Micro Inverter Solar Panels: The Future of Solar Power?

More than half of all of the solar installations in the US use micro inverter solar panels. More people are switching to micro inverters, as they provide a better alternative to string solar inverters, which are traditionally the most common type of solar inverters.

The advantages of choosing micro inverter solar panels are endless,and with the increasing amount of customers installing them worldwide, they could be the future of solar power! In this article we will explore everything you need to know about them, to help you determine if they are going to be a good choice for you.

What are Micro Inverter Solar Panels?

A micro inverter is a miniscule inverter that can be directly attached to either one or two solar panels. This means that each solar panel can function independently, and DC power is converted to AC straight away at the source. The primary advantage of choosing solar panels that feature micro inverters is that every single panel you have is optimized and monitored in order to generate maximum power- regardless of what the other units in your solar setup are doing.

One of the many issues with traditional string solar panels is that they are not designed to individually overcome the fact that each panel generates a differing amount of power due to certain factors that we will explore below. This is a major disadvantage.If one panel is performing poorly, it will affect all the others in the chain.

Some of the factors that affect how well your solar panels operate include:

  • If the panel is shaded by a tree or another structure
  • If they are dirty
  • The orientation and angle of the mounted solar panel
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    Some panels might age faster than others and therefore not perform as well
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    Differences in temperature

None of the issues listed above will affect solar panels that are equipped with micro inverters. They will all be able to function at their optimal power capacity and not be affected by the other panels in your solar setup.

Advantages of Micro Inverter Solar Panels

Here are some of the key factors to consider before deciding which solar panel system will be most beneficial for your household needs.

More Flexible

One of the major selling points of these types of panels is that they can be installed on pretty much any type of roof layout. They can be placed at different tilt angles and different orientations, unlike string inverter solar panels. This makes them an excellent option if you have a roof that faces several different directions.

No Single Point of Failure

Fortunately, there are only a few drawbacks to using micro inverters

Micro inverter solar panels do not have a singular point of failure. This is a hugely important factor to consider, especially if you want a larger solar system with multiple panels. If one panel is faulty, it will not affect the rest of the system. And you will never be left without power.

Faster and Easier to Install

Because micro inverters are attached directly and individually to your solar panels, the installation process will be quicker. There is no string system to be wired together, so as the installation is faster and the cost of labor will be cheaper.

Discreet

If we are being completely honest, rooftop solar panels can be ugly. This is especially true when you consider that string inverter solar panels will usually be installed somewhere near to your utility meter, which takes up valuable space as well as being rather unsightly.

With micro inverters, the majority of the solar equipment will be out of sight right up on the roof with the panels themselves.

More Efficient

Efficiency is key when it comes to selecting which kind of solar system to install. No one wants to wake up one day and find themselves without electricity,and this is what frequently happens with solar string technology. If one panel goes down, so do the rest. This is yet another favorable feature of micro inverter solar panels – they are more reliable and efficient, as they all operate independently.

Safer

If you are concerned about safety when it comes to choosing your solar panels, then micro inverter solar panels can offer you complete peace of mind. You won't be concerned about high voltage DC power on your rooftop, as micro inverters only have an AC voltage system.

Cost Effective

While it’s true that micro inverter solar panels can appear to be costlier up front, you have to remember that in the long run they will pay for themselves and are a sound investment. They will produce a greater amount of energy, leading to significant savings on a lifetime supply of power.

When we look at all of the benefits they provide, it is clear that micro inverter solar panels are an excellent choice for anyone looking to convert to solar energy. But, how about the disadvantages?

Fortunately, there are only a few drawbacks to using micro inverters

  • Currently cost approximately 20 /30% more initially than a conventional string system
  • The fact that they are on the roof means that they will be subject to adverse weather conditions, so choosing a robust and well-designed micro inverter is imperative
  • They are on the roof, which means if they need to be repaired or undergo maintenance, access could be tricky

Conclusion

In today’s fast-paced society, people always look for the simplest and safest solution to satisfy their consumer needs and budget. Micro inverter solar panels are becoming more popular because they are safe, effective and highly efficient.

As the world and the environment change with regards to climate change and pollution, more people are turning to solar energy to move towards supporting green, clean energy.

Ultimately, micro inverters produce more energy than their series string counterparts,and that is what is going to seal their fate with regards to the future of solar panel technology.

Leasing Solar Panels vs. Buying Solar Panels: Should I Lease or Buy Solar Panels in 2018?

As we reach the final quarter of 2018, the solar energy market continues to evolve and improve at a faster rate than ever before. This is why buying your solar panels is going to be your best bet in 2018’s energy market.

In this article, we will be taking a look and some of the pros and cons of buying solar panels vs. leasing them, but before we do there is oneimportant fact that needs to be highlighted,and that is the matter of federal tax.

There is currently only one way to benefit from a 30% federal tax credit on the cost of your solar system,and that is if you go ahead and buy your solar panels as opposed to leasing them from an external provider. If you decide to lease solar panels, then you will be limited to experiencing just a few benefits that solar power can provide, as you will always be a renter and never an owner. This means that the company you decide to lease your panels from will always be the sole owners who will financially benefit in the long run. And isn’t becoming the sole owner of the primary power source in your home for the rest of your life the type of freedom we all desire?

Leasing Solar Panels is Undergoing a Downward Trend

As a homeowner, the decision you make with regards to buying or leasing your solar panels is going to be determined by your long-term financial goals. And there are three main options when it comes to paying for your solar panels if purchasing:

  • Paying in cash
  • Secured loans
  • Unsecured loans

If you want to receive the best return on your investment, then cash up front is going to be the best option for you, if you are in a position to do this. To help you make a decision, here are some pros and cons of buying solar panels that you can consider.

Pros:

  • Your long-term financial savings are going to be enormous, as you won’t have to deal with increasing energy rates
  • You will be entitled to a 30% federal tax credit
  • Some states offer a renewable energy incentive or rebate
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    If you pay using a secured loan, you can deduct the interest paid when completing tax returns in the future
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    Owning your solar system entitles you to benefit from all of the financial incentives associated with it
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    You can significantly increase the market value and buying appeal of your home should you want to sell up and move
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    Never worry about your electricity being cut off due to routine maintenance or bad weather

Cons:

  • The only significant drawback of purchasing solar panels is the upfront cost that is required. Fortunately, more banks are recognizing the demand for going solar and are now facilitating secured loans.

The Pros And Cons of Leasing Solar Panels in 2018

The Pros And Cons of Leasing Solar Panels

There are a few distinct advantages to leasing panels, but they all revolve around instant gratification. Sure, you will be able to start benefitting from immediate savings on monthly bills,and your lease repayments are still going to be lower than your standard costs each month even after installation.

But when you compare these two positives, to the plethora of negatives, then suddenly taking a loan out to buy your solar panels becomes more appealing.

  • If leasing, you won’t be able to claim a 30% federal tax credit
  • You won’t be able to make interest deductions on income tax returns in the future
  • You will be tied into a contract and be required to make monthly payments on time, if not you could incur penalty fees
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    The market value of your home won’t benefit from an increase in value
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    You will be paying way over the odds for your solar system over time compared to the value you benefit from when purchasing panels outright

And these are just a few of the drawbacks of leasing. So here is our recommendation:

Buy Your Solar Panels!

Any solar energy expert in the world is going to tell you the same thing. When it comes to installing a solar system- if you want maximum returns for a minimum amount of hassle, then buy.

As solar technology advances, prices are dropping. Largely because solar energy is becoming more mainstream and manufacturing products are more readily available.

A recent survey revealed that homeowners would only have to wait between 5-7 years to experience a complete return on investment, which is encouraging more people to skip the idea of leasing and move straight towards buying a solar system to power their home or small business.

Few people these days are lucky enough to find themselves in a position where they can part with a considerable chunk of cash to pay for solar panels, so taking out a loan is always going to be a feasible option for making a purchase.

Provided you do your research on interest rates and repayments; you can make an informed decision about buying solar panels.

Final Thoughts

Before making any decisions regarding whether to lease or buy solar panels, it’simportant that you always turn to reputable and trusted experts to get your information. It is quite clear that solar power is going to be the future of energy, due to the harmful effects traditional power sources have on the environment.

As people are becoming more affected by climate change, the need for each individual to do their part towards making a positive change is becoming increasingly urgent and apparent. Additionally, when you can have an endless power supply for free, who is going to want to keep paying an electricity provider each month only to be subjected to rising costs and power cuts?

The solar energy market is growing by 24.2% each year,and with more affordable solar panels becoming increasingly available, leasing is set to become a thing of the past.

High Efficiency Solar Panels: The 5 Most Efficient Solar Panels on the Market in 2018

When looking for the most efficient solar panels on the market, the first thing you need to be aware of is that just because a solar panel boasts that its main feature is efficiency, that doesn’t always mean that you are going to be provided with the best return on your investment.

There are several factors to take into account when it comes to solar efficiency and when the time comes to make a decision about which ones you are going to buy, you might find that cheaper panels that offer a lower efficiency are going to be a better solution for you if you have a lot of space, as you can just install more of them and they will still produce the same amount of energy as the more efficient (and often more expensive) premium models.

If you are amongst the thousands of people on the quest to find the most efficient solar panels on the market to complete your PV rooftop system, then you don’t need to spend any more time researching. In this article, we will be reviewing the 5 most efficient solar panels on the market this year, so you can make an informed decision about which panel is going to be right for you.

Which Type of Solar Panel is Most Efficient?

Monocrystalline solar panels have been proven to be the most efficient by a long shot, with an efficiency rating of between 15-22%. While this might sound like a low figure, it is actually more than sufficient to power an entire household.

The reason these panels are so efficient is that theyare made out of high purity rating silicon that is designed to withstand high temperatures and extreme weather conditions. These types of panels also have the added benefit of requiring less space, making them a perfect choice if you live in the city or completely off-grid.

SunPower X-Series Solar Panels

SunPower X-Series Solar Panels

SunPower is the largest manufacturer of crystalline solar panels in the world. They introduced the SunPower X22 360W Premium Plus solar panel to the consumer market last year,and it remains the most efficient solar panel available worldwide.

These panels boast a remarkable 22.2 percent efficiency rating, featuring the latest technology in solar PV panels. They are incredibly durable- built to withstand extreme climates, making them an attractive option for customers worldwide.

Key Benefits

  • High Efficiency: the X-series solar panels generate more energy per square foot and produce 38% more power per panel than competitor brands
  • Maximum Performance: the panels have been cleverly designed to deliver optimal energy in realistic conditions like partial shade and hot temperatures
  • Advanced Technology: X-series panels will deliver unmatched power and performance thanks to innovative Maxeon technology
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    Extremely Durable: the only cell in the world that is built on a solid copper foundation, making it resilient to corrosion and cracking with age

Drawbacks

  • Price: they are more expensive than other solar panels, but it's not surprising given the premium features and quality they promote
LG NeOn R Solar Panels

LG used to be criticized for the efficiency of their solar panels, but the new NeOn R panels are testament to the fact that the electronics giant has taken the time to make some incredible improvements with regards to the cell wiring in their panels to enhance their efficiency rating. These panels are now just one step behind the SunPower X series, yielding an impressive 21.1% efficiency rating. 

Key Benefits

  • Enhanced Output: maximum efficiency yielded even in limited space
  • 25-year product warranty: for customers’ peace of mind
  • Durable: improved durability thanks to newly reinforced frame design
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    Improved temperature coefficient: enhancing performance on hot sunny days
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    Good price point: making LG panels an affordable option for efficient solar power

Drawbacks

  • Space requirements: you will need enough space to install the right number of panels to meet your power needs, so if your surface area is restricted, these panels may not be the best option for you.
Panasonic N 330W

The all-time favorite solar panel providers have outdone themselves with their new and improved approach to the manufacturing process of their solar panels. Their new hetero junction cell technology features two separate layers of high-quality material to create each cell. This means that the failure rates of these solar panels are incredibly low, and they also provide an efficiency of 19.7%.

Key Benefits

  • Higher energy outputs: thanks to new and improved heterojunction technology
  • High efficiency:an industry-leading temperature coefficient guarantees efficiency even at high temperatures
  • Unique water drainage system: meaning your panels won’t get dirty as quickly. More sunlight results in more power
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    25-year product and performance warranty: the power output after 25 years is superior to that of its competitors
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    Well priced: these panels fall in the mid-range price bracket

Drawbacks

  • Space: similar to the LG solar panels, if your roof space is limited, you might not have enough space to install enough panels for your energy consumption needs.
TrinaSolar Allmax

TrinaSolar is one of the largest solar panel manufacturers in the world. Their Allmax solar panels provide versatility, as well as efficiency.

Key Benefits

  • Excellent Price: while they are not as efficient as the product above, they are significantly more affordable
  • Generate high amounts of energy: even when space is limited, the Allmax solar modules still perform very well
  • Good Quality: these versatile solar panels are built to last

Drawbacks

  • Not as efficient as other panels available on the market, but this is compensated by the price.
Solaria Power XT

Solaria’s Power XT solar panels are some of the sleekest, reliable and most efficient solar panels for a rooftop solar system you can find. With regards to quality and design, they are on par with Sunpower panels, yet more affordable- always good news for the bargain hunters among us.

Key Benefits

  • Very robust: unique shingling process reduces the number of electric losses found in soldered ribbons
  • Good shade tolerance: these panels are designed to perform well despite being shaded depending on the time of day
  • Impressive Warranty: a 25-year warranty is provided
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    Budget Friendly: more affordable than many products on the market, especially when you consider their efficiency
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    Superior aesthetics: a sleek design means they are more discreet

Drawbacks

  • We didn’t find any significant drawbacks. They are efficient, reliable and incredibly well designed.

Final Thoughts

In life, you are always going to get what you pay for. This is why it’s so important to understand WHY the most efficient solar panels are more expensive than their counterparts.

It is clear from looking at the efficiency ratings that the SunPower are far superior to other solar panels on the market, but if you don’t have that much money to invest, then you still have several other options that are financially accessible.

 You might have to start with fewer panels than you hoped for if you want to invest in the best, but providing you have space, you always have the option of adding additional solar panels in the future.

Enphase Battery: What is the Enphase Storage System?

There is now an easier way to store the excess power produced by your rooftop solar system so that you can reduce your power bill even further. Enphase has designed an innovative energy storage system that combines the energy generated from your solar panel system with a battery, a control and state-of-the-art management software to create a compact one-stop solution to all of your energy needs.

The system offers consumers an easy and affordable way to manage their solar system from one central hub, without having to break the bank!

How Does the Enphase Storage System Work?

The home energy storage system is creatively designed to manage each and every stage in your solar power system, aside from the sunlight! Once the micro inverters in your solar panels have absorbed and converted the sun’s energy, any surplus power will be detected and stored by the Enphase battery, allowing you to save it for when you need it most.

Included in the Enphase Storage System is the Envoy Hub and a mobile app that allows you to monitor the various components’ communication, so you can enjoy real-time insights into the energy performance of your home, no matter where you are in the world.

About the Enphase AC Battery

The Enphase AC battery is one of the smallest solar batteries on the market, with regard to capacity. Each unit can hold just 1.2kWh, which isn’t a massive problem as you can buy as many units as you need for your home, as long as you don’t exceed more than 14 per installation.

The modular setup also gives you the opportunity to expand your current set-up as your family gets bigger, which will undoubtedly result in increased energy demand. Enphase has designed the AC battery to be long-lasting and durable, meaning you won’t have to worry about having to spend more money on replacements anytime soon.

How Does it Differ from Other Batteries?

Because The Enphase Storage System is substantially smaller than other home batteries such as the Tesla Power wall, it isn’t capable of facilitating a completely “off grid” lifestyle, nor can it provide you with backup power for days. Instead, it has been designed to allow you to increase the consumption of your own solar energy during the day, resulting in lower energy bills if the state you live in has time-of-use rates.

For example, in California, electricity prices are higher in the late afternoon- this is when you can use the energy stored in your battery to power your home, instead of having to purchase excess power from your utility provider.

Why Choose the Enphase Storage System?

Why Choose the Enphase Storage System
  • Integrated and complete. Enphase is currently the only company that can offer customers solar power, storage, and effective monitoring software all in one package. Each element has been designed to work harmoniously alongside the others, allowing you to have total control over your solar power system.
  • Energy insights. Enlighten, Enphase’s mobile app, allows you to easily track your energy expenditure in real time. This is a great feature because it will help you get some insight into where you could save on your energy bills, and also make smarter choices with regards to your household’s energy consumption.
  • Flexible and lightweight battery solution. The Enphase AC battery has the added advantage of being one of the lightest solar batteries you can buy. You can purchase up to 14 units for a singular installation,and the best part is, they will adapt to work with the existing system you have in place already. This offers you greater flexibility because you can buy as many or as few units as your home needs without wasting any money on excess storage that you don’t need.
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    Safe and reliable. When you buy an Enphase micro inverter, you will be entitled to a 25-year warranty. The micro inverters are subjective to a range of tests to ensure they offer outstanding quality, while being safe and reliable to use under any adverse circumstances.
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    Cost effective. One of the things we love most about this energy storage system is its price. For a company with such a good reputation, it would normallybe assumed that their products would be more expensive. Thankfully, this is not the case,and the Enphase storage system is accessible to customers with all budgets.
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    Simple installation. Labor costs and installation fees can often drive the upfront cost of solar power up. The simple installation of the storage system keeps extra costs down, making going solar an affordable option for everyone.
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    Efficiency. The storage System has a 96% round-trip efficiency and much faster payback than similar storage systems.
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    Excellent value for money. If you purchase an Enphase Storage System, you will be able to enjoy lifetime value for money. This storage system has the lowest up-front costs currently available on the market,and you can start benefiting from huge savings on your energy bills straight away.

Conclusion

The Enphase Storage System gives consumers the perfect solution to saving on their electricity bills, which can be painfully high in the winter. Not only is it suitable for those who are going to install an entirely new solar system, but it also will work just fine if you want to sync it with your existing energy system.

Enphase is fortunate enough to have a good reputation for manufacturing well-engineered products that exceed safety standards. It is one of the most reliable and user-friendly storage systems on the consumer market, and combined with an extremely affordable price tag, investing in this piece of equipment is going to be a great decision, regardless of your circumstances.

An important feature that stands out about to us is the longevity of the batteries. Made with lithium-ion technology, your battery will still be able to maintain 80% of its capacity after ten years. Overall, an excellent product that can suit the diverse range of needs of customers across the world.

Top 5 Best Solar Powered Indoor Lights & Buyer’s Guide 2018

Solar systems are no new invention. Thanks to the never-ending advancements enjoyed in that industry, new solar products are being built to rival conventional electricity. An example of such a product is solar lights; they are simply light bulbs powered by the sun.

Built for indoor or outside use, these lights convert the naturally occurring rays of the sun to electricity. Solar lights are affordable and available easily through a host of online and brick and mortar stores.

This article is reviewing the best indoor lights for 2018 and listing some things to watch out for when shopping for solar lights.

1. Domezan Indoor Solar Light

This indoor light is our all-star pick because of the following:

Domezan Indoor Solar Light
  • It is environmentally friendly which means it will help save money on your energy bill when compared to conventional bulbs without compromising on the quality of lighting delivered.
  • With a battery of 18650(3.7V, 1200mah), this bulb can be used for a time period of 6 – 8 hours after being fully charged.
  • With a durable adhesive, this panel can be stuck to the roof firmly
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    This bulb can be used for a wide range of activities from emergency lightning for storm or hurricane to lighting up your chicken coop.
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    This bulb comes with two already set in brightness levels and dimming strobe and SOS modes.
2. ROXY-G2 Solar

The ROXY bulb is multi-faceted as it can be used as an indoor bulb and also an outdoor bulb.It is a high performing lithium battery that has a capacity of 3.7V, 2400mAh that powers an LED bulb with the textured lens. It is useful for maximum brightness, little glare,and better light projection.

Built with an aluminum frame, this light has a cable length of 15ft that makes it possible to place the solar panel in the best area for maximum sun exposure. The bulb also comes with three various brightness level settings and a sensor that helps the bulb adjust to surrounding light.

3. Flyhoom 3 Pack Portable Solar Powered LED Lantern

3. Flyhoom 3 Pack Portable Solar Powered LED Lantern

Built for indoor and outdoor use, this bulb has a white color and comes in a pack of three. Each bulb is 4.9 x 2.8 x 2.8 inches in size and has an inbuilt 3-piece solar panel built within, 16pc high lumens LED beads,and a 1200mAh lithium ion battery.

The bulb also comes with the beautiful and seamless option of hanging which makes it easy to be used when hiking or camping. Committing the bulb to 9hrs of sunlight results in 22 hours of light. Charging it with conventional electricity for 5 -6 hours gives off over a day’s worth of lighting.

4. Greenlight Planet Home 120 Solar Lighting

4.Greenlight Planet Home 120 Solar Lighting

This solar lighting system can charge your USB devices and power all appliances that require direct current. The lamps themselves have 200 lumens per lamp making them suitable for lightning up several rooms. Its composition also makes it a more versatile option because it canbe used in any location at any time.

Finally, a full day’s charge gives back a full day’s worth of use.

5. ELight Portable LED Solar Lights

5. ELight Portable LED Solar Lights

ELight prides itself on the fact that they offer a full refund or replacement without asking any questions. Their solar light is suitable for indoor and outdoor use thanks to its great design. The light also comes with a hook so that it can be hung.

It also comes pre-installed with three brightness levels which can be adjusted by use of a remote control. The lamp’s battery has the capacity of 3.7v, 2000mAh lithium-ion and after fully charged, it can be used for anything between 9 – 20 hours.

Everyone of these bulbs is designed to meet your specific indoor lighting needs. However, should you decide to go out to buy a bulb from your local brick and mortar store, here are the important things you need to know before you choose a light:

1. Capacity

When questioning the capacity of an indoor bulb, it is important to pay attention to what batteries came prepackaged. And while the sun is the primary power source of the bulb, the batteries are needed to store the converted energy. Try asking questions about the capacity of the batteryto understand how long your bulb can last with a full charge.

2. Panel Composition

The composition of the solar panel of the bulb is extremely important. With a wrong or faulty panel, even the best-designed bulb will find it difficult to perform even the most basic task of converting the rays of the sun into energy useful to the bulbs. In identifying the right panel composition, consider the coating of the panel. Panels with quality coats usually perform higher than panels with sub-standard coats.

Coats are what shield the panels from weather effects and other factors.

3. Sturdiness

How sturdy is your light? It is essential to consider the raw material of the solar panel and the bulbs of the light system before you purchase one. Quality indoor solar light systems tend to be durable for several years.

4. Brightness

In all fairness, the brightness of the solar light system is as a result of the amount of change it received which in turn is related to the level of sunlight out that day. During the summer, bulbs usually glow brighter as opposed to the winter. So, it is important to bear this in mind.

5. Use Case

What use would the bulb be fulfilling in your home? Different rooms have different lighting needs,and it is important to consider this when picking your indoor light. Some lights make the perfect addition toa shed but may fail to properly illuminate the basement.

But above all other factors, arguably the most important factor to bear in mind is the price of the bulb. There are several great bulbs out there, ensure you pick the one that suits your budget.

Van Solar Panels: How to Choose the Best Solar Panels for a Van Conversion in 2018

A trait common to humans regardless of ethnicity, sex, social status or nationality is the urge to constantly innovate on systems, governments, items and so on. Solar powered systems are an example of such an innovation. While they are not completely new, they have enjoyed immense popularity over the last few years than they have in the last 200 years combined.

This is because the new solar systems that are being built these days are finally capable of being a reliable source of power. According to research done by SEIA (Solar Energy Industries Association), apart from an increased capacity of solar, a mass adaption of solar systems is being led by the falling prices of solar across the country. Currently, 250,000 Americans work in the solar industry or work with solar-related projects making it a major economic engine.

Every year, hundreds of thousands of people decide to pack up all they own, throw it into a van and drive around the country until their heart Is content. Tagged now as #vanlife on social media networks, it has gone from being just a fad or a movement to a way of life to millions of individuals across the world.

But powering your fridge, batteries, inverters, laptops, phones and so much more could be very costly regardless of how little you stop to power up your mobile home. This is why many vanlife patrons are actively seeking out alternative power options that can be used to power their trucks on the go.

A great alternative is solar. This is because it is relatively cheap to install and maintain. Also, with the right amount of materials, you can easily mount your panels in minutes and begin your journey.

But before you go out to purchase just any panel for your van, here are the things you need to know about choosing the best solar panels for your van:

Flexible or Rigid Panels

Flexible or Rigid Panels

Contrary to popular knowledge about solar panels, they can either be rigid or flexible. Rigid panels are constructed with an aluminum frame that surrounds the glass covering the solar cells while flexible solar panels are built with the solar receiving material saturated into a thin mylar film which is then attached to an aluminum substrate.

Also, it is important to note that flexible solar panels are not flimsy in any way. They are only bendable to about 30 degrees.

While both categories have their pros, rigid panels are preferred over flexible panels because of that extra efficiency they have. Apart from this, flexible panels cannot be applied on tilting brackets. Regarding tenacity and durability, flexible panels also pale in comparison as they are easily damaged by just about anything from hanging branches to weather conditions.

Finally, flexible panels have shorter warranty times compared to rigid solid panels. The average rigid panel is covered by warranty for 27 years on average; flexible panels are only covered for five years maximum.

Flexible panels should also not be completely ruled out as well. These types of panels are ideal for vans with little or no space around the body or vans that come in small or unique shapes. Because of its flexibility, it can be glued unto the roof or body of the van instead of being drilled into a perfectly sound roof.

Finally, a major component needed for solar panels to work as designed is lack of heat dissipation. Rigid panels allow heat to dissipate thanks to the air that flows between the panel’s mount and the van while flexible panels do not allow for that due to their installation process.

Now that You Have Chosen What Next?

Depending on your choices, here is what comes next after choosing your ideal type of solar panel:

1. Figure out how much power is needed for your van:

Does your van contain several high-intensity power consuming devices? Or are you traveling with just your phone and your laptop? Your solar system choice is a result of how much power your van needs. Failure to do this would lead to quick and continuous depletion of your battery reserves which could eventually lead to a collapse of the whole system.

2. Get a solar charge controller, a great one:

MPPT stands for Maximum power point tracker,and these regulators are used to convert all that raw energy that is being received from the sun into the optimal voltage needed to be stored in your battery. There are also non-MPPT’s for sale,but the typical MMPT regulator has been seen to have 30% more efficiency compared to the non-MPPT.

3. Purchase a system monitor:

Now you have your regulator, battery and solar panels fully set up. You have cross-checked your wiring,and your van has met all the safety standards and checks. The next thing to buy is a system monitor. Simply put, these devices play an important role by letting you know how much energy your panels are receiving, how much of it is being stored within the batteries and how much energy is being drained by your refrigerator.

Ensure you keep an eye out for these values. Some campers even go as far as to manually record these values in a bid to track these numbers in order to fully understand the system. An MPPT type of monitor is the Blue Solar Control.

Finally, installation. Installation could be done either by oneself or contracted to a professional in order to get everything done in the best possible way. However, it is important to familiarize yourself with the system to be able to solve incidents should any occur while you are driving around in your van.

 Another important thing to note is the panel size as well as the decision to have either a fixed or mobile panel. Each has its pros and cons,so it is important you consider your options carefully before drilling a hole in your rooftop in a bid to mount a panel rack.

The Top 5 Best Solar Contractors for 2018

Solar powered systems are not an entirely new development. Since the early ages of science, researchers and scientists have continuously worked towards harnessing the rays emitted by the sun. And over the years as man evolved, so did the systems and tools he built.

Today, the adoption of solar systems in the country is at an all-time high. From small companies to multinational corporations to residential homes, solar systems are being accepted as a convenient and more affordable means of providing electricity.

This is as a result of the major technological improvements that occurred within the photovoltaic and lithium-ion industries. These innovations are responsible for longer performing, cheaper, and more efficient batteries.

According to information released by SEIA (Solar Energy Industries Association), the solar industry has experienced a major boost in public popularity since the 1970s. This is major as a result of the constant decline in the price of solar panels and systems across the country. At the moment, over 250,000 Americans are said to be working in the solar industry, making it one of the largest tech inclined industry in the country.

A report published by Bloomberg stated that the cost of solar energy in 2018 is a meager 0.66% of what it was in the 1970s. That reduction can also be described as a 1/150th of the total cost over a 40 years-time range.

Today, solar panels can be seen on virtually every street across the country leading several people to describe the movement as a solar renaissance. And as the price of fossil fuels continues to increase, the price of solar is expected to fall drastically in comparison to fossil fuels, leading many to believe the renaissance is only beginning.

There are currently hundreds of US-based solar companies offering various services from solar panel sales to installation to simply working on research aimed at bettering the technology. And as the renaissance continues, more companies are expected to troop into the market creating a competition for the title of America’s solar champion.

This competition usually means multiple adverts in your face all the time,and it could make it a bit difficult to know what companies are worth your time and what companies aren’t. This article is going to help you sift through the noise and gain clarity on the best solar contractors nationwide.

1. Solar City Corporation

Founded by billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk as a side activity in 2006. The California based company has enjoyed a swift and unprecedented rise to become not only a country leader but a world leader in the sale of solar panels to homes and offices.

Built upon the same technologies that power Elon’s prominent company Tesla, Solar City brought radical innovation to an industry that was left for dead. This innovation is a result of the millions of dollars that is plowed into a full end-to-end range of services from R&D to installation processes.

Solar City is rated number one on our list because they have consistently broken every limitation set in the solar industry and they do not seem to be resting on their oars. Their team is responsible for a large number of momentous discoveries in the solar energy space.

Some of the products released by the company include solar chargers used for electric vehicles (not only Tesla cars), solar roofs that look like regular rooftop materials but are actually invisible to the human eye and high performing Li-Ion batteries referred to as Power walls.

2. VivintSolar

2. VivintSolar

With operations in 16 states, VivintSolar is the third largest solar contractor in the country. A great thing about the company is its wide range of services that greatly exceed just solar panel installations. The company also offers backup battery storage which is more like a warranty system to protect your investment.

VivintSolar features on our list because of the attention to detail it offers its customers during the solar installation process. Prospective customers are treated to a workshop where they learn about solar, its pros and cons and so on. Vivint’s solar panels also come with a 25-year warranty.

3. Sunnova

Although Sunnova does not handle solar panel installations themselves, they work with a select list of partners to ensure that your house does not go off the grid completely. Their systems help reduce traditional power dependency which leads to lower power bills.

Sunnova is one of the best solar companies in the country because of the wide support they offer. They currently provide their services to 17 states, coming ahead of Vivint but paling in comparison to DividendSolar. They also provide various payment plans ensuring every one of their customers finds a package that best suits them.

4. mySunRun

Also referred to as SunRun, this company stakes a claim to be one of the best thanks to the wide variety of services it offers. At the moment, they provide roof and workmanship warranties upon every installation they do, and they also have multiple payments plans customers can choose from making it easy to find the right panel for your needs.

Currently, SunRun offers their services in only 17 states in the country. Their installation process is also as extensive as VivintSolar as they take over the entirety of the installation process from creating a design for you to approve to filing the necessary permits to the government on your behalf.

my Sunrun’s solar systems can also be monitored through their mobile application or by logging into their website.

5. DividendSolar

DividendSolar offers the widest support coverage on our list supporting 23 states within the country. A key and important difference between the company and its competition is the fact that it simply finances your plan to have a solar system installed in your home.

DividendSolar simply makes the payment and warranty available but leaves the installation of the panels and the system to one of its numerous partners. This means that unlike the majority of the other companies on this list, DividendSolar’s payment plan is limited to just this, the Empower Loan.

DividendSolar is one of the best solar contractors in the country because of its wide coverage. They expand faster than the nearest competition,and their loan has decent interest and repayment rates.

Solar systems are no fad. As the prices of conventional electricity continue to increase and research poured into solar systems continue to produce favorable, positive results, it is only a matter of time before the system completely replaces the incumbent fossil system.

Solar Power for Sheds: What You Need to Know

The Oxford dictionary defines a shed as a ‘simple roofed structure used for garden storage, to shelter animals, or as a workshop.’ But the truth is for many people; sheds are much more than that. They are sanctuaries, safe spaces, and carefully crafted out chill spots and hideaways. This is why sheds are usually built and outfitted with all the features needed to make it comfortable.

However, because of these features, the shed draws a lot of power which usually results in a higher power bill and can become unsustainable over time. For many shed owners, this poses a major problem.

However, thanks to the advancements that have taken place in the power industry, multiple viable alternatives can help solve this problem. From solar panels to wind fans and natural gas-powered inverters, there is a long list of alternatives one can try.

Among the aforementioned options, few alternatives offer the benefits that solar power offer. This article is reviewing everything you need to know to fit your shed with a solar power installation.

Check the Roof

A better way to put this is to ask yourself, is my roof panel compliant? Most people who install solar panels choose to place them on the roof because it is a great location for attracting sunlight and it does not mess with the aesthetics of the interior. However, it is important to note that the installation of panels on your roof is akin to placing a new set of shingles on your standard asphalt roof.

When it comes to traditional rooftops, panel installers begin their process by conducting an engineering review to determine if the roof is sturdy enough to withstand the extra solar panel weight. The conclusion to this review usually determines if your roof is panel ready or not.

In addition to this, engineers advise that the spacing of the shed is another important factor to consider when deciding to install solar in your shed. The size of the shed usually determines the number of panels that can be installed. A small shed, for example, may be able to take about 3 – 7 panels of a standard 15 ft panel.

Another important thing to be considered is the amount of sunshine the shed is being exposedto. Consider the direction where your shed’s roof is facing. If you have a sunny, southward facing roof, you have the optimal positioning,and you are clear to proceed.

For eastern and western facing roofs, care must be taken to ensure it is entirely clear of the shade of any kind.

DIY or Professional Help

DIY or Professional Help

Today, multiple DIY kits can be purchased and installed yourself. For example, Grape Solar has a wide range of kits that can be considered. However, before you choose this, you need to be comfortable and certified to undergo this level of electrical work lest you end up hurting yourself or worse.

Regardless of your expertise with electricity, using a solar kit for a DIY project is only advisable if you are working with a small, off the grid solar system. If the shed you intend to work on is not fastened to the electric grid and you wish to have power for the few appliances and outlets in the shed, the solar kit is a viable option. Some kits could integrate with the grid as well,but those are usually complicated and require being connected to your power company.

Most DIY systems have a low overall cost compared to using a professional, but there are clear and undoubted advantages to using a professional when installing your panels. To begin listing these advantages, they will help save time as you would not need to spend a ton of time researching the system and the steps needed to install it. Professionals also usually help with filing the necessary permits and applications required by the government in order to get the system running.

is it worth it to purchase a shed to put a solar panel on it?

The short answer is yes. It is clear that not everyone might have a shed on their property at the time of reading this post. But the benefits of having solar installed on your property are immense and should be encouraged.

If you wish to begin your journey by constructing or purchasing a shed for the first time, ensure the construction of the shed makes it a very conducive space for solar. Ensure your construction manager and the team put enough space on the roof to fit as many solar panels as you want, and it is facing the right side in order to maximize the use of your panels.

Can sheds be purchased with an inbuilt solar panel?

Yes, multiple sheds are available for purchase with solar collectors included. However, it is important to note that most of these sheds have passive solar collectors installed (same thing with skylights) instead of solar electricity panels.

This does not mean that these sheds are completely useless. Depending on your needs, they could be found to be aesthetically pleasing and somewhat helpful.

Do I need a solar shed?

The decision to install solar panels on your shed should be taken only if you decide to provide electricity for your shed or you are about to develop a new shed that is solar powered. The type of system installed is heavily dependent on what you want to achieve with the panels. If your goal is to save heavily on power over the next few years, a huge solar system would be needed to cater to all the electricity needs.

Solar technology is currently progressing in leaps and bounds, and it is projected to be cheaper than electricity provided by the grid. Installing a solar system in your shed is simple to achieve, great for the environment, and has the potential to save you thousands in the long term.

How Much Does Geothermal Heating Cost?

The very first thing that should be mentioned when talking about the cost of geothermal heating is that it can help you reduce your overall utility fees by up to 60% annually. Let that sink in for a second. If your annual heating bill hypothetically comes to $1,000, by installing a geothermal heating system, you could knock $600 off that bill.

Yes, geothermal heating systems are as efficient as these things get. The best in the market offers an incredible 300 - 600% efficiency rating which is why they can help you save so much regarding billing as well as your impact on the environment.

You might be wondering: if geothermal energy is so great - they help you save money and the environment too - then why don't more people have geothermal heating systems installed? That is a good question, the answer to which is in two parts:

  • Most people do not know about it
  • The initial costs can be a little scary

It is the second answer that we want to focus on today: just how much does geothermal heating cost?

What is the Cost of Geothermal Heating?

Unlike most other heating systems, geothermal heating systems do not burn oil or gas to produce heat. Instead, they utilize heat energy from within the Earth's crust. Here, temperatures remain at a steady 45 - 75 degrees Fahrenheit whether it snows or not.

By making use of a very small amount of electricity, geothermal heat pump systems pump water through a network of pipes placed underground. The fluids pumped through these underground pipes absorb the natural underground heat and transfer that back to the surface.

An above-ground heat exchanger then uses that transferred heat energy to warm up air. This warmed air is transferred through your house using a series of ducts. Since this system produces more energy than it consumes, it can easily achieve and exceed 100% efficiency.

What are the Upfront Costs?

This is where the problems come into the equation. Even though geothermal heating systems are incredibly efficient and eventually cost effective, it is the upfront costs that deter most people from getting them installed. Let’s put these costs into perspective:

The average home needs a heating and cooling capacity of about one to five tons depending on the size of the house, the insulation quality and the overall construction. According to the National Geographic geothermal heating costs about $5,000 - $9,000 compared to traditional heating systems that cost about $3,000 per ton.

What are the Upfront Costs

So how much will it cost you to have a geothermal system installed?The costs vary depending on a number of factors including:

  • Soil conditions on your compound: Some soil types are just ideal for these types of Earth loop systems while there are those that make it very difficult to install the system. The kind of soil you have in your compound will determine just how much extra work is needed to install your geothermal system properly.
  • System configuration: Of course, just because you have an average sized home doesn't necessarily mean that you will want to have an average geothermal heating system installed. You might require a more powerful system because you live in a very cold part of the country. These specifications also play a role in determining how much your overall system installation cost will be.
  • Plot size: On average, a 3-ton system should be enough to heat the average home but the bigger your home,the bigger the system needed to heat it up sufficiently,and that translates to a higher upfront cost for your geothermal heating system.
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    Site accessibility and local geology: These systems require a great deal of excavation and Earth loop piping. As such, your local geology needs to be able to support that kind of activity. A site inspection will be necessary to determine this as well as the overall cost.

All of these factors will determine just how much digging and drilling will be required to properly set up the system. On average, the cost to have a geothermal heating system set up in your home should come to anything between $10,000 - $30,000.

Usually, for a 2,000-sq ft. home, the costs fall between $10,000 and $20,000. Having a geothermal system installed in your home will cost you about 40% more than a typical HVAC system.

The Life Expectancy of Geothermal Systems

A real concern for most homeowners considering installing geothermal heating systems in their homes would be just how difficult it would be to maintain those underground pipes. Fortunately, these underground components usually come with 25 - 50-year warranties; the pumps come with 20-year warranties.

The good thing is that this system, once properly installed, does not require that much maintenance. You will, however, need to hold routine filter inspections and changes. You will also need a professional to occasionally inspect the entire system to make sure that all components are functioning properly and at an optimum level.

Rebates and Incentives Involved

There is a wide variety of federal, state and local financing incentives and rebates available for people looking to have geothermal heating systems installed in their homes. One of the best places to start would be at the "Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency" website. On estimate, the total incentives and rebates you can get for installing a geothermal system in your home could come to about 30-60% of the overall cost.

While it might sound to many like the initial costs are exceedingly high, you should know that this kind of system typically pays for itself in just 5-6 years. Given most of them have a lifespan of about 50 years depending on maintenance, and the fact that you could be saving up 60% of your utility costs each year, after the first 5 - 6 years you will be earning money back for several decades that follow. That and geothermal energy is much cleaner, more efficient and environmentally friendlier than your typical HVAC.

5 Awesome Solar Powered Gadgets That Every Home Should be Using in 2018

Solar power is not only cleaner and more environmentally friendly, but it is also cheaper and renewable. The problem we have, however, is that we have become so accustomed to our fossil fuel power that we hardly ever take other forms of energy very seriously. That and the fact that most of these other energy sources are still relatively new and in their infancy, which makes them rather expensive, at least, as far as the initial costs are concerned.

Not everyone can afford to mount solar panels on their roof,and not everyone has the $10,000 - $30, 000 initial cost they would need to have a geothermal heating system installed.

However, if you get past the initial costs, you will find that renewable energy usage such as geothermal heating systems and solar powered devices end up saving you money in the long run. Sometimes as much as 60% of what you are spending on energy now.

Why You Should Take Solar Power Into Your Own Hands

If you are tired of depending on the national electrical grid and would like to save a bit of money, then it is about time you took a closer look at some of the benefits that come with installing solar panels in your home.

  • It is cheaper in the long run
  • It is good for the environment
  • It is always available
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    You can take it with you everywhere
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    Offers you energy security

One of the biggest concerns with people who do not believe in using non-commonplace sources of energy such as solar is that they do not know whether or not this kind of energy will be compatible with most of their devices. Just because you are using solar power does not mean that you have to stop using your iPad or your computers.

Inverters make it so you can plug in any of your devices into solar powered wall sockets and charge them as you would when using the national electrical grid.

5 Solar Powered Devices for 2018

Here are five solar-powered devices that you should have in your home in 2018.

1. GoSun Sport Portable Solar Cooker

1. GoSun Sport Portable Solar Cooker

While it is true that campfires are an integral part of any outdoor adventure, you do not necessarily have to use that to cook your meals anymore. The Portable Solar Cooker from GoSun makes cooking outdoors a breeze. It channels the sun's energy into a parabolic reflector that turns it into electricity. With this device, you can cook meals as well as boil and pasteurize water.

Pros:

  • It is light in weight (900 grams) therefore very portable
  • Easy to use (all you need is just a bit of sunshine)
  • Cool to touch

Cons:

  • Doesn't give you that "smoky" taste that comes with barbequed campfire food

With this portable solar cooker, you can now carry your kitchen with you wherever you go. You can even use it around the home to save money on cooking gas.

2. Creative Edge Solar Phone Charger  

Creative Edge Solar Phone Charger

This is one for those people who cannot survive without their handheld devices. The Creative Edge Solar Phone Charger is a tiny little solar charger that can store up to 5,000 mAH power for up to 6 hours. While it is primarily a solar charger, you can also plug into the wall to charge it up faster and use it as a power bank. When in the great outdoors, you only need to leave it out in the sun for a little while,and you can use anyone of the two available USB ports to charge your devices.

Pros:

  • Can be used as a power bank
  • Can be plugged into the wall as well
  • It is highly portable and can keep a charge for up to 6 hours

Cons:

  • Solar charging isn't very fast

This is a wonderful little device that goes above and beyond to keep you connected to the world on your handheld devices.

3. Peel-n-stick Outdoor Solar Lights

3. Peel-n-stick Outdoor Solar Lights

Solar powered lights are some of the simplest and most convenient sources of illumination that you could even have in the homestead. None, however, come anywhere close to being as easy and as convenient to use as this one. All you have to do is peel off the backing and stick it anywhere you want. It charges using the sun's energy during the day and lights up your compound at night.

Pros:

  • Easy to use
  • Charges during the day and illuminates your compound at night
  • Very portable

Cons:

  • You have to leave out in the sun all day

This is a simple and very efficient way to make sure that those dark corners of your driveway and backyard are well-lit.

4. Window-Mounted Solar Charger  

4. Window-Mounted Solar Charger

It is all about your handheld devices. This window-mounted solar charger ensures that they stay powered throughout the day even if you are nowhere near electricity. All you have to do is put the charger on a window with direct sunlight and it can fully charge your device within 10-15 hours.

Pros:

  • Highly portable
  • Can keep up to 1800mAH of power
  • Environmentally friendly

Cons:

  • It takes 10-15 hours to charge fully

If you are one of those people who find that you constantly have to look for a wall socket just to keep your phone on, then this is the right device for you.

5. Goal Zero 150WH Generator and Solar Panel

5. Goal Zero 150WH Generator and Solar Panel

This is a tiny, solar-powered 150WH generator that can power up your laptops, lights, and cell phones. If you go for the more powerful ones, you can even power your fridge, power tools and TV. It has an inbuilt AC inverter that makes it one of the most ideal solar powered items to have around the home.

Pros:

  • Powerful enough to power laptops, cell phones and lights
  • Highly portable
  • Has an inbuilt AC inverter

Cons:

  • Not powerful enough to power your TV

If you are looking to power more power-hungry gadgets, then you might need to get a more powerful generator that works with the same concept.

These solar powered gadgets just made life around the home more convenient and definitely much cheaper. Plus, they are all great ways to ensure that you are minimizing your carbon footprint.