5 Steps To Understand Solar Simply

solarroofsunSolar is converted to electricity fairly straight forward. It actually isn’t that complicated.

Consider that the Earth receives more energy from the Sun than total world energy consumption for a year. Wouldn’t it be cool if we could harness that more efficiently for the cost of producing a solar panel?

Right now panels are expensive and you have to have a lot of them to catch that energy from the sun.

Consider that the Texas electricity grid is a totally on demand grid system where all electricity is generated in real time as needed. When you create excess solar energy you need to send it back on the grid and have a partner lined up to buy that energy from you.

With solar if you are going to store the energy it has to be transferred to a very expensive set of deep cycle batteries. Because solar energy storage is costly it makes a ton more sense to sell excess energy back on the grid for a credit and at night just use cheap retail electric grid power. If you want t be totally off the grid then when it is night time this solar energy can be used from your deep cycle battery storage system to run your home at night when the sun is not out. The batteries offer a 24 hour around the clock totally off-grid system but that storage is expensive and in my opinion just not worth it.

Getting to the Basics of Solar: We all know that the sun shines down on the panel and some how the panel absorbs this energy and converts it to electricity. We show you a clear explanation of the 5 step process of solar electricity generation below.

Here is the 5 steps to how solar can be your energy off-grid superhero:

1) Solar panels as of now are created using expensive silicon based cells that are small individual models that are connected to together. These cells are called photovoltaics or PV’s. These clusters of solar cells do the job of converting sun energy to electricity but the cost is higher than I would like for the efficiency current PV solar cell systems offer for the price you pay. These PV cell clusters perform the task of converting incoming sun rays straight into electricity.

2) The converted energy goes through a set of wires to an inverter. The inverter makes the electricity created change from Direct Current (DC) to Alternating Current (AC) which is what U.S. homes use.

3) Once the inverter has done it’s job the electricity goes into the breaker box via a wire and is available to meet your houses energy demands as needed.

4) When more power is generated than needed the electricity created is “net metered” which simply means you get to have your electric meter roll your kilowatt hour usage back. During the night and in low light during rain storms and such you will continue to get electricity service from your retail electric provider if you are still hooked into the Texas electric grid.

5) To get the ability to have the “net metered” effect you have to contact your electric utility which could be Oncor, Centerpoint, AEP, or perhaps someone else. These utilities have net metered agreements for you to fill out. These agreements are used to begin the process of changing out your old electric meter for a new net-meter which has the ability to out-flow and in-flow your electricity. On top of this some retail electric providers like Green Mountain Energy offer a program where they will buy your excess green energy you create for top dollar. You get a credit on your bill but not an actual check but this means you can effectively have a monthly positive balance on your electric bill each month. It is the responsibility of your retail electric provider to buy back your out-flow energy and not Oncor or any other transmission and distribution utility. If you want to see what retail electric providers in Texas offer a “distributed renewable generation out-flow buyback” option you will have to call each one individually and ask as providers are constantly changing their provisions regarding this.

Here are the latest net metering outflow buy back provisions we know of offered by retail electric companies in Texas. Out of 47 Texas retail electric providers only 4 that we know of offer a program to buy back the solar energy you create.

  • Kinetic – Full retail credit for all energy produced but no credit for any energy in excess of the customer’s monthly consumption.
  • Green Mountain Energy – Through the Renewable Rewards® Buy-Back Program, Green Mountain customers who install qualifying renewable energy generation facilities at their homes can receive credit for any excess energy they export to the electricity grid. For the first 500 kWh per month of surplus power, the credit will be the same per kWh rate that Green Mountain charges for the Renewable Rewards® electricity product. For any excess energy beyond 500 kWh per month, the buy-back rate will be reduced by 50 percent. The credit is exclusive of any monthly service charge, TDSP advanced meter surcharge, applicable taxes and fees or other charges. For more information visit Renewable Rewards® Buy-Back program.
  • TXU – The TXU Energy Surplus Power Purchase Agreement is a month-to-month agreement for surplus solar electricity currently paid at $0.075 per kWh and surplus non-solar electricity paid at $0.06 per kWh. Payments are made quarterly with no cap on the amount paid out. This program is limited to systems of 10 kW or less in capacity. Requirements: Must be on a TXU Energy residential or business rate plan of customer’s choice and have an interconnection agreement in place with their TDSP. For more information visit here.
  • Reliant Energy – A flat rate of $.085 per kWh.

Out of 74 Texas municipalities only 5 have net metering buy back programs. Out of 80 Co-ops 24 had net metering policies but the cost to the customer to opt-in made these policies worthless and costly to even take advantage of in most cases.

When comparing other states with net-metering policies Texas seems to fall short. Other states will pay you full retail price for the energy you create. It really makes no sense to have a net-meter that gives your utility free energy that you produce so in Texas be sure you pick one of the 4 retail providers that will pay you back in some way.

If your interested in Texas solar and would like to work with a stand-up guy I recommend Rudy Wright with Wright Way. These guys have been doing solar for quite awhile and are a family owned business since 1982. I recommend calling them and talking through what you want…they might be able to get you setup at the cost and with the right solution your seeking.

Costliest Aspect To Solar Panel and Wind Electricity Solved

Scientists at Murdoch University have found a way to store electricity generated from solar panels in a water and salt based battery. Currently deep cycle lithium batteries are the battery of choice for solar panel and wind turbine energy storage. These batteries are needed to store energy on cloudy or windless days and they have a short life span while being way too expensive.

You may know already just from how many times you have to replace batteries in your Wii remote control that batteries are expensive and must be replaced every so often. Even my laptop battery has to be replaced about once a year and costs me about $125 a pop. The depletion of a solar panel deep cycle battery is around 4 – 8 years depending on how well it is maintained. For a 26,000 watt deep cycle battery bank you are looking at spending $16,000. You could feasibly use something like this to live off-grid but imagine that every 4 – 8 paying that kind of price tag?

For the most part solar energy has been cost prohibitive because deep cycle batteries cost too much. Solar panels cost too much also but if you could dramatically lower the cost of deep cycle batteries or solar panel prices you would really have something people could work with to actually save money on energy and save the environment as a good side benefit.

The new salt battery technology can be used in place of the more expensive lithium-ion batteries to store solar and wind energy. This energy that is stored is simply to allow for its use when the sun is no longer out and the wind isn’t blowing. By having the power stored it can be used during times where power is cannot be generated.

A low-cost battery gives you the ability to live off-grid at day or night and not have to worry about the high cost of a battery that will soon have an ended life and need to be replaced once again for the cost of a moderately priced car, ouch!

Dr. Manickam Minakshi and Dr. Danielle Meyrick believe the salt based battery has commercial use applications in the solar and wind energy business to allow for stored energy to feed into the electric grid when demand requires it.

Because salt is a cheap plentiful resource on earth this is great news for the environment and for man’s unending need for low-cost energy. This battery is called a water-based sodium-ion battery and is the most affordable low-temperature based battery ever created for the purpose of storing off-grid electric power.

Currently the deep cycle batteries you get now use rare earth minerals and compounds like molten sulfur and liquid metals. The scientists used manganese dioxide as the cathode and a novel olivine sodium phosphate as the anode which offered the best results compared to the lithium-ion battery.


Solar Panel Home Windows, Transparent and Affordable

There has been a recent development and practical application of a transparent solar panel created by UCLA with a substance I can only describe as “glass like plastic”

Imagine having solar panels with the practical ability to act as windows so you can see outside and yet they are creating energy at the same time?

The greatest part of this new invention is that they can be made very afford-ably and solve the problem of how to make windows into solar panels.

I am sure many others have thought, “If we could just make solar panels transparent we could power skyscrapers”

As you can probably tell there will be numerous practical applications for solar panels that double as windows and skyscrapers is just the tip of the iceberg here.

The University of California, Los Angeles says these polymer solar cells produce energy by taking in almost all infrared light, allowing the window solar panels to be about 68 per cent transparent to us humans.

The windows were made from photo-active plastic which provides a way to turn infrared light into electricity.

The ability to produce these new solar cells at a high volume and low cost has got me super interested in these things.

I imagine cell phones and a majority of other electronics will one day incorporate these things into their functionality.

These solar cells were invented in the California NanoSystems Institute which is no surprise to me as nano technology continues to make strides in many new breakthrough inventions that are created.

The nano part of this technology is the small silver nanowire composite film that is put as the top transparent electrode. These panels are able to absorb a lot of near infrared light but not as much visible sunlight which is the trade off that allows for them to remain transparent.

The nano-mixture is silver nanowire and titanium dioxide nano-particles which allows for transparency and not just opaqueness as has been all that could be achieved in the past.


Solar Panel Installers in Texas

Solar Costs Seem Prohibitive At First

For most people it seems a little confusing after researching the whole idea of a solar panel system for a home. The research ultimately leads people to the conclusion that a solar system just isn’t affordable enough to make sense. Considering that the investment could take 30 years to pay back itself a lot of people that bought a solar system would be dead by the time they began to see dividends on their Texas solar panels investment. There are however some solar panel setups that can actually lock you in to a fixed electricity rate and save you money over a short amount of time.

Cogenerating Your Electric Power

Many people have not considered implementing their solar panel system in a cogeneration capacity. Instead of using deep cycle batteries to store power you could sell your generated electricity back directly onto the electric grid and roll your meter back. It sounds too good to be true at first but the Texas government allows you to generate your own power and sell it back onto the electricity grid whenever you want. I have heard that Oncor and Centerpoint are not very easy to work with in making a cogeneration setup like this work but if you hire a licensed solar installer you will have an easier time of it.

Consultation on What Way Will Work Best When Using Solar

I recommend working with a solar panel installer in Texas that sells top of the line solar products. By hiring the best you will be installing state of the art solar equipment and they will be able to save you money by recommending a system that meets your budget. By and large the cogeneration setup is the most popular. You will not be able to power your air conditioner, refrigerator and other appliances and remain off the grid but you will be able to roll back your electric meter significantly. Proper consulting on how best to implement a solar panel system is just as important as the product you end up buying.

Bottom Line, What Will Your Electric Rate Look Like With Solar?

A good solar installation company will be able to tell you what your average electricity rate will be from the power coming off of your solar system. You can then average that rate into the rate you pay your electricity utility in your area and see if it averages down your costs. You will likely discover that it will bring your rate down some while you build green equity in your home.

Contact a Licensed Solar Installer in Texas

To contact a licensed solar panel company that can set you up with tax incentives from the government and put together a quote based on your budget please go to ESS Solar and fill out their contact form.

Contact ESS Solar

Someone will call you back within 2 hours to see how they may be able to help you.

Affordable Solar Panels

ESS Solar – Texas Solar Panel Installers

Many people like myself have searched for several years to find a cheap affordable solution using solar panels for your residential home. Unfortunately the cost has always outweighed the benefit of being off grid. The upfront capital investment in solar panels would take 20 years to successfully pay off and maybe more. Deep cycle batteries eventually deplete and new ones need to be bought to store the solar power energy created and then fed into the appliances and cooling systems for your house.

Recently new solar technology has come out in the news like the thin film solar panel technology that will allow solar panels to be manufactured similar to the printing of paper money. The problem exposed about thin film solar panels is that they are inefficient. To be fair the thin film technology may be inefficient but it is cheap to make and more affordable to consumers like me wanting to buy solar panels to assist in getting off the grid or atleast having a cogeneration set up. The way cogeneration works is that any unused power generated by off grid technology can be fed back on the grid and credited on your meter directly. Solar still needs some more advancements and breakthroughs and right now there is a shortage of silicon for manufacturers to start mass producing some of the new technologicaly tweaked solar panels. A recent discovery that has cast a shadow on thin film solar technology is the new vertically aligned, low-density carbon nanotubes that are the blackest material ever invented or created. You may wonder why it needs to be the blackest to be such a wonderful advancement in science. Having a blacker solar panel means it becomes extremely efficient and cost effective. A very black solar cell means you will not need to buy as many solar panels to do the same thing and it will cost less. Just like CPU processors have become smaller, more efficient, and less expensive the solar industry is working on doing the same.

So where do you go to buy the latest thin film solar panels and blackest of black more efficient solar panels? The answer is sketchy as manufacturers that sell solar panels are still selling old outdated technology because they have not yet produced an available retail product for a residential home using either thin film or the smaller blacker low-density carbon nanotube solar panels. We spoke with an engineer at Applied Materials and went back and forth with them about the thin film technology they have a patent on and licensing ability to make available to solar panel manufacturers. There are several manufacturers working on getting a product created especially in Asia and China but I received no email back from Applied Materials when I asked for just one available retail store selling the thin film solar panel technology. Applied Materials were happy to talk about manufacturing opportunities but were silent on if the technology has actually reached retail stores. For right now the solar panel technology is still in the dark ages for a residential home. If you are going to invest in a solar panel system for your residential home be aware that you may be buying something that will shortly be replaced by a more efficient cheaper solution. With everyone talking about Green Energy and many companies including the NFL, Fox, Green Mountain Energy, Al Gore and a slew of other companies there is no end in site to the demand for green energy products. I have never seen more demand for green energy and solar panels in my life and I can only imagine this will rise significantly when the new technology hits the retail shelf.

If you would like updates on new solar retail products and technology as it comes available we have contacts with Solar manufacturers, and several retail solar stores featured on TV and trade magazines that keep us current on any new developments. When we receive this information we will be happy to pass it along to you.

Feel free to contact the local Texas solar panel and renewable energy solutions company below who we use to keep us informed of solar panel technology updates. They have a newsletter they send out to prospective customers keeping them informed of the latest solar products and energy efficiency solutions in the market. They are very good people which is why I am recommending them. Just fill out their contact form and let them know you would like to be kept updated on new technology.

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