It can be really exciting shopping for and buying solar panels. The choice of going for solar panels is a good one. You will not only being going green by being energy efficient, but will also be reducing your carbon foot print and saving money in the process. However choosing and buying your solar panel is no easy task. Solar panels comes in many different sizes and shapes.
The prices and outputs also vary based on the material being used. So it can be very confusing to make a decision without the sufficient background knowledge. Many find it hard to choose between the expensive modules in the market with the more conventional generic modules which are cheaper and seem sufficient for many needs.
This guide will help you make an informed decision on which solar panels is a good fit for your needs. When buying a solar panel, the goal is to have maximum life expectancy and reliable electrical output throughout its life, while at the same time having minimum cost to install the panels. In this guide we will cover how to achieve this and what are the questions which need to be asked when deciding which is the best solar module for your home.
Solar Panels Quick Check List
- The negative power rating has to be as low as it can possibly me. It should not be more than 7%
- The higher efficiency solar panels will take up lesser space for amount of output and often has the same price as the less efficient panels.
- The PTC wattage rating is standardized and is more accepted rating for home solar panels.
- Panels from trusted manufacturers with a good track record will give you more security in your investment in the form of warranty and investment protection.
How Much Do Solar Panels Cost?
This is the maximum output amount that your solar panels is guaranteed to generate. It is one of the most important things that you have to take into consideration when deciding to purchase your Solar Panels. Solar panels are always made in batches and the manufactures use the best samples to determine what the peak wattage is. So the rest of the lot which is manufactured will not have such high rating. But the manufacture will know that the majority of the panels will produce inside a range of the peak wattage. Based on the quality of the silicon which is used, it ranges from 5% to 12% variance. So when you purchase a solar panel of 200w and there is a negative power rating of 10%, then you will only be guaranteed 180w by the solar panel.
The better brands and manufactures of solar panels will maintain better quality of the silicon and it will ensure the negative power rating is no greater than 5%. So as a rule of thumb, it should not be more than 7%. If you have a negative power rating which is more than this, it will mean that you have to buy more solar modules to compensate for this energy loss. So when determining how many solar panels to buy based on your energy needs, the negative power rating should be used for a more accurate calculation.
Say you have a 20KWh/day energy need, and you have 5 hours of direct sunlight in a day. So the system you install has to produce 4Kw/hour. So assume you are trying to choose between two different name plates with both offering 200w panels for installation. The difference is that Panel A has a negative power rating of 5% and Panel B has a negative power rating of 10%. Both panels costs $700 per panel. When you calculate the actual guaranteed amount of power you will get because of the negative power rating, you find out that Panel A is guaranteed to provide 190w whereas Panel B is guaranteed to provide only 180w. Based on your 4Kw/hour energy need required you find out you need 22 units of Panel A and 23 Units of Panel B. So by choosing Panel A you are actually saving $700. Since they have a lower negative power rating, it is also likely that they are made of a higher quality of silicon which will mean that you will get more than the minimum power guaranteed.
Choosing The Best Panels: Efficiency
The higher the quality of the silicon that is used for producing the solar panels, the better the efficiency. The better the efficiency the more power you will get for every square inch the panel is producing. These high efficiency panels are made from large and expensive silicon that are monocrystalline. The low cost photovoltaic panels are made from smaller and cheaper ingots and they are polycrystalline. They are often used to cut down on the cost of manufacturing. However the savings is not passed on to the end consumer and they are charged the same amount as the high efficiency panels. There is also a strong correlation with the high negative power loss percentage and lower efficiency. So the lower efficiency will drive up your initial investment.
It is extremely vital to understand the difference between independent lab rating called the PTC rating and the Standard Testing Conditions rating (STC). The PTC rating is required by many states in the United States for PV panels. Its mandatory before they can be sold in the market for consumer protection. The difference between the STC and PTC is that the STC is done by the manufacturer. The PTC however a more superior bench mark is made by an independent agency and gives it no bias.
Following the same example of Panel A and Panel B, if the Panel A PTC rating is only 150w, whereas the Panel B has a PTC rating of 200w, then you will have to buy fewer Panel B than Panel A, making Panel B the better option. With such large discrepancies in the rating, you will not get a very good deal if you purchase Panel A and it will turn out to the more expensive option.
The key component of a solar panel is its durability and reliability which spans throughout its lifetime. PV panels tend to have a life of 20 to 25 years. Most manufactures will provide lifetime warranty of flaws which are manufactured. They also provide warranty for output defects for 20 years following purchase. That said, 20 years should be the bare minimum when looking for solar panels warranty. This is important, because you will be encouraged to calculate your return on investment for this period.
Not all solar panels have a good track record when it comes to reliability or a brand name that adds value to their warranty. Many companies come and go in the solar panel industry. Your warranty is valid only through the producer of the panels. Its highly likely that 5 years after purchasing solar panels from a company, they go out of business and 5 years following that you have some defects in your panel. There will be no company to honor your warranty and you would have lost a lot of money by not realizing your returns. So the best and probably the safest way to ensure this does not happen is to always purchase from a company which has a proven track record. It maybe cheaper to purchase from alternatives but the risk is not worth taking. It will just kill your investment that you have made into solar technology by giving you very meagre energy savings. So buy from the right companies and save in the long term.
Buying a solar panel is no easy task, but it need not be difficult if you know what your requirements are. Though it is a very exciting investment, you need to be very careful so that you do not spend more than necessary and you do not invest in the wrong panels which do not give you, your return on investment. The solar panel industries has its own share of unscrupulous products and companies. They tend to have very little interest about the environment and only care about money. When it comes to buying your solar panels remember the old adage, “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably isn’t.” It should be alright to shell out a few hundred dollars more and save money in the long term than save a few hundred dollars now and lose money for the next couple of decades. Buy panels with a low negative power rating which is not more than 7%. Go for solar panels with higher efficiency as it will take up lesser space for amount of output and is often the same price as the less efficient panels. Look at the PTC wattage rating as it is standardized and is more accepted rating for home solar panels compared to the STC. Buy panels from trusted manufacturers with a good track record as it will give you more security in your investment in the form of time proof warranty.
The price of energy can be expensive. Consumers are always looking for ways to use less and save more. Saving money on energy doesn’t mean you have to live in the dark, nor does it mean you have to freeze in the winter or melt in the summer. There are some very simple tricks and tips that can start saving you money on your energy bills right now.
Electric “vampires” are any appliances or gadgets which are plugged in but not in use. Many devices will slowly drain energy even while not in use. Unplugging electrical devices can save you around $100 dollars a year.
The best strategy is to plug everything into a power strip that can easily be flipped off when the devices are not in use. Consumers can even turn off their t.v.s and entertainment systems with no worries. Most contemporary devices are equipped with internal memory which saves settings even when not powered. Some estimates state that 75% of your devices power consumption occurs while the devices are turn off but still plugged in. Simply unplugging can save you money right now.
Buy New Light Bulbs
This might be the one of the cheapest and easiest ways to save money on your electric bill. New energy efficient bulbs save money. New regulations have already been put in place to phase out the old incandescent bulbs. Not only are new bulbs better for the environment they last longer, are cheaper to run, and will save you money over the life of the bulb.
New energy efficient bulbs use almost 80% less energy to run. They also last ten times as long as the old traditional bulbs. Most homes can expect to see saving around $35 over the lifetime of the bulb. Just replacing five frequently used lights can save a home around $60 a year.
Switch Energy Providers
The best way to save money on your energy bill is to pay less for energy. Most consumers are enjoying the benefits of a deregulated energy market. Because of deregulation energy providers compete for market share and that competition can save consumers money every month.
Changing providers is a easy way to save money. A leading voice in Texas energy provision, Reliant writes that deregulation has allowed consumers the “opportunity to find similarities and differences between many electricity providers.” Rates can vary greatly so shop around. They advise that before switching consumers, it is recommended to use online resources like http://www.localelectricitycompanies.com/texas/reliant-energy/ to “read up on many providers without switching from site to site for intensive research.”
Consider Blue Star Appliances
Blue star approved appliances are proving themselves worthy. The blue star is only given to appliances which meet very strict standards of energy consumption. Cleaner and more energy efficient, blue star is earning it’s “green” star. Saving the planet and saving consumers money.
Replacing your major appliances to blue star certified appliances can save a household around $600 a year. Just replacing your refrigerator can save you over $100 dollars a year. That’s a lot of money a year, making this upgrade worth the investment.
Install light timers and motion sensors
This is a very easy and cheap tip to help consumers save money on energy. In-house light timers are cheap, most run around $10. These timers will ensure that all the lights are turned off when not in use. They can be set to turn lights off when people are sleeping or not at home.
Motion sensors are great for outside lighting. They can act as a early warning system helping to secure your home by turning the light on if an unwanted person on the property, and turn themselves off when all motion stops. Having the light remain off until needed helps keep unwanted light out of your windows and saves you money on the electric bill. Depending on the extent of your outside lighting, homes with motion sensors, on average, saved around $100 a year.
Tend to your air conditioner
Clean your air conditioning unit. This one simple efficiency tip can save a home around $65 a year. That’s not bad for a couple hours work. Typical air conditioning maintenance involves cleaning and straightening the fins, changing the filter and lubricating the motor.
For the average home, heating and cooling account for around 50% of the annual electric costs. That’s around $1000 a year. Air conditioner in the direct sun lose about 10% of their energy. So be sure yours is in the shade. If your air conditioner is ready to be replaced, replacing it with a blue star unit can save you about 30% a year.
Seal up your leaks
This goes for water and for air. Leaky pipes can cause major damage if left unattended for too long. Not only that you could be losing hot water and that’s costing you money. Fix any leaks and make sure your water heater is fully sealed. Adding a water heater blanket to your tank is one way to save money on your electric bill.
If your doors and windows leak air, seal them up. Homes can lose large amounts of heat and cool air through bad windows and poorly sealed doors. New weather stripping and window caulking are cheap and easy to install. Spending a weekend sealing up your home’s leaks can save you almost 30% a year on your bills.
The millions of people unable to access clean and safe water nowadays is a testament to the world’s limited supply of water. This is why it is very important to save this precious resource and avoid using it recklessly. There are so many ways to save water, like switching taps and shower heads off when they are not in use. Below is information on an alternative way to save water, which is the use of rainwater harvesting and storage tanks. Read on below to know more about them.
We may enjoy the use of energy now, but did you know that society as a whole has been constantly searching for sources of energy to use for decades for several decades now? This says a lot about the state of the world’s energy—it is limited, as it has been since we started powering our homes centuries ago.
Although we have been enjoying the use of energy until now, it still helps to avoid using so much of it at home. Not only does saving energy help you save money, as doing so also prevents stress on the environment. There are so many ways to save energy, and these are highlighted below.
Let’s research and take a deeper look at the progress occurring in current sustainable transportation using renewable energy; PV panels that convert energy from sunlight into useable electricity. What is the latest in wireless telemetry that measures solar power remotely by car dashboard gauges? Will the future highways be filled with cars powered by solar energy?
How Close Are We to Solar-Power Hybrids on the Market?
Are you imagining what it would be like to put enough gasoline in your tank to travel 600 miles and have it last two weeks or even a month? Solar-powered hybrid cars will be able to travel the routine trips to work, the market and local destinations within a 21 mile radius daily using just the electricity converted from the sun’s rays to re-charge itself every day.
These hybrids are also equipped to charge at electric grid stations on cloudy days, and add a generous 600 mile back up of gasoline powered travel as well, according to Extreme Tech. That’s a total of 621 miles in travel before needing to recharge or gas up.
Ford Motor Company’s Contribution
The concept of solar-power is about to hit the market; just current field “real-time testing” is left for evaluation prior to production. Earlier this year, Ford offered the public a preview and introduction to their soon to be marketed solar-powered, self-recharging, hybrid electric car.
The C-MAX Solar Energi uses roof-mounted solar panel electrical conversion, electrical grid battery charger, and a substantial back up of gasoline power. “It’s expected,” says a Ford Motors representative, “that seventy-five percent of all normal travel made by a typical driver, powered by solar on a daily basis, without any need to plug into the grid.”
Using the sun to re-charge itself, the C-MAX has a concentrator device, called a Fresnel lens that directs the sun’s rays into solar panels with cells of about 350 watts. The solar-power acts like a mighty magnifying glass to increase solar panel capacity and generates 8 kilowatts from a day in the sun. This is comparable to 4-hours on an electric grid battery charger. This vehicle includes a standard sun tracker for the roof panels, as well as a port for plugging into an electric grid outlet.
World-wide Collaboration in the Solar Powered Car Effort
In an effort to extend solar-powered car technology, 21 countries compete in an annual solar-powered car race from Darwin to Adelaide, in Australia. Since 2011, solar-power technicians have entered their prized research vehicles in this race to promote their designs that easily convert the sunlight into efficient motor power, according to CNN. The purpose of these races is to find ultimate efficiency for electric-powered cars. Some of these prototype motors are reaching 98 percent power conversion efficiency from sunlight.
These cooperative world-wide efforts to find sustainable options for eliminating carbon emissions is being adopted by industrialized countries to manage our environment in a more responsible way. And with the cost of solar panels down 60% since 2011 and that of solar photovoltaic systems down 50% in the last four years according to RSI, it has become more cost effective to create these solar-powered machines.
Designs of Solar-Powered Racing Cars
Prototypes of the solar-powered car industry are about to burst through cutting-edge concepts into the realm of reality on our highways in the U.S.A. Often testing shows 98 percent fuel conversion efficiency, according to the CNN article. The problems to work out involve accommodating more than one passenger and easily switching to battery and/or gas power when entering a tunnel, or when sudden storm clouds cover the sunlight.
These futuristic vehicles may stretch your imagination, but there are other technologies gaining momentum with regard to green transportation and sustainability. Already, the signs of government regulations and policies are preparing for the eventuality of flight-able vehicles and just as amazing, solar-paneled freeways, highways and city streets paved with PV solar panels.
Drivers will be able to monitor the solar powered car’s vital information, such as solar energy capture rate, the car’s energy consumption and all electrical functions using wireless telemetry. The system set-up will depend on the size of the array of photovoltaic cells built into the solar panels.
Audrey Clark is a skilled freelance blogger covering a range of topics from careers and finance to travel and leisure, along with everything in-between. When not writing, she’s always on the lookout for her next adventure. Connect with Audrey on Twitter and Google+.
Clean water is the lifeline of all countries and the repercussions of these rapidly declining levels affect not only pollution and climate changes, but education and sanitation availabilities, as well. With this in mind, I would like to bring to your attention an infographic created by Ohio University, which focuses on the global changes the provision of clean water could bring. As the graphic points out, the implementation of hygienic practices could decrease water-related deaths by 35%. In Africa, a 12% increase within female school attendance, was recorded as well, when the distance to water sources were reduced from 30 to 15 minutes. A full breakdown of theses statistics surrounding clean water’s impact can be seen in the infographic.
It’s hard to imagine a Christmas wiring décor without the complicated and tangled wiring, which is difficult to set up without the assistance of a professional. If this is the case with you, do not fret because you are not the only one finding yourself at odds with the unsightly extension cords or the hefty electricity bills. Almost all of us who have tried a hand at lavish Christmas lighting know that it is not an easy task to accomplish.
However, with solar powered Christmas lights arriving in the market, the situation has changed for good. Solar powered Christmas lights are hassle free alternatives to traditional lights, and can be hung anywhere that you want to place your holiday decoration.
Like all solar lights, Christmas solar lights convert energy from the sun into usable electricity that illuminates the LED’s. The battery is charged using the sunlight’s energy during the day, which is then converted into light during the night.
A Christmas solar light strand consists of three basic parts:
· The battery
· The solar panel
· The LED bulb
The Solar Panel
The solar panel consists of photovoltaic cells (PV cells) which collect and convert the energy of the sun into electric current. When the sun shines, the semiconductors inside the cell absorb the energy. This energy causes a loss of electrons which flow and constitute current. This flow of current provides the electricity required to power the LED bulbs.
The solar cells of such lights are wired to a rechargeable battery through a diode. The flow of electricity into the battery is directed by the diode to prevent it from re-entering the solar cell. A Nickel metal hydride battery is usually used to store electricity in a solar Christmas light.
The LED bulbs
A photo resistor stops production of electricity after the battery has fully charged or when the night falls. This photo resistor detects darkness and sends signals to the controller board to switch on the LEDs. The controller board does this by prompting the electron current from the PV cell to send electricity into the cord that contains the LEDs.
The only thing that may deter you from buying solar powered Christmas lights is their cost, however, when used over a period of time, solar lights more than compensate for their high initial cost by saving you the cost of electricity. The LED bulbs last for 100,000 hours, against 3,000 hours of an incandescent bulb, and they do not require the use of conventional electricity.
Solar powered floodlights have gained a lot of popularity over the years due to their long lifespan, ease of installation, affordability and outright versatility. There are mainly two major types of such powered floodlights. There is the straight floodlight and the security floodlight. The internals of both types of floodlights are quite similar except that security floodlights are usually fitted with a motion sensitive infra-red detector. Such a detector is usually capable of detecting any movement at an angle of 180º and within a range of 75 feet or thereabouts. Once movement is detected, the lights come up for a specified period of time which can be adjusted according to the needs and requirements of users. These floodlights can be used to light up areas of up to 1000 square feet.
What are Solar Powered Flood Lights?
A solar power floodlight generally consists of a solar panel, the LED or Halogen Light Fixture and a connecting chord. Previously there was some limitation in the amount of light that a solar powered floodlight could produce when compared against an incandescent floodlight, this problem though has been ably overcome with the introduction of LED bulbs and Halogen bulbs. LED bulbs are more efficient than halogen bulbs by around 70% and are therefore the bulbs of choice in most solar floodlight fixtures. Most of these bulbs have a lifespan of up to 5000 hours or almost six years of continuous use. It is also worth noting that most solar powered flood lights use rechargeable batteries, making them quite affordable to replace and therefore maintain.
Mounting Your Solar Powered Flood Lights
These flood lights can both be mounted on a wall or on a post and usually come with a chord which is attached to a solar panel. Solar panels can either be separate or fixed. The separate solar panels can be attached at a relative distance and an electrical cord is then used to transport the generated electricity from the panel to the batteries. This allows you to place the floodlights virtually anywhere provided you have a cord that is long enough. The fixed solar panels on the other hand are attached to the lighting fixture and must therefore be placed directly in the sunlight so as to provide you with the expected lighting capabilities.
Cost of Solar Powered Flood Lights
The number of LED’s in the solar floodlight will dictate how bright and large the floodlight will, be and the prices of these products will vary from one manufacturer to the other. For a small 12 LED Solar flood light which is rated at 80 Lumen, the average price is around $85.00. For a medium sized 54 LED commercial flood light which is rated 320 Lumen, the average price is around $285.00. And for a slightly large 108 LED Commercial Flood light which is rated 540 Lumen, the average price is around $385.00.
Tips for Cleaning With Natural Cleaners
Eco-friendly cleaning methods are becoming commonplace in the United States. Many people are opting to concoct their own products to save money and to reduce their carbon footprint. To ensure that your home is truly clean it is important to use these products correctly.
Tub and Shower Cleaner
These products tend to be quite harsh and they contain an abundance of chemical ingredients. You can make your own at home with three simple ingredients: salt, baking soda and borax. Mix these together and use a little elbow grease to completely eliminate soap scum. To help keep your tub and shower free from grime, simply wipe it down after bathing. This will help to prevent buildup so that you do not need to scrub it more than once a week.
A good multi-surface cleanser can be used on floors, counter tops, in sinks and on other similar surfaces, including windows and mirrors. All you need for this cleanser is some undiluted white vinegar, a little tap water and some lemon juice. You should mix these together and put them into a spray bottle. Use a microfiber cloth for surfaces, old newspapers for windows and a recycled mop for the floors. This mixture has a great, citrus smell and will work just as well as chemical-based cleansers.
Many think that to clean the dishwasher it is necessary to use harsh chemicals, but this is not true. If you have a small dishwasher safe container and some white vinegar, you can have a clean dishwasher in no time. Simply put two cups of the vinegar in a bowl, put it in the top rack and run the hot cycle. This will take care of grime and any odors.
You can also use white vinegar for your coffee pot. Put vinegar into the water chamber and dilute it with water. Run this through and then run plain water through a few times to push the taste and smell of the vinegar out.
Wood and Leather
Liquid castile soap is plant-based and can effectively clean the leather and wood throughout your home. You want to add this soap to warm water for these purposes. When you are working on leather make sure that the sponge you use is gentle and barely moist. For your floors, you can use a recycled mop or whatever you prefer to use to clean your floors. This will also work on all other floor types.
Ashley is a Frugal Blogger for Canadian Free Stuff for the last 5 years. She is not only frugal but loves to clean with natural products and less chemicals. For Example She loves to clean with Vinegar and has written a Great Article on 10 Top Uses for Vinegar.
Over the last decade, energy prices have continued to increase, which is mainly due to the consistent increase in energy consumption, which then translates into higher demands. No doubt that it has an immediate effect on households and businesses’ cost of living.
That is why, today, a lot of homeowners as well as business owners have decided on investing in solar technology, which helps in reducing electricity costs and in achieving a green energy future.
Discussed below are the pros and cons of solar power. Read on:
Pros of Solar Power
Prices of solar panels as well as the installation prices, in the past years, have already decreased. This means that with the use of the solar power system, your electricity bill can be drastically reduced.
Solar power systems do not contain air pollutants. Thus, by using such technology, one can help save the environment, and help in supporting the advocacies of many organizations in creating an energy-efficient future.
With the use of solar panels, people can expect reduced greenhouse gas emissions as well as reduced fossil fuel consumption. Thus helping the fight against global warming.
Manufacturers of these solar panels ensure that these can last for many years, which means that you will surely save a lot in your electricity cost at the soonest. Unlike most other sources of energy, the sun is a renewable energy source that is infinitely available.
Source of revenue
This can also be a good source of revenue for some homeowners as well as business owners, as local utility companies may purchase power from them, should solar power produce more power than what is required for the house or business.
Solar panels can hold a 25 to 40 years of warranty period. And very little maintenance is required for them.
Cons of Solar Power
The cons for the solar power are actually not plentiful.
The sun does not shine 24 hours a day. And when the sun goes down, the solar panels will also stop producing the electricity. However, batteries can store the electricity produced by solar panels during the day to be used later on when needed.
Another con is that your installation cost may be a bit high. But in the long run, more money will be saved to offset the cost of installation.
The weather conditions and pollution can as well affect the solar panel efficiency.