Solar Energy

Solar energy systems are suited to fit your needs and can be designed based upon what you need for your home or business. You can have just a few panels to power a small portion of your home or appliances and or power your entire home or business. What better form of energy than free energy. The use of solar energy is completely free, after your initial investment in the necessary equipment used to harness the sun's energy you will never need to pay anything for energy. In addition tax credits and rebates make it affordable.

What is Solar PV Power?

Generally speaking, solar systems consist of solar modules that convert the sun's energy into electricity.

Solar energy for home and/or commercial purposes is most commonly harnessed through photovoltaic (PV) cells, these are aligned into modules on solar or PV panels. These panels are attached to roof tops, on “solar trees” (large tree-like structures with solar panels facing upward), in open fields (‘solar farms’), as well as other architectural options designed to maximize the solar energy capturing ability (in other words, the amount of time the panels face the sun).

Solar energy is converted directly to electricity. The photovoltaic (PV) effect uses semi-conductor technology to produce electricity. Typically, a home is served by an array of solar PV modules or solar PV panels and an electric utility. At night, and when solar energy is low, all the power is supplied by the utility. As solar energy increases, PV output increases and the amount of power supplied by the utility decreases proportionately. When the solar array produces more power than the house needs, the extra electricity can be fed back into the electric grid. PV systems can include batteries and generators for backup power and can incorporate other renewable energy sources like wind turbines and micro-hydroelectricity.

Benefits to solar PV electricity:
  • Reduces electric bills
  • Very low maintenance
  • Durable and reliable (average Grade A panels lifespan is 20-30 years)
  • Contributes to energy independence for you and the nation
  • Can be configured to provide reliable power during utility outages
Where Are Solar PV Panels Used?

A wide variety of PV panels are available today for fixtures (such as public trash compactors, parking meters, etc.), boating, homes (rooftops), and commercial sites. There are many PV options, from rigid to flexible materials, design-in PV materials for roofing that is flush with or replaces the existing roofing, and elevated panels attached to structures and roofs.

There has been significant material, engineering, design and cost improvements in PV panels recently, making this renewable energy source more and more available to all types of electrical customers, from home owners to businesses, medical, government and educational buildings, as well as manufacturing and industrial facilities.

Are You a Good Candidate for Solar Power?

Do you have a southerly roof exposure and 4-6 hours of unshaded, daily sunlight?

The optimal solar energy system is installed on a completely unshaded roof and facing due south. The system will perform best if it's oriented approximately at a 10 to 40 degree tilt angle. Shading compromises the output of a system in a somewhat non-linear way based on the time of day and time of year that the shading occurs. Orientations that are due east or due west will have outputs approximately 10 to 30% less depending on tilt angle. In some cases though, unshaded east or west roof areas are better than partially shaded south facing roofs.

What is Solar Thermal Power?

Solar energy is collected through solar collectors and the energy is converted to heat. The heat is then used to produce on-site hot water and radiant heat for living spaces. Typically, a heat exchanger is used to transfer heat form the fluid circulating through the solar collectors to potable water – potable water does not circulate through the collectors. Solar thermal systems, especially those used for swimming pool heating, are currently the most cost-effective use of solar energy.

Benefits of solar thermal energy include:
  • Hot water production is the largest single use for residential energy
  • Most cost-effective way to heat swimming pools other bodies of water and residential hot water systems
  • Most cost-effective way to heat a building (home or facility)
  • Very low maintenance
  • Durable and reliable (average Grade A system lifespan is 20-30 years)
  • Contributes to energy independence
  • Can be used as a back up system to provide hot water and space heating during utility outages
What is Energy Efficiency?

One of the most important steps toward sustainability and energy independence is making the most efficient use of every watt and BTU generated. Building performance and building science include a variety of disciplines aimed at maximizing the energy efficiency of residential and commercial structures. Some of these disciplines are building design and site planning, energy use auditing, weatherization and renewable energy systems design and installation. Residential energy efficiency retrofits, through programs like Energy Star, take a whole-building approach. The development of net-zero buildings, which produce as much energy as they consume, is a growing aspect of building science.

Benefits of energy efficiency include:
  • Reduce energy waste
  • Lower utility bills
  • Most effective way to directly reduce use of fossil fuel for energy production
  • Greatly increases the effectiveness and impact of renewable energy sources
Energy Audit

A home energy audit is the first step to assess how much energy your home consumes and to evaluate what measures you can take to make your home more energy efficient. An audit will show you problems that may, when corrected, save you significant amounts of money over time. During the audit, you can pinpoint where your house is losing energy. Audits also determine the efficiency of your home's heating and cooling systems. An audit may also show you ways to conserve hot water and electricity. You can perform a simple energy audit yourself, or have a professional energy auditor carry out a more thorough audit.

What is Wind Power?

Wind energy is collected through wind turbines (basically, these are modern windmills) that harness the power of the wind, kinetic energy, to move turbines (the blades of the windmill) that creates mechanical energy which is then converted into electrical energy on-site through converter ‘boxes'. Turbines today have multiple sizes from smaller micro-turbines suitable for larger residential or commercial properties to larger turbines found at ‘wind farms'.

Benefits of wind energy include:
  • Reduces electric bills
  • Durable and reliable
  • New technologies achieve very high efficiency
  • Provides 24 hr./day power, as long as there’s a breeze
  • Contributes to energy independence
  • Can be configured to provide reliable power during utility outages
  • Excellent choice in conjunction with Solar PV system

Like the on-site power generation by solar PV arrays, wind energy is similarly monitored and used by the site and excess electricity is then sold back to the grid, per contractual agreements with the utility.

How Does a Wind Turbine Work?

Do you have a southerly roof exposure and 4-6 hours of unshaded, daily sunlight?

A wind turbine converts kinetic energy from the wind into electrical energy. Typically, a home is served simultaneously by the wind turbine and an electric utility. If the wind speeds are below what's called cut-in speed (5-8 mph) there is no output from the turbine and all of the power is supplied by the utility. As wind speeds increase, turbine output increases and the amount of power supplied by the utility is proportionately decreased. When the turbine produces more power than the house needs, the extra electricity can be fed back into the electric grid. All of this is done automatically. There are no batteries in a modern residential wind system.

What is Intelligent HVAC?

Typically, the HVAC system represents the biggest portion of total energy consumption. With current political and economic pressures, energy efficiency has become an important issue for all consumers. New HVAC systems have responded by producing energy efficient ways to heat and cool homes and buildings.

Intelligent HVAC Features Include:

  • Individual Zone Temperature Control – Personalized comfort control
  • Ductless System
  • Healthier Air Quality
  • Modular System – Can size up or down
  • Back Up Compressors – 100% compressor up time
  • Phased Motors – Energy Efficiency at its best

With the Intelligent HVAC System, significant improvements in energy efficiency can be obtained immediately, while doing so with a relatively small investment. Also, HVAC projects feature a very short payback on the investment. Today’s intelligent HVAC systems are easy to install, operate, and remove. They are also an attractive enhancement for an environmentally friendly home or building structure.

What is the "Smart" Grid?

The ‘smart grid’ is to the next stage, the evolution and improvement, of the electricity grid. To build the new, smart grid we need to:

  • add some new transmission (i.e., power) lines,
  • upgrade the existing system by adding two-way communication between users and their utility through smart meters,
  • enhance transmission and distribution of electricity to provide higher quality power with fewer outages,
  • enable distributed generation sites (e.g., home, business, other local electricity generation through renewable sources that can be put back onto the grid), and
  • significantly increasing the digitization of the grid to improve monitoring, managing and safe-guarding electrical power distribution and generation.

These changes and improvements are not just nice to have, they are absolutely critical. The smart grid is important, not just because of green concerns, or interest in renewable energy, nor even because of critical national security problems arising from an outdated electrical grid. The old grid is simply inefficient and that inefficiency is costing the US in terms of national security, excess emissions, lost venue by businesses and industries from power interruptions, and wasted/lost electricity.

What is the Electrical Grid?

Think for just a moment about how different life is today in the US from 1882. That is the year that the US electrical grid was built. Since then, 'the grid' has remained relatively stagnant outside of adding more lines. No real upgrades, no substantive changes, mostly maintenance and necessary renovations paid for through surcharges of “transmission and distribution” on utility bills.

If solar panels were placed on the White House during the Carter Administration in the 1970s, why is it taking almost 40 years for panels to be more available to commercial and residential customers? Mostly, because the electrical grid is not equipped to handle electrical flow that is not of the constantly churning type from 1882.