Archive for the ‘solar panel’ Category

Measuring Space for Your New Solar Panels

Friday, May 23rd, 2014

You may be surprised to learn how viable solar panels have become in our neck of the woods. Recent advances make it possible to generate copious amounts of solar energy no matter how cloudy the day itself is. In towns like Auburn, WA solar energy has exploded in the last few years, and homeowners have eagerly embraced the technology as a means of producing clean, efficient energy for a very low cost. Besides the initial cost of investment and solar panel installation, all you need is sufficient space on your property to hold the panels. In some cases, this means setting it up in your yard, but most people want the panels on their roof, where they can get the most sunlight exposure as well as staying out of the way. Here’s a few tips for measuring space for your new solar panels.

First you need to determine how large the panels need to be in order to power your home. A trained professional can provide precise calculations, but generally speaking, you need to:

  • Determine the average kilowatt hours you use every year. (You can check your electric bills over the course of a year to get an exact figure.)
  • Determine the number of hours your home gets sunlight exposure. Cloud cover rarely matters, but you do need to know how many hours the sun is in the sky each day, and factor in the changes in season as well. (You’ll probably see a lot more sunshine each day in June that you will in January.)
  • Divide the kilowatt hours you receive each year by 365 (the number of days in a year). Then divide that number by the average number of hours your home receives sunlight, and divide that number by .75 (to include an efficiency constant, and ensure that the system doesn’t get overloaded).

The result is the number of kilowatts your array will need. As a general rule, you’ll need about 80 square feet for every kilowatt required by your system. From there, you can measure the amount of space required in your roof or yard. The experts at Sound Heating can help you with measuring space for your new solar panels.

If you live in Auburn, WA, solar panel installation experts don’t come with better qualifications. Give us a call today and let us show you what we can do!

Maintenance Steps for Your Solar Panels

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014

Solar panel installation could be one of the smartest things you ever do, decreasing your dependence on costly heating systems and helping create a greener environment in the process. But like anything else, solar panels require maintenance to function as they should. Before contacting a qualified service representative to install your new panel, you should talk about maintenance steps for your solar panels with them. Here in Olympia, solar repair services are available from the same company that installs your panels, but the more maintenance you can do for yourself, the better your system will function over time.

When the time comes to conduct repairs on your solar panels, we’ll be there with an eye on your complete satisfaction every step of the way. Give us a call today and let us show you what we can do. You’ll be glad you did!

Here’s a quick rundown of maintenance steps

Most maintenance sessions should involve cleaning the panels off. You can buy a solar panel cleaning kit, though a car cleaning kit will do in a pinch if you need it to. Mix the soap in a bucket of warm water according to instructions and apply it gently to the solar panels using a hand-held brush, then “squeegee” the excess liquid off. You should do this every six months or so, ideally at the beginning and end of the summer. If you just need a touch-up or want to wash off a recent bit of dirt, you can use a simple garden hose, though be careful not to apply cold water to the panels on a hot day.

That, in essence, is the only maintenance step for your solar panels, since they have no moving parts and don’t require much attention. If you detect something wrong with your system, then you should call a repair service, of course, and you may wish to schedule professional maintenance if you don’t wish to scramble around on the roof yourself. In Olympia, solar repair services are provided by Sound Heating & Air Conditioning Inc., and we pride ourselves on doing the job right the first time, every time. We can explain any further maintenance steps for your solar panels, or perform them ourselves if you’d rather leave it to the experts.

3 Things to Think About with Solar Installation

Tuesday, April 1st, 2014

Solar panels make a lot of sense from a number of different perspectives. Even in cloudy towns like Olympia, solar installation has proven an effective and environmentally friendly way to provide electricity to your home. It can help you stay self-sufficient during a disaster and help helps pay for itself by letting you sell energy back to the grid. But like anything else, solar installation requires proper preparation and planning. Here are 3 things to think about with solar installation.

  • Think about sunlight exposure. Solar panels are strong enough to pick up plenty of sunlight even on cloudy days. (And we certainly have our share of hose.) But they don’t work as well when there’s a lot of tree cover, building cover and similar shadows falling over your home. In order for the panels to work as well as they should, you need them to be exposed to the open sky as much as possible during the day. This may require adjusting your home’s layout, trimming trees and taking a careful approach to where you place the panels.
  • Consider your rooftop. Solar panels are usually installed on the roof, though you can use yard space if your property is large enough. Rooftops come in all shapes and sizes, and some of them prove more difficult for solar panels than others. A good installation company should be able to install panels on most every roof, but you should expect some planning to go into it, especially if you have a sloping roof, Spanish tile or something similar.
  • Expect an up-front cost. Solar installation is not inexpensive and making the leap to solar energy will require an initial investment. You will start seeing returns on that investment over time as you reap considerable energy savings (and increase the resale value of your house to boot), but you need to expect a little patience and look for savings to accrue over time instead of arriving right away.

If you’re thinking about solar installation, call upon the experts at Sound Heating to help. We work in Olympia, solar installation is a specialty of ours, and we can prepare for the things to think about with solar installation before setting up your new system with courtesy and care. Call us today and let us show you what we can do!

How Many Solar Panels Do I Need For An Electric Solar Power System in Tacoma?

Wednesday, February 1st, 2012

Aside from determining cost, knowing how many solar panels you need to potentially power your home in Tacoma helps you picture what the finished product will look like. After all, you want your home to be energy efficient, but you also want it to not be an eye sore. Estimating how many panels you will need involves some research and math, but it can be done simply enough and is worthwhile. Below are some steps to help you estimate how big your array will need to be:

Researching Solar Panels

First up, decide how much of your energy needs you want a solar array to provide. For example, you may choose to keep your home on the utility grid, but plan to have 50% of your home’s energy come from solar. The steps below assume 100% solar energy.

You should also determine your current energy usage. You can do this by looking at old utility bills. It is best to look at usage over a span of 6-12 months in order to get an accurate estimate. You will usually find this figure in kilowatt hours (kWh). Estimated energy use for an average American household is about 740 kWh per month.

Another important step is to find the insolation value for your area. This number reflects the number of hours in a day that a solar panel will perform as rated. You can find reference tables of insolation values online.

Calculations for Your Solar Panels

Now comes the fun part – a little bit of math. First, you need to figure out the desired wattage output of your system. To do this, divide the number of kWh to be produced in one day and divide it by the insolation value. Using the average monthly usage from your research, you can see the daily average usage is about 24 kWh per day. With an insolation value of 4 hours (for example), a solar array needs to generate 6 kilowatts per hour. Because the system is not 100% efficient, raise that value by 30% to account for possible energy loss. This system will need to generate 7.8 kilowatts per hour. Since large solar panels produce about 130 watts per hour each, this system would require about 60 panels.

Note that this is an extreme example, as most homes won’t use solar for 100% of their energy needs. You will almost certainly use fewer panels; these steps are just meant to help walk you through the process. There are also calculators available online to make the estimation process a little simpler.