Solar Briefly Topped 50% of California Electricity in March, Driving Rates Below Zero (Fortune)

California leads the US in solar power generation. Statistics show the state had briefly, 40% of it’s electrical grid, come from solar power.

In a Friday update, the U.S. Energy Information Administration reports that for a brief period on March 11th, utility-scale solar accounted for 40% of net grid power produced in California. The EIA says that, combined with residential and commercial rooftop generation, “the total solar share of gross demand probably exceeded 50% during the mid-day hours.”

Read More at Fortune




parked cars under solar panels
Cars cool off in a department store parking lot under the shade of solar panels in California.

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A solar charger for your phone and small electronics is convenient whenever you are away from home.
A solar charger for your phone and small electronics is convenient whenever you are away from home.




iPhone Portable Solar Charger Solutions

A small, durable and long lasting solar panel device is now available at a reasonable price. You can use it to power your phone, and small electronics.

A solar device that can extract energy from the sun and use it to power electronics and package it in a convenient size and at a reasonable price. Imagine that. You will not have to look for an outlet and ask to use it. You will have your own and the electricity is free from the sun.

A solar charger for your phone and small electronics is convenient whenever you are away from home.
A solar charger for your phone and small electronics is convenient whenever you are away from home.

Portable Solar Panel Kit

Assuming you can get your phone to work in another country, do you now that many countries use 220 volts on their grid? The plugs are even different. Try plugging in any of your devices with without a transformer and you will fry your device. A transformer is a heavy small gadget whose cost starts at around $30. But, you won’t need that if you have a solar charger.

Solar Power for Your Gadgets

Solar power is nothing new and has been around for quite a while. It has gained substantial footholds in government, industry, and residential and commercial construction projects. There are federally funded initiatives that allow you to install solar energy solutions with the help of government subsidies to make them more affordable. But the idea that anywhere you go you can power your gadgets is a fairly new reality for the modern consumer. Past solutions suffered and were never really adopted. But to remain unable to tap such an enormous and universally available energy source as the sun is frustrating for those for whom mobile commuting is a way of life.

Mono-Crystalline Solar Panels

The consumer grade solar gadget charger has been held captive by technology until this point. Only now have companies been able to create a device that can extract solar energy from the sun and use it to power electronics. The quality of solar panels has been a stumbling block in the past but the introduction of mono-crystalline panels has changed this. They are powerful , durable, and extremely long lasting. They can pull electricity from light energy in sufficient amounts as to charge something like a smartphone in the same amount of time as can a regular wall plug. And it can do it while still being small enough to tote around with you in a backpack and strong enough that you don’t have to pretend your bag is full of priceless porcelain antiques every time you put it down.

The other obstacle in the development of an affordable iPhone portable solar charger was the lack of a ready market. Companies do not invest money into something no one will buy unless they wish to lose money. But the people of today are ready for such convenient portable power solutions. The people who do mobile computing are no longer just geeks and businessmen. They are people of every walk of life and who enjoy diverse hobby’s. These are people who want to be able to charge their phone or music listening device on a hike or camp out or canoe trip. They want to charge things at the park with their kids and friends and don’t want to have to go looking for a plug every time they turn around. They are pretty much everyone, and they are you.

 

Should You install Solar Power in Your Home?

The costs of solar power panels for your home are coming down. Although it is made with the ecology in mind, its manufacture is not completely clean.

Until a decade or so ago, solar power as a viable alternative to the traditional sources of energy was quite unthinkable. The solar cells were inefficient, the cost of solar panels was too high and very people knew anything about it. It was just a novelty item for a few wealthy homeowners who were also interested in saving the earth.

At some point, the price of solar panel costs can be lower than your monthly bill. Then, it will be time to buy one, if you had not already bought one then.
At some point, the price of solar panel costs can be lower than your monthly bill. Then, it will be time to buy one, if you had not already bought one then.




Today, the world has come a long way from those days and the situation has changed significantly. The technology has entered public consciousness and a lot more people are aware of the benefits of solar power. Now,  the price has come way down.

People still baulk at the idea of putting solar panels on their roof because of the high cost they assume is associated with installation. The fact is that despite the remarkable development in the technology, solar power systems were still a bit too expensive for the average householder until recently.

But the good news that prices are coming down, and it won’t be long before every household will be able to accommodate one within their monthly budget. But even at today’s prices, the decrease in monthly electric bill will quickly compensate for the installation cost and allow the homeowner to save more money. If feed-in tariff system is available in your area, you can also get credit from your power company on future power bills. But most power companies do not To make thing better, federal and state government also provide grants and subsidy from time to time which almost halves the installation costs.

Concern for the earth’s ecology is one reason many homeowners install solar power systems on their roof. Solar power can be said to be one of the most environment-friendly sources of energy, although it cannot said to be completely clean.
solar panels
During the mining of silica and manufacturing of solar cells, a number of substances are produced as a byproduct, such as crystalline silica dust, fume silica, carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide, hydrogen chloride and silicon tetrachloride. Chemicals like nitric acid, sodium hydroxide and hydrofluoric acid are also used. All of these can harm the workers. But the risk is negligible as all the processes are done in highly controlled environments.

Many people have the misconception that solar panels do not work on cloudy days. There is no truth in this. In fact, solar panels work more efficiently on slightly cloudy days than on hot summer days. This is because solar cells are less efficient when they are too hot or too cold. But if it is totally overcast, the panels may have very low efficiency. Days like that are rare and solar systems work fine on most days.

Considering everything, the answer is, “Yes, you should definitely install solar power in your home.”

solar power image by Wikipedia

What to Look For When Buying Solar Panels

If you decide on a solar power system for your home, the things to consider are what you want powered, brand names, financing the cost, and warranties.

Clothing, entertainment and video games may go out of style, but saving money never will. And what’s better than saving money and being eco-friendly at the same time? Not much, I’d say. Solar panels are a wonderful way to power your home, business or portable device without using dangerous fossil fuels.

Solar power saves our natural resources. Many times, it is cheaper than paying the monthly utility bills.
Solar power saves our natural resources. Many times, it is cheaper than paying the monthly utility bills.




Obviously solar panels are a fairly expensive investment to make, but in a few years, you’ll start reaping the benefits of a clean, free power plant. But since very few of us are connoisseurs of panels, it might be a bit disconcerting to get thrown into the market- so here are a few tips on what to look for whether it’s your first solar panel or your fifth.

The first metric you’ll need to look at is what you want powered. Earlier photovoltaic solar panels used to be only for small, portable devices like watches and calculators, but these days technological development has allowed them to be used in almost every medium imaginable. If you want your home powered, you’ll want to look at residential solar panels. They might be a few thousand dollars, but it’ll be worth it in the long run. The other type is commercial panels, which are usually for large corporate businesses. Both are generally made using crystalline silicon, thin-film or string ribbon technology.

The next thing to look for is the brand name. It’s best to go with a larger, more established brand considering repair and maintenance will likely happen fairly frequently- larger firms can cater to you more adequately in this way than smaller companies can. Good brands to look out for are Sharp, Suntech, Renesola and CSUN. There are more, but that’s a start.

Once you’ve found a good brand and figured out what you want powered, it’s time to think about the auxiliary parts you’ll need. For example, if you are using portable photovoltaic panels, you won’t need anything else (since they supply low voltages), but if you’re looking at proving energy to the home or office, you’ll want to invest in inverters to process direct current into alternating current- this will match the current with the adequate level of energy production. BOS components like PV racks, maximizers, solar monitoring and solar security devices are also tools you might want to research.

solar panelsThen, you need to calculate the cost. Compare your proposed monthly solar payment to your monthly power bill.  What is the life of the system? Many companies, as a selling point, will tailor your financing so your solar payment is lower than your power bill. That makes it easy to calculate. If it isn’t, will the system be paid off early and still have years of life after it is paid off? Do the payments exceed the life of the system? Sit down and crunch the numbers with your spouse and an accountant or someone who can help you with cost analysis.

Finally, you’ll want to ask the supplier about different warranties offered. This extends to both the materials used and the power. In terms of material warranty, you’ll want to find a period close to 10 years if possible. In terms of power warranties, companies will give you this warranty based on the expected power output over the course of x number of years. It could read something like “95% power output for the first x number of years and then 85% for the next x number of years”. Be careful about the warranties and ask lots and lots of questions, especially since this is such an asymmetric business.

Once you’ve done research over exactly what you want, it’s time to head over to the store itself or the internet and find a great supplier. Great companies will provide you with informative and comprehensive guides to the equipment with the help of a well-qualified staff.

 

About the Author:

Bob Parker is a professional writer & Guest Author. He writes article on different topic such as provide information about Solar panels, Residential solar power systems & many other solar products.

solar panel image by Wikimedia Commons

Comparing Solar Shingles and Solar Panels

In capturing solar energy for your home, solar shingles are thinner and lighter than solar panels, making them much easier to install and adjust.

When it comes to solar energy, you have a choice with solar panels and solar shingles. Many people have heard of solar panels, but have no idea what solar shingles are or the benefits they provide.

Solar panels can be an obnoxious and often very heavy hassle during installation.
Solar panels can be an obnoxious and often very heavy hassle during installation.

The federal government gives you a 30% Federal Tax Credit to install a photovoltaic device on your house (this includes solar shingles). There may also be more credit if you put in solar thermal or hot water unit.  Additional tax credits are given by state governments also give tax credits.  Energy state tax credits differ by state. Please check with the IRS, your state tax board or your accountant. Tax laws continually change.

What Are Solar Shingles?

Solar shingles are photovoltaic devices that create electricity from sunlight. They are made out of a wire and a photosensitive waterproof product. They serve the dual purpose of protecting your home from the elements and generating an electric current from the sunlight. They are often much thinner than solar panels and are lighter as well making them easy to install and adjust if necessary. They usually come in a darkened color and can often be mistaken with normal shingles.

 

How Do Solar Shingles Work? 

Solar shingles work very much the same way that solar panels do. They are made of wire a photosensitive waterproof coating that allows them so collect energy from sunlight as well as protect your home.

More specifically the surface of the solar shingle has a special coating that knocks an electron from the photon of sunlight as it hits the shingle. The loose electron travels through an electric travels through an electric circuit where it is collected with other electrons. The mass of moving electrons are used to generate electric current which then flows into the system of your house. Some models of solar shingles can even convert the electricity to heat to be used directly.

Where Do Solar Shingles Work?

They work mostly anywhere (even in cloudy places).  The shingles can be used during scattered sunshine or even overcast days. Of course they do work better in areas with high levels of sunlight, especially the southwest. But to give you a bit more perspective the country with the most PV devices is Germany, and the American Solar Energy Society has stated that all 50 states in the US get better sunlight than Germany. If you are wondering if your house will work, the answer is most likely.

Why Choose Solar Shingles?

A benefit that solar shingles hold over solar panels is that they are hard to notice. Passerby will often think them to simply be darkened shingles. You can cover your whole roof to further this effect or keep them small and simple. Either way they are unobtrusive. Another key benefit of solar shingles is that solar panels can be an obnoxious and often very heavy hassle during installation. Solar shingles are light and often much simpler to install.

If you have installed a number of solar shingles on your house and you also live in a sunny place you may find that you have an excess of energy. This is a great thing, because the excess energy is fed back into the power grid and a check from the electric company or a credit on your electric bill. You may be able to make money off your solar units. Make sure to check with your local electric company to understand how you receive these funds as the method is determined by your state law.

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solar panel image by Wikimedia Commons