Monocrystalline vs Polycrystalline

It was the worst class. The teacher was dull and the information tedious— and I was bored!  More years ago than I care to remember that was my exact sentiment of high school chemistry.  Or it was until our teacher, a venerable relic who had Jesus in his year book, got sick and we got a substitute.  And not just any substitute this guy knew how to make an entrance. The first day he walked in, he filled a large container with water and threw in a chunk of Potassium.  The result was phenomenal!

My entire knowledge of Potassium was relegated to the sage advice of my wrestling coach. “Make sure you eat enough potassium and you won’t get muscle cramps”, he said.  Little did I know if you throw raw potassium in a bowl of water you get a mini geyser reminiscent of “Old Faithful!”

And with that one action I fell in love with Chemistry and became acutely aware not to eat a banana full of potassium right after I drank water!

Years later that love of chemistry would lead me to actively research the differences between the “best” solar panels and the chemistry behind what made them work.  The history of Solar is at the end of the day, short and addressed in another of our blogs– “Solar 101.”

There are multiple different solar panels on the market, all using silicon.  The two most common are Monocrystalline (Single Crystal) or Polycrystalline (Multiple Crystal).  The solar industry has proponents on both sides of the fence claiming the virtues of their respective panel; but at the end of the day when the smoke clears they are both very similar.  Lets discuss the virtues of both.

The first solar panel created was a Monocrystalline panel;  in mid 1955.  As the term infers these solar cells are created from a “Single Crystal.”  To create a Monocrystalline panel, a single silicon crystal is grown and then small wafers are cut from that crystal; about the thickness of a fingernail.  Due to the shape of the crystal and the manufacturing process these cells are have a very distinctive shape with the edges cut at an angle and have a very uniform color; typically dark blue or black. Because of the manufacturing process these panels do work better in areas of very high heat.  However, remember heat is the true culprit in the demise of any electrical device and exposure for extended periods will degrade any panel. (see image)

solar by vision solar

Polycrystalline panels on the other hand are made from heated silicon that is then pored into molds.  This allows the cells to be a uniform size, most often square or rectangle, and leaves a very distinct appearance.  If you look at these solar cells up close you can see many different crystals laying at different angles.  These panels are quicker to manufacture and typically less expensive.

solar energy by vision solar

As manufactures and solar companies try to distinguish themselves from the competition they often make claims about the superiority of their panels.  Most often with little or no factual basis to substantiate such claims.  At the end of the day each of these panels produces the exact same thing; DC Electrical Power.

Some of the largest improvements in the solar industry have actually come from the manufacturing techniques of the Solar Panels.   Thus, comparable panels have production and efficiencies that are very close.  For example, the Solar World SW 260 is a Monocrystalline panel with an efficiency of 16.1% and the Trina TSM 260 PA05, which is a very comparable polycrystalline panel, has an efficiency of 16%. To put that in perspective that’s like driving a car that gets 30 miles per gallon and then buying a different car that gets 30.03 miles per gallon because it is more efficient!  Trust me the its going to take you a long, long, long time and a lot of miles to ever notice that difference.

The better decision is to look for a company that is producing tier I panels with good warranties, long term efficiency at the best price.  Although, you can not tell if a company is going to be around in 25 years (the usual guarantee for solar panels) if you are looking at companies that are solvent and investing in R&D you should be good, but hey if I could make that guarantee I would be on wall-street.

Even if you were to compare the panels with the highest efficiencies; currently sun power, (who will have a 20-22% efficiency rating) is the increase in efficiency really worth the additional 20-30% price increase?  Even with those efficiencies you would need almost 100kW of power for those panels to make a true difference.

We look at solar more as an investment and thus are focused on getting the best panel we can at the very best price so that our clients get the best return.  In conclusion, the numbers are so close it’s more of a decision on what to have for dinner than to worry to much whether your panels are Monocrystalline or Polycrystalline.

By Tyrell Grey
Vision Solar

How Does Solar Work?

“Sometimes it is easier to accept some things as they are rather than tear them apart to see how they work and never be able to get them put back together!”— My Dad circa 1986 after I had disassembled his lawnmower.

Fortunately I was raised by understanding parents and my short foray into mechanical engineering was met with a look of quiet annoyance, some strong words, and not the stronger corporal punishment I deserved.  Nevertheless my dad’s point was taken to heart and I, for the most part, have accepted the operations of the mechanical wonders that abound in our society with the simple motto “if it’s not broken don’t try to fix it!”  But sometimes you just have to know how some things work.

The Solar industry is booming across the United States– and globally for that matter.  Unfortunately, many solar companies don’t take the time to educate new solar customers on exactly how solar works.  This is due in large part to the financial models that allow people from all segments of society to benefit from solar with little to no up-front expense.  And at the end of the day the simple truth is that solar is, well simple.

In 1839 a french scientist, Alexandre Edmond Becquerel, first identified the solar effect at the age of 19.  Meanwhile I was just happy I graduated high school at roughly the same age.  Simply put Becquerel realized that some elements will react and create voltage and current when exposed to light.  Unfortunately it was not until 1941- over 100 years later- that Russell Ohl created the first Solar Cell.

The process of creating solar is simple, by mixing several elements in a specific manner and then exposing them to light we are able to create voltage and current.  The main element is Silicon which is then doped with Phosphorus or Boron to create essentially a positive and negative state.  By placing these two cells together and then exposing them to Photons and sunlight, electrons are knocked loose and allowed to move- thus creating current.  “Viola” we have power!  Now if the french could just create something to top “French Fries” my life would be complete.

By Tyrell Gray

Two States Completely Different Approaches to Solar

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NPR is known for their clear radio talk and informative speaking. However, their writing is excellent as well and deserves mentioning in Vision Solar’s blog. In this article (which can also be listened to) NPR reports on how two states on opposite ends of the U.S. handle solar and utility companies. California and Georgia both have valid and great models for handling the incoming dawn of solar. Click the link below to listen and/or read the article.

http://www.npr.org/2016/01/01/460960961/like-night-and-day-how-two-states-utilities-approach-solar

Hydricity Concept Producing Round-the-Clock Power

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When we see great ideas we want to recognize them and encourage them. Hydricity is a concept for creating a sustainable power economy and stability is security. Imagine power coming from all-natural elements and perpetually power itself. This is like a beautiful version of Frankensteins monster, it has a little bit of everything. Read the full article at link below.

http://www.rdmag.com/news/2015/12/hydricity-concept-uses-solar-energy-produce-power-round-clock

2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference Paris Update

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UN Climate Change Conference under way in Paris!

190 Countries, represented by almost 50,000 participants, are convening in Paris right now (November 30 to December 11) in the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference.

The object of the Conference is to achieve a legally binding and universal agreement on climate, to be signed in 2015, and implemented by 2020.

The tip of the spear is pointed at policy makers in China and the United States. China is the largest producer of CO2 greenhouse gases in the world, doubling the output of the #2 producer, the United States.

China and the U.S. produce more carbon emissions than all of the remaining countries in the world put together –

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Carbon Emissions in 1990 and 2012.

Excellent examples of progressive ‘green’ nations would include Germany and France.

Germany has converted almost 30 percent of their electric grid to renewable energy from near zero in about 15 years. At the heart of this great German Energiewende, or energy transformation, is an generous “feed-in tariff” where Germans install solar power (or wind) at home and receive a predictable, high price for the energy generated off their own rooftops.

As of June 2015, Germany gets 50% of its electricity from solar; compared to less than 1% in the United States – but that is changing!

France serves as a model country because it is one of the only developed countries in the world to decarbonize electricity production and fossil fuel energy. As of 2012, France generated over 90% of its electricity from zero carbon sources, including nuclear, hydroelectric, and wind. While most of this power generated is from nuclear power systems, France has an impressive record as one of the safest and cleanest energy systems in the world.

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Another Vision Solar Home – Wave of the Future!

In the United States, Vision Solar (http://www.visionsolar.com) is leading the nation is helping homeowners switch to clean, renewable solar power. Because of favorable tax incentives currently in place in the U.S. (the ITC which will expire December 31, 2016), this is the best (and possibly the easiest) time to meet with an Energy Consultant at Vision Solar and begin the process of joining the world in its renewed dedication to creating a favorable ecology for our children and grandchildren.

How Solar Energy Will Transform America

A recent article from the Solar Energy Industries Association encouraged readers to contact their Congressmen and demand for an extension of the ITC – the Solar Investment Tax Credit – which is set to expire on December 31, 2016.

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Important Solar Benefits That Our Capital Needs to Renew – the ITC!

Vision Solar agrees.  With the advent of the ITC, the economy of scale that makes solar panels so affordable, the positive effects of solar energy in America extend far beyond the advantages experienced directly by the thousands of home owners who have become part of the solar power grid.

One of these overlooked benefits is that the U.S. solar industry employs 174,000 Americans nationwide.  These tax-paying Americans are believers in the solar dream and all of its potential.  They are leading an energy revolution.   Together, with each home and business that will covert to solar panel systems, are transforming America.

That employment base if hugely benefited by both ethnic and gender diversity.  In fact, the solar industry surpasses the oil, gas and coal industries in terms of its employee diversity. For example, the solar industry’s employment rate for Latino or Hispanic individuals, at 16.3 percent, is 3 percentage points higher than the entire U.S. employment rate for Latinos or Hispanics. Women also account for 21.6 percent of the solar industry’s total workforce.

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Vision Solar’s Solar Revolution Family!

Veterans have been employed by the Solar industry at a higher percentage rate than the total U.S. workforce.  And, according to the SEIA, the industry is committed to having 50,000 U.S. veterans working in solar by 2020.

The solar work force is projected to grow by 36,000 in the next quarter and will be ramping up its training and recruitment opportunities accordingly.

There are many other benefits from Solar Energy besides providing a diverse employment opportunity.

For example, as stated by Rhone Resch of the SEIA, “The solar workforce is diversifying our nation’s power grid — through the rooftops of your homes, your community’s solar gardens, churches and businesses, and through your utility’s large-scale solar plants.

You finally have additional choices when it comes to choosing the source of your electrical power.

Additional, the economy of scale created by solar panels, producing electricity at a fraction of the cost of coal-produced electricity, will have a significant impact on both individual and national budgets.

The effect on cleaner air and water should also be evident.

WE NEED YOUR HELP!  The solar investment tax credit (ITC) provides a 30 percent tax credit to commercial and residential solar users, which has helped the solar industry produce more gigawatts for the first time in history this summer (2015) and has launched the U.S. towards a better employment, consumer market, economic and ecologic future.

Under the ITC policy, total U.S. solar capacity is expected to double over the next two years.

If you are one of those American who is interested in helping solar energy in driving America to its new clean energy future – let your Congressman know – please extend the ITC beyond it’s current expiration date of December 31, 2016.

Follow us at http://www.visionsolar.com for the latest in SOLAR ENERGY and SOLAR NEWS.

Will The Old Power Companies Go Out of Business When Everyone Switches to Renewable Energy?

If all of the paying customers of an old Utility Company switch to solar panels / net metering, will their revenue base drop to zero?  YES, less what the Utility Company is able to charge for use of their net meter, power lines and power pole infrastructure.

Is the above scenario a possibility in the future?  NO.

Why not?  1. Large populations live in apartments and other housing complexes which don’t allow access to a direct solar panel connection.

  1. Many home dwellers are renting.
  2. Many homes owned are surrounded by trees, mountains, and don’t have enough access to direct sunlight.

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    Imagine a World Without Power Lines!

The old, local utility companies, which have provided electricity since the 1900’s, at extraordinary profit levels, will still have viable options, as a business, moving forward….

  1. Currently, homes with solar panels represent one-half of one percent of all American homes – solar panels / net metering are a long way from saturating the market.

We have seen some projections suggesting that solar power will provide 50% of America’s power needs by 2020, but that’s because the Utility Companies themselves are building huge solar farms to add electricity to their power grids.

  1. At current economics, less than half of American households have the financial capacity to support having their own solar system on their homes.

So, even if everyone said, “let’s go solar”, less than half of Americans could.

  1. Coal Burning Electric Companies will rebuild themselves into Renewable-Alternative Energy Companies and will keep their foot in the door.

For one thing, they own the telephone poles and the hard lines that run across America carrying the electricity – sooner or later, we will come to an accord for a ‘usage charge’ for utilizing their lines and infrastructure.

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Vision Solar is America Going Solar!
  1. The scale of progress being what it is, the need for coal burning utility companies will continue on for the foreseeable future – but not so long, coal supplies in the United States will run out at current production in about 100 years.

Utility Companies need to find their place in the future of renewable energy given the advantage they have with their infrastructure already in place.

In the meantime, the world, our country, the economy, our ecology – all benefit from homeowners being self-sufficient for power through a solar panel system installed by the nation’s best solar installation company, Vision Solar (http://www.visionsolar.com).

Locus Energy Monitoring Teams up with Vision Solar

The four main components of a home solar power system are:

  1. the solar panels
  2. the mount and racking for the solar panels
  3. the solar inverter, to convert the DC to the AC
  4. the performance monitoring system

Performance monitoring is an essential part of your home or business solar panel system.  With monitoring and intelligence, homes with solar panels can count on exceptional customer service and technical service.  Proper Maintenance of the solar panels, inverters, racking and cables is also ensured in a timely manner when systems are accurately monitored and deficiencies are quickly reported.

As one of the premier solar installation companies in the United States, Vision Solar provides each of our installations with a Locus Energy Solar Monitor (http://locusenergy.com/).

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Locus Energy Teams Up With Vision Solar

Locus Energy is a solar monitoring and data analytics platform provider for the distributed PV market.  Locus is considered a leading provider of energy data  and intelligence and is owned by the energy monitoring group Genscape.

Locus Energy has been named a 2015 Bloomberg New Energy Pioneer for its innovative solar software and analytics. The Bloomberg award (http://www.bloomberg.com/company/new-energy-pioneers ) identifies game-changing companies in the field of clean energy technology and innovation. – See more at: http://locusenergy.com/press-releases/locus-energy-wins-bloomberg-new-energy-pioneer-award

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24/7 Monitoring of your Solar Panel System

As of April 2015, Locus PV (photovoltaic) Monitors were keeping track of over 75,000 systems across the United States.

The importance of having your home solar panel system monitored insures that your system’s performance is maximized throughout the lifetime of your panels, inverters and mounting system.   If any one of your panels begins to drop in it’s overall production, the Locus Energy monitoring system will immediately report the deficiency.  Vision Solar (http://www.visionsolar.com) can then dispatch our maintenance crew to diagnose and correct the system so that your home solar panel system is back to 100% efficiency.

Vision Solar Teams Up With Enphase Microinverter

Vision Solar (http://www.visionsolar.com) is a partner with ENPHASE and utilizes the Enphase Microinverter in all of our installations.  ENPHASE (https://enphase.com/en-us ) is the dominant player in the microinverter industry.

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Vision Solar uses the high efficient Enphase M215 Microinverter

 

INVERTERS are a KEY COMPONENT of your Home Solar Power System.  Here is a brief overview about inverters.

Solar panels, on your home, generate Direct Current (DC) electricity as the sun hits the panels.

An INVERTER converts DC to Alternate Current (AC) electricity – the electricity that your home and appliances use.

There are three primary kinds of solar inverters in use with today’s solar panel installations:

  1. Centralize inverters (also known as a string inverter).
  2. Microinverters
  3. Power optimizers. (which will be discussed in a later info-blog)

 

STRING

String inverters are the most common in use.  They are suitable for installations where panels are installed perfectly – on a single plane and not shaded during any part of the day.  In essence, ALL of the panels feed into the ONE String Inverter.

PRO – They cost the least of the three options.

CON –

  1. Like a string of Christmas tree lights, if one solar panel has an outage or diminished output, the entire string is affected.   It’s all or nothing.
  2. String inverter systems are less efficient than microinverter systems – they produce less electricity.
  3. With a string inverter, solar panels cannot be monitored individually for performance.
  4. String inverters are typically warrantied for 10 years and have an expected lifetime of 12 to 15 years, while solar panels typically last 25 years or longer. Thus, the string inverter will need to be replaced at least once.

 

MICROINVERTERS

Costs for Microinverters and power optimizers are coming down every year.   According to Vision Solar and its partner Enphase, the benefits easily outweigh the higher cost.

Microinverters are suitable for installations where one or more panels may be shaded, or where panels are installed on multiple planes, facing different directions.  Each solar panel has its own dedicated microinverter.

PROS

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Vision Solar – Enphase microinverter diagram.
  1. Each solar panel contributes individually to the total electrical output.  Output is therefore not restricted to the least productive panel.  If one panel is shaded, the other panels are still able to contribute 100%.
  2. Microinverter systems are more efficient and extract more electricity from each panel than a string inverter system.
  3. Each solar panel can be individually monitored for performance and reliability.
  4. Since microinverters are not exposed to as high power and heat loads as a (central) string inverter, they tend to last significantly longer. Microinverters typically come with a warranty of 20-25 years – 10-15 years longer than string inverters.

CON – As previously mentioned, a microinverter system is slightly more expensive

 

Call Vision Solar at 1-888-781-7074 to have all of your questions answered.

Putting the Sun 23000 TWy of Energy into Perspective

Vision Solar is committed to solar energy becoming a part of everyone’s life!

The SUN

The sun generates an energy equivalent of 23,000 TWy’s of energy per year.

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Solar is the Best Renewable Energy Option!

A TWy is a “terawatt year” of energy.  Annually, the world, including all forms of transportation, uses approximately 16 (sixteen) TWy’s of energy –

– the sun generates 23,000 TWy’s per year.

In other words, there is plenty of energy coming from the sun for the entire world to use, and to spare!

COAL and everything else….

If you added up all other sources of energy (coal, uranium, petroleum, natural gas, wind, etc.) – including all reserves, calculated to be available on and in the Earth – they barely add up to a grand total of 1,800 TWy’s…

1,800 TWy’s would fuel the earth’s current needs for another 112 years if we could extract every ounce of coal, oil, natural gas and uranium available.

Coal is the 2nd largest energy source for potential and future energy.  Specifically, if we mine all of the coal reserves left on Planet Earth, we could generate 900 TWy’s of energy.

With all of its potential, all non-renewable sources of energy come with a huge price tag, when you consider the extraction and refining needed, as well as the consequences of burning coal and disposing of used uranium deposits to our environment.

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The Sun Offers Unlimited Source of Energy

BOTTOMLINE

1,800 TWy’s left on the planet versus the SUN generating a generous 23,000 TWy’s every year.  In case you are worried, scientists estimate that our Sun will run out of hydrogen fuel in 6 Billion Years.

The sun and solar energy / solar power offer an unsurpassed, renewable source of cheap energy.

Vision Solar offers households that qualify a seamless, no-cost transition into the solar world.  A $100 monthly utility bill today will add up, with annual increases, to over $50,000 paid out for electricity – a considerable consumption expense.  Vision Solar can eliminate or substantially reduce this consumption expense and turn it into an investment, saving you thousands of dollars moving forward.

We can answer all of your questions and concerns – start by visiting us at http://www.visionsolar.com.