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.

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.

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

Solar Power in 2018

solar power 2018
Solar power will grow in 2018 Photo: (c) rf123.com nk2549

Solar power will continue to expand in 2018. Why? Because solar power delivers benefits to both businesses and consumers. At the same time, leaders and visionaries around the world are dedicated to continuing the development of the technology necessary to improve the delivery of affordable, renewable, clean energy to communities around the world.

Here are a few stories, from our local area and around the world, that point to what’s on the horizon for solar energy around the world.

Just a few months ago, weather related disaster in both the Houston area and Puerto Rico brought intense focus on how important development of multiple energy resources and technology is.

  • In Houston, solar has gained traction in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey when many residents realized the wisdom of having a back up system of solar and storage.
  • In the face of complete destruction of the electric grid, Tesla stepped in completed a major solar project in record time. Before the storm, Puerto Rico’s electricity consumers paid high rates for electricity that was notoriously unreliable. Now, they see an opportunity to start over and reinvent their electric service.

Development of new storage technology is a critical factor in making solar energy both more efficient and more available. In terms of business opportunity, the development of improved solar and wind energy storage has tremendous potential for investors. There is significant research and development focused in this area. Currently, some innovators are working on improving the lithium ion battery while others are searching for other materials that will more effectively store energy produced from solar and wind.

Distributed solar – residential and commercial buildings equipped with solar panels – is now seen as an alternative to adding additional capacity to the grid. That’s because the peak hours of solar energy production coincide with the peak hours of energy use. Solar panels on homes and businesses are helping utilities to make the same level of service available by smoothing out the peaks and valleys of energy supply and demand. Austin Energy recently received a $4.3 million-dollar grant from the Department of Energy to bring more distributed solar to the Austin area.

Solar energy has advanced significantly in recent years and it is still a relatively new technology. As time goes by and the technology improves, more benefits and even greater potential has become evident.

Will you add the savings and other benefits of solar power to your plan for 2018? Schedule a solar consultation today.

Solar best with backup

The drama that unfolded on the Texas Gulf coast late last week has many people looking for ways to prepare their home and family for a natural disaster. Here in Texas, installing solar panels is a great first step to take. Homes with solar panels are always among the first to have access to electricity when storm related damage causes disruption of service after a hurricane or other type of natural disaster.

Taking the simple step of adding a battery backup system can expand the benefit of solar even more in situations where electric service can be disrupted for an extended period.

It’s estimated that over 200,000 homes in Houston and surrounding areas are still without power one week after the storm made landfall. There have been extraordinary efforts to get electricity and other essential services restored but the damage effects a huge geographic area and resources are stretched thin.

For the individual home or business owner, having solar panels with battery back-up is about more than just keeping the lights on. A battery back-up system that avoids losing power can save hundreds or even thousands of dollars during an extended outage. Just think about all the ways we depend on electric power from charging our cell phones and other communication technologies to keeping our food at safe temperatures to powering medical devices like dialysis and breathing machines.

As with any solar project, the best way to get started is to schedule an appointment with a trained solar consultant to determine how much power you need to have access to during an extended disruption in the grid. While it may be comforting to imagine that your battery system will allow life to go on as usual, your battery system will be designed to keep your essential services operating.  This type of system is designed as a temporary back-up, not an off-grid solution.

After estimating the amount of power needed, your consultant will calculate the amount of battery storage needed and explain the different option available. Your specific needs with help your consultant determine which one to recommend for your project.

To get the most value from your solar panel system, it’s best to incorporate the battery back-up with the initial installation. Act now, and you will have your system in place when before fall and winter storms have you shivering in the dark!

Want to avoid power outages? Invest in Solar

The solar eclipse on August 21 brought an intense focus on the electric grid as scientist and energy experts studied the effect of a sudden decline in solar power on our electricity supply.

Now, virtually on the heels of that test, south Texas and parts of central Texas experienced another sort of test as Hurricane Harvey made landfall near Corpus Christi. This category 4 hurricane brought high winds and flooding. Damage from the storm caused power outages that resulted in more than 300,000 residents losing electric power. Utility companies and their employees will be working night and day to restore power to those Texans affected by the storm.

Here are some facts for homeowners with solar panels installed, and those who are considering the solar option for their home:

  • Studies have shown that high quality, professionally installed solar panels are able to resist extreme weather.
  • For customers who have invested in a battery back-up system it’s possible to avoid power outages entirely.
  • As a storm passes, it is typically followed by sunny days that allow maximum solar power production so that solar customers are among the first to have power restored.

Solar professionals are in the business of working with their potential customers to design and install a system that delivers maximum benefits for years to come. That includes presenting options like a battery back-up system, EMP protection and other enhancements that go beyond the basic installation of solar panels that capture free sunlight and convert it into a valuable resource: electricity.

A disaster like Hurricane Harvey, the most destructive storm to make landfall in recent history, reminds us how important it is to build quality into all our projects, particularly when we make improvements to our home. Adding a solar system to your home will increase its value and provide greater safety and comfort to your family for years to come.

When you trust your solar installation to true solar panel experts, part of your consultation will include information about things like electromagnetic pulse (EMP) protection. When homeowners chose this option, their installation includes additional features that protect against this phenomenon. In fact, when our customers choose the Gold Package, EMP protection is provided as a bonus.

As the storm passes and the sun comes out, it’s time to call Go Pro Solar and schedule your no obligation consultation.

Economics of Solar Make an Impact

The solar eclipse that will cross the United States on Monday, August 22 is historic for several reasons.

It is the first total eclipse in several decades. The last time the earth lost touch with the sun for such an extended period was in 1979.

In the decades since then, solar energy started as a fringe idea embraced by a few people then exploded into a rapidly growing energy sector. As a result, the loss of a few minutes of sunshine will, for the first time, make an impact on the amount of electricity entering the grid.

A second factor that makes this eclipse important is its timing. The eclipse will decrease the amount of solar power generated during a peak time of day at the peak season for electric consumption. At midafternoon in August, air conditioners are consuming plenty of power to keep things cool in homes, offices and factories alike. In the areas most affected by the eclipse there will be greater use of electricity for lighting, too.

How will this affect solar homes in Texas? Though the growth of solar generation in Texas increased exponentially in recent years, the amount of solar energy produced is not sufficient for this eclipse to cause an issue.

The path of the eclipse determines how it might disrupt solar energy output. Since early 2017, scientist at NASA have studied the path of the eclipse to create models of its effect on the US, including solar power production. The loss of sunlight will have greater effect to states to our north, from Oregon to South Carolina.

Power grid operators are intensely interested in the effects of the eclipse on solar power production, too. The production of solar and other types of renewable resources has soared in recent years, but the grid that carries the power to our homes, schools and businesses hasn’t been upgraded. In fact, in many cases what we refer to as “the grid” is simply a system that was patched together as needs arose. There isn’t really a well planned and executed delivery system for one of our most vital utilities. In anticipation of the event, grid operators have been preparing for months to make sure that most of their customers are unaffected.

This real-life situation that threatens to put a strain on the grid is an excellent opportunity to gather data and determine the best way to accommodate the growing impact of renewable energy.

Solar energy is mainstream, now. Consumers and businesses have discovered how easy it is to go solar and how quickly they realize a return on investment. Be part of the solar revolution by scheduling your free consultation today!

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Financing Your Solar Investment

There are plenty of ways to fight the summer heat, but one of the smartest is to stay inside and research ways to save money on your electric bills during the dog days of summer next year! Get the process started now, and your solar panels will be installed and ready to keep you cool during remaining warm days and keep you warm when winter chills arrive, too.

There are two approaches to making your solar investment affordable and increasing the ROI of your solar panels. The first is to explore

the rebates, incentives and tax benefits available for solar panels. There are also financing programs and loans that to make clean, efficient solar energy fit within your budget.

Here are the three types of financing that homeowners can use for purchasing solar panels:

1) Solar financing companies. These companies specialize in providing financing for residential solar panels. Because they are specialist, they have expertise in the solar industry and have programs designed to maximize the benefits of solar for their customers. They also have relationships with other companies in the solar industry that can help make the process seamless, like partnering with installers for one stop shopping.

2) The Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) Program allows homeowners to pay for their approved renewable energy projects when they pay their annual property tax assessment. This acts as a vehicle for differing the payment instead of setting up a monthly payment plan. To find out if this type of arrangement is available in your area and if it is a viable option for you, take a look at this Fact Sheet from the Department of Energy: http://bit.ly/PACE_Info

3) Home equity lines of credit and home improvement loans can be used to finance solar panel systems. While other types of financing might offer significant advantages, if the solar upgrade is part of a larger home renovation or remodeling project, using this type of financing might make sense.

The easiest way to to start your research about how solar loans and other financing might fit into your plan to save money on your electric bill and enhance the value of your home is to schedule an appointment with a Solar Energy Consultant. When you chose a reputable company like Go Pro Solar, you will be given all the information you need to make an informed decision about the best products and programs for your unique situation.

Ready to get started? Contact GoProSolar today and schedule your consultation.