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Arlington, TX 76010

817-841-9632

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Product Deep-Dive: Solar Panels

Product quality is important to us, and luckily in the solar market, it doesn’t always counteract Product Cost. Using locally sourced materials and products are part of our company fiber.

Thus, we proudly use Mission Solar panels for most of our Solar-Panel System installations and we have provided their website for more information on how these panels are manufactured, with a special video featuring how they’re built with Texas weather in mind.

When Mission Solar Panels are not available however, we will substitute for other high-quality panels that are not manufactured in Texas, such as REC Alpha solar panels, or Hanwha Q-cells. For more information about these specific panels, please check out the following links from Solar Electric Supply:

If you’re curious to learn more, you know what to do – ask us for a free quote for your home, today!

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Solar Panel Efficiency

Though most of today’s solar panels are nearly equivalent in efficiency, it’s important to understand what you’re paying for, and why you might want to go with a higher wattage panel in some instances, versus a lower wattage panel which is likely a cheaper system, in others. For a simple example, using the same type of materials, a 290-Watt panel will be less efficient than a 390-Watt panel. The higher the wattage, ignoring all other factors, the higher the efficiency. Seems easy, right? The truth is that the quality may vary depending on the type of materials used, and the way in which each solar cell is built, however again, we’re talking in almost negligible differences in productivity. Let’s take a look at why:

According to CleanEnergyReviews, “solar panel efficiency is determined by two main factors; the photovoltaic (PV) cell efficiency, based on the cell design and silicon type, and the total panel efficiency, based on the cell layout, configuration and panel size” (https://www.cleanenergyreviews.info/blog/most-efficient-solar-panels). This article may seem somewhat cumbersome, however it outlines the key differences pretty well – check it out! The author goes on to explain that “The efficiency (%) of a panel is calculated by the maximum power rating (W) at STC, divided by the total panel area in meters,” however if you’re not designing a system yourself, this equation isn’t the most important part – it’s understanding how this will impact your system and your budget, based on your current and perceived energy usage. Again, to understand why – let’s keep digging! If you keep reading on to find the image below, you might start to see the differences in panels the article is referencing – for example, take a look at the labels below each to note the difference between the silicon types: “multiple busbars (MBB), and passivation type (PERC)” – while we’re here, also note the percentages at the bottom of each label – the variance is only ~7% from the lowest efficiency panel, to the highest efficiency panel, however the cost difference can be significant. Keep in mind, this is not to say that the lower efficiency panel is poor quality necessarily, since you might not need the amount of energy that the higher-efficiency panels produce (these are often used for commercial projects, instead of residential homes).

Finally, this article goes on to list the top efficiency panels from 2021 (see below, updated as recently as February of this year), but the paragraph just below it really outlines the whole picture, saying “what matters most is the manufacturing quality which is related to real world performance, reliability, manufacturers service, and warranty conditions.” Please do continue reading through the end – not only is it an interesting read, but it just might help you make a more informed decision when selecting the solar panels for your solar system. For questions on the information outlined within this article, give us a call today! We’re happy to walk you through it or provide you with a free quote for your home or business.

* List of the most efficient solar panels announced and expected to reach high volume production during 2021 – Residential 60 to 66 cell size format size panels only – Last update Feb 2021.

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Weatherization: Money You Spend Now to Save Long Term

One word I’ve heard more this week than I ever cared to is weatherization. According to several articles, if the Texas energy grid had just been “weatherized” prior to the storm last week, several people in the state would have had power and water during the coldest week in 30 years, and a few more might even still be alive. So what even is weatherization/winterization and why is it so important? You can look this word up on Webster’s dictionary and you will find that it essentially means “preparing for winter”, which I’m sure comes as no surprise, however it also is not very helpful if you really want to understand what the process entails.

Thus, here is a quick link which explains winterization in your home: https://www.thebalancesmb.com/how-to-winterize-plumbing-pipes-844862; another on winterizing large equipment: https://www.macallister.com/winterizing-equipment/; and here is an easy 234-page read on best practices for weatherization in the Midwest: https://www.energy.gov/sites/prod/files/2016/06/f32/Midwest_Wx_Best_Practices_May_2007.pdf. In case you’re not an ERCOT board member, or a politician in charge of regulating the energy industry, here’s a slightly shorter article on weatherization and how to prevent frozen gas pipes: https://www.forbes.com/sites/thebakersinstitute/2021/02/19/winterization-and-the-texas-blackout-fail-to-prepare-prepare-to-fail/?sh=3de8c087c838and please find the graphic within which shows how temperature can affect the flow of gas in a pipeline:

It’s safe to say this process is not simple, it is time consuming, and can be costly – however, as I’ve come to learn this week, it is also essential. Texas does not often have winter storms that bring snow or last for longer than a day at a time – at the end of last year I was joking that Santa usually wore shorts in Texas, and that while I knew all of the words to “White Christmas” I had never actually seen one. I think after last week’s debacle, weatherization may become something we start to familiarize ourselves with in the future. It is certainly something I hope my elected and appointed officials familiarize themselves with now, as climate change could potentially exacerbate this problem.

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Solar Industry Insights

Last week we focused on strategies to reduce your energy consumption, and therefore reduce your energy bill and carbon footprint as well. It’s important to look at the energy picture holistically so you’re able to really understand how you consume energy currently, and how this might change with adding a solar system to your home.

This week, we’ll celebrate a few key wins in solar thus far in 2021. As energy companies, Retail Energy Providers (REPs), energy partners, and local and federal governments build out their annual budget for this year, we’re starting to see some exciting news for customers looking to go solar this year!

Though we’ve already mentioned it before, it’s important to keep in mind that while the Federal Investment Tax Credit (ITC) was scheduled to decrease to 22% this year, it will now remain at 26% of the total sticker price, and that policy was extended through the end of 2022 (check out the following article for more information on this: https://www.recsolar.com/blogs/calculate-solar-tax-credit-2021/).

Plus, now that battery technology is improving, have you considered what your solar project may look like if you include energy storage? Check out the following link if you’re curious how the solar federal ITC may or may not apply for your project: https://www.solarpowerworldonline.com/2017/06/legal-perspective-storage-solar-itc/. We’re happy to help you make sense of your own personal energy consumption and production goals, and can conduct an energy audit of your home to see how close/far away you are from achieving them. Call us today!

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