Another useful Solar Design website

Hopefully this Monday we will be making our decision. I was interested in finding some more data on Schott solar panels and I came across this site:

I haven’t signed up to use it yet but I was able to do some inverter comparisons that were quite useful. It is better than the Sharp, SMA, and other design sites in that it allows you to compare components from multiple manufactures and it has an ability to sketch the layouts of the panels on the roof.

Very cool!

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Another Possible Inverter Manufacturer – Solectria

As I was studying potential compnents for our Ann Arbor residential solar array I ran across a new option.

Solectria inverters may be made in the US so that gives them a couple points in my book.

They seem to have a very wide operating voltage range and a wide MPPT range.

And, they are very cost competitive with the SMA Sunnyboy line.

Finally, they do have a string sizing tool on their website here:

Solectra Residential Solar Inverter

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Which Solar Panels For My Ann Arbor System?

So every major installations goes through the decision making process on the solar panels. The crucial things are:

1. Output per dollar

2. Efficiency (If you have limited roof area)

3. How well they match with your inverter or charge controller

4. How well they are warranted

5. The company’s reputation

6. Appearance

7. Company ownership

8. Manufacturing location

9. Company philosophy

I had kind of decided on using Evergreen panels, but then I read that there is a significant concern about the company’s financial stability.

I’ve discovered that two of the major inverter & charge controller manufactures have great tools tools on their websites to help buyers decide what panels to buy and what solar panel configuration to use. Check out Sunnyboy and Xantrex/Schneider.

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Solar Design Tools

I spent about four hours looking at solar information again last night. There is a lot to learn.

On the Wind-Sun forum I also read about two scams. One that almost set the house on fire.

I also wanted to collect some links to some of the Solar Design tools I’m working with to get a better understanding for my system in Ann Arbor.

Let’s start:

A solar calculator:

Sharp’s “Clean Power Estimator:

A Good Celcius to Fahrenheit table and calculator:

A site for determining your solar panel string size:

More to come….

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More Progress on My Ann Arbor Solar Plan

I thought our plan to put solar panels on our roof was fairly complete. We were going to use
Enphase micro-inverters and just put as many as were practical up there.

But then two new points came up:

1. Electronic reliability is inversely proportional to temperature. And temperature change impacts reliability also. The roof of a house can see -20 degrees on the coldest day of the decade, then go up to 150+ on the warmest day of the decade. An an individual day could swing 60 degrees. That is not the best place to put dozens of inverters.

2. The wife wants some way to generate power with all that hardware up there even if the grid goes down. (There is no effective way to do this with the Enphase product.)

So we are back to a string tie system. Back to the drawing board….

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