Tag Archives: your solar guide

Your Solar Guide: Solar Panel Performance Terminology

The quality of solar panels determines the efficiency and performance of your system. Not all company’s install high-quality panels on your project. Solar Chief is committed to equipping its customers with the most reliable and efficient solar panels. To learn more about Solar Chief and contact us today!


Solar Panel Performance Terminology

Solar Efficiency Terms

AMPM standard: rating indicates how solar panels perform from peak sunlight hours to nonpeak sunlight hours. Indicates how a panel will perform and takes into account light variations during the day, ambient temperatures and factors related to air mass that affect solar energy potential.

Normal operating cell temperature (NOCT) rating: rating of a solar power system’s potential to withstand factors that affect efficiency. The calculation uses peak sunshine during the assessment.

Peak watt rating: this number reflects testing in laboratory conditions and shows how much energy in peak watts (Wp) a solar module generates.

Solar Energy Performance Terms

Current at maximum power (Im): rates the solar panel’s production of electricity after inverting solar power into DC power.

Current-voltage (IV): ratings compare the differences in terms of output when insolation (the amount of light that falls on a panel) and temperature vary. This rating is useful for learning how a solar panel will perform as the temperature changes and sunlight potential decreases on a cloudy day.

Nominal voltage (Vn): shows the voltage compatible with the solar panels. This often ranges from six to 24 volts, but it can be 48 volts or even more.

Rated power: shows the solar panel’s ability to sustain power output throughout the day, defines the panel’s peak capacity.

Temperature at rated power: is a standard that manufacturers use to rate solar panels’ performance at a specific temperature.

Voltage at peak power (Vp): the panel’s maximum voltage output when it’s producing electricity at its highest rate.

Your Solar Guide: What is Solar Energy?

What is Solar Energy?

Solar energy is the most abundant energy source on Earth, and as we continue to develop ways to capture it, it is an important aspect of our clean energy future.

During the day when the sun is shining, each particle of sunlight that reaches earth contains energy that fuels our planet. Solar energy is the ultimate source responsible for all of our weather systems and energy sources on earth, and enough solar radiation hits the surface of the planet each hour to theoretically fill our global energy needs for nearly an entire year.

This energy comes from the sun, which is like a massive nuclear reactor. Deep in the Sun’s core, nuclear fusion reactions produce massive amounts of energy that radiates outward from the Sun’s surface and into space in the form of light and heat.

How does solar power work?

Solar power can be harnessed and converted to usable energy using photovoltaics or solar thermal collectors. Although solar energy only accounts for a small amount of overall global energy use, the falling cost of installing solar panels means that more and more people in more places can take advantage of solar energy. Solar is a clean, renewable energy resource, and figures to play an important part in the global energy future.

How to harness solar energy for usable power?

There are many ways to use energy from the sun. The two main ways to use energy from the sun are photovoltaics and solar thermal capture. Photovoltaics are much more common for smaller-scale electricity projects such as a residential solar panel installation, and solar thermal capture is typically only used for electricity production on massive scales in utility solar installations. In addition to producing electricity, lower temperature variations of solar thermal projects can be used for heating and cooling.

Solar is one of the fastest growing and cheapest sources of power in the world and will continue to spread rapidly in the coming years. With solar panel technology improving each year, the economic benefits of solar improve, adding to the environmental perks of choosing a clean, renewable energy source.

Source: www.energysage.com

Your Solar Guide: 5 Things to Check on Your Solar System Every Month

5 Things to Check on Your Solar System Each Month to Keep it Running Smoothly

With their few moving parts and limited maintenance needs, solar panels can typically last years without experiencing any issues. However, in order to keep them working at peak performance and to keep from having any major maintenance issues, it is important to give them preventative care throughout the year. Here are the top five things you should be doing each month in order to keep your solar panels working the best they can.

Watch for dirt and debris buildup

Being sure to keep your solar panels free from any obstructions helps ensure that you are maximizing the efficiency of your system. You should be sure to remove snow, dust, and leaves from your panels on a monthly basis to keep your system running smoothly. However, if your system is installed in a way that could put you at risk of a fall, do not attempt to clean them yourself. Many solar systems are mounted low enough that cleaning is possible from the ground using a land-handled broom. For panels mounted higher, your installer will likely have a solar panel cleanings service to recommend. Having a professional come to clean your panels can help ensure that your panels receive a thorough cleaning and that they will not be damaged in the process.

Inspect your rack and roof penetrations

Solar panels are mounted to your roof with a rack. This rack carries the weight of the panels and holds them to the roof using several sturdy bolt penetrations. A monthly visual inspection is a great way to catch any potential drainage or structural issues before they become serious. While it can be tough to identify drainage issues from the outside, they should be visible from the inside in the form of leaks. You should do a monthly visual inspection of your attic space to see if you notice any leaks under the areas where your panels are mounted.

Missing bolts can also be an indicator of impending rack failure. Panels can loosen in their mounts over time due to snow and wind, so if you do find a potential issue contact your solar panel installer to inspect and repair the rack.

Examine potential corrosion

Solar systems are made with durable and long lasting components, allowing them to produce energy for twenty-five years or more. Your rack and panels will likely be made from corrosion-resistant materials, but after a long period of time corrosion could develop and compromise the strength of your system components. Doing a visual check for corrosion once a month helps to give you the opportunity to address any issues before they become serious.

Check for broken glass

The silicon wafers inside your solar panels are covered by extremely durable tempered glass. This glass is rated to withstand bad weather conditions, even hair storms. However, fallen tree branches or an especially bad storm can result in broken panels. If you notice any broken panels, you should call your solar installer immediately.

Look for faulty wiring

All solar arrays contain an inverter, which converts the direct current the panels produce into the alternating current used in your homes electrical system. In many cases, each panel is wired in a series to one single inverter which creates many potential points of failure.

Faulty wiring can be difficult to diagnose. There will sometimes be a visual indication such as a snapped wire or a broken connection, but this may not always be the case. However, there are two ways to diagnose faulty wiring. Many of the new systems come with real-time production tracking, so if your system uses this technology you can check it to see if it is under-performing. If you have an older system that does not use this technology, you can use your monthly bill as an indicator of any potential issues. If you notice a problem, do not attempt to repair it yourself, but instead be sure to call your installer.

Source: www.solarpowerauthority.com

Your Solar Guide: What Can Solar Do for You?

Solar energy is now more affordable and accessible than ever before, and using renewable energy makes a positive impact on the environment. It’s like they say: what does a solar spill look like? A beautiful day. 

SAVE MONEY

Everyone wants to save money, right? A solar electric, or photovoltaic (PV) system may be the answer. The Public Utility Regulatory Policy Act of 1978 (PURPA) requires power providers to purchase excess power from grid-connected small renewable energy systems at a rate equal to what it costs the power provider to produce the power itself. This means that any excess energy your PV system produces can actually put money into your pocket. The greatest benefit for homeowners is through net metering. With this arrangement, a bi-directional meter is used to record the electricity your home pulls from the grid, as well as the excess energy your PV system produces. At the end of the month, if you are in the black energy-wise, the utility will pay you retail price for that extra electricity.

PROTECT THE PLANET

At least for the next 5 billion years or so while the sun still shines, solar energy is a renewable resource. This means that you can use as much of the sun’s energy as you like and it won’t deplete it as a resource. Processing solar energy does not release carbon emissions, unlike coal, which many utilities use to produce electricity. According to the EPA, the average American household produces 6.8 metric tons of greenhouse gas emission from electricity each year. By using solar energy to power your home, greenhouse gas emissions from electricity could decrease considerably.

Side note: If you can’t produce solar energy at home, why not buy clean energy from your local utility?

INCREASE PROPERTY VALUE

Investing in solar energy will not only save you month-to-month on your electric bill, but it could also increase the property value of your home. A study by the National Bureau of Economic Research found that in California, PV systems added a $20,194 premium to the sales price of homes. Though solar can be expensive to install, the return on investment is approximately 97%, not including the savings associated with reduced energy bills.

CREATE JOBS

The solar industry is growing rapidly. More homes are using solar energy and as such, new jobs are being created to meet this need. According to the non-profit Solar Foundation 2013 Solar Jobs Census, the U.S. solar industry employed 142,698 Americans in 2013. This is an almost 20% growth in employment since September 2012!

Article: Energy.gov

Your Solar Guide: How many panels for your project?

Investing and transitioning to solar can seem complex but Solar Chief is here to help. Our company prides itself on educating customers on everything solar. Solar Chief wants to ensure every project is successful in producing the amount of energy needed. Faults can occur when using an online app to calculator the number of panels needed because the app doesn’t calculate all the circumstances. Solar Chief offers FREE proposals and FREE site evaluations to provide an accurate estimate.

How many solar panels is needed for your project?
Depends on the amount of electricity used and location of the panels.

How to estimate your energy needs

Energy Efficiency of Home

Make energy-saving upgrades to maximize efficiency before adding solar. Completing a home energy audit can significantly lower your energy bill. The process is not costly and many adjustments can be done yourself. Local utility companies offer energy saving tips, discounts, and rebates. SCE&G offers free Home Energy Check-ups. Below are some examples of energy upgrades.

  • Inspect doors, windows, roof, and attic for leaks
  • Replace your old bulbs with high-efficiency bulbs (SCE&G Discounts)
  • Update to energy efficient appliances (SCE&G Appliances Recycling Rebate)
  • Install energy-saving smart thermostats (example: Nest)
  • Replace air filters

Assess Solar Potential and Limitation

The location of your project determines the solar potential of the solar array. PV systems use direct and indirect sunlight but the efficiency can be impacted. Look at your areas yearly sun exposure.
The limitations of your solar array can be created by shading (trees or buildings), roof conditions (age, size, material), and HOA (homeowner association) restrictions. Ask Solar Chief to provide recommendations to reach a peak efficiency of your system.

Assess Options of Solar

The solar option chosen could affect the number of panels in your system. Determining your use for solar energy will help configure the amount of electricity your system needs to produce. Price and ownership play a role in planning your array. Some panels can produce more electricity than others. Do you want a rooftop or ground-mounted solar system? Do you want to be connected to the grid?

Estimate Projects Solar Electricity Needs

Estimating the amount of electricity a system needs to produce is the last step. Addressing the efficiency of your home will lower the amount of energy needed to be produced. Solar Chief wants to create the most accurate energy estimation. Analyzing your power bill can determine the number of kilowatts per hour used per month. Then we will determine what your system would need to be in kW in order to meet your kWh needs.

Factors to Consider

Importance of knowing peak usage. Some homes use more energy in summer or winter and you want to have a system prepared for peak loads.

Consider any planned changes. If you will be purchasing an electric vehicle or are planning a home addition, your electricity needs may increase.

Importance of your home’s energy efficiency. If you are continuing to make significant changes to improve your home’s energy efficiency, you may need less electricity than you used in the past.

Net Metering. If you want to sell back power to the electric company, then you need to produce more power than you consume.

There is a regulatory cap on the system KW size permitted on top of your roof.

There are so many factors determining the size of your system. Contact Solar Chief to find out more. Thanks for reading!

Source: Energy.gov

Going Solar: Installation Process

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Installing solar on your home is a big investment. Our goal at Solar Chief is to create a smooth and simple transition to solar. We strive to educate our customers and maintain communication throughout the installation process. We’ll walk you through the options in our Free Site Evaluation and Free Quote, eliminate the options that won’t work, and provide you with a solution that you’ll be happy with.

If you ever have any questions about solar or the installation process, then please contact us at 803-602-3397 where we will be happy to assist you in any way.

Consulting
We’ll walk you through the decision process step by step to ensure the quality of your investment.

Design
Once you’re signed up, we’ll begin the design process of your new solar panel system.

Financing
There are many options available when it comes to paying for your new investment, we’ll help you choose the best one.

Permitting
Permitting must be obtained for your new panels—we’ll assist you to make sure proper permits are received.

Installation
After we’re all set up, it’s time to install your new system for your home or business.

Monitoring
After we install your system and turn it on, we have maintenance packages available to help keep your system in top shape.

Your Solar Guide: Can I go Solar?

A solar panel investment can turn your aggravating electricity bill into a distant memory. Many home and business owners are looking to see if they have a suitable property for solar panels. Solar Chief offers Free Site Evaluations and Free Quotes, we are here to consult you through the entire process. We can go over a variety of solar options to find what fits your needs.

Click here to request a free quote from us today!


This is a loaded question that depends on many factors. Solar can produce enough energy to reduce your electricity bills, save money and reduce your carbon footprint. Below we will include many determinants of your solar potential.

Property Location
Solar panels operate in all climates but consider your location in the United States to receive the most efficient energy. Click here to view US Solar Resource Map

Roof Requirements
Roof mounted solar panels aren’t for every property but a great alternative for small properties or ascetics.

Direction
South-facing roofs are perfect for solar because they receive the most sunlight over the course of the day. However, a solar panel system facing other directions can still produce an adequate amount of electricity. Our free site evaluation can help arrange the efficiency of your panels.

Pitch
Solar panels can be situated on roofs with a pitch within 15 and 40 degrees. You can still go solar with a flat roof by mounting your panels at a favorable angle.

Age/ Materials
Solar panels can last for over 25 years, therefore it is necessary to consider the longevity of your roof prior to the installation of your panels. Taking the panels off to install a new roof is a costly expense that should be avoided. Solar panels are compatible with most roofing materials, including composite, wood, cement tile, slate, tar and gravel, or metal. While you can install solar on slate, cedar, and clay tile roofs, they are more prone to breakage during solar panel installation.

Shading Concerns
Shading will hinder the efficiency of solar panel production. All obstructions near the panels will block sunlight and reduce the amount of electricity the panels produce. Our free site evaluation will determine trees, buildings, and roof obstructions that might create any issues.

*Most think of adding solar to their home’s roof, but a roof over a carport, garage, or porch that receives no shading from other buildings or trees will also work well. Solar Chief is committed to showing our clients all options to ensure they make the right financial and efficient decision.

Source: Energy Sage

Presidents Day: The White House and Solar Panels

The complicated relationship between the White House and solar panels began in 1979. President Jimmy Carter installed 32 solar panels on the White House roof amid the Arab oil embargo, which had caused a national energy crisis. About three years later President Ronald Reagan ordered the solar panels to be removed. In 1986, the panels were officially taken down. By 1992, these solar panels then took a journey to be installed at Maine College.

In 2003, solar panels make an official comeback when President George W. Bush ordered the installation of ground-mounted solar panels on the White House grounds. Rooftop solar installations were completed by President Barack Obama in 2014. Today the White House features rooftop and ground-mounted solar energy.

Image result for solar panels on the white house
Inside the White House: Solar Panels Video

Source: Thought Co.

Going Solar: Grid Connection

There are various factors to consider when going solar. The type of solar setup will determine your electricity connection to the local utility’s electricity grid. The type of system selected is decided by your needs.

Types of System Setups

Grid Connected Solar System is connected to the local utility’s electricity grid. Excess electricity generated can be exported back to the grid. Supplemental electricity can be transmitted from the grid to meet energy demands.

Grid Connected Solar and Battery System collect solar power from your panels to use and store in your battery for backup use. The system connects to the grid, which brings the advantage of net metering. Net metering is a solar incentive that allows you to store energy in the electric grid. The excess power your solar panels generate is sent to the grid, which is exchanged for the option of grid electricity if your system is under-producing like during nighttime.

Off the Grid Solar System is entirely self-sufficient and has no way to use the grid to supply the household with electricity. Off-grid systems are not joined to any utility power lines. Batteries store the unused solar energy for nighttime use.

Sources: Energy Sage