Solora Solar Featured On Solar Washington Website

solar-roof

Solora Solar was featured this month on the website for Solar Washington, a widely respected solar advocacy organization in Washington state. The group highlighted Solora’s recent sizable commercial solar project at Green Acre Farms in Wapato, Wash.

solar-overviewThe non-profit solar advocacy organization hailed the Green Acre Farms installation as “a significantly important project for particular market segment: the farming community in central Washington.” Solar Washington devoted an entire article to the project, calling it “one of the largest commercial system[s] in Central Washington.”

Solar Washington noted that the 112 kW solar system, consisting of 437 Trina solar panels, is expected to save Green Acre Farms about a half million dollars in energy costs over the next 25 years as it powers the company’s hop-drying facility. The project is expected to pay for itself within 5-6 years. The article also pointed out that the system qualifies Green Acre Farms for a $5,000 annual cash incentive and a 30 percent federal tax incentive.

The piece also highlighted the positive impact a project of that size can have on the environment, as it is believed the 9,000-square-foot system will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by more than 2,400 tons of CO2 over the next 25 years.

“While a majority of solar electricity is produced at large, utility-scale solar power plants,” the article said, “the greatest number of solar jobs are located with companies like Solora Solar doing the work to bring clean energy to the public.”

Solar Washington, which has been successful advocate for solar energy for more than 15 years, featured the article in its Solar In Action section of the website, which “highlights unique and noteworthy solar installations throughout Washington.”

New Type of Cell, A Game Changer

Two sets of scientists have reported promising results from a new recipe for solar cells, which could result in panels for solar power that are easier and cheaper to make.

 

Solar panels were recently placed on the roof of the building that supplies energy to the AirTrain at NewarkLibertyInternationalAirport in Newark, N.J. A scientific advance could help bring a new class of solar cells to market.

 

Efforts to bring a new class of solar cells to market may have received a significant boost from a new recipe for making the cells, developed independently by two teams of scientists.

 

The recipe involves solar cells that use the mineral perovskite as a key ingredient. Until now, researchers had been working with a semiconductor built around a blend of lead and perovskite. The new recipe blends tin with perovskite, an approach that uses cheaper materials than many of today’s generation of solar cells and carries far less environmental and regulatory baggage.

 

During the past few days, two independent groups have reported encouraging results from their initial experiments with this new tin-pervoskite solar cell.

 

On May 1, a team led by OxfordUniversity researcher Henry Snaith reported producing a tin-perovskite cell that converted more than 6 percent of the sunlight it receives into electricity. A formal description of the work appeared online, published by the journal Energy and Environmental Science.

 

Three days later, a team led by NorthwesternUniversity researchers Robert Chang and Mercouri Kanatzidis reported similar results at a slightly lower efficiency – 5.73 percent – in the journal Nature Photonics.

 

These figures are low compared with the top performing photovoltaic cells made today, which boast efficiencies of up to 35 percent. But these high-efficiency cells are expensive to produce and tend to be used for the most demanding applications, such as solar panels for satellites. Even lower-cost versions still require expensive, energy-hungry machines in clean-room environments to make them.

 

The perovskite blends require not much more than bench-top, wet-chemistry techniques that are well within the industry’s ability to use, researchers say.

 

Scientists at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory have suggested that the maximum theoretical efficiency individual perovskite cells can achieve is around 31 percent, or higher if the cells are stacked together to form multi-junction cells.

 

So far, the lead-perovskite predecessors to these new solar cells have reached efficiencies of up to 15 percent.

 

But “I don’t think we have to go that far,” says Northwestern ‘s University’s Dr. Kanatzidis. As long as efficiencies top 10 percent, the tin-perovskite recipe “is quite viable” commercially. At around 6 percent, these new cells are within hailing distance of that goal.

 

Another potential contributor to the tin-perovskite solar cells’ lower cost is the ability of a single cell to operate effectively over a broader range of visible wavelengths than cells currently in use. To achieve the same effective “bandwidth,” today’s cells have to be stacked, with each layer sensitive to a particular portion of visible wavelengths.

 

The prospect of ever-cheaper solar panels to generate electricity makes electric utilities nervous. Beyond the benefits solar energy can provide in reducing the climate-warming greenhouse gases that burning coal and natural gas emit, wider adoption of photovoltaic technology for homes and businesses threatens to serve as the firecracker tucked into the utility industry’s business model. That model relies on large capital-intensive power plants to deliver enough electricity to meet peak demand, even as solar installations feed unused electricity into an interlinked grid.

 

Last year, the Edison Electric Institute published a report on so-called disruptive challenges to utilities and the way they structure their rates. The report singled out the spread of photovoltaic technologies as a key threat, one whose effect has been intensifying. One reason: The highest demand for electricity comes during the day, precisely when increasing numbers of distributed “solar power plants” nationwide would be getting the most sunlight.

 

To take advantage of that sunlight, the new cells take a layer-cake approach.

 

A top layer of electrically conducting glass receives the sunlight, followed by a thin layer of titanium dioxide, which serves as one of the cell’s two connecting points, or electrodes. Next comes the tin-perovskite semiconductor, which absorbs the sunlight. The teams then applied a chemical to the underside of the semiconductor. This facilitates the buildup of an electrical charge between the electrode near the top of the cell and the final layer, another electrode, at the bottom of the cell.

 

The process of adding the semiconductor to a cell and adding the so-called transport layer between the semiconductor and the final electrode must be conducted in a glove box filled with nitrogen gas. The oxygen in ambient air can destroy the semiconductor. But once the transport layer is added, the rest of the cell is ready for outside-the-box assembly.

 

Indeed, the whole effort to explore the use of perovskites represents some outside-the-box thinking, Northwestern’s Kanatzidis says. Within the photovoltaic research community, the mineral hadn’t been given much thought. But once its usefulness became apparent, labs all over the world began to work with it.

 

Its potential for solar cells was first uncovered in 2009 by researchers in Japan – its ability to absorb light was deemed too inefficient to merit further exploration, researchers say. By 2011, however, researchers began to see glimmers of perovskite’s potential. Since 2009, efficiency gains have been taking place at a far faster clip than those for conventional solar-cell semiconductors, which have been steadily improving over decades.

 

Even now, “we don’t understand everything about it,” says Kanatzidis of the new recipe. Still, with no theoretical limit to reaching an efficiency level comparable to today’s top-tier solar cells, researchers are focusing on ways to improve what several say is likely to represent a breakthrough in solar-cell technology.

 

Status of Solar Energy Storage Capacity in U.S.

While Germany Explores Energy Storage Technologies at Breakneck Speeds, the US Isn’t Far Behind

 

Germany could be using 60 percent renewables if the right storage tech were in place. Startling as this announcement seems, the US is not as far behind as people think.

 

The U.S. is surging ahead in terms of adopting battery storage. In 2013-2014, U.S. companies installed, or were in the process of installing more than 300 MW of energy storage capacity. The largest is Southern California Edison’s Tehachapi Energy Storage Project. It is a 8-MW system capable of supplying 32 megawatt-hours of electricity to the grid.

 

The aging U.S. infrastructure is a problem when it comes to grid stability. Many of the distribution feeders are nearing the end of their expected useful life. They are fairly weak and not equipped to handle a large influx of intermittent energy.

 

U.S. usually uses only about half of its electrical generation capacity. The peak times only amount to 2 or 3 percent of the year. Very expensive equipment is being purchased to meet that peak demand and it is not used very often.

 

Instead of simply replacing the old grid with a new one, U.S. utilities should ask questions like: Where will we get the most value for our investments? What value do we place on getting a more resilient, more reliable grid? How important is it to have a grid that utilizes more renewable resources?  Do we want to lengthen the life of existing resources?

 

All of these things can be done better. Not by spending another dollar on hardware equipment, but by spending another 10 cents on software and algorithms.

 

Like the US, Germany’s real contribution is software. Its battery plant focuses on 15-minute applications, the maximum allowed under “regulations/market design.”

 

Energy storage is by far one of the fastest resources, capable of handling the increase or decrease of the required frequency almost instantaneously.

 

Their weakness is duration. They become energy limited if forced to carry loads over an extended time. Utilities use a progression of plants for providing spinning reserve, primary and secondary reserves.

 

 

It is not economically feasible to insert more than 75 percent of renewable content into the grid, using battery packs. Germanys’ goal is 60 percent annually. This means some conventional plants will have to remain online until a new technology is developed.

 

Can the US Build a Green Grid?

 

Regardless of whether solution works in Germany, or not, it is not applicable to the U.S.

 

“We couldn’t do that right now because we are not generating enough renewable energy to store, even if we had the storage available,” said Allan Hoffman, a former senior executive with the U.S. Department of Energy.

 

Hoffman believes the U.S. will eventually use 80 percent renewable energy, and referred to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s Renewable Electricity Futures Study:

 

Renewable electricity generation from technologies that are commercially available today, in combination with a more flexible electric system, is more than adequate to supply 80 percent of total U.S. electricity generation in 2050 while meeting electricity demand on an hourly basis in every region of the country.

NANOCRYSTALS: A New Type of Solar Cell

Scientists are focusing on nanometre-sized crystals for the next generation of solar cells. These nanocrystals have excellent optical properties. Compared with silicon in today’s solar cells, nanocrystals can be designed to absorb a larger fraction of the solar light spectrum. However, the development of nanocrystal-based solar cells is challenging. Until now, the physics of electron transport in this complex material system was not understood so it was impossible to systematically engineer better nanocrystal-composites.

The reason for the enthusiasm of many solar cell researchers for the tiny crystals is that at small dimensions effects of quantum physics come into play that are not observed in bulk semiconductors. One example is that the physical properties of the nanocrystals depend on their size. And because scientists can easily control nanocrystal size in the fabrication process, they are also able to influence the properties of nanocrystal semiconductors and optimize them for solar cells.

One such property that can be influenced by changing nanocrystal size is the amount of sun’s spectrum that can be absorbed by the nanocrystals and converted to electricity by the solar cell. Semiconductors do not absorb the entire sunlight spectrum, but rather only radiation below a certain wavelength, or — in other words — with an energy greater than the so-called band gap energy of the semiconductor. In most semiconductors, this threshold can only be changed by changing the material. However, for nanocrystal composites, the threshold can be changed simply by changing the size of the individual crystals. Thus scientists can select the size of nanocrystals in such a way that they absorb the maximum amount of light from a broad range of the sunlight spectrum.

An additional advantage of nanocrystal semiconductors is that they absorb much more sunlight than traditional semiconductors. For example, the absorption coefficient of lead sulfide nanocrystals is several orders of magnitude greater than that of silicon semiconductors, used traditionally as solar cells. Thus, a relatively small amount of material is sufficient for the production of nanocrystal solar cells, making it possible to make very thin, flexible solar cells.

Over the past five years, scientists have succeeded in greatly increasing the efficiency of nanocrystal solar cells, yet even in the best of these solar cells just 9 percent of the incident sunlight on the cell is converted into electrical energy.

Solar Power World Magazine ranks local company Solora Solar as Top 10 in Washington State

A Yakima-based solar company was recently selected as the best in Washington State by Solar Power World magazine in its annual rankings.

Solora Solar was ranked No. 6 out of 102 solar installation companies in Washington State, according to a news release last week. The rankings are meant to note the best solar electric system installers across Northwest.

While the 2014 Top Solar Contractors list includes many companies from high-growth solar states like California, Colorado, New Jersey and Massachusetts, Ten Washington companies made the list, with Solora Solar at the top, according to the news release.

“This achievement puts Solora Solar in rarefied company” said Solora Solar President Syed Mujtaba in the release.

In the video, three of Solar Power World’s 2014 Top Solar Contractors discuss details of their daily work, the industry and its future.

Another solar installer featured in the video remarked, “I was explaining solar to a farmer, and I used this analogy: solar is a crop that you plant once, you never water, never have to fertilize, and it produces revenue for thirty plus years.”

In the release, Solora Solar said that it has designed and installed more than 100 solar electric systems for residential, agricultural, and commercial, customers across the Northwest.

The company mission is to “accelerate the transition to clean energy” by delivering a smooth transition to clean solar energy at any scale, the release said.

Company Profile:

Solora Solar is a full-service designer, developer and installer of solar systems for commercial, municipal and residential integrations. Our goal is to provide solar energy solutions to our customers by offering the safest, most efficient solar systems of the very highest quality construction and most affordable materials. We do this both on budget and within customer timelines for each solar installation.

Solora Solar takes pride in performing installations of the highest quality, paying close attention to all details and offering personal and professional customer service. We enjoy working with our customers to discover and plan the perfect solar system for their business or home.

We provide expertise in all aspects of your custom solar solution — from initial communication and system design to the professional install and ongoing maintenance of your solar energy system. Our knowledgable staff come to your project with years of experience in every conceivable type of solar project, and we’ve had the pleasure of working with many happy clients throughout Washington state.

New Type of Cell, A Game Changer

 

Two sets of scientists have reported promising results from a new recipe for solar cells, which could result in panels for solar power that are easier and cheaper to make.

 

Solar panels were recently placed on the roof of the building that supplies energy to the AirTrain at NewarkLibertyInternationalAirport in Newark, N.J. A scientific advance could help bring a new class of solar cells to market.

 

Efforts to bring a new class of solar cells to market may have received a significant boost from a new recipe for making the cells, developed independently by two teams of scientists.

 

The recipe involves solar cells that use the mineral perovskite as a key ingredient. Until now, researchers had been working with a semiconductor built around a blend of lead and perovskite. The new recipe blends tin with perovskite, an approach that uses cheaper materials than many of today’s generation of solar cells and carries far less environmental and regulatory baggage.

 

During the past few days, two independent groups have reported encouraging results from their initial experiments with this new tin-pervoskite solar cell.

 

On May 1, a team led by OxfordUniversity researcher Henry Snaith reported producing a tin-perovskite cell that converted more than 6 percent of the sunlight it receives into electricity. A formal description of the work appeared online, published by the journal Energy and Environmental Science.

 

Three days later, a team led by NorthwesternUniversity researchers Robert Chang and Mercouri Kanatzidis reported similar results at a slightly lower efficiency – 5.73 percent – in the journal Nature Photonics.

 

These figures are low compared with the top performing photovoltaic cells made today, which boast efficiencies of up to 35 percent. But these high-efficiency cells are expensive to produce and tend to be used for the most demanding applications, such as solar panels for satellites. Even lower-cost versions still require expensive, energy-hungry machines in clean-room environments to make them.

 

The perovskite blends require not much more than bench-top, wet-chemistry techniques that are well within the industry’s ability to use, researchers say.

 

Scientists at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory have suggested that the maximum theoretical efficiency individual perovskite cells can achieve is around 31 percent, or higher if the cells are stacked together to form multi-junction cells.

 

So far, the lead-perovskite predecessors to these new solar cells have reached efficiencies of up to 15 percent.

 

But “I don’t think we have to go that far,” says Northwestern ‘s University’s Dr. Kanatzidis. As long as efficiencies top 10 percent, the tin-perovskite recipe “is quite viable” commercially. At around 6 percent, these new cells are within hailing distance of that goal.

 

Another potential contributor to the tin-perovskite solar cells’ lower cost is the ability of a single cell to operate effectively over a broader range of visible wavelengths than cells currently in use. To achieve the same effective “bandwidth,” today’s cells have to be stacked, with each layer sensitive to a particular portion of visible wavelengths.

 

The prospect of ever-cheaper solar panels to generate electricity makes electric utilities nervous. Beyond the benefits solar energy can provide in reducing the climate-warming greenhouse gases that burning coal and natural gas emit, wider adoption of photovoltaic technology for homes and businesses threatens to serve as the firecracker tucked into the utility industry’s business model. That model relies on large capital-intensive power plants to deliver enough electricity to meet peak demand, even as solar installations feed unused electricity into an interlinked grid.

 

Last year, the Edison Electric Institute published a report on so-called disruptive challenges to utilities and the way they structure their rates. The report singled out the spread of photovoltaic technologies as a key threat, one whose effect has been intensifying. One reason: The highest demand for electricity comes during the day, precisely when increasing numbers of distributed “solar power plants” nationwide would be getting the most sunlight.

 

To take advantage of that sunlight, the new cells take a layer-cake approach.

 

A top layer of electrically conducting glass receives the sunlight, followed by a thin layer of titanium dioxide, which serves as one of the cell’s two connecting points, or electrodes. Next comes the tin-perovskite semiconductor, which absorbs the sunlight. The teams then applied a chemical to the underside of the semiconductor. This facilitates the buildup of an electrical charge between the electrode near the top of the cell and the final layer, another electrode, at the bottom of the cell.

 

The process of adding the semiconductor to a cell and adding the so-called transport layer between the semiconductor and the final electrode must be conducted in a glove box filled with nitrogen gas. The oxygen in ambient air can destroy the semiconductor. But once the transport layer is added, the rest of the cell is ready for outside-the-box assembly.

 

Indeed, the whole effort to explore the use of perovskites represents some outside-the-box thinking, Northwestern’s Kanatzidis says. Within the photovoltaic research community, the mineral hadn’t been given much thought. But once its usefulness became apparent, labs all over the world began to work with it.

 

Its potential for solar cells was first uncovered in 2009 by researchers in Japan – its ability to absorb light was deemed too inefficient to merit further exploration, researchers say. By 2011, however, researchers began to see glimmers of perovskite’s potential. Since 2009, efficiency gains have been taking place at a far faster clip than those for conventional solar-cell semiconductors, which have been steadily improving over decades.

 

Even now, “we don’t understand everything about it,” says Kanatzidis of the new recipe. Still, with no theoretical limit to reaching an efficiency level comparable to today’s top-tier solar cells, researchers are focusing on ways to improve what several say is likely to represent a breakthrough in solar-cell technology.

 

Big thing for sustainable energy

Generating solar power can be expensive and impractical for the average person, but a new process that spray-paints solar cells to almost any surface could be the next big thing in green energy.

University of Sheffield research scientists in the UK have developed a method that sprays a perovskite compound that can be used to generate solar energy, potentially turning a variety objects into power generators.

Typical solar cells can be quite energy-intensive to manufacture when made with materials such as silicon, whereas the generation of perovskites requires far less energy.

The method involves spray-painting layers of the material onto a surface, meaning little material is wasted and the concept can be easily adapted to more affordable high-scale manufacturing.

By replacing the key light-absorbing layer found in organic solar cells with a spray-painted perovskite, energy efficiency is vastly increased.

“The best certified efficiencies from organic solar cells are around 10 percent,” explains lead researcher Professor David Lidzey.

“Perovskite cells now have efficiencies of up to 19 percent. This is not so far behind that of silicon at 25 percent — the material that dominates the worldwide solar market.”

Solora Solar Becomes First SunPower Authorized Dealer in Central Washington (Cle Elum, Ellensburg, Yakima & Tri-Cities)

Solora Solar Yakima WA-based leader in residential and light commercial solar system design and installation, is proud to announce the achievement of SunPower® Authorized Dealer status with SunPower Corp. (NASDAQ: SPWR).

SunPower dealers provide comprehensive solar assessment and installation services, including helping homeowners figure out what kind of system they need, how it should be configured and how it can be financed. They also perform project design and installation of all panels and components, as well as obtaining permits, processing rebates and maintaining the system as needed.

SunPower selectively accepts dealers into its network, requiring them to provide customers with superior levels of service, including fast response to customer inquiries, customer satisfaction tracking, and participation in a post-installation site inspection program. SunPower dealers in the program have also completed regular training in the specifications and installation of SunPower products.

Installing a superior product like SunPower goes hand in hand with Solora Solar long term philosophy of providing our customers with the best solar products available on the current global market. Solora Solar is constantly seeking to be the best in the business while providing the greatest value and the most competitive pricing for the most powerful solar panels on the planet.

“After careful and several month of research, we realized that offering SunPower product to our clients gives them the highest quality panels available today,” said Syed Mujtaba, founder of Solora Solar. “Furthermore, SunPower has very attractive financial options including long- and short-term loans. In this way, we’re able to exceed our client’s expectations and create long-term relationships.”

SunPower’s best-in-class dealer program supports a network of approximately 2,000 solar power system installers worldwide that sell, install and service SunPower products.

SunPower guarantees panel performance to provide maximum return on investment throughout the life of the solar system. SunPower, based in San   Jose, California, currently produces the most efficient and highest output solar panels available on the global market. Their solar modules are designed to excel in both high temperature and lowlight conditions and are currently the most widely used, trusted solar panels in the United States and carry a 25 year warranty covering 100 percent of any issue related to product integrity and power output.

Doing business with a SunPower Authorized Dealer means getting the highest quality workmanship and service possible when it comes to having a solar electric system installed on your home or commercial building.

To get an estimate for your solar system, please call Solora Solar at 800-696-8935.

sunpower_authorized

A quick lesson in meter reading

Electric use varies from household to household, depending upon the size of your home, number and type of appliances and how you use them. Your electric meter keeps track of it all for you. Electric meters record the total amount of electricity used. You can look at your own usage by learning to read your own meter.

Is your meter a confusing object?

It needn’t be. Meters are not difficult to read and they can provide you with information about your energy conservation efforts. The explanation in this pamphlet provides you with a quick lesson in meter reading.

Your electric meter measures the amount of electricity you use. Just as you purchase pounds of meat, quarts of milk or gallons of gasoline, you buy kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity.

The basic unit of measure of electric power is the Watt. One thousand Watts are called a kilowatt. If you use one thousand Watts of power in one hour you have used a kilowatt-hour (kWh). Your electric utility bills you by the kWh.

The standard analog electric power meter is a clock-like device driven by the electricity moving through it. As the home draws current from the power lines, a set of small gears inside the meter move. The number of revolutions is recorded by the dials that you can see on the face of the meter. The speed of the revolutions depends on the amount of current drawn; the more power consumed at any one instant, the faster the gears will rotate.

When reading an electric analog meter, read and write down the numbers as shown on the dials from right to left. When the pointer is directly on a number, look at the dial to the right. If it has passed zero, use the next higher number. If the dial has not passed zero, use the lower number. Record the numbers shown by writing down the value of the dial to your extreme right first and the rest as you come to them. Should the hand of a dial fall between two numbers, use the smaller of the two numbers.

Note that some newer electric meters use digital displays instead of dials. The difference between one month’s reading and the next is the amount of energy units that have been used for that billing period.

You may also wish to contact your local utility company for more information about reading your electric meter.

How to Read Electric (Digital) Meters

Digital meter

To read a digital meter simply read the meter left to right, just like reading a car odometer, to track your usage. The digital meter keeps a running total of your usage just like your car odometer tracks miles. This is the actual register read/quantity as defined by the register indicator.

Determine which meter type you have, and follow the instructions below the corresponding picture to read your meter.  

Landis + Gyr

SmartMeter™ Old

GE

SmartMeter™ New

This SmartMeter™ electric meter by Landis + Gyr uses a digital readout alternating between three different displays:

  • The initial screen will display “888888…” indicating that the unit is functioning properly.
  • The next screen shows the total kWh of energy consumption. This 5-digit number is cumulative and may include leading zeros.
  • The final screen shows the current electric usage at the premise.

This SmartMeter™ electric meter by GE uses a digital readout with one standard display:

  • The 5-digit display showing the total kWh of energy consumption is located on the top line and is always on. This number is cumulative. NOTE: A segment check may display momentarily, but will change back to the standard display.
  • Below the kWh display, the 3-digit voltage level and 3-digit current electric usage displays will alternate (i.e., “240 Volts” is shown for a few seconds and then toggles to “.345 kW” for a few seconds)

 

 

Net-Metering

Meters for Solar and Renewables are different. Electric NEM meters record the total net amount of electricity used or exported. The display will show an arrow indicating whether you are using or exporting energy.

Net metering is the set of laws and standards that allow utility customers to generate their own renewable resources such as wind, solar or other resources and send excess (unconsumed) energy back to the utility. The “Net Meter” is the meter that keeps track of the energy in both directions, also called bi-directional meter. Every utility has a slightly different approach to their “Net Meter”.

At the meter read out window, there is the digital register indicator on top left corner to indicate how much energy has been consumed or generated. For net metering, there can be a combination of a total of six registers that would be read. The most common registers are 14 and 24.

Register 14 indicator is the total energy the site consumes (usages) from Pacific Power.  Register 24 indicator is the total energy the site generates and sends the excess energy back to Pacific Power. Register 24 is not to be confused with the energy the site total energy generation, because most of that energy is being consumed by the site itself. The energy reading for register 24 will only increment if the site is producing more energy than it is using.

The other registers are 11, 12, 21 and 22. These are the time-of-use reading for sites operating under a time-of-use rate schedule. Register 11 is on-peak energy that the customer consumes. Register 12 is off-peak energy that the customer consumes. Register 21 is on-peak energy that the customer generates. Register 22 is off-peak energy that the customer generates.

LED bar display

This display will show how the power is currently flowing through the meter. If the boxes in the display are lighting up from left to right with an arrow pointing to the right of the meter, the site is consuming power. If the boxes light up from right to left with the arrow pointing to the left of the meter, the site is generating power back to the company.

Electrical safety tips

 

Electricity always seeks the easiest path to the ground. It tries to find a conductor, such as metal, wet wood, or water. Never touch an energized bare wire or faulty appliance while you are grounded, the electricity will instantly pass through you to the ground, causing a harmful or fatal shock.

When you need to change a fuse or in case of fire or shock, turn off the main switch on your service panel. If you don’t have a main switch, turn off all circuit breakers. Remember, do not tamper with the electric meter. You’ll risk shock, explosion, or fire.

Children’s natural curiosity can lead to electrical accidents. Teach children never to put fingers or objects into an electrical outlet, toaster, or any other appliance, even if it’s off. Use plug covers in all your outlets.

Solar Ground Mount System Installation

In a ground installation a frame is built for your solar cells that tilts them up to an optimal angle (usually 30 degrees) and faces the correct way (South). The frame can be built out of galvanized steel or aluminum, and is attached to the ground via a concrete foundation.

Ground-mounted systems are probably the simplest way to install solar on a larger scale compared to other types of installations such as roofs or parking structures. These systems can be held down by a variety of foundations, including concrete footings, pile driven posts, piers, metal earth screws or with ballasted holding trays.

At Solora Solar, we understand that there is no single solar installation solution that fits all sites because each and every site is different – geographically, topographically and with respect to structural loading requirements. Based on the solar module mounting type, project size and soil conditions, Solora Solar provides custom designed racking and ground mount solar installation solutions specific for every type of project. At Solora Solar, we use the information in certified Geo technical Reports couple with Engineering analysis and work with the customer to design the most economical foundation for the solar mounting system.

Advantages for ground mount solar panel systems include the relative ease of installation and their flexibility in terms of tracking the sun across the sky. There are two common types of ground mount systems: pole mounts and ground mounts.

  • More scope and lower cost to install a sun tracking system
  • Ability to operate a manual seasonal tilt adjust system
  • Typically there much more space on the ground then on the roof in rural settings, so larger systems can be installed
  • Cells are easier to clean and maintain

These systems are much more common for rural or places where roof structure is not suitable for Solar installation.

  • Lack of available space on your roof
  • Poor roof orientation (the optimal roof orientation in Central Washington is facing
    South at a tilt of 30 degrees)
  • Poor sun exposure on your roof due to shadows
  • You wish to install a large system
  • You wish to install a sun tracking system for maximum sun exposure
  • You have good availability of sun exposed land

They are less common in cities due to lack of space and aesthetic drawbacks. Urban settings often do not have the available land space.

  • Aesthetically more imposing
  • Solid foundations and concrete footings will need to be built to provide stability in storms and high wind
  • Typically more expensive on installation due to cost of frame, foundation and footings

One size fits all?

Foundation systems need to correspond to the existing site considerations and soil static conditions according to engineering calculations and building codes. The one size fits all approach will not lead to the most cost and resource efficient results. Here are some key factors that will help to determine the foundation type:

  • Tilt angle and tracking characteristics of the solar power system.
  • Local design wind speeds and snow loads where the solar power system is to be installed.
  • Support and racking configuration (Galvanized, Steel or Aluminum pipes).
  • Overall solar module system size and weight.
  • Local design codes and project requirements.
  • Soil characteristics relative to friction, sliding, consolidation, slope stability, salinity, frost depth etc.
  • Brownfield or landfill

Foundation

Regardless of the type of installation method all solar installations need a stable and secure support system and foundation. The longevity of the investment is determined by the weakest part of the system. Therefore it is essential to provide a quality, engineered foundation which suits the needs of each individual project and application. Choosing the right solar module support system method involves understanding a variety of environmental and soil mechanical factors.

Different foundation options

  • Concrete Pier
  • Driven Post
  • Screw Piles
  • Precast or Cast-in-Place Concrete Ballast
  • Helical Piles

When considering a large-scale PV installation, it is important to understand the dynamics of the methods and means of construction, especially for foundations. The foundation is the key to supporting the ground mount solar racking system. Without a solid foundation, owners risk having solar racking structures and solar modules flying through the air or toppled over due to the loading and soil conditions at the project site.

Several foundation options as mentioned above are available for the solar mounting systems, while all options can work well, the developers and engineers on the project must select the foundation that most efficiently works on the project in terms of design, engineering and economics. This is where experience in all types of foundation options becomes a key component in the overall design of the solar mounting system.

There are many reasons a geo-technical engineer would recommend a driven pile over a concrete foundation for a ground mount solar project, but some of the common reasons are large design loads, a poor soil at shallow depth, environment impact, economics and site constraints. When soil conditions permit, driven pile systems can certainly be a more favorable option for ground mount solar foundations on large-scale PV installations. There can be distinct advantages on materials, installation time and the overall environmental impact.

When comparing to concrete, using driven piles takes up less space in the ground, eliminates the down time waiting for concrete to set up, and reduces logistical challenges in terms of coordinating multiple and continuous deliveries of the concrete from the mixing plant.

Ground systems mounted onto a ground without much variation in setup. They are usually constructed from stainless steel or Galvanized or Aluminum pipe in a grid-like system of supports. This framework can be very bulky. All systems provide some level of tilt and may be adjustable or fixed. Despite their bulk, in areas where high wind may be a factor, the mounts will need a strong anchor (foundation) to the ground.

Maintenance can be a factor with roof-ground mounts but only to the extent that you will have to keep the area around clear from possible panel shading. Many users will raise the mount off the ground using concrete blocks or short poles.

Pole mounts are a long popular solar panel mounting system. There are two types: top-of-pole and side-of-pole. Top-of-pole mounts essentially consist of a steel or aluminum rack that is bolted to a large sleeve which fits over a pole. Side mounts are usually used when mounting to a telephone pole, communications tower, or the like and typically involve smaller panels.

Top mounts are simple but difficult to install. They are simple in design but often difficult to physically install. Larger mounts can be very heavy and may even require a small crane or several people in order to set the mount on the pole. Pole mounts require a steel pole around 12 feet in length set in concrete. In softer soil you may have to dig quite deep because of wind resistance.

Pole mount systems may also include an automatic solar tracker which will track the sun across the sky over the course of the year. Although homeowners can usually adjust the panels they on a three month schedule.

Despite the simplicity of both ground mount systems, they are usually installed by a professional solar installer. It may be advantageous to hire a pro with experience to anchor and lift mounts and panels, not to mention wiring.