential solar storage system should have higher capacity and a lower power rating. However, if you need to keep all your appliances running for a short time, then lower capacity and a higher power rating would be recommended.

An additional factor to consider in designing your residential solar storage system is the depth of discharge (dod) of the batteries. Dod is shorthand for how much of the battery capacity will be available. The depth of discharge also determines how long your batteries will last before they need to be replaced. The dod of the batteries in your system are a critical factor in how well your system meets your needs.

In designing your system, your solar consultant will provide you with choices that match your goals, along with information about expected life of and warranties for all components in your system.

In 2017, much of the research related to solar power generation is aimed at reducing the cost of storage of solar generated power. The Austin SHINES program is part of that effort. Of course, SHINES is an acronym – it’s shorthand for Sustainable and Holistic Integration of Energy Storage and Solar PV. This initiative, funded by the Department of Energy, is aimed at improving storage and other technologies so that Texas and other states can take advantage of their abundant solar resources. The potential for our state is huge, with most cities across the state receiving approximately 200 days of sunshine per year.

Get started now in taking advantage of that abundant energy by scheduling a solar consultation.

Photo copyright: zstockphotos

Residential Solar System: Sunlight to Electricity

Do you know how a residential solar system converts sunlight to electricity? The photovoltaic (PV) panels collect sunlight, then use a piece of equipment called an inverter to turn the light into usable energy for you and your family. It’s a fairly simple system, but putting all of the components together into a productive system requires special expertise. That’s why you want to work with a professional solar system company.

The inverter is one of the most critical parts in your residential solar system. It takes the direct current (DC) electricity created from the interaction of light on the photovoltaic cells and converts it into the alternating current (AC) electricity that can be used in your home and by the grid.

What determines the inverter that your installer will recommend?

As with any home improvement project, it depends! The first part of your solar consultation will be about what your solar power goals are. Here are just a few of the questions you will cover:

  1. Do you want a grid-tied system?
  2. Are you planning to create a battery back-up plan so you are protected in case of catastrophic weather?
  3. Is your home at a remote location that requires a free-standing system (not connected to the grid)?

The decision about what size and type of inverter to install depends on your answer to these questions, along with some others that will guide the design of your system. Your solar consultant will have recommendations of inverters and will include that information in your proposal.

In general, you will want to purchase an inverter large enough to cover demand now and in the future. As your needs change, you can add additional panels for increased capacity if your inverter will accommodate the expansion.

Important points to remember about your residential solar system inverter:

  • The inverter should be covered by a warranty, just like the other components of the system.
  • Your PV panels will last much longer than the inverter, so expect to replace it during the useful life of your system.
  • As a critical part of your residential solar panel system, any financing, rebates, incentives or tax credits you qualify for will help cover the cost.

Schedule your consultation today – there’s no better time to go solar!

Residential Solar for Bottom Line Results

Solar energy has been around for millions of years, but it’s only been in the past twenty years or so that residential solar technology has been able to harness it for cost efficient use. The good news is that in the past decade, several breakthroughs have allowed more people to take advantage of this amazing, cost effective and renewable resource.

Did you know that most homeowners make the decision to use solar power because it helps them save money? However, residential solar panels produce a “triple bottom line” result:

1) Number one, of course, is that it helps homeowners and business save money on monthly bills. Everyone likes to complain about ever rising energy bills. Now you can finally do something about it. When you install a solar panel system that you own, you have some control of your energy costs, regardless what happens with other energy sources!

2) Solar energy is clean energy that generates less pollution than fossil fuels.

3) Solar energy adds to the local economy by creating jobs right here in Central Texas. Jobs in a wide variety of professions and skill levels, right here in our community, result when homes and business go solar.

If you considered using solar energy several years ago, it’s time to revisit the issue. In 2017, solar power systems are more efficient and can generate more electricity with less sunlight. So, even if were told your home doesn’t have an ideal orientation for residential solar in the past, improved technology might allow you to do so now.

Because of the increased efficiency of today’s solar panels, smaller panels generate more electric energy that ever before. If you have a small home or less space available for panels because your home’s design or placement, you may still be able to benefit from solar energy now.

Even though you will still be tied to the grid, solar panels can significantly reduce your electric bills. And, you will still be able to take advantage of those additional bottom line results, too.

Don’t hesitate another minute to find out more about putting the clean, abundant and cost effective energy from the sun to work so you save money, help reduce air pollution and maybe even improve the local economy.

Contact @goprosolar now and schedule your consultation.

Austin’s Solar Energy Win

Austin solar energy commitment is good for Austin residents! Because of the high level of commitment to solar and other forms of renewable energy, Austin has been recognized at the national and international level.

On September 21, the Capitol City was named as one of 11 US cities who are finalist in the Cities4Energy category for the C40 Cities Bloomberg Philanthropies Awards 2017. Austin earned the nomination by their strong commitment to solar energy and their commitment to keep electricity price increases to no more than 2% a year.

The C40 Cities Initiative focuses on increasing the health, well-being and economic opportunity for urban citizens around the world. Austin’s commitment to solar earns high marks in all those areas. Austin Energy is committed to educating and informing students, community groups and other stakeholders about solar energy. And, of course, this effort to increase the utilization of solar energy has added $370 million to the local economy. Find out more at http://bit.ly/AustinC40Profile

Austin solar commitment means working to achieve their renewable energy goals by:

Austin offers solar panel incentives for residential customers who purchase (no leased systems!) and install qualifying systems on their home.

The Austin Solar initiative helps consumers:

  • Receive a rebate based on kw production installed
  • Qualify for Federal tax credits
  • Earn solar credits for energy sent into the grid

In addition to rebates and solar energy credits to help families go solar, Austin Energy has programs to help residents weatherproof their homes, upgrade appliances and learn how to manage electric consumption to save money.

Because of the commitment the city of Austin to a sustainable energy future, they have a participating contractor program. Go Pro Solar is one of those companies. That means you will be doing business with a company that meets high quality standards and follows industry best practices. When you schedule your consultation, be sure to ask your Solar Consultant about the incentives, rebates and other incentives, rebates and other programs currently available.

And it doesn’t stop there. Austin Energy offers solar energy programs designed for small commercial (which includes non-profits), medium commercial and large commercial customers, too. One of the recent updates to Austin Energy’s commercial program was the introduction of Value of Solar credits so that businesses pay lower electric bill when they send energy onto the grid.

If you are considering putting the sun to work in your business, visit http://bit.ly/AustinEnergyBiz to learn more.

If you are interested in going solar, you want to act quickly. Because there is such high demand in the Austin community, fund set aside for rebates and incentives disappear quickly.

Getting started with your solar panel installation is easy follow this link http://bit.ly/GetaSolarConsultation and schedule a consultation with a professional Solar Consultant.

Solar companies are all equal, right?

Glad you asked! Solar companies are not all the same. In fact, choosing a solar panel company that installs the best quality solar panels will make a huge difference in how successful you are in reaching your goal of saving money on your electric bills.

Solar energy, of course, has been available since the beginning of the solar system. Inventors were intrigued by the idea of harnessing the sun’s powerful energy since the early 1800’s.

Along the way, there were some bumps and bruises. In the beginning, panels were less efficient so they required too much roof space for practical use.

Today, scientists and engineers have developed the technology to harness that amazing energy and use it to power our daily lives. In the past 10 years, the efficiency of solar cells has increased rapidly, and the cost of production has declined.

Three things that you want to look for in solar companies

There are significant differences in solar panels and the companies that install them. The best solar panel companies use cutting edge technology to create custom panels for each installation.

  • They work through a network of companies that depend on trained solar technicians for the design and installation of systems.
  • And, they back up their products and service with strong warranties to protect their customer’s investment.

If you think it sounds like this would cost more than buying “generic” panels that are frequently offered as part of a gimmicky sales pitch, just the opposite is true. While the initial cost is more, the performance of the system quickly makes up for the initial outlay. And, don’t forget that rebates and incentives and tax credits might be available to offset the investment you are making in your home.

As with any home improvement, the pain of a poorly done installation or even dangerous installation or a faulty product lingers long after the “savings” have been forgotten.

Here at Go Pro Solar, we only install the highest quality solar panels, custom designed and backed by the best warranty in the business. Our goal is not to install a solar system and move on. It’s to delight each of our customers so that they share the advantages of doing business with us around the community.

If you would like to find out how going solar can benefit you, give us a call to schedule your consultation.

http://bit.ly/GetaSolarConsultation

Solar Panels Keep Working

Solar panel maintenance will be one of the easiest routines on your end of summer checklist!  Did you know that solar panels are one of the most maintenance free assets in your home? After installation, solar panels keep working for years, even decades, almost maintenance free.

Even so, there are a few, easy tasks that need to be performed on a regular basis to keep the panels producing the maximum amount of clean energy. Most of these tasks can be incorporated into the routine seasonal chores you already perform to keep your home in good repair year-round.

Solar panels are virtually maintenance free because they have few working parts. When you work with a company that does a professional installation of top-quality panels, expect years of energy production from them.

The focus will be to help the panels produce the maximum amount they are capable of by keeping them free of dust, dirt and other debris that can accumulate during the normal course of the year. Spring may bring a heavy coating of pollen. Sometimes our central Texas summers can be dry, resulting in a layer of dust that can reduce solar panel productivity. This year, however, there was plenty of rainfall, so that’s not a concern.

As we move into fall however, leaves, pine needles and other plant material can find its way onto your roof and solar panels. If this sounds familiar, it’s the same list of “stuff” that can clog the gutter system around your home. The remedy is the same, and can be handled at the same time. Some homeowners enjoy the fall ritual of climbing a ladder and cleaning the gutters, others prefer to find reliable pros to do the job.

If you decide to tackle the job yourself, keep in mind that while solar panels are tough and durable, rakes and other sharp implements can cause damage. Do your research by consultant the materials you received from your installer before climbing up on the roof. Be sure you understand the tools and techniques for maintaining your investment. Or, ask your solar installer about the best way to handle the job. You will also want to get their recommendation about maintenance routines for the inverter, which is never a do it yourself job!

Start planning now, and adding these simple chores to your fall to do, or to hire, list will pay dividends as your solar panels provide low-cost, reliable energy for years to come.

Photo information: http://bit.ly/photocreditlevkr