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SEPCO's blog on all things renewable and green

We Need More Solar Canopies in Parking Lots in the South

Posted by SEPCO

4/17/14 9:30 AM

Solar_Canopies_in_Parking_LotsSEPCO is located in south Florida and it is hot almost year round here. One thing that I have noticed is gaining popularity is solar canopies to provide power to businesses. The other thing I have noticed is that there are not that many installations of solar canopies, at least not here in south Florida. As an advocate of solar and shade for our hot days, I would think that more businesses would install these types of systems. Think of all the benefits that a solar canopy in a parking lot could provide.

Solar Power to the Business

Solar power is free energy to the business. This can lower the overall grid power usage; therefore, lower electric bill. With Federal tax incentives, solar is a win-win for companies. The systems can also be customized to fit the architectural design of the company so that it blends well with the existing building. A lot of companies are starting to do this. Even Zoo's such as San Diego and Cincinnati are starting to take advantage of solar installed in parking lots for comfort of vititors while providing the electricity needed to run the zoo.

Shade for the Customers

With the hot sun beating down all day, shaded parking is a great way to keep your vehicle cooler. Shaded parking is sought after in the south as a car can heat up to over 110 degrees very quickly. This is harmful to the interior of the car and almost anything left inside. Even leaving the windows cracked does not help cool the car as much as shaded parking. (Please remember to never leave children or animals inside a parked car for any length of time no matter what!)

Power for Electric Vehicles

Electric vehicles are becoming more and more popular and many solar canopies can be integrated with a charger for these vehicles. While the person is inside the building, their car can charge by sunlight. What a great way to increase the benefit for stopping at that particular establishment.

Solar canopies allow businesses to take advantage of all that space in their parking lots to provide energy, an additional comfort to customers and power for electric vehicles that are gaining popularity. Why not install solar canopies, especially in the south, to take advantage of all the good that the sun can provide.

Img Credit: ASES

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Topics: Solar Power

Stand Alone Solar Power Systems Provide Energy Security

Posted by SEPCO

4/3/14 9:30 AM

You may not realize this, but we rely on grid power for just about everything. If the grid fails, we are left in the dark, in more ways than one. Stand alone solar power systems provide reliable power and energy security for applications that cannot have failures.

Stand Alone Solar Power for Homes

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Putting your home on an off grid solar power system is not feasible in most cases; however, having an off grid backup system can make a huge difference in many instances. It would be like having a backup generator without relying on gas, only the sun. If the power fails due to a natural disaster or grid interference, important equipment can still operate off the backup power stored in batteries. The batteries will recharge during the day and be able to keep going for quite some time.

 

 

Stand Alone Solar Power for Security Cameras

Solar-Camera-3Cameras need to be active for security at all times. If the grid fails, or someone cuts the power to the area for malicious reasons, security cameras cannot operate as needed. Instead, using off grid solar power for the camera systems will ensure their operation during these times. The solar will charge the batteries during the day to make sure the camera has enough power at night. Specialized cameras are designed to operate specifically from solar power, but have all the features of standard electric security camera systems.

 

 

Stand Alone Solar Power for Lighting

VA-Temple-TX-5Lighting can provide security to many applications. Making sure the lights are on when they are needed is important to ensuring the security measures are all in place. Stand alone solar powered light systems provide lighting no matter what is going on. They are specifically helpful during times of natural disasters such as hurricanes and blackouts or brownouts. The lights will operate seamlessly without additional power from the grid providing safety and security to the installation area.

 

 

Utilizing stand alone solar systems for backup or high security applications can ensure that no matter what the grid power is doing, there will always be power to the applications that matter the most. Remember, all you have to rely on is the sun to come up tomorrow to provide you power.

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Topics: Solar Power

Solar Powered Network Camera Provides Security to Job Sites

Posted by SEPCO

3/18/14 9:30 AM

A recent trend has developed in job site security: solar powered security cameras. But solar powered security cameras aren't just small ways to lessen your carbon footprint; the reality is, they can be extremely beneficial for myriad different reasons. Solar powered security cameras are more efficient, more useful, and more convenient.  Need further proof? Here are a few reasons why solar powered security cameras are the way to go for your job site. 

Ease of movement 

Presuming that you hook your solar powered security camera up to a Wi-Fi network, you will be able to run the entire system without cables. This means that, anytime you feel the need to move the location of your camera, you can do so very easily. It won't require the hassle of moving wires and cables, which often have to be installed underground. With a solar powered security camera, you can simply place it where you need it, anytime you need it, and you'll be ready to go.

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Added security 

Solar powered cameras actually offer better security than their traditional counterparts. The reasoning is pretty simple:  traditional security cameras require an infrastructure.  In general, they have to be attached to a building, which is insecure for two reasons. First, it limits the amount of places that you can put them.  Usually there are better camera locations closer than the infrastructure; these provide more security, but can't be reached with a traditional, wired camera. And second, security cameras on infrastructures are in plain sight, which allows vandals and thieves the opportunity to work around them, or cut them off. Without wires, you can place your security cameras in trees or bushes or fences, and no criminal will ever know that they are there. 

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Save money 

The amount of money saved by switching to a solar powered security system may seem negligible, but take into account the fact that security cameras run 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, and you'll quickly realize just how much money you can save. The fiscal benefit of switching to a solar powered security camera will add up very quickly.

For these reasons - and others - solar powered security cameras are the new best way to secure your job site. They're more efficient, more cost effective, and more secure than the traditional models.

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Topics: Solar Power, Solar Camera

Recent Advances In Green Technology

Posted by SEPCO

3/13/14 9:30 AM

Solar_System

Attempting to make the world an improved and pollution-free place to live is not a straightforward task, and there are no settled principles. This is one of the tests we confront when making, executing and depending on different sources of energy; since no single source of energy is 100% 'clean'. Nonetheless, year-after-year we continue to make great strides along the difficult road to environmentally responsible energy sources.

As temperatures increases and population gets bigger, it’s clear that green engineering holds the way to the survival of Earth and all the species that live on it. Luckily, innovators all around the globe are endeavoring to create headways that will slow down or perhaps reduce the harm caused due to our over-reliance on fossil-powers.

According to Liberty Power, in a few cases, progress in green technology is dependent upon new discoveries and developments in science, physics and engineering. On the other hand, these advancements have been dead set generally by shift in thought processes. However, the thought of "green’’ is gaining popularity among people.

Several recent innovations are based on a century-old concept: that of using tidal power to generate electricity. Harnessing this renewable resource is rapidly becoming more practical and cost-effective. In the area of solar power, the use of copper-indium-gallium-selenide compounds in solar panels substantially increases the electrical power generating efficiency of these panels, plus the compounds make construction of the panels far easier. Bladeless wind turbine designs, based on the physics of ships sails, are expected to significantly reduce the number of deaths of birds and bats. Wind turbine technology is also continuing to evolve.

Some innovative advancement in green technology are as follows:

Marine Renewable Energy: Marine renewable energy works by harnessing the power of the ocean tides and currents; a continuous source of kinetic energy that can be used to power turbines which in turn produce electricity.

Solar Power: The sun provides enough energy in the form of light to supply the world with much more energy than we currently use globally.  Certain materials produce an electric current when exposed to light, and we can harness that current to generate electricity.

Algae-Based Biofuel: Algae is a simple organism ranging from single-celled to multi-cellular forms, and is typically thought of as a kind of plant due to its ability to perform photosynthesis. Using chemical and mechanical methods, oil can be extracted from algae and converted into fuel that acts in the same way as traditional petroleum fuels

Green Roof: Different countries are rapidly adopting idea of keeping their roofs planted with grass. It not only minimizes the heat effect but also reduce summer air conditioning usage.

With this transformation in green technology it is expected that we would not only be able to generate enough energy to fulfill our needs but also keep our planet safe and healthy.

Author’s Bio: Adam Prattler is an expert in geography and writes from time to time for different information sources. He is also fond of natural beauty so much that he prefers to have fake grass around his house since natural cannot grow.

Photo Credit: www.greenerideal.com

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Topics: Guest Post, Green Ideas, Solar Power, Renewable Energy

Making Your Off Grid Solar Power Work Reliably

Posted by SEPCO

3/11/14 9:30 AM

Off grid solar power provides power at night when there is not sun and uses the sun during the day to charge a battery bank. The battery bank is what the device runs on at night, or when the power is needed. As long as power isn’t needed 24/7, off grid solar power is a great and viable choice.

Solar

There are ways to do 24/7 power with off grid solar; however, the battery bank and solar needs to be much larger. Since you only want to take your battery system down 20 per cent per day / use to ensure the batteries last, the solar and battery backup needs to be large enough to handle the load for days. This also will allow your off grid solar system to work during times of bad weather.

Battery

Sizing the system is a pretty easy task. Take the total load required on an average day and multiply that by the number of days the system needs to operate; typically 5 days is long enough. Add for a little overage, say 20 percent or so for times with bad weather. Finally, find out the number of sun hours you have available in your area in the dead of winter (the shortest day of the year) and you will have the total number of amps you need to run the load for the 5 days.

Find out how many amps are provided by the solar and the amp size of the battery system. You need enough power generated by the solar panel and enough storage in the battery to make sure the system lasts. To find out more about how solar power is generated, check out this video from the DOE:

 

 

That’s about how simple off grids solar power is. Making sure you have enough power being generated and stored is the key to making the system last. You can cut corners by lowering the power or sizing for the summer sun hours, but then you will be sitting in the dark when the sun decides to hide behind a storm or in the middle of winter. Best bet; make sure you have sized your system properly to always have the sun shining on you.

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Topics: Solar Power

13 Solar and Lighting Terms to Know

Posted by SEPCO

2/27/14 9:30 AM

Solar_and_Light_Terms1. Watt – A quantifiable measure of power consumed. If you have a 15 Watt lamp, it consumes 15 Watts per hour. The lower the watt, the less energy used and LEDs are providing the most light with the lowest wattage necessary.

 

2. Kelvin Kº (colors of light) – measured in degrees, is a quantifiable measure of color temperature. You can get anywhere between a bright white light to a softer yellow light, even a dark yellow for turtle friendly applications.

 

3. Color Rendition Index (CRI) – a way to assess how light sources make objects appear. Any CRI greater than 80 has good color properties and is closest to the light provided by the sun.

 

4. Average Rated Life – referred to in lamp life is actually the median

 

5. Mounting Height – the measurement from the ground to the light source. The higher the light fixture is mounted, the larger the spread of light on the ground, but also lower light levels.

 

6. Distribution (I-V) – Determines how far light is emitted to each side of a fixture:

  • Type I – long linear pattern, long distance to the sides with a short pattern out to the front and back
  • Type II – Progressively growing distance to the front and back and shortening of the linear sides
  • Type III – most commonly available in most fixture types has a perfect oval shape
  • Type IV – has a more circular pattern with linear sides that extend farther on the sides
  • Type V – Round circular pattern same distance from front to back and side to side

 

7. Optics – control of light distribution from a fixture, sometimes controlled by aiming of the light or use of a shield to direct the light a specific way.

  • Non-cutoff – light is emitted in all directions
  • Semi-cutoff – most of the light is emitted below 90 degrees
  • Cutoff – controlled lighting where less than 2.5% of the light is allowed to escape the fixture above 90 degrees
  • Full-cutoff – used in dark sky friendly locations, optics put the light on the ground below the fixture not allowing light to emit above 90 degrees

8. Amps – a unit of measurement to determine the amount of electrical charge passing a point in an electrical circuit, typically used to determine the amount of power generated by a solar panel to charge the battery and how much power can be stored in a battery, i.e. an 85 Watt panel produces a 5 amp charge per hour and charges a 82 amp hour battery that holds up to 82 amps at one time.

 

9. Current—a flow of electrical energy. Solar produces DC (Direct Current) power and can run DC electrical devices directly. LEDs run off of DC current and do not require an inverter or ballast to create an AC current for these types of fixtures.

 

10. Autonomy – The number of days storage an off grid system has for times of bad weather or low sun. This can be determined by calculating the number of amps used per day divided by the number of amps in a battery backup system.

 

11. Depth of Discharge - The amount of power pulled from a battery; i.e. if the battery is fully charged, its depth of discharge is 0%, if it has been used 25% to light a fixture, then the DOD is 25% etc.

 

12. Photovoltaic Power – The method of generating electrical power in the form of DC power by harnessing the solar radiation typically through the use of solar panels.

 

13. Solar Radiation – The radiant energy emitted by the sun on a daily basis. You can feel it on your skin when you step into the sun in the form of warmth. Solar panels convert this radiation into electricity. 

 

Well there you have it. Have any terms you would like to add? Share them below.

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Topics: Solar Lighting, Solar Power

23 Fun Facts about Solar Panels: All That You Need To Know

Posted by SEPCO

2/20/14 9:30 AM

solar-panel-house1. A solar panel is a set of photovoltaic modules, electrically connected assembly of solar cells. It is mounted on a supporting structure and can be used as a system to generate electricity in residential and commercial applications.

2. Each module ranges for 100 to 320 watts, rated by DC output power under STC. The efficiency determines the area of a module given the rated output.

3. Most of the installations contain multiple solar modules as a single module can produce a limited amount of energy.

4. A photovoltaic system includes an array of solar modules or a panel, an inverter, a solar tracer or battery, interconnecting wiring.

5. There are two types of solar panels: one produces electricity (photovoltaic), another collects heat (thermal).

6. Solar shingles look like ordinary asphalt roof shingles, and it can be used to avoid the unpleasant look of traditional panels.

7. Micro inverters perform better than normal panels for they work independently.

8. Solar modules use photons from sunlight to generate electricity through photovoltaic effect.

9. Cells are generally protected from moisture and mechanical damage.

10. Most of the solar modules are rigid; but based on thin film cells, semi-flexible ones are available.

11. The conducting wires are connected to each other and to rest of the system, to achieve a desired output voltage.

12. Bypass diodes are incorporated to maximize output of module sections.

13. Some recent designs include concentrators to enable the usage at high cost per unit area in a cost-effective way. Modules can also produce electricity from a range of frequencies of light beams, but this usually does not cover the entire range. They can give higher efficiencies when illuminated with monochromatic light.

14. Another design splits the light into different wavelength ranges and directs the beams onto different cells. The efficiency can be improved by studding the semiconductor surface.

15. Use of aluminum over gold or silver is preferred as it can bring down the cost and improve efficiency.

16. Monocrystalline and polycrystalline modules are currently produced for better performance.

17. Third generation prefers advanced thin-film cells. Compared to other solar technologies, they produce relatively high-efficiency conversion for low cost. They can be rigid or flexible. Flexible films are portable and lighter than rigid films, and resistant to breakage than ordinary crystalline ones.

18. The requirement for commercial and residential purpose is different. Residential needs can be packaged and are simple whereas commercial arena uses complex parabolic reflectors. This is becoming the dominant technology in different fields and aspects of life.

19. Smart solar modules make use of power optimizers and this technology maximizes the harvest of photovoltaic energy. Modules must withstand natural calamities. Manufacturers guarantee electricity production for 10 years at 90% and 25 years at 80% rated power output.

20. Nominal voltage allows users to assure the compatibility of a module with a system. The actual voltage output changes due to lightning and temperature. Some parts of it are recyclable including semiconductor materials, glass, and ferrous or non-ferrous substances.

21. 80% of incoming weight can be recovered from silicon based modules, 90% to 95% from non-silicon based modules are recovered.

22. There has been systematic reduction in price of cells. Pricing information can be of three categories: small quantity, mid-range and large quantity buyers.

23. Rooftop installations supply power directly to electricity user.

About the Author: Shashank Kirloskar is a professional business analyst. Apart from his profession he is a freelance writer for Lancosolar.com. He loves writing and sharing articles related to solar energy and companies offering solar panel for homes and commercial buildings. 

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Topics: Guest Post, Solar Power

What the Solar Tax Credit Can Do for Your Solar Installation

Posted by SEPCO

2/18/14 9:30 AM

30_Tax_CreditSolar has come down in price a lot over the last couple years; however, it is still out of reach for a lot of people. There are different tax credits available that can help cut down the out of pocket costs of solar and provide an incentive to installing solar. Here is a basic overview of the federal tax credit available to residences and businesses alike.

The Federal Tax Credit for solar installations allows for a 30% tax credit on costs at installation. The Business Energy Investment Tax Credit (ITC) states that 30% for solar, wind and fuel cells is available and 10% for geothermal and microturbines. The maximum incentive is $1,500 per 0.5 kW of solar installed, so there is a cap to the tax credit. Microturbines is only $200 per kW. If you install solar on your business and want to claim the tax credit, you need to fill out IRS Form 3468.

Residential Federal Tax Credits include solar electric, solar hot water, wind turbines, geothermal heat pumps and fuel cells. There is no maximum on most of these for the credit and it is 30% all the way around. There is more information on DSIREUSA’s website along with Energy Star and you will need to fill out IRS Form 5695.

Both Federal Tax Credits are available till the end of 2016 as of now. This may or may not be extended beyond and we won’t find out for quite some time. If you are looking for money to help your solar installation, make sure to push while the money is still available.

State incentives vary depending on what state mandates are available. Hot solar states provide better incentives then states that aren’t pushing for renewable energy installations. To find out what incentives are available in your state, DSIREUSA’s website is the best resource. You can also contact your local power authority to find out if they provide additional incentives for using solar on your home or business.

The final resource I will leave you with is 1BOG. They work with your local solar companies to help you get the best value. I personally have worked with them and it is a breeze. You type in your location and they will contact the local solar providers and set up appointments with you. The solar providers will come out and assess your home and provide you a quote for the system and installation. There are a lot of solar companies that will even deal with all the tax credits, rebates and such, find you money to help with the purchase, and quote you what is left. To read more about my personal experience, check out Solar Power is More Feasible than I Thought.

Solar is completely feasible, but make sure you jump on board while the financial help is still available. What other questions about going solar do you have? Let me know below and I’ll make sure to answer them.

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Topics: Solar Power, Clean Energy, Solar Tax Incentives

The Green Solution to Powering Your Home: Understanding Solar Panels

Posted by SEPCO

2/6/14 9:30 AM

Solar_Panels_on_RoofSolar power has been widely available for many years now, but there's no better time to make the change than now. Did you know that at least 10% of residences in Australia are now powered by sunlight? Solar technologies have vastly improved since the early days, and the Sun's rays have proven to be an unlimited, reliable, eco-friendly, and free source of energy. Jumping on the solar energy bandwagon, however, requires buying and installing solar panels on your property - and that can be a daunting task if you're new to the game. Here are some things to know about solar panels before you spend a small fortune on them.

How Many Panels do I Need?

If you're considering making the switch to solar, wondering about how many solar panels for your house are necessary is completely valid. That number would mainly depend on the lifestyles of the occupants. A family that typically uses many electronic devices on a daily basis will likely require more solar panels than a family that only uses power for necessities like light and heat. Then again, the number of panels required would depend on how much energy each one can produce given ideal conditions. Solar panels are not all made the same, and they all have different efficiency ratings. A better way to look at things is to ask how much energy you require to maintain your living standard and whether a specific solar panel system is large enough to meet those needs.

Think Overall System Size, Not Numbers

Instead of concentrating on how many solar panels you'll need, focus on the total system size measured in kilowatts. Today, most photovoltaic panels vary anywhere from 190W to 327W. As you can see, the number of panels you'll need depends on what type of wattage your panels have. If you utilize solar panels on the lower end of the scale, you'll need to buy more to meet your energy needs. If you use panels with higher wattage, you'll require less of them. If you choose to use a mix of panel types, you would have to sit down to do the math if you want to make sure that they can produce enough energy for your purposes.

Generally speaking, a 5kW solar panel system should be sufficient for a family of four living in a larger home. This type of system should be able to power most types of lights, a refrigerator, multiple standby appliances, multiple computers and TVs, washer and dryer, a dishwasher, and a central air system. Two or three friends living under the same roof could probably get by on a 3kW system capable of powering a fridge, large LCD TV, multiple standby appliances, energy-efficient lighting, a computer or two, washer and dryer, and a small air conditioning unit or space heater. A couple or individual should have no trouble going with a 1.5kW solar panel system. This size of system should adequately power efficient lighting, fridge, single TV and computer, one or two standby appliances, and washer and dryer with limited use.

Solar Panel Efficiency

The average Australian home consumed 7,070kWh electricity in 2009. Nearly 40% of that was used for cooling and heating, 25% for heating water, and 21% for powering appliances. That's a lot of energy use, so you'll really benefit from more efficient solar panels. You might hear people speaking about high-efficiency panels being better, but what does it really mean for a solar panel to be efficient? Efficiency refers to how well something can do its intended task. More specifically, solar panel efficiency refers to how much electricity that particular panel can produce compared to the amount of sunlight it must receive. Efficiency is displayed as a percentage, and most solar panels have ratings of 15% to 20%. The percentage identifies how much of the sunlight hitting the panel actually gets transformed into usable electricity.

What Affects These Ratings?

There are a number of different factors that can influence how well your panel converts sunlight into electricity. The first is build quality. A poorly-designed panel made of cheap materials will not function correctly or last very long. Always buy renowned brands. Secondly, the placement of the panels makes a huge difference in how much energy they can generate. Experts say that south-facing panels generate the most electricity, so make sure that there is room for installation on south-facing exterior surfaces. Thirdly, the tilt of the panel also affects its efficiency. More energy is produced from direct sunlight exposure. Next, extreme temperatures can hamper solar panel performance. Finally, shade is the largest obstacle for solar panel efficiency. If you live in heavily-wooded areas, going solar might not be the best idea.

Choose Quality over Quantity

When it comes down to making a decision, you'll almost always do better to go with more resourceful solar panel - if you can afford them. If you can help it, buy panels that have ratings of 250W or higher. In addition to being able to convert more sunlight into electricity, running higher wattage panels can save you a ton of space since you'll need less of them. People who own smaller homes definitely need to take efficiency into consideration since they don't have much roof and exterior space to work with. The most trustworthy suppliers of quality panels are reputable manufacturers and dealers that have been in the business for many years.

What to Ask Your Providers

Before buying solar panels or getting a system installed, make sure to ask about: the brands of components used in the system, whether or not upgrading the system at a later time is an option, how much energy you can expect to get from the system, how much the initial deposit will cost, how long the installation will take, whether or not the installers are certified, and whether or not there are any promotional deals currently available.

About the Author: Jayde Ferguson writes for who writes for Gold Coast solar power company, Infinite Energy. Why not catch Jayde on .

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Topics: Solar Power, Alternative Energy

Creating an Everlasting Solar Power System

Posted by SEPCO

1/7/14 9:30 AM

Solar panels have been produced for years using a lot of the same components. Between silicon, glass and aluminum railing, there really isn’t much else to a solar panel. However, they are quite fragile.

Breaking the glass on the front of the module renders the solar module practically useless. Technology has increased the durability of the glass over the last couple years to allow for destructible forces not to break them. Check out this awesome video where our friends at SolarWorld have perfected their technology in making the glass indestructible.

 

 

Look how strong these front sides are, but they are damaged easily from the backside.  Most US manufacturers use strong glass, but nobody pays any attention to the backside.  This is usually not a problem for roof mounted equipment or secure solar farms, but when a product for applications such as solar street lights and public power are located on poles within the public realm, the #1 reason for solar module failure is backside damage from windblown debris, rocks, bottles, and slingshots or overall mayhem as shown on those TV commercials.

EverlastingSolarPower.jpg

You see, solar modules of single crystal (mono-crystalline) and even more fragile the thinner cells of poly crystal (multi-crystalline) contain cells which are very thin and as fragile as potato chips! On the module rear the cells are only covered by a thin layer of a vinyl like material. When handling modules, handle with care; even these shown in the above video.  A rack component, module twisting, or anything that comes in contact with the back surface can crack the cell, or tear the vinyl so water can enter the laminate.  A cracked cell can render your expensive module worthless, in a split second!

We provide durable SolarWorld panels combined with our strong aluminum panel pans on the back of the solar panel system to provide protection from all angles. This ensures the safety of your solar panel system whether it is powering a single street light or a whole range of solar lights.

EverlastingSolarPower2

Next time you are in the market for a solar system, make sure your investment will be well protected from outside issues. Ask your solar manufacturer what they do to protect the solar arrays. Don’t be left with a vulnerable system if they don’t do anything to protect your investment. With the cost of solar still high, make sure your system will last.

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Topics: Solar Power

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