Solar Efficiency in Cold Temperatures

Solar photovoltaic (PV) panels create energy from the sun’s radiation “sunrays” & not from the sun’s heat. A solar panel is made up of a layer of silicon cells and when light interacts with a silicon cell, it causes electrons to be set into motion, which initiates a flow of electric current.

When the sun is hitting a solar panel, the solar panel will generate electricity — no matter how cold it is. Most people don’t know that solar works more efficiently in colder temperatures. A sunny and cold environment in New England is the best condition for solar panels. Heat actually reduces solar efficiency (tests shown that panels start to lose efficiency above 77ºF).

Best example is the McMurdo Station, the primary hub for U.S. science operations on Antarctica, using solar as it’s critical source of power. Temperatures in outer space, where solar powers the International Space Station, experience the most extreme cold temperatures that are significantly colder than New England winters or even Antarctica’s tempatures!

In fact, the solar industry is thriving in cold-weather states like here in Massachusetts (our main office location), Rhode Island and Connecticut.

This isn’t to say that solar is better or produces more energy during the winter months. Shorter days in winter, snow cover, clouds and a lower angle of the sun can all reduce the amount of sunlight solar panels get.

Do you live in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, or Connecticut and thinking about going Solar? Call our office today to speak to one of our Solar experts to see how much solar can save you!

Benefits of going Solar:

  • Reduce or eliminate your Electric Bill
  • Earn a great return on your investment
  • Increase your property value
  • Protect against rising energy costs
  • Protect the environment

Rhode Island Solar Guide

About the RI Office of Energy Resources Solar Guide

The purpose of this guide is to assist Rhode Island residents who are considering solar energy to generate electricity in their homes. This guide will help determine whether a solar PV system is right for you. It reviews solar PV technology, the installation process as well as available incentives. This guide focuses on solar systems interconnected to the utility distribution system. While this guide is intended primarily for homeowners, many of the issues discussed apply to small scale installations in general and may apply to businesses considering solar.

Why Go Solar?

In 2018, Rhode Island was the 8th most expensive state for electricity in the country.  In that year, natural gas fueled over half of the electric power sector and nearly all in-state electricity generation. Solar can help reduce reliance on natural gas and cheapen the cost of electricity.

Why Work With SGE Solar

 

We have a deep commitment to developing and maintaining healthy, productive relationships and place utmost importance on customer service and satisfaction. We have a Customer Care Manager who ensures that there is clear communication through out the entire process and beyond. We know the value of happy customers, and strive for 100% satisfaction.

We also have a commitment to operating our business in a sustainable, healthy manner. We continually look to our Sustainability Initiative to inform our business decisions on potential impacts on the local, regional and global environment, people and community.

Rhode Island Solar Guide can be downloaded for free from the Rhode Island Office of Energy Resources website.

Benefits of going Solar:

  • Reduce or eliminate your Electric Bill
  • Earn a great return on your investment
  • Increase your property value
  • Protect against rising energy costs
  • Protect the environment

Smart Solar Incentive

The New SMART program is a new long-term, sustainable solar incentive program meant to promote cost-effective solar development. Through SMART, Massachusetts will procure Renewable Energy Credits (RECs) over as many as eight (8) consecutive “capacity blocks”of approximately 200 MW each.Qualified solar projects enrolled in the program will receive tariff-based payments for 10 or 20 years depending on project size, subject to compensation rate adders and subtractors that reflect project characteristics including project location, whether the project has battery storage capability, or will serve low-income customers. Contact SGE Solar to setup your free consultation and learn how you can benefit from the SMART Solar Program!

SMART Benefits:

  • Long-term revenue certainty for solar producers, reducing financing costs and lowering overall project costs
  • Predictable program costs
  • Incentives that decline with the cost of solar
  • Contract prices that are identical and predictable across utility service territories, regardless of varying retail prices

SGE – SunPower panels

SunPower Corp on Tuesday said some of the solar cells and panels it produces overseas will be excluded from the Trump administration’s 30 percent import tariffs, sending the company’s shares up 15 percent.

SunPower is based in San Jose, California but produces most of its solar products in Mexico and the Philippines. The company has publicly lobbied for its products to be exempt from the tariffs, arguing the funds it was spending on duties were being diverted from investments in American jobs in research and development and domestic manufacturing.

The exemption covers SunPower’s premium, high-efficiency interdigitated back contact (IBC) cells and modules, which the company argued stood apart from the cheap, commoditized imports that dominate the market and were the target of the tariffs.

“With today’s decision that SunPower’s highly differentiated IBC cells and modules are excluded from tariffs, we are able to turn the page,” SunPower Chief Executive Tom Werner said in a statement.

U.S. President Donald Trump in January announced a 30-percent tariff on all imported solar panels, an opening salvo in an escalating global trade dispute he said was aimed at helping U.S. manufacturers and other businesses rebound from years of decline. Much of the U.S. solar industry protested the move, saying it would chill one of America’s fastest-growing sectors.

SunPower, which earlier this year agreed to buy a U.S. solar manufacturing facility in Oregon from SolarWorld Americas to expand production in its home market, said the deal would close before the end of this quarter.

SunPower said the decision by the U.S. Trade Representative to exempt some of its products from tariffs would be published in the Federal Register on Wednesday.

SunPower shares were up $1.01, or 15 percent, at $7.59 on the Nasdaq. SunPower is majority owned by France’s Total SA .

(Reporting by Nichola Groom; Editing by Bill Berkrot)

Cleaning Your Solar Panels

Solar panels work by converting sunlight into electricity, so the cleaner your panels are, the more efficiently they’ll be able to generate clean energy for your home or business.

Since SunPower panels can be one of the most efficient panels on the market they’ll make more energy than competing panels in a variety of low-light situations, but any panels covered with too much dirt or debris will produce less power.

In most cases, the loss of power isn’t significant — maybe 1 to 4.7 percent. But one study found that long-term dirt buildup can reduce a solar panel’s electricity production by as much as 20 percent.

How to Clean Your Solar Panels

The good news is that seasonal rain and snowmelt usually washes off any dirt that may have accumulated. But if your area receives very little precipitation and has dusty, windy weather, you may need to occasionally clean your panels. Some homeowners are able to do this themselves or they may choose to have them professionally cleaned.

Fortunately, cleaning solar panels is easy for ground-mounted systems, or for rooftop solar systems on a typical one-story house. We recommend homeowners use a soft-bristle brush with an extended handle, like the type used to clean off an RV. And don’t forget to choose an environmentally friendly soap.

If the panels are hard to access, such those on a two-story home, we suggests buying a high-pressure hose nozzle with an attachment that holds soap. These can be found at any home maintenance store. Find a safe place to stand, spray soapy water on the panels and then quickly rinse them off.

It’s really that simple!

Do-it-yourselfers should keep some other things in mind:

  • As a rule, stay on the ground. Never get up on your roof without a secure ladder and proper fall-protection equipment.
  • Avoid using hard, or mineral rich, water. It can damage panels over time. If your area only has hard tap water, you can buy an inexpensive water-softening hose attachment to filter out minerals. Otherwise, you can use distilled or de-ionized water.
  • Use soft brushes and squeegees. Don’t use abrasive brushes, pads or powders.
  • Clean early in the morning or in the evening when the panels are cool. During the heat of the day, water and soap can evaporate quickly, which risks smearing the soap and dirt.
  • When using a high-pressure water nozzle, don’t get close to the panels. While they’re extremely durable, you don’t want to damage them.

Of course reach out to us anytime if you have any maintenance questions!

How Solar Works

Solar energy works by capturing the sun’s energy and turning it into electricity to your home or business.

Our sun is a natural nuclear reactor. It releases tiny packets of energy called photons. Every hour, enough photons impact our planet to generate enough solar energy to theoretically satisfy global energy needs for an entire year.

Solar technology is improving and the cost of going solar is affordable, so our ability to harness the sun’s abundance of energy is on the rise especially here in Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut.

A 2017 report from the International Energy Agency shows that solar has become the world’s fastest-growing source of power – marking the first time that solar energy’s growth has surpassed that of all other fuels. In the coming years, we will all be enjoying the benefits of solar-generated electricity in one way or another.

How Do Solar Panels Work?

When photons hit a solar cell, they knock electrons loose from their atoms. If conductors are attached to the positive and negative sides of a cell, it forms an electrical circuit. When electrons flow through such a circuit, they generate electricity. Multiple cells make up a solar panel, and multiple panels (modules) can be wired together to form a solar array. The more panels you can deploy, the more energy you can expect to generate.

What are Solar Panels Made of?
You’ll hear words like (PV) which stands for Photovoltaic solar panels which are made up of many solar cells. Solar cells are made of silicon, like semiconductors. They are constructed with a positive layer and a negative layer, which together create an electric field, just like in a battery.

How Do Solar Panels Generate Electricity?
PV solar panels generate direct current (DC) electricity. With DC electricity, electrons flow in one direction around a circuit.

With AC (alternating current) electricity, electrons are pushed and pulled, periodically reversing direction, much like the cylinder of a car’s engine. Generators create AC electricity when a coil of wire is spun next to a magnet. Many different energy sources can “turn the handle” of this generator, such as gas or diesel fuel, hydroelectricity, nuclear, coal, wind, or solar.

How Does a Solar Panel System Work?

Sunlight hits a solar panel on the roof, the panels convert the energy to DC current, which flows to an inverter. The inverter converts the electricity from DC to AC, which you can then use to power your home. It’s simple and clean, and it’s getting more efficient and affordable all the time.

A typical grid-tied PV system, during peak daylight hours, frequently produces more energy than one customer needs, so that excess energy is fed back into the grid for use elsewhere. The customer gets credit/paid for the excess energy produced, and can use that credit to draw from the conventional grid at night or on cloudy days.

Contact SGE Solar if you have any questions about Solar and how you can benefit on reducing or eliminating your electric bill with the power of the sun!

Critter Guard

You made a great decision in going solar and your solar panels are an excellent investment.  In order to protect your investment, you will want to pay close attention to what may be going on under and around your solar panels.

As we enter into the summer months, we typically see an increase in bird and critter activity, especially if your home is near trees or overhead wires. Rooftop solar panels create an ideal environment for pigeons and other birds to nest and roost.  The panels provide shade from the hot sun and a sense of security from predators.  Also, squirrels can be notorious for nesting under rooftop panels and can possibly chew through exposed or hanging wires. They may use their teeth to cut power lines to and from solar panels and, if they chew the right wire, this could lead to expensive and unwanted repairs.

If you notice an increase in bird and squirrel activity around your home, it’s critical to check and make sure they’re not nesting underneath your panels.

In most cases, you won’t need Critter Guard, but if you do see squirrels or birds in or around your system and want a high strength screen around the panels then call us today at 508-377-4037 or email us at info@sgegroup.com  for a Critter Guard quote.

How Home Solar Batteries Work

Solar energy system generates electricity whenever the sun is shining, often making more than a home needs during peak seasons. That excess energy is sent to the grid, and the homeowner usually receives a credit from their utility that can offset the electricity used at night.

While the grid still plays a supporting role, more homeowners are requesting solar-plus-storage so they can have more control over their electricity use.

Solar storage batteries work by taking that excess electricity and storing it. The stored solar energy can be used to complement power from the grid at night or to power essential appliances1 during a power outage. (Check out this battery storage infographic from Sun Power Below.)

Lithium ion home storage batteries usually come in a rectangular white box that’s about 4- to 5-feet high, 6 inches to a foot deep and about 2 feet wide.  They are mounted in an out-of-the-way spot, such as a utility room or in the garage. The bigger the battery, the more power that can be stored. Any excess left over after the battery is charged flows back to the utility. See our Sonnen Battery Page for information or contact SGE to get a free no-obligation quote today!

New Homes Requiring Solar :)

There’s no question that solar power is entering the mainstream, but California is about to give it a giant boost. The state’s Energy Commission is expected to approve new energy standards that would require solar panels on the roofs of nearly all new homes, condos and apartment buildings from 2020 onward. There will be exemptions for homes that either can’t fit solar panels or would be blocked by taller buildings or trees, but you’ll otherwise have to go green if your property is brand new.

The plan doesn’t require that a home reach net-zero status (where the solar power completely offsets the energy consumed in a year). However, it does provide “compliance credits” for homebuilders who install storage batteries like Tesla’s Powerwall, letting them build smaller panel arrays knowing that excess energy will be available to use off-hours.

The new standards are poised to hike construction costs by $25,000 to $30,000 (about half of which is directly due to solar), but the self-produced energy is estimated to save owners $50,000 to $60,000 in operating costs over the solar technology’s expected 25-year lifespan.

Short of a surprise rejection at the Energy Commission’s May 9th vote, this will make California the first state to have a solar panel requirement. It’s relatively easy to do this in the region given California’s abundance of warm, sunny days and high real estate prices — it’s hard to see this happening in the American Midwest, where winter and lower home prices could make solar decidedly less practical. Critics have complained that this could make California’s housing shortage worse by pricing people out of those homes that areavailable, and note that most people in the state only really draw on non-renewable energy when they come home from work and strain the electrical grid.

Even so, this could change the landscape for both California’s energy and the market as a whole. Right now, no more than 20 percent of new single-family homes in California include solar power. Boost that by five times and that’s a lot more business for panel makers and installers. That, in turn, could reduce the costs of panels and make solar more affordable in many places, not just in California or even the US.

Orange County Register

  • This article originally appeared on Engadget.

RI Solar Incentives

Currently, there are great Federal, State, and Utility solar incentives to help offset the cost of your system in Rhode Island. With Rhode Island being right in our backyard, we’re able to work with you closely to develop a system that matches your needs.

SGE Solar being a SunPower dealer means you’ll get the latest technology and the best warranty in the business. Don’t hesitate to get in this program before it fills up! Feel free to reach out to us anytime for questions or to schedule a free no-obligation consultation to see how much solar can save you!

RHODE ISLAND RENEWABLE ENERGY GROWTH PROGRAM

HIGHLIGHTS

  • The Renewable Energy Growth Program makes it easy to be paid by National Grid for your solar generation.
  • Payments are available for 15 or 20-years for residential customers, or 20 years for non-residential customers.
  • Depending on the term, project size, and other factors, National Grid will pay from 28.55¢ to 32.25¢ per kilowatt-hour for solar generation in a Performance- Based Incentive (PBI). PBIs are set by the RI Distributed Generation Board, approved by the RI Public
    Utilities Commission and applicable from 4/1/2018 thru 3/31/2019.
  • Residential customers: The host customer will receive a bill credit for energy and the system owner will be paid the remaining PBI; the owner may be the host customer or a third-party.
  • Applications will be accepted on an ongoing basis and approved on a first-come, first-served basis subject to the available capacity of 6.55 MW for 2018. National Grid will accept applications until the 6.55 MW capacity is met.