Do solar panels work on cloudy days?

This question was made present yesterday during an appointment with a potential customer. We know that SOLAR PANELS will generate a bigger amount of electricity during clear days with the abundant brightness of the sun, but you don’t have these ideal climate conditions all the time.
What happens if we have a day with clouds or thunderstorms? On those gray days, SOLAR PANELS can still generate between 10 and 25% of their total capacity. Factors that may affect: density of the clouds, the hours of the day in which the cloudiness occurs and the type of panel are the determining factors of this result since some panels are better than others to receive diffuse sunlight. Our product can capture a broad spectrum of light that includes red and blue wavelengths, this allows SOLAR PANELS to continue generating energy even on cloudy days.
If we want to accomplish the desired savings when installing a SOLAR SYSTEM, the first thing taken into account is the amount of solar brightness received in the desired area for a full year, a few days without sun do not make the rule. To design and connect a solar plant of any size the designs go through the average daily solar radiation.

If the production of your solar plant is greater than the electricity you consume, you can sell your excess energy to your electric company. At American Made Solar And Wind Technologies, we guarantee that the customer can get income from overproduction of the SOLAR SYSTEM.
Solar panels capture visible and infrared sunlight to convert them into electricity: On the cloudiest days, visible light passes through clouds and rain. Infrared light traverses more easily due to its wide wavelength.

Also, on cloudy afternoons it is possible that a solar plant produces more electricity than expected. Why? The reason is the Edge of Cloud Effect. What is the Edge of Cloud Effect? This happens when the sun illuminates the edge of the clouds working as a magnifier of the sunlight. This will compensate our loss due to cloudiness.

Andrea Martinez
Mardel Souza Inc.
andrea@ausasolar.com

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A big challenge for the solar industry itself it’s to teach people how the solar panels work.

Solar cells convert the sun’s energy into electricity. Whether they’re adorning your calculator or orbiting our planet on satellites, they rely on the photoelectric effect: the ability of matter to emit electrons when a light is shone on it.

Silicon is what is known as a semiconductor, meaning that it shares some of the properties of metals and some of those of an electrical insulator, making it a key ingredient in solar cells.

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PANEL SOLAR

Yesterday while I was with a Raymondville customer, I was asked what would happen if the electric grid fails. I told him that the solar panels are disconnected from the electricity for two important reasons:
a)The first one is by the UL1741 standard that determines “if the electricity fails in the house, for the safety of the lighting company and the employees, the solar system must cut off and so does the energy it supplies to the grid” so if any employee of the electric company is doing maintenance on the solar system lines It shouldn’t allow electricity to the lines.
b)The second reason is they aren’t designed to work with batteries because they are installed in systems that are designed to work grid connected.
This means that in the absence of electricity there is no way to identify the frequency and voltage to which the solar system must adapt and therefore it doesn’t know at what frequency and voltage it must deliver the energy.

Alejandro Peña
Mardel Souza Inc
alexpena@ausasolar.com

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Our Home (Earth) is trembling and melting. What are you going to do about it?

Our hearths and Prayers go with the East Texas region, Florida, the Virgin Islands (and all the Caribbean) and Mexico . All the scenes and shocking news we are watching everyday, make the back of our neck shiver and realize how lucky we were in the south most part of Texas.

We are looking at the devastation in both Rockport and Houston. We are all sending canned food and supplies to help the victims. Our prayers are with them and the stories of unnamed heroes rescuing more than 18,000 victims of the flood in the Houston Metropolitan area are heartbreaking.
As I now watch Maria hitting in the Caribbean , I have to ask myself, who is really doing something to prevent the next Hurricane.  How many of us are fighting the root cause, rather than the problems it creates?

Yes… you can fight global warming in your own way.

Ask yourself the following:

a)Are willing to cut down Meat consumption to lower the Methane thrown into the atmosphere and reduce global warming?
You can grow your own vegetables in your backyard. In my neighborhood, only 2 properties actively grow their own food. Meat production pollutes our waters and produces Methane that goes into the atmosphere and helps global warming. By cutting down meat and MILK consumption you are actively helping the fight for global warming and in the process you are entering a healthy lifestyle. South Texas has an obesity problem that is affecting kids and adults alike. In some small south Texas cities is hard to find a person in a crowd without an overweight problem. The less Livestock we consume and more vegetables, the less methane emissions into the atmosphere. There are many documentaries on NETFLIX that can show how this affects global warming. 

b)How many people are still buying regular cars instead of Hybrids and Electric Cars?
You went to your dealer and you could have bought a hybrid for the same price as a luxury car. You could have gotten an electric car. Even better, you could actually use a bike to head to work.  Jon: I have no idea where your statistics  come from, but I agree with them. I am a cyclist too and if the Netherlands can do it, we surely can! Also, instead of investing on more Highways, lets invest in more urban transportation infrastructure. 

c)How many of us buy our electricity from Companies that generate the electricity from renewable sources?
They are 3 cents more expensive per kwh. Yet those companies support the growth of renewable plants and technologies. They buy their electricity from Wind Farms across the Texas Coast. Make sure you support them. Our corporate office used to be in a South Texas city that has a local Public Utility company that out of the blue stopped supporting Net Metering by the purchase of 1:1 ratio.
Only a few have raised their concerns and this Utility Company is not moving fast enough to correct this problem. Push your electric company to buy from renewable sources and promote renewable technologies.

Actually, you can choose your electric provider in many states. I agree with you that in some zones you have to go with the local Coop or Public Utility, but in many areas, you can choose which company you can buy from. And even in Public Utility companies, you can ask the board to support the purchase of greener energies. 

d) Are you as energy efficient as you can be?
When you go to work, do you have to wear a sweater in the middle of summer because some of your co-workers like the temperature to be 70 F? The recommended temperature by Magic Valley Electric Coop is 78F. Anything below raises your AC consumption in an exponential way per degree F.
If you cant handle the temperature at 78, perhaps you need to add more fans, change clothes or check if you could lose some weight. Weight will require you to DECREASE temperature settings . See our first bullet.

There are many ways to fight global warming and prevent hurricanes from being overwhelming with water or strong winds.

 

What are you doing about it?

 

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Thanks for the comments Jon Adams!  Corrections/Responses in RED

Thanks again… Comments for second questions in Blue

You are moving away from the subject. You mentioned that it was not possible to move to a more bicycle friendly way of Living. If the Netherlands can, we can as well. I didn’t mentioned their foot print.  I happen to live in a city where the commissioners and its citizens are pushing for a more bike friendly way of living. Its possible and there are a lot of benefits.

More and more utilities , even Publicly owned are pushing towards green energy. The more we request them to move, the faster they will do it.

Please stop referring the overweight population with a derogatory name. I used to be overweight and would not like to be called that!

It is in MY OPINION, a choice to be overweight. If you choose, you can lower your weight by watching your diet and living a healthier life. We ALL CAN DO IT! By consuming less, we reduce our methane footprint.  

 

Rapid Shutdown Systems// other changes in solar industry.

Its been a while, since my last Blog.

I just spend One and a half months in training on the Inverter and solar technologies coming to the USA from Germany. As some of you may know some of the best quality inverters are design and made in Germany, a country who is probably about 20 years ahead of Texas (10 years from California), that is in my opinion.
So I spent time in Stuttgart, Frankfurt and Crailsheim.

One thing that caught my attention is the emphasis that the United States is making in Rapid Shutdown. And let me be clear, this emphasis is ONLY in the USA, as Germany and other countries are not using this systems at all.

So I researched a little bit and found some background for the NEC and the subject.

Found this great article:

http://solarprofessional.com/articles/design-installation/rapid-shutdown-for-pv-systems/page/0/1#.WZMiJVGGOUk

and another one just with info:

https://www.wired.com/2017/05/rooftop-solar-panels-great-planet-terrible-firefighters/

I think that more than rapid shutdown systems, the education of the electrical PV systems has not been fully deployed to the Fire Departments.

This is so far the best educational pamphlet I have seen:

http://osfm.fire.ca.gov/training/pdf/Photovoltaics/Fire%20Ops%20PV%20lo%20resl.pdf

 

Alex Peña

956-459-3504

Micro Inverters vs String Inverters

Over the past several years, Micro Inverters have been pushed over the market as something that is the ultimate answer for solar installations.
At American Made Solar and Wind (Mardel Souza Inc), we have refused to make installations with micro inverters for several years for several reasons.
Here is a list of the reasons we try to stay away from Micro Inverters in general:

a)Temperature exposure:
As with all electrical components, microinverters will work better under cooler temperatures. To illustrate this better, you need to look at your laptop or your computer. How many fans and heat elimination devices do you see? Look at the transformer down the street: All the metal and oil are to keep the transformer working under the coolest possible condition.
With this said, the concept of microinverters fails to provide a good point of installation. The recommended point is under the panels, in the rail system. That is in the roof. Even the solar panels experience efficiency loss under higher temperatures. Actually the voltage is lower in a hot summer day in Texas than in a cold day. All electrical components should work better when they approach to absolute zero (kelvin). Even Canada has high temperatures during some months of the year. Life expectancy of such devices is lowered by such temperatures. A full study of this can be seen in this article:
http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0131279

b) Newer panels with high wattage.
As of today, the major companies to buy microinverters only manufactures microinverters for 250watts or lower, which in contrast with the newer panels that are rated 300w>>> the use of older modules is encouraged. Its been our policy to install only newer modules. We try not to keep inventory. Higher wattage in a module means less reails and less labor. Lower cost.

c) Guarantees.
When we install a system, we count on the system to be working for more than 25 years. We have been on business for 11 years and we expect to be in business for much longer than that. By law, all Solar Installations should have a 5 year minimum guarantee. If the life expectancy is yet to bee seen. Although they might be backed up by 10 or higher years of guarantee, I have been on this business long enough to know better. I have seen companies that claim that no microinverter has failed, but companies like Enphase which is publicly own is yet to be profitable. The micro inverters are exposed to the elements. In the coast and some other unfriendly environments, I have seen NEMA4 equipment deteriorate faster than intended. Until I see companies like Enphase making profit, I will continue my skepticism. http://newsroom.enphase.com/releasedetail.cfm?ReleaseID=982485

d)Shades
Microinverters claim that their strong suit is shade and individual control of the solar panels. To a certain extent it is true. However, the new inverters from companies like KACO have different controls over different strings. That means if a string is exposed to shadows or a different roof, the inverter will not allow circular currents and losses from such shades.

Going back to our microinverters, I did call three major suppliers of microinverters and requested information on guarantees and technical data. My impression is that all the big companies are betting on selling microinverters today while they fix all major issues and issue guarantees (if they are claimed) tomorrow. Back in 2012 it was rumored that what some microinverter companies wanted was just to sell the idea to bigger companies like SMA and KACO. Now that SMA and Kaco offer microinverters, I guess the real challenge is to make such companies profitable and their product as good as the string inverters.

I found this article interesting and non-biased, but I think its outdated. String inverters have more control over individual panels this days.
https://www.energysage.com/solar/101/microinverters-power-optimizers-advantages-disadvantages

Alejandro Peña
Mardel Souza Inc
September 16,2016
alexpena@ausasolar.com

Solar Collector issues When disconnected

Its been a while without blogging.  But we are back.

This week a potential customer called us with a very unusual problem.
The family installed a solar water heater from a solar company who is not in business anymore. Sadly this is a common practice we see all over the country, but we generally try to help the person, as means to make the industry in general look better.

Anyway, our techs arrived to the property. The solar water heater was leaking profusely.
It was properly connected. It had sensors and an expansion tank (very unusual as most plumbers do not install it in Texas).  The pressure relief valve was working.

The techs asked if any unusual activity in the house was done. The customer told our techs “We were on vacation and the water company disconnect the water for a bit…”

Disconnecting the water from an open loop solar water heater is like having a fry pan in the stove for days without anything on it, only much more worse.

If the water heater is not fed with continuous water , the system will prevent overheating by expelling the water through the relief valve. Normally, cold water will replace the hot water and the relief valve will close.  If no cold water is available, the heat will increase the pressure inside until it bursts the tank open.

When your installer installs a solar water heater, its convenient to place a sign for the water company to let them know not to disconnect the water from the property, or the water heater will be damaged.

This is the reason we prefer to installed closed loop systems.

I didnt find anything on this issue online, but please post if you find any links on similar problems.

Variable Pitch Product ready.

Over the past year and a half,  we were placed with the task to have variable pitch ground mounted angles for our solar panels.
We have achieved and tested a product that withstands 200mph of windstorm rating.

While solar trackers will still be a better option to follow the sun, they are mostly rated at 80-110 mph being unfit for hurricane ready zones like Miami Dade, South Coast of Texas, Coast of Lousiana , the pacific coast, etc.

Our product will deliver 30% more energy and its not cost prohibitive.
For more information, contact us at:

info@ausasolar.com

956-350-2827

Mardel Souza Inc.

American Made Solar and Wind

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Mid Year Promotion, buy one get the next one 25% off.

It’s that time of the year again. Just like a car dealership, we are getting ready for the new models of solar panels, Inverters and racking for the 2017 season.
The mid year promotion is to promote the movement of inventory of the following sizes:

1500 watts

3000 Watts

5000 Watts

On the purchase of any new powerplant, we are installing the one of this size at 75% the price.  Availability is subject to Final Inventory. We will post once all materials are gone.

Apply for a quote today at:
REQUEST A QUOTE