Solar on a Stick

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Solar panelsFor folks considering building a new home or doing a serious remodel on the old home place, solar is not the first thing to consider. The best insulation, the best windows, the best HVAC system and the best passive solar design will all cost less and save more power for the money invested than a solar installation. However, these items allow the solar power requirements to be much less. If you do these things first, the cost of the solar system is so small that it is not prohibitive. Solar power is a good idea if you believe the price of energy is going to rise. You can choose to eliminate the small power requirement with a small amount of solar capacity.

When installing solar panels the most common location is on an aluminum framing system attached to the roof of your building. There are several reasons why this solar panel location is a challenge, here are a few:

  1. The best panel location of the building is not facing south – Any direction other than due south is not recommended. In Texas, if panels are tilted at 32⁰ facing due south there is an annual average of 5.5 hours of usable sun per day.
  2. Trees partially block the panels on the roof – Shade on any part of a solar panel will cause some loss of power for that panel. Some panels will lose all power if any part of the panel is shaded. This causes an open circuit in the panel.
  3. Architecturally designed custom roofs with custom shingles may not look good with solar panels displayed prominently on their southern exposure.

Where is the best place for the panels so that you maximize absorption of the sun? Consider moving away from the building. Use an 8” schedule 80 steel pole that is placed in concrete. Mount a dual direction tracking system on the pole. This tracker will pivot 300 degrees as well as tilt from almost a vertical position to horizontal so that the panels face directly at the sun. We see thin lines of light sneaking between the panels and casting among the panel shadows on the ground. This tells us the panel is facing the sun perfectly during the sun’s travels from east to west. This tracker will accommodate up to approximately 3500 watts of solar panels (approximately 225 sq ft of panel surface). Here is the best part, when tracking the sun this system will deliver an annual average of 9 hours of usable sun per day. When compared to a stationary system facing south in Texas, the tracker is approximately 40% more efficient. This really means that the 3500 watts of tracker panels are producing the same amount of power as 5400 watts of fixed panels facing south.

The cost is approximately the same for the tracking system on a “per watt basis” as if you had to pay for 5400 watts on a stationary system. Also, the federal government offers a 30% tax credit on the total cost through 2016. So, if you are interested in paying NO electrical power bill, spend money first to save as much power as possible then eliminate the rest by making your own power.

Comfort Products is dedicated to saving energy in the most cost effective way based on the specific construction of each building and the use of that building. A combination of energy saving products (I.C.F blocks, foam insulation, Serious™ Windows, HVAC equipment, SmartZone™ zoning, ComfortPLENUM™, economizers and dehumidifiers as well as energy producing products (solar and wind generation) are incorporated into our design. We will install power sensing as well as temperature and humidity sensing devices to verify the cost savings. Comfort Products, Inc. will design and propose a turnkey installation through our network of authorized installing contractors.

Please contact us for more information.


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