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The Increasing Popularity of Solar Technology in New and Existing Homes

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Solar energy has invaded the real estate business. In increasing numbers, home buyers and homeowners everywhere are seeking solar power for their single family residences. if you’re a homeowner or a home buyer, knowing the benefits of solar power and the value of solar panels can help you decide whether or not solar energy is right for your home.

Benefits of Solar Energy

Solar energy is one of the leading green technologies found on residential properties. For homeowners and soon to be homeowners, there are many reasons to invest in solar energy, including:

  • Residential solar energy is clean; solar panels produce no waste or greenhouse gases to generate power for your home.
  • Solar energy is cost efficient enough that many people who have solar power can actually sell power back to the grid, so they can make money on energy they don’t use.
  • Solar energy is improving all the time, so homeowners who install solar panels on their homes today can take advantage of the most up to date, efficient systems.

In addition to the above benefits, solar panels can actually add to a home’s property value. When a home goes on the market, home buyers commonly seek solar energy and are attracted to sustainable, efficient homes.

What to Expect From the Industry

In the coming years, there will likely be many changes to the solar industry, most of them for the good of the homeowner. Solar panels are becoming easier to install and more cost effective. These low prices make it easier to make solar energy a part of your household. In addition, solar panels are shrinking in size, so modern homes can benefit from smaller panels that generate and store more energy. As this kind of feature becomes more desirable, builders cannot ignore the demand.

This makes solar energy more accessible to general homeowners and helps shape homebuyer expectations. As solar becomes more accessible and prevalent on residential structures, this type of energy will also be a common expectation of home buyers seeking new properties.

Is Solar a Good Investment for a New Or Custom Home?

Solar panels can affect the value of a home in different ways in different parts of the country. However, on most properties solar panels can have a big positive impact on the value of a home. In general, it’s believed that solar power can increase your home’s value by as much as $15,000 or $20,000.

When trying to decide whether or not to install solar panels on your home, it’s important to consider the following:

  • Solar panels are best installed on a roof that is structurally sound and in good condition.
  • Trees, tall buildings and other shade-generating features in the landscape can affect your home’s ability to generate solar energy.
  • Homeowners concerned about the aesthetic impact of solar panels can consider solar shingles, which are designed to be integrated integrate into a home’s normal roofing.

Choosing a reputable contractor is important for ensuring that your home will get the most benefit from solar panel installation. A good contractor can ensure that your home’s solar panels are installed properly to maximize solar energy output. A good contractor can also ensure that solar panels are installed safely without damaging your roof.

Greg Geilman REALTOR®
President and CEO, South Bay Residential
1040 MANHATTAN BEACH BLVD. MANHATTAN BEACH, CA 90266

MOST COMMON SOLAR ENERGY MYTHS

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With the prospect of fossil fuel-based energy crises and human induced climate change looming, the demand for renewable energy technologies like solar power is growing. Unfortunately, there are currently many myths which hold solar power back from reaching its full potential. We are here to dispel some of these. Read on to find out more, and check out LEDwatcher.com for comparison of different solar lights.

First myth: solar power doesn’t work when it is cloudy or cold and rainy

Actually, solar panels are capable of supplying plentiful energy even in colder environments and those with high cloud cover. Developments in solar panel technology and battery and storage systems, mean solar power can be effective in all climates – some examples of countries where solar is already meeting a sizable proportion of the population’s energy requirements are the UK, Germany, Italy and China.

Second myth: solar power is too expensive and not viable economically

As a matter of fact, solar panels are becoming more and more affordable all the time as uptake increases and technology and production methods improve. Over the last decade or so the average solar panel costs have fallen by about 60%. It is now almost cheaper to generate electricity from solar panel than it is from coal – particularly when you factor all the external and hidden costs of fossil fuels into the mix! In many countries, there are government tax credits and other financial incentives encouraging the uptake of solar panels by making them more affordable to the average households and businesses. In addition, in many countries, if you happen to generate solar sourced electricity beyond your own requirements, you will actually be paid for feeding the excess back into the grid.

Third myth: solar is too hard to install and maintain

Actually solar panels are pretty straightforward to install so long, that is, as you are utilizing reputable, reliable manufacturing and supply companies. You may actually receive a government credit or discount for choosing certain companies to help you install your panels. Furthermore, most modern solar panels are constructed in a way that they are able to withstand rugged weather conditions, and are quite easy to clean whenever any dust, grit, snow etc does find its way on them. One exception: if you have a battery-based solar system, it will be a bit more work to maintain.

Fourth myth: solar panels will damage your roof

This is another blatant myth! Actually solar panels will protect and preserve the parts of your roof that they cover. The panels can also be easily removed and then replaced if the underlying roofing happens to be damaged and needs repair.

Fifth myth: roof mounted solar panels make it hard to re-sell your home

Actually, in a lot of cases having solar panels mounted on your roof will enhanced the value of your home. Numerous studies have found that homes with solar panels sell FASTER than those without, and fetch a better rice also. In particular, where the installation of solar panels on a home’s roof is accompanied by feed-in tariff schemes and the like – where you get paid for generating solar power – this makes the home even more appealing to prospective buyers who would also reap the benefits of the scheme.

Sixth myth: clean coal makes solar power unnecessary

Coal mining can never be ‘clean’, despite all the recent talk about ‘clean’ coal. Solar will always be a more environmentally friendly energy option than coal.

Seventh myth: solar panels negatively impact the environment, once they have reached the end of their lifespan

In fact, once solar panels reach the end of their life cycle (about 40+ years), most of their components can be recycled. Some companies will even take them off your hands for you and recycle them for free.

TWO MORE WEEKS LEFT TO PARTICIPATE IN MICRO FIT PROGRAM

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The IESO announce that it will only accept Mico FIT applications until 11:59 p.m. EST on December 28, 2017, or until the final 50 MW Annual Procurement Target is reached, whichever is earlier. If the Annual Procurement Target be reached before December 28, 2017, the IESO will immediately stop accepting MIcro FIT applications.

It further said that applications submitted to the IESO prior to or on the date on which the IESO stops accepting applications will only be reviewed if capacity becomes available in the Annual Procurement Target by December 29, 2017. And applications will continue to be reviewed in the order that they are received.

It also said, any application that is not allocated to the Annual Procurement Target (i.e., any application that has not been set to Pending LDC Offer to Connect status) by December 29, 2017, will be terminated and the applications that have achieved Pending LDC Offer to Connect status will continue to be processed.

So if you are thinking to participate in the Micro FIT program you should act immediately and submit your application at the earliest as only two weeks window left. We can help you get your application in successfully in a timely manner, do not hesitate to contact us.

IT IS TIME TO ACT BEFORE MICROFIT PROGRAM ENDS

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Ontario’s Ministry of Energy has set 28th December 2017 as the date to switch incentive program from current Feed in Tariff program to Net Metering Program. Hence it is important to understand the difference between these two programs and make a decision if you want to participate in Feed in Tariff program before it ends.

With Feed in Tariff program, you sell all the electricity generated by your solar power system to the utility at higher price than you pay for the electricity when you consume. And you continue to buy all the electricity you need from the utility at the lower retail price than the price paid under Feed in Tariff program. Because you are continuing to buy your electricity from the utility you do not need to have storage to store and use the electricity at night.

With net metering program when your solar power system produces electricity, it goes first power your home needs at that time. If your solar power system produces less electricity than your home need or if you need energy when the sun isn’t shining at all, that power is automatically supplied from the utility grid. If your solar power system produces more electricity than you need, the extra electricity is send back to the utility grid and you get credited for the electricity you send back to the grid at the same retail price that you pay for the electricity you consume from the grid.

With net metering, the homeowner is only billed for the “net” electricity used each month, that is, the difference between the energy produced by the solar power system and the energy consumed by the house over the monthly billing period. If your solar power system produces more than what you consume in a billing cycle, you get credit and this credit is carried forward to the next billing cycles. Under the Net metering program, credit is carried forward to twelve months and at the end of twelfth month it is reset to zero.

An existing microFIT contract would not be revoked as a result of the introduction of the new net metering program. Upon expiration or termination of a microFIT contract, the current microFIT contract holders could apply to the net metering program.

You are eligible to participate in the Net Metering program as long as you are:
– Planning to generate electricity primarily for your own use
– Using a renewable energy source (solar, wind, hydro, bio)
– Maximum size of your system is less than 500 kW
How will your hydro bill be calculated?

The value of the amount of eligible electricity generated and returned into the Local Utility Company’s grid will be deducted from the value of the amount of electricity you consumed from the system. If the result is positive, you will receive an adjustment on your monthly hydro bill. If the result is negative (meaning you’ve exported more energy than you’ve consumed), you will receive a credit which will be carried over into your next billing period. Important!!! Excess energy credits from previous billing cycles can be carried-over up to a maximum of twelve months.

We have made an effort to explain the difference between these two programs, if it is still not clear to you or if you have other questions or would like to get a free solar assessment of your property do not hesitate to contact us. If you want to take advantage of the microFIT program before it is too late you need to act now. We can help you get into the microFIT program before it ends. Click here and complete the form one of our representatives will be in touch with you to assist you.

SOLAR ECLIPSE AND SOLAR POWER PLANTS

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While North America is anxiously waiting for the solar eclipse, the solar energy industry is very cautious about the event. Power plant managers and electricity system operators in North America are cautiously preparing for this event when the moon passes between the earth and the sun.

An eclipse is caused by the alignment of the earth, the moon, and the sun. It’s a relatively rare occurrence because the moon doesn’t orbit in the same plane as the earth and sun. However, when all three line up, the moon covers up the disc of the sun, and those in the direct path of the moon’s shadow will be able to see the sun become dark.

August 2017 solar eclipse in its totality will last for about two minutes and 40 seconds. The effect of this total solar eclipse will turn the day into the night. Eclipses have happened before but this eclipse is happening at the time electricity generation from solar and wind are exceeding electricity generation form other tradition sources such as hydro, coal, nuclear, and so on.

During the solar eclipse, electricity generation from solar power plants will drop to zero and electricity system operators have to match this drop with electricity from other sources such as gas, and hydro to keep the electricity grid stable and to provide electricity to customers during this short period. Furthermore, when the solar eclipse come to an end, solar plants will suddenly start pumping huge amount of electricity into the grid and electricity system operators must react to these changes in a timely manner to keep the electric grid stable and to provide electricity to their customers.

Even though Electricity system operators reach out to “peaker” power plants to smooth out swings from solar and wind on a regular basis on a much smaller scale the sudden drop and jump in demand for power from the grid due to eclipse would be much larger and raises worries about overburdening a system that will already be running at a summer peak.

This eclipse is happening at an interesting time when solar power plant capacities in many countries are increasing steadily. This event also will expose us to many unknowns and will help to make the solar power plants more robust and stable in years to come.  We are confident that when we pass through this event we will have more experience, data and confidence that are necessary to make solar energy main stream.

TYPES OF SOLAR ELECTRIC SYSTEM INSTALLATIONS

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Written by Nani Pradeepan, P.Eng.

 

Depending on the type of property and where it is located a specific type of solar electric system that best suits for the needs. Depending on where a property is located – in the heart of a city, in the suburbs or in the woods an appropriate type of solar electric system installation must be implemented.

Location is the key characteristic as grid availability and distance from the grid will be determinant in choosing the type of system best for a given property.

There are basically three types of Solar Electric Systems:

Grid Tied Solar Systems, Grid Tied Solar System with a Battery Back-up or Hybrid Power Generator, and the Off-Grid Solar Power System.

Grid Tie Solar System:

This is a very common type of installation for cities and suburbs with close proximity to the electric grid. In this system, the PV installation is connected to the grid and two meters or one two-way meter may be installed to measure the flow of electricity to and from the grid.

In Ontario residents participates in Micro FIT program need to have two meters to measure the flow of electricity and the Ontarians participates in Net metering program need to have one two-way meter to measure the flow of electricity.

The advantage with Grid Tied Solar System is that the PV installation need not necessarily be seized to meet all the needs of a property. If demand surpasses supply at any one time especially in peak hours, electricity is simply pulled from the grid to make up. This situation is reversed when the capacity of the installed Grid Tied Solar System is high enough and produces more than needed electricity. The extra electric power is pushed or back-fed into the grid which produces credits the consumer can then use at periods of low production such as at night to offset their power consumption.

Grid Tie Solar System with Back-up or Hybrid Power system:

Grid Tie Solar System with Back-up system differs from the above described in that it has a battery or power generator to provide power during grid outage. Grid Tie Solar System with Back-up best suits areas without a reliable power grid. Our solar engineer design the system to store some of the electricity produced when production exceeds demand for use when the grid goes down. This type of system can also incorporate an electric generator for the same function.

Off-Grid Solar Power System:

Off-Grid Solar Power System is for locations without traditional electric grid. It best suits for properties located in the woods, mountains or remote areas of the developing world with no electric grid.

Off-Grid Solar Power System also incorporates the battery and the power generator in its design. Instead of using a battery or generator as a back-up as in the previously described system, it is used as a necessary component.

The battery is used to save electricity produced during the day time to use in nights and during rainy/cloudy days. A generator is provided in this case when the battery drains out due to continuous use and in days with no low power production from solar.

Use of these systems depends on location and it is important to note that in each design, convenience and efficiency will vary significantly depending on the use and location.

Now you know more about solar electric system types–which of these would best suite your needs depending on your location? We can help you pick the best solution for your need and location; do not hesitate to contact us with any questions you may have.

WHAT IS INVERTER CLIPPING?

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Written by Nani Pradeepan, P.Eng.

Inverter

We know that solar panels produce direct current (DC) electricity and our utility grid is powered by alternating current electricity (AC). Inverter used in solar power system converts solar DC electricity to AC electricity we all use at homes and other buildings.

As solar panels are rated at standard test conditions and not all installation locations and situations come close to these test conditions. Hence it often makes sense to oversize a solar array relative to inverter rating. This enable for greater AC electricity harvest when production is below the inverter’s rating, which is typically for most of the day and also can results in clipping.

Inverter clipping

Every inverter has a maximum rated power and it will generally never output more than their max-rated AC power. This is very important as the component ratings of the power electronics in the inverter are designed with a specific power and voltage range and the grid connection points in the buildings are designed with a specific max power limits.

When the DC solar array is generating the most amount of energy that is greater than the inverter’s power rating, the “extra” power generated by the array is “clipped” by the inverter to ensure it is operating within its capabilities. This leads to a flat line in the green curve in the figure below, and capping the power at the inverter’s nameplate power rating during peak production hours and known as inverter clipping.

The purple line in the figure shows a typical bell curve of AC output power peaking at noon, just below the rating of the inverter indicated by the dashed line. If we increase the size of the solar array by adding more panels, which increase the DC-to-AC ratio of the system (as illustrated by the green curve), we can harvest more energy throughout the day. The area between the green and purple curves is the energy that is gained by increasing the DC-to-AC ratio.

Standard test condition temperature is 25ºC but solar panels are hotter than 25ºC when the array is receiving maximum sunlight. Higher than rated temperature of 25ºC results in loss of power production when solar panel receive maximum sunlight. In other words the solar array produces less than the rated power when solar array receive maximum sunlight, this reduce the losses due to clipping of inverter.

SOLAR SHINGLES VS TRADITIONAL SOLAR PANELS

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Written by Nani Pradeepan, P.Eng.

As the cost of a solar installation come down people are looking for choices for their solar systems. One of the choices people look for is a solar PV system with minimal deviation to the appearance of their house.

Solar roof shingles are one way to turn a traditional shingle roof into an energy producer. Solar roof shingles are a new green roofing product of the past few years. Solar shingles like traditional solar panels use the sun light to create electricity. Each of the solar shingles is comprised of photovoltaic cells and each shingle is a small PV module that has to be connected electrically in series to reach the DC voltage needed by the inverter which converts the DC electricity to commonly used AC electricity.

The typical DC input voltage for inverters is 350 to 500 VDC. That means many shingles need to be wired in series. This requires long strings of module to module connections wires that are all hidden beneath the finished roof and difficult to access.

When one module or its connection fails, all the modules in the string go out just like in Christmas tree lights. A service tech has no easy way of knowing which shingle is defective. A big portion of the roof often needs to be taken apart, and all components tested. Then, if matching replacement solar shingles are available, the array may be able to be reassembled.

PV shingles have been nailed or screwed into place as the PV shingles marketers wanted to entice roofers to be installers. However, roofers do not have the understanding or the necessary training to install solar-electric systems. If there is an electrical arc caused by a faulty shingle-to-shingle connection, it could start a fire in combustible tarpaper and wood roof sheathing.

Solar shingles are less efficient than traditional solar panels meaning need more roof surface than the traditional solar panels. Rated output of solar shingles is about 12 watts per square foot; whereas today’s best crystalline modules offer about 20 watts per square foot. Since solar shingles are installed on the roof deck there is no back-surface convective airflow, the all-black solar shingles run hotter than conventional solar panels, meaning further lower efficiency and possibly shorter product life.

PV shingles have been a transitory product. How long will companies selling this product keep producing them? For example, after five years, Dow ceased manufacturing and distributing solar shingles. There is no long-term experience with solar shingles products and they may or may not last. Will the warranty be supported over twenty five years as with traditional solar panels?

Even if the company and product is still available, will it be in the same form and electrical configuration to allow replacement? With all these uncertainties at present solar shingles are not prudent options for a green roof.

Currently, there’s no mass produced solar PV shingle solution for retrofit. If your house has a black roof, using conventional black-on-black modules installed flush with the roof may offer the best acceptable solution. Standard framed PV modules have been proven, reliable and productive, and we know how to install them well for the long term. For many people, the solution is to accept the beauty of a product that will produce clean electricity reliably for 40+ years.

WATER CONSERVATION – WHY AND HOW?

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Written by Narayana Asogan, P.Eng.

Water is a rare commodity. Superficially water is very abundant – about 71% of Earth’s surface is covered with water.  However, 96.5% of it is salt water in the seas – not good for consumption as it is. Balance 3.5% are in fresh water lakes, glaziers and polar caps.  69% of the fresh water is in the form of ice (solidified water), meaning 2.4% is in liquid form.

Canada has about 20% of world’s freshwater and a low population – only about 0.5% of world’s population.  Thus it is very tough for a Canadian to understand scarcity of water.

However the available fresh water needs to be treated before it could be said to be fit for human consumption.  Municipalities treat the water before storing and delivering to the households and industries.  Households and industries discharge used water into the sewers, which the municipalities transport to treatment centres, treat the sewers to a level acceptable to return to fresh water system, from where it undergoes further treatment to make suitable for human consumption and stored and delivered.

All these transportation of water, treatments, transport of sewers, sewer treatment etc. etc. requires quite a lot of energy and infrastructure. And costs of operation and maintenance of the infrastructure and cost of energy adds to the cost of water delivered to us.

Let us do some math to see what kind of savings is possible financially for a building by water conservation in just one area of water usage.  Consider a multi-unit residential building of 100 apartments with an average occupancy of 3 per household. Let us say the building is with older water guzzling toilets from around the 90’s – about 15+ litres/flush.  On the average 1 person would flush a toilet 5 times per day.  Based on the above basic data on occupancy and flushing of toilet, if the toilets were replaced with newer 6 L/flush, about 5,000 m3 of water could be saved from flushing down, and the building management would save about $ 17,000 per year on water bills. Further savings are possible with dual flush toilets, low flow shower heads.

Example of toilet is considered for water conservation as it is estimated that about 47% of household water consumption is by the water guzzling toilets of 15 L/flush.  Low flow faucets in kitchen would not contribute much savings as filling a pan would take longer with low flow and may not contribute much for saving.

At one apartment level one could see a substantial water saving and financial saving to the management. At the level of the municipality which serve several such communities water saving and the associated energy savings would be enormous.

In today’s world where energy conservation, reduction of CO2 emission, Carbon footprint reduction are essential, water conservation also become an essential component in energy conservation equation.

New Dawn Energy Solutions have the expertise to study your electricity, gas and water usage and arrive at cost effective solutions to reduce energy consumption, Carbon footprint etc. NDES is a vendor neutral company and will look for the best solutions to your needs.

THE REAL VALUE OF SOLAR ELECTRICITY

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Written by Nani Pradeepan, P.Eng.

Electricity is a commodity regardless of the how it is generated from different resources by different suppliers. But like many commodities, the cost of electricity varies depending on the time and location it is delivered.

Utilities pay as low as $0.04/kWh for electricity generated in centralized plants but the average charge to consumers is $0.17/kWh. Why such a big range between wholesale generation costs and retail selling price? There are costs involved from generation to retail sales – generation, transmission and distribution. Services associated with generation, transmission and distribution are provided by monopoly utilities which are not under any competitive pressures hence the cost associated with these services can only go up.

By investing in clean solar power system, people can gain greater control over their energy bill while making the electric system more efficient and contributing to the environment.

Listed below are some of the benefits a rooftop solar system offer to customers and utilities.

Avoided Energy Costs – Generating electricity from rooftop solar makes it possible to buy less electricity from a utility. Because this electricity is generated locally and does not have to be transmitted hundreds of miles from a centralized power plant, energy losses that happen along the way can be avoided. This means less electricity needs to be generated by centralized power plants, and the costs of generating that electricity can be avoided.

Avoided Infrastructure Costs – By reducing demand for utility-provided electricity, the rooftop solar system cuts down on the amount of costly infrastructure necessary for generating, transmitting, and distributing electricity. Power plants need sufficient capacity to meet the electricity demand from all customers. This also requires transmission and distribution infrastructure to deliver that electricity to the customers’ homes and businesses. When electricity is produced on site from solar power system customers require less electricity from central power plants and results in less investment in generation, transmission, and distribution capacity and related costs can be reduced.

Avoided Emissions – By reducing amount of electricity needed from a centralized power plant, the rooftop solar panel also helps to avoid emissions coming from those plants.

All of these avoided costs have value in the form of environmental and electric system benefits. I can’t think of a single reason why we cannot transition to a more consumer and environment friendly solar power system to generate electricity locally.

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