The San Antonio Solar Panels Periodic Table of Elements

San Antonio TX Solar Panels Periodic Table of Elements

On-the-Panel San Antonio, Texas Solar Panel Factors

Solar Panels are an easy concept with complicated execution. Below are factors that go into creating a quality solar panel.

Temperature coefficient of the maximum output power max (Tc):

This is the amount of energy lost when equipment overheats. Just like any other electronic device your solar panels can overheat. This will cause the equipment to work harder than it needs to and burn out. You want to make sure that your panels are well ventilated so the air around it can help cool it off. Is temperature coefficient considered in solar panels’ output predictions at point of assessment? +1

Power Optimizers (Po):

Power optimizers increase the energy production of your panels. You can have optimizers placed on the back of your panels to increase their efficiency. Is your panel’s DC electricity optimized before sending it to the inverter? +1

Material absorption (Ma):

Each panel absorbs specific wavelengths of light. Some wavelengths have more energy than others and are able to create an electric current as a result. Is enough energy generating to efficiently knock electrons from their weak bonds and create an electric current through the panels? +2

Ingot (I):

An ingot is a large block of metal. Solar panels use silicon ingots to create wafers used in solar panels. Ingots are used both in polycrystalline and monocrystalline cell production. Although cheaper to produce poly-crystalline cells aren’t as efficient. Are your panels made with high efficiency mono-crystalline cells? +2

Wafer (W):

Wafers are a slice of semiconductor. Wafers in solar panels capture wavelengths from the sun. The material of your semiconductor will determine how well it will collect wavelengths. Most wafers use silicon. When wafers get cut a waste silicon slurry with impurities forms. Separating and recycling silicon and carbide silicon will help protect the environment. Is the solar panels’ manufacturing process reducing large material losses of the wafer’s silica substrate semiconductor material? +2

Solar Cell (Sc):

Solar cells collect the energy from the sun and transform it into electricity. Each solar panel consists of several solar cells. Once you have a wafer there are four steps to creating a solar cell. First, you texturize the wafer so it can absorb light better. The wafer is then endoped by adding a pn junction to the front of the cell to help create a flow of electricity. The anti reflective coating is then applied on the top to help capture more light. Contacts are then added to the front and back of the cell and fired to help increase the electric flow and direct it. Do you have panels made with quality solar cells? +2

N-type semiconductor (Nt):

N-type semiconductors have extra electrons. These extra electrons give it the name negative semiconductor. When atoms have extra electrons they give them up to atoms that are missing electrons. This exchange of electrons creates a current. Are the negative bases of the solar cells efficiently engaging with the positive top of the conduction process? +1

P-type semiconductor (Pt):

P-type semiconductors don’t have enough electrons. Their electron deficiency draws the extra electrons from the n-type semiconductor to it. These semiconductors are called positive semiconductors. Is the positive semiconductor of the panels effectively attracting the negatively charged electrons? +1

Poly-crystalline Panels (Pc):

Poly-crystalline panels have many silicon crystals. The many crystals create fragments which limits absorption of the panels. You can tell if a panel is poly-crystalline by its color. The many crystals create a bluish tint. Is your installer relying on outdated/inefficient solar panels? -2

Mono-crystalline Panels (Mc):

Mono-crystalline panels have one continuous crystal structure. Because there is only one crystal there is more uninterrupted space. This uninterrupted space can absorb more wavelengths. It is for this reason that mono-crystalline panels don’t need to be as big. Is your solar company using high-quality panels in manufacturing and design? +2

Thin Film Panels (Tf):

Thin film panels have a light layer of semiconductor painted on either metal or glass. These panels tend to have better efficiency in partially sunny and humid climates. Is your San Antonio solar company using panels that are better for a different climate? -2

Front contact (Fc):

The front contact is a conductive material that touches the top cell. It can be transparent or metal. Transparent front contacts don’t hinder light from hitting the cell. There is some resistance because metal and semiconductors are next to each other in a panel. Ideally panels should have as little resistance as possible. The contacts help electricity move between semiconductors. Are the resistances on the front contact reduced? +1

Back contact (Bc):

The back contact is a conductive material that touches the bottom of the cell. Just like the front contact the back contact enhances the transfer of electrons. Are the resistances on the back contact reduced? +1

Azimuth (A):

The angle of your solar panels in comparison to the sun is azimuth. This angle is vital to determine the position of your panels. Has your Texas solar installer utilized the right azimuth angle, which can increase panel efficiency by as much as 35%? +1

European Manufacturing (Em):

Products made in Germany are known for quality. Not all companies that claim their products are made in Germany are though. To ensure quality make sure that the panels are german engineered. Does your San Antonio solar company use German-engineered panels? +1

Asian Manufacturing (Am):

Not all Asian solar manufacturers are bad. There are, however, some who have produced lower quality products. To be safe make sure that your panel manufacture has high standards for their processes. Is your San Antonio solar company relying on Asian-imported solar cells? -1

Panel Recycling (Pr):

Solar panels have materials in them that can be dangerous. Recycling solar panels is vital to keeping our environment clean. Solar recycling facilities aren’t common in America, because solar is relatively new here; nor are there many policies in place for recycling of solar panels. It is important to know what your recycling options are. Do you know what manufacturing recycling options are available from the San Antonio solar installer whom you intend to go solar with? +2

Off-the-Panel San Antonio Texas Solar Panel Factors

Although solar panels collect energy from the sun, there are many other factors of which to be cognizant. The components below, many of which are “off-the-panel” elements, complete every high quality solar array.

Balance of System (Bs):

This entails all the system parts aside from the panels. This balance is between the DC power generated and the AC power it is being converted to. When installing a solar array you need to make sure that all the parts balance. Is everything other than the solar panels ‘balanced’ and installed correctly? +2

Pitch (P):

Pitch is the angle of the roof every 12 inches. The pitch and direction of your roof are determining factors in your home’s candidacy for solar. Does your Texas home have enough light-absorbing southward-facing pitch? +1

Mounting system & railing (Ms):

Your mounting system holds your panels in place. Without them you would have a very insecure system. Is the railing and mounting on your home simple, solid, and secure? +1

Solar Charge Controller (Sc):

A charge controller disrupts the flow of electricity. If you have a system that is being run by batteries you need a charge controller. A charge controller will stop the battery from over charging or losing electricity. Is charging of deep cycle batteries optimized to keep electrical currents from percolating through the panels without sunlight? +1

Microinverters (Mi):

A microinverter is a small device attached to the back of each panel. They convert DC electricity to AC at each panel. A microinverter runs off the more efficent panels when other panels have shade. If you have a home with shading issues this may be your best option. If microinverters aren’t installed correctly they can overheat your panels decreasing their production. Is the microinverter mounted directly behind each panel? +0

String inverter (Si):

String inverters convert the total power produced in one spot from DC to AC. These inverters are used by most installers because they are easier to install and cheaper. Go Solar Group also includes a secure power supply with their SMA string inverter. Is the string inverter properly installed and unobstructed atop the roof of your home? +1

Battery Backup (B):

Battery backup allows you to power your home without the grid. You can still be connected to the grid if you want, but battery backup can power your entire home. Go Solar Group is a tesla power wall installer. Could you get through a Power Outage? +2

Solar Generator (SG):

Solar generators provide power from the sun when the grid is down. These systems can provide power for your basics so you don’t have to go without in the hour or two that the grid is down. Go Solar Group uses the Goal Zero Yeti. The Yeti can be portable or directly connected to up to four circuits in your home. This is power that can either be gathered from the sun or from the grid and then used anytime of day for several hours. Do you have backup power for your basics? +2

Secure Power Supply (SPS):

A secure power supply is an outlet in your home that is connected to your solar panels. In a power outage you are able to continue to use up to 2,000 watts of electricity while the sun is out. Only the SMA inverters come with a SPS option. Can you use your solar generated power when the grid is down? +2

Inverter (I):

Inverters convert the direct current from your solar panels into alternating current. This is necessary because most home appliances use alternating current electricity to run. Your inverter and your panels have power ratings. To maximize your production of electricity you need to make sure your inverter isn’t too large or small for your system. Is the inverter custom-selected and tailored for your home? +1

Disconnects (D):

The DC disconnect interrupts the electricity flowing from your panels. The AC disconnect interrupts the current emitted from your inverter to your home and grid. Disconnects turn off the current generated by your panels. Firemen will turn off both the DC and AC disconnects in an emergency. Are AC and DC disconnects readily accessible when needed? +1

Conduit (Ct):

Conduits protect wires from being damaged. Most conduits are made either of pipes or tubing. Are extra conduits used for an install requiring extra durability and mechanical strength? +1

Flexible conduit (Fc):

Flexible tubing is used in areas that require more bend. This pliable tubing is also called flexible conduit. Has your Texas solar installer used a flexible conduit for areas at high risk of vibration? +1

Combiner box (Cb):

A combiner box merges strings of panels together. The combiner box is then connected to the inverter so all the electricity can be changed to AC at the same time. Is the output of several solar strings brought together in synchronicity through the combiner box? +2

Net meter (Nm):

A net meter is a bidirectional meter that measures the power that is both put on and taken off the grid. Not all Texas Utilities support solar. Does your utility provider allow net metering for their solar customers? +1

Electrical grid (Eg):

The grid is a system that allows electricity to be transferred long distances from a power plant to your home. Because solar panels can’t produce energy when the sun goes down many solar customers still use the grid. Their extra electricity during the day gets put onto the grid and they are able to take electricity at night from it. If you don’t have power lines that connect you to the grid then it may be cheaper or just as expensive to have battery backup installed. Are you connected to the grid? +1

Storage (backup power) (S):

Storage is where excess energy is stored. Solar storage is great because it allows you to use power at times when you normally couldn’t use your panels. You will need to determine what storage type is the best fit for you. Could you produce power in a blackout? +1

Installation Crew (Ic):

Your installation crew installs and services your solar array. Some companies hire out contacted installation crews. Contracted installation crews can make down the road issues hard to resolve. A full service solar company has their own installation crew that handles all their customer needs. Do you have a full-service solar company that can maintain your solar array? +2

Not a Contractor (Nc):

Contractors know what is needed to get the job done, but may not be able to help you along the way. Often contractors also don’t offer after install services which can make your solar experience frustrating. Is your selected ‘solar company’ just a contractor that understands only one or two parts of the solar process?-2

Miscellaneous San Antonio, Texas Solar Components Other Components

Below are some miscellaneous solar panel factors that are important when weighing your San Antonio installation options. Being aware of these will help you to make the best choice.

Power Efficiency (Pe):

Power efficiency is the amount of energy that can be converted into usable electricity. All electronics eventually lose efficiency, but some have a longer lifespan than others. Do your solar panels have high long lasting power efficiency? +2

Production Warranty (Pw):

Production warranties protect the customer from faulty equipment. These warranties insure that panels will convert a certain percentage of the energy from the sun for a set amount of time. Are you guaranteed 90 percent efficiency after 10 years and 80 percent after 25 years. +2

Service Warranty (Sw):

Defective parts in a solar array are covered by a service warranty. Does your San Antonio, TX solar company offer a 15-year service warranty for its solar panels as part of its free solar quote? +1

Warranty Length (Wl):

Not all warranty lengths are equal. The average warranty length depends on the product and type of warranty that is being offered. Are your system’s service and production warranties longer than or equal to competitors’ offers? +2

Software monitoring (Sm):

Many solar arrays now come with monitoring software. This software allows you to see both the energy that you have used and produced so you can optimize your energy use. Has your solar installer given and explained its monitoring software? +1

System efficiency (Se):

System efficiency is the total energy that you can get from your array. There are many factors that go into your efficiency aside from your panels. Is your system designed and warrantied to maximize the potential solar savings you can earn? +2

Leased panels (Lp):

Leased panels are owned and maintained by the solar company instead of the homeowner. You pay a fixed monthly rate to use the panels that were installed on your home. Although created so you don’t have to pay as much upfront you will end up paying more in the long run for the leased system. This is because you are paying for a longer period of time. Although solar will increase the value of your home if you don’t own your panels they will not. Getting a leased system can also make selling your home difficult. Do you want to be able to sale your home in the near future? -2

Power Purchase Agreement (Pa):

Another form of lease is a power purchase agreement (PPA). The difference between a PPA and a leased system is that with a PPA you pay for the electricity you are using from the array that was installed. The rates for the solar power you are purchasing go up every year so you need to be aware of the fine print if you decide to get a PPA. Have you looked at the fine print in your PPA agreement? -2

Solar loan (Sl):

Solar loans allow you to pay for your system on a monthly basis with no money down. You save far more money with a loan then you would a lease because loans are typically only for about 12 to 15 years. You then own it and can enjoy years with nothing more than a small grid connection fee. Unlike a lease, you are the owner of the panels and therefore are able to qualify for the federal tax credits that are available. These credits will cover up to 30 percent of the cost of your system. Do you have a loan with a low-interest rate? +2

Cash purchase (Cp):

When you pay in cash for your solar array, you save the most in the long run because you don’t have interest. Solar, however, is a hefty purchase and many don’t have that type of cash just lying around. Do you have the money to make a cash investment? +0

Usage (Us):

Usage is the amount of electricity that your home takes off the grid. This is also referred to as consumption.

Before you can get a quote a solar company needs to know how much energy your home typically consumes in a year. This will allow them to correctly size your system for your energy needs.

If you don’t have your monthly usage over the past year on hand you can call and get it from your utility. Giving a monthly estimate based on the usage graph on one bill will not be as accurate. Do you have 12 months of usage for your home? +2

San Antonio Texas Solar Policies

To get the most out of your residential solar system, you will need some knowledge of Texas solar policies. State policy can either boost or hinder solar sales.

Deregulated electricity (De):

Most of Texas has deregulated electricity. This means that the people can choose which utility company they want to use. This is meant to give people more choice and drive competition. There are some utilities that don’t allow net metering though and so it can be hard to transfer over to solar. Does your utility allow net metering? +0

Regulated cities (in Texas) (Rc):

Regulated cities are cities that don’t allow people in that area to use other utility companies. Cities that are regulated have municipal utilities, which means that they are owned by the city. There are several cities in Texas that are regulated one of the largest ones is San Antonio. Their electric company is CPS Energy. Do you live in a regulated city? +0

Federal tax credit (Fc):

If you own your system and owe taxes then you are able to get up to 30 percent of it covered by the government. They pay it out to you in the form of a tax credit. This is a dollar for dollar credit that can be carried over from one year to the next. Can you qualify for the federal solar tax credit? +2

Renewable Portfolio Standard (Rs):

Most states have a renewable portfolio standard. This is a renewable energy goal that the state has set for themselves. Texas has a voluntary goal of reaching 10,000 MW by 2025. In 2015 the state exceeded this goal because of the profitability of wind power. They have not, however, reset their goal. +0

Solar carve-out (Sc):

Solar Carve out is the amount of the renewable energy that needs to come from the sun. Texas does not specify how much of each type of renewable energy is required.

Because Texas’s renewable portfolio standard is voluntary utilities don’t have to allow people to get solar. The good news is Texas has utilities that still support solar regardless of a mandated carve-out. Does your utility have solar incentives? +0

Interconnection policies (Ir):

Interconnection policies determine how solar customers connect to the grid. Most of Texas does not ensure that you can get a net meter. Texas does, however, have legislation stating that you have the right to be connected to the grid. Do you live in an area in Texas that promotes net metering?+2

State solar rebates (Sr):

Texas has deregulated utilities throughout most of the state. If you live in an area that has a municipal utility there are some solar incentives available. Do you life in an area that has solar incentives? +2

CPS Solar Rebates (Cr):

CPS offers rebates for their customers that go solar. You can also get extra rebates if you purchase their approved brands of panels and inverters. CPS will pay 60 cents per watt of power installed which ends up being between 17 and 19 percent of the cost of your system. If you get one of their approved local inverters or panels you can get an additional 10 cents off per watt. This will increase your savings to between 20 to 22 percent. You will get 75 percent of the total rebate if you don’t use a local installer. Does your installation qualify for CPS Energy’s rebates? +2

Property tax exemption (Pe):

The government seems to find a way to tax us on just about everything. In Texas, however, the added value of solar can be exempt from your property taxes. All you have to do is fill out form 50-123. Go Solar Group helps all their customers with paperwork for rebates and incentives in their area. Do you have a full-service company that can help you get the most out of solar? +2

Utility’s historical rate increases (Ri):

Solar companies determine how much you can save based on your utility’s historical rate increases. CPS energy has increased by .76 percent between 2008 and 2018. This is far below the national average of 3.5 percent a year which is great for Texans. Regardless of whether your utility has a high increase utilities do change their rates over time. They have to in order to keep up with inflation. When you purchase solar you get a fixed rate over 12 to 15 years and guaranteed power for the next 25 years. Even if your power company didn’t increase its rates solar would save you money. How much can a solar array save you? +2

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