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Is Your Solar Panel Installation Battery Storage Ready?

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Lithium-ion battery cost has fallen since 2010 and it highly benefits the electric vehicle and renewable energy storage markets. Although Lithium-ion battery costs have fallen considerably, they are still not affordable for many home and business owners. Even if lithium-ion solar battery cost doesn’t fit in your current budget, planning for a solar system with energy storage will be a good idea for the future and save your money in the long run.

Solar+StorageWhy Install Batteries? 
Grid-tied systems are required to shut down during blackouts, even when the sun is shining. This is a regulated safety design feature of grid-tied solar energy systems intended to prevent workers from getting electrocuted while performing repair work on power lines. Unless solar PV system has battery storage, solar system owners cannot use the solar power from the grid-tied solar PV system during power outages.

Installing batteries also enables the use of solar energy when the sun isn’t shining-night and cloudy days. Some utilities also charge higher rates during peak hours and for peak power consumption. Installing batteries allow customers to use stored solar energy instead of more costly grid power during peak hours and reduce peak power consumption. This option is becoming very popular in Hawaii and California, where cost of electricity associated with peak hours is very high.

If you are in the process of installing a solar panel system and want the option of battery storage in the future, it will be helpful to plan accordingly. If the solar system is designed considering storage option in mind, it will be relatively easy to add the batteries to the system in the future.

It is more difficult and more costly to add battery storage in the future if the solar system is not battery ready. Choosing a solar system with an inverter that has battery storage capabilities is one way to prepare for adding batteries in the future. This would enable the solar system to operate only as a grid-tied solar panel system until batteries are added. Therefore, it will be beneficial to consult a reputable solar PV system designer to avoid unnecessary expenses in the future. New Dawn Energy Solutions will work with you to design your storage ready solar PV system.

Thinking to install solar now and add storage later? Contact us for a free consultation at info@newdawn-es.com or 416-855-9377.

Common Battery Types Used in Solar + Storage

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Incorporating energy storage into a solar array is not as easy as just picking a battery off the shelf. Certain chemistries work better in certain environments and storage capabilities are influenced by the solar application.

Lead-acid batteries have been popular within off-grid solar installations for decades. However lithium-ion batteries are preferred choice for solar, EV and residential applications since they have a longer life cycle, lighter weight, and decreased maintenance. In addition, a recent study in the US found that lithium-ion batteries represented more than 80% of the installed power and energy capacity of large-scale energy storage applications.

Lithium-ion batteries are not the only choice for batteries used in solar+storage installations. Here’s a brief rundown of the common storage technologies used in the renewable industry.

Lithium-ion Batteries

Lithium-based energy storage systems are overwhelmingly the most common storage technology used within the solar market. These batteries are characterized by the transfer of lithium ions between electrodes during charge and discharge reactions. Additional materials, such as cobalt, nickel, and manganese, are inserted into the battery cells and can affect the battery’s performance, voltage, and safety. Lithium-ion batteries are more expensive than other chemistries, mostly because of their need for battery management systems to monitor voltage and temperature. The benefits of lithium-ion include long life cycle, high charge, and discharge efficiency, lighter weight, no maintenance, solid and they don’t require refills.

Types Lithium-ion Batteries

There are many different types of Lithium-ion batteries. To name a few: Lithium Cobalt Oxide, Lithium Manganese Oxide, Lithium Nickel Manganese Cobalt Oxide, Lithium Nickel Cobalt Aluminum Oxide, and Lithium Iron Phosphate.

Lithium Cobalt Oxide batteries are very stable and small, making them a popular choice for cell phones and laptops. They have a higher risk of thermal runaway and fire danger, which is why often hear news of some cell phones catching fire.

Lithium Manganese Oxide batteries have fast-charging properties and increased thermal stability making them a popular choice for medical devices and power tools.

Lithium Nickel Manganese Cobalt Oxide batteries have high specific energy and stability. But their use of cobalt increases the risk of thermal runaway.

Lithium Iron Phosphate batteries have increased safety, thermal abilities, and a long lifecycle. Since they generate little heat, they can be installed in more unique, indoor applications.

Lead-acid Batteries

Lead-acid chemistry is one of the oldest forms of energy storage and is widely used. Lead-acid batteries are known for being dependable and inexpensive. Lead-acid batteries are heavy because of the materials involved. They have a limited cycle life and are inefficient when it comes to charge and discharge compared to Lithium chemistries. But they’re cheap to manufacture and reliable if it’s operated and maintained properly.

Types of Lead-acid Batteries

Flooded lead-acid batteries must be flooded with a liquid. They require significant care and maintenance. Flooded batteries need to be refilled regularly as the electrolytes evaporate during charging. These batteries must also be housed in an enclosure with enough ventilation to keep off-gassing levels from reaching a dangerous point.

Valve Regulated Lead-Acid batteries are “sealed” and use valves to regulate off-gassing. They require little to no maintenance when compared to flooded lead-acid batteries. There are two categories of Valve-Regulated Lead-Acid batteries – AGM and gel. AGM batteries perform better in colder temperatures, while gel batteries work better in warmer temperatures.

 Flow Batteries

Flow batteries use two chemical components dissolved in liquids separated by a membrane to provide a charge. Flow batteries can be recharged instantly by replacing the electrolyte liquids and store additional electrolytes externally in tanks that are pumped into the system as required. Flow batteries excel in long-duration storage applications and require little maintenance.

Benefits of Solar Energy and  Myths Limiting its Widespread Use

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With prices falling rapidly in recent years, installing residential solar panels system can dramatically trim energy bills. A decade ago, residential photovoltaic (PV) systems costed more than $50,000. However, mass production using new technology has sent prices plummeting more than 60% in the past several years. Today, the average upfront cost of a six-kilowatt solar panel system — one of the common sizes for residential homes — runs between $16,00 and $21,000.

Further research finds that homes with solar PV system have sold for a premium, expressed in dollars per watt of installed solar PV system. Homes equipped with solar power systems on average sell for 3.74% more compared  to non-solar properties. Solar energy is a guaranteed investment that pays for itself. Any upfront costs are paid back from the energy cost reduction (or elimination), and appreciation of property value. Solar customers can expect to see at least 2-3 times return of their initial investment over the life of the solar system.

With all these known  benefits, what is still preventing some of homeowners from choosing  solar energy?

As with any new technologies, there are myths that create doubt in human mind and here are some of the common myth that’s preventing the widespread use of solar energy:

1. Solar Energy Systems are too expensive.
As mentioned above solar system Installations are more affordable than they have ever been in 40 years. Photovoltaic modules cost per watt, installed, started at $32 a watt, now at an all time low of under $3.

2. Typical homeowner will not live in their home long enough to get their solar investment returns.
As mentioned above a solar system actually increases the value of the home. For every $1,000 that has been saved in annual electric costs, your home’s value rises $15,000.00, in addition to the benefit of lower utility cost.

3. Solar panels require constant maintenance.
Typically, the solar panels rarely require any maintenance or cleaning. The rest of the system components, doesn’t require  more than any other electrical equipment.

4. Solar panels do not work in cold, cloudy places/states.
Germany, who ranks low in sunny days, is the solar energy capital of the world. In fact, when the solar panels are cold, they perform better and produce more energy.

5. The solar panels cannot withstand harsh climates (snow, hail, winds, sleet, disasters).
Today’s solar panels are built to code and it can withstand most severe climatic changes in various applications. Also. the color of solar panels is dark which aides in melting snow.

6. Solar systems are unreliable and inconsistent.
On the contrary, solar electric systems can be more reliable than utility power companies. Typical solar modules warranty lasts 25 years or more. They have no moving parts and off-grid systems are not subject to power outages, as energy storage provides continuous operation. In fact, solar technologies are used to power many vital systems: aircraft warning lights, railroad crossing signals, navigational buoys, etc.

7. We cannot use solar energy because I don’t have enough sunlight and no southern roof exposure.
Cloudy areas could still generate energy, but may require more solar panels like BC. East/West roof exposure is also effective based on applications, as well as the use of ground mounted systems.

For many years, these myths have been preventing people from taking advantage of the solar energy. Now is the best time to benefit from affordable solar PV systems to reduce your electricity bill and increase your property values. Please contact us for a free proposal at info@newdawn-es.com or 416-855-9377.

ADVANTAGES OF NET METERING PROGRAM

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We all know that the Ontario government’s Feed in Tariff programs had been phased out but many do not know that Ontarians can still install solar panels and connect them to the grid under Net Metering program.

The Net Metering program provides Ontarians with the opportunity to optimize their energy usage and generate the electricity needed with solar panels on their rooftops. From start to finish, a typical Net Metering installation takes two to three months and New Dawn Energy takes care of the entire process for you from initial assessment to commissioning with skills and professionalism.

New Dawn Energy designs and installs Net Metering systems that allow you to use the electricity from the solar panels to reduce or eliminate your dependence on the utility company. The amount of electricity you can generate depends on the number of panels your roof can accommodate.

You will receive credit for your excess solar electricity production and you can use the credit when there is not enough electricity production from your solar system to get the electricity from your utility company. This means you only pay when your solar electricity credit is less than the electricity power supplied by the utility. The credit your solar power system produce can be carried forward for up to a year.  This means you can create credit during summer months when your solar power system produce more electricity and use during winter months when you solar power system produce less electricity.

Net Metering program allows to integrate energy storage with your solar power system. When energy storage is integrated into your solar power system you get to use most of the electricity your solar power system produce. Energy storage system can also help to reduce peak demand thereby reducing demand charges, provide backup power for you during blackouts and help to buy electricity at lower price time for using at high price time.

New Dawn Energy’s Net Metering system is constructed with high quality durable components from tier-one manufacturers. The components we choose to use are the best in their category hence give you the ability to produce maximum electricity from your roof area and without regular maintenance requirements.

The City of Toronto offers Torontonians Home Energy Loan Program (HELP), which is a low-interest loan program to cover the cost of new rooftop solar power systems and other energy efficient technologies. In addition to low-interest rates low as 2%, repayment terms can be up to 15 years and the loan can be paid off at any time without penalty. If you sell your home and don’t want to pay off the loan, the new homeowner can assume the payments and enjoy the savings from the solar power system.

If you would like to know more about New Dawn Energy’s Net Metering solutions or energy storage solutions, or would like a free quote, contact us by clicking here and submitting the form or give us a call at 416-855-9377.

New Dawn Energy’s Solar + Storage Offering

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New Dawn Energy sets a new standard in clean energy by offering the highest quality pairing of solar + energy storage equipment. This solution is now available to our residential grid-tied and off-grid customers in Ontario and around the world.

New Dawn Energy focuses on quality, performance and customer satisfaction as the keys to enhance the rapid adoption of clean energy technology. New Dawn Energy has identified the best-performing solar + storage equipment to provide the best performing solar + storage systems to our customers.

New Dawn Energy’s systems are smart, safe and the battery technology is warrantied to last longer than most other energy storage systems. By combining solar + storage energy systems homeowners are able to store energy, and manage electricity usage efficiently. Most importantly, they can gain peace of mind with the ability to power their homes and communities with clean energy, even during brownouts, blackouts and extended periods of power outages.

With our high quality intelligent residential storage solution, we are confident in our ability to meet growing consumer demand for solar + storage and further adoption of sustainable technologies by homeowners in GTA and around the world. New Dawn Energy’s all-in-one turnkey energy solutions not only seamlessly integrate into modern and tech-savvy homes, but also provide power to remote area homes and communities in Canada and elsewhere.

Benefits of Solar + Storage

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solar+storageAs our electricity price is low, it is difficult to see the economic advantages of solar + storage. It is also difficult to place value on avoided power outages to make the economics work for solar + storage projects. But we all know that power outages can cause health hazard, economic loss and most importantly immeasurable inconvenience.

Even though power outages are very common in most parts of the world, we have been lucky enough to have minimal of these events here in North America. However power outages are becoming increasingly common in our neighbourhoods in GTA and throughout North America in recent years.

According to researchers recent Hurricane Maria’s impact on Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands set a record for the longest blackout in U.S. history. Puerto Rico’s Department of Economic Development and Commerce estimated economic losses at a minimum of $20 billion. Some economists say that when the drop in productivity is considered, the number could be twice as that.

These extreme weather events have highlighted the need for more resilient energy systems with backup power. While gas and diesel generators are often used, they are unreliable due to various equipment failures, fuel shortages and they are dirty, noisy, and dangerous.

Solar + storage solution is an alternative that can provide dependable, cost-efficient backup power. Due to high upfront cost, solar + storage had not been the obvious choice for backup power in the past. But solar + storage system costs have been steadily declining in recent years and it has become primary choice to reduce high utility demand charges. With new government incentives, use of solar + storage for emergency backup power in case of blackouts also will become the primary choice.

With electricity rates steadily increasing over the last 10 years, going solar makes financial sense. While providing you much needed backup power, Solar + Storage further helps you to take control of demand charges. Also depending on electricity rate structure solar+ storage can offset energy costs when electricity rates are at their peak.

Going solar with our solar+ storage solution is the best way to take control of your energy cost. Interested in solar or solar+ storage? Contact us.

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.

Phone: 416-855-9377