Categories: All About Solar Power, Electric Cars that Run on Sun, Energy Efficiency, Energy Storage, Safety

Pages: << 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 ... 44 >>

10/11/14

  08:21:00 am, by Jim Jenal - Founder & CEO   , 360 words  
Categories: All About Solar Power, Energy Efficiency, Residential Solar

Keeping the Lights on...

We stumbled upon an interesting graphic that highlights just what it takes to keep the lights on in our homes and work places.  It is a tale of both efficiency and waste.  We thought it was worth sharing… (h/t The EnergyCollective.)

The starting point for the graphic (click on the image at left for the full size graphic) is an old fashioned (i.e., wasteful) 100 Watt incandescent light bulb.  If you turned on such a light and left it running for a year, how much energy would it consume?  That’s the easy calculation - 100 W = 0.1 kW.  There are 8,760 hours in a year (roughly - don’t go getting all leap year on me) so our light bulb uses:
0.1 kW x 8,760 hours = 876 kWh. 

Quite a lot, really, just to light a room!

The graphic proceeds to explore what it would take to produce that much power from each of our common energy sources.  Interestingly, only one of these sources is something you can own - and that, of course, is solar.  (While you could own a wind turbine, the one in the graphic is a 1.5 MW turbine, definitely not something to put in your backyard!)  To be fair, the graphic assumes an installation of 100 square meters which is 1,076 square feet, and that is significantly larger than most residential solar systems.  If your system is smaller, it takes longer for your system to keep the light on, but the end result is the same: your own power source meeting your needs, with no pollution or long-lived waste products to worry about.

On the other end of that scale is the coal plant where our light bulb requires us to burn nearly half a ton of coal and emit over a ton of CO2 in the process!

The good news is that both that wasteful incandescent light bulb, and coal-fired power plants are going away, just not fast enough.  (Changing out your old 100 Watt light bulbs with efficient LEDs will drop these numbers by more than a factor of five.)  Every solar installation directly reduces our greenhouse gas emissions - and saves the system owner substantial amounts of money over the lifetime of the system.

10/03/14

  06:26:00 am, by Jim Jenal - Founder & CEO   , 176 words  
Categories: Electric Cars that Run on Sun

Use Your Torque Wisely!

Readers of this blog know that the only thing we like better than Electric Vehicles are Electric Vehicles that Run on Sun. So when we came across this clever ad from Nissan, we just had to share (and it is perfect for a Friday!).

Check this out:

Frankly, we had that same self-satisfied smile on our face when we got to test drive a Tesla Model S a few weeks ago.  Part of the test drive was a short stint on a local freeway.  As luck would have it, the light turned red as we reached the on-ramp to the freeway.  As luck would further have it, a 5-series BMW pulled up alongside of us - both of us first to go at the light.  Somewhat distracted by the many bells and whistles inside the Model S (and the patter of the salesperson), we weren’t focused on the light, and the BMW jumped ahead as the light changed. 

Poor little BMW, he didn’t have a chance.

Grin.

Happy Friday, everyone - but remember, use your torque wisely!

09/22/14

  07:00:00 am, by Jim Jenal - Founder & CEO   , 195 words  
Categories: All About Solar Power

Meet Kendra Hubbard - Intern Extraordinaire!

We are really excited to announce our first ever intern at Run on Sun, the incomparable Kendra Hubbard!

Kendra Hubbard - Intern ExtraordinaireAs many of you know, Kendra has been involved with solar marketing and social media (@kendra_hubbard) for many years, but she has longed to “get her hands dirty” and see more of the business, particularly from the perspective of a well-respected local installer.  We at Run on Sun have long admired Kendra’s insights into the solar industry but have never had the chance before to lure her to our fair city.  When this opportunity arose, we jumped at the chance.

Kendra, of course, wasted no time in getting to work, as you can see in this picture of Kendra working with us on our latest installation: a very cool mix of raised seem metal roof (S-5 clamps and Everest racking) plus ballasted (PolarClaw).

In the coming weeks and months we are looking forward to Kendra’s contributions to a vast swath of what we do, from sales and prospecting, to organizational efficiency (and yes, even some marketing!).  So please take a moment to welcome Kendra - one of the true Solar Women Stars - to the Run on Sun team!

09/08/14

  06:47:00 am, by Jim Jenal - Founder & CEO   , 236 words  
Categories: All About Solar Power, Commercial Solar, Residential Solar

Tracking Solar Permits

We wrote back in May about the number of solar permits that were pulled in March of this year statewide for solar (PV) installs and were surprised to see San Bernardino county leading the field and in a big way.  Well we just got a peak at the data for July—what surprises might it bring?

Solar (PV) Permits - July 2014

Compared to the March data, things have really heated up, with the statewide total of 6,521 permits representing a 67% increase over the previously reported 3,901 permits!  Our leader board has changed dramatically as well, with San Diego County grabbing the top spot with 10.5% of the statewide total.  San Bernardino drops from first to seventh, while Los Angeles County—far and away the state’s population leader—was just barely able to beat out tiny Placer county  (home to a twenty-seventh of LA’s population).  

Unfortunately the data does not report the size of these projects, merely their valuation, which can be an unreliable data point since it is not verified in the permitting process.  In any event, total valuation for the month was in excess of $105 million, with Riverside county taking the lead ($13.9 million), followed by Orange ($7.9), Fresno ($7.5), Kern ($7.4) and then San Diego ($6.8).  PV valuation in LA County was just $4.8 million.  Of course, give the nightmare of doing business in LA County’s largest city—a topic we have discussed previously, and one to which we will return in future posts—LA County’s laggard numbers should come as no surprise.

08/21/14

  02:05:00 pm, by Jim Jenal - Founder & CEO   , 751 words  
Categories: Safety

SolarWorld Announces Major Recall

We have just learned that solar panel manufacturer SolarWorld has announced a recall involving 1.3 million solar panels sold in the U.S. since June 2011.  According to the Notice filed with the Consumer Products Safety Commission:

SolarWorld solar panels installed with bare-copper grounding lugs can corrode which could result in a faulty ground circuit, posing an electric shock, electrocution or fire hazard.

Behind the Headline

So what exactly is the issue here?  All metal components of a solar power system—such as the frames of the solar panels and the rails to which they are attached—are supposed to be grounded.  There are many ways that can be done, but one common method is to attach a copper lug to the panel frame and run a copper grounding wire from lug to lug and ultimately to ground.  The problem arises from the fact that copper grounding lugs come in two varieties: bare copper and “tinned” copper, that is copper with a coating of tin. 

Bare copper lugs Tinned lugs
Bare copper grounding lugs “Tinned” copper grounding lugs

If the installer used a bare copper lug, it could cause corrosion to form between the panel frame and the lug.  That corrosion could prevent the ground from being effective, which could result in the potential problems highlighted in the CPSC notice.

In other words, while this is a potential problem and systems should be inspected to insure that the proper, “tinned” lug was used, the recall does not involve the safety of the solar panels themselves.  Moreover, the fix, if required, is straightforward (even if potentially time consuming): simply replace the improper lugs with proper ones.

Who Used the Panels?

While the recall notice refers to 1.3 million panels in the U.S., we wanted to get a sense of how many of these panels have been installed in California, and, more specifically, in the Run on Sun service area.  To get a handle on that we turned to two familiar data sources: CSI data (showing installs in SCE, PG&E and SDG&E territories) and LADWP data.  Given that LADWP requires the use of grounding lugs (as opposed to WEEBs), there is an even higher probability that SolarWorld systems in LADWP territory used a grounding lug.

CSI Data

The CSI data shows just how widespread this issue could be.  More than half a million SolarWorld panels have been installed in CSI territories, accounting for over 6,500 different installations, installed by more than 500 different companies!  How many of those companies are still in business is anybody’s guess.  In SCE territory alone, 186,000 SolarWorld panels were installed at 3,125 different projects, by nearly 300 different companies.

The installers with by far the greatest number of SolarWorld panels installed are Shorebreak Energy Developers (43,242 panels installed at 46 different projects) and Chevron Energy Solutions (20,464 panels at 15 projects).  In terms of having the greatest number of projects, six companies have 100 or more projects, and the winners there are: A1 Solar Power, Inc. (217 projects), Titan Construction and Solar (202), Natural Energy (186), Contact Electric (174), Future Energy Corporation (124) and TLP Electric Integrations (103).

LADWP Data

The LADWP data is, not surprisingly, somewhat more opaque.  For example, they do not track how many solar panels are installed on a given project so we cannot determine the total number of SolarWorld panels that have been installed.  We do know that there are some 759 projects overall where SolarWorld panels were used, and more than 100 different installers were involved.  Three of those installers were responsible for fifty or more projects, they are: A1 Solar Power, Inc. (120 projects), Sungate Energy Solutions (76) and American Solar Solutions (67).  Looks like the folks at A1 Solar Power are going to be busy!

What to Do?

If you are the owner of a SolarWorld installation, you will want to contact your installer and see what they are willing to do.  At a minimum, they should be willing to come out to your site, free of cost, and verify that the proper lugs were used.  Even if it were the company’s policy to always use “tinned” lugs, a system owner should not rely on those assurances since install crews have been known to substitute whatever is available at the local hardware store in order to complete the project and move on to the next.

If your installer is no longer in business, or is unwilling to come out and verify that your system is safe, you should contact SolarWorld themselves directly.  They have established a toll-free number to call: 877-360-1787, M-F from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. 

If you own one of these systems, please let us know in the comments about your experience.

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Jim Jenal is the Founder & CEO of Run on Sun, Pasadena's premier installer and integrator of top-of-the-line solar power installations.
In addition, Run on Sun offers solar consulting services, working with consumers, utilities and municipalities to help them make solar power affordable and reliable.

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