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Customized Solar Solutions

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Solar Panels

Solar Panels convert light from the sun by a process known as the photovoltaic effect where photons from the sun interact with semi-conductive material (silicon) in the cell of a solar module. The photons activate electrons from the silicon that free themselves and flow in a single direction based on the panel configuration creating an electrical current. The panel then sends this electric current to an inverter, that inverts the current to usable energy for powering your home. 

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Not all panels are made the same. There are three types of panels:

PROS
CONS
TYPE
Monocrystalline
Higher performance
(18-25% efficiency)
Higher costs
Polycrystalline
Lower cost and good performance (14-18% efficiency)
Panels take up slightly more space than monocrystalline panels
Thin-film
Portable and easy
to install
Less durability,
Shorter life expectancy,
Lower performance
(6-18% efficiency)

When thinking of where to install your panels, there are options to consider. Most people install on roofs, but if space allows, you can opt to do a ground mount system. Listed below are pros and cons of each installation type so you can make a decision that is best for your needs: 

Roof or Ground

PROS
CONS
TYPE
Roof
  • Utilize unused space

  • Lower installation costs

  • Discourage unauthorized access

  • Protects the roof

  • Doesn’t take up land space

  • Roof penetration needed

  • New roof may be needed

  • Aesthetics

  • Makes roof repairs challenging

  • Could impact roof warranty

Ground
  • Optimal placement for energy

  • Easy maintenance access

  • More scalable

  • Takes up more space

  • More susceptible to ground damage

  • Landscaping needed

  • Harder to permit

The Solar Exchange Tip:

Not all solar panel warranties are created equal. Every quarter Bloomberg publishes a list of Tier 1 suppliers that rate the bankability of a warranty. Tier 1 panels indicate that banks believe there is less risk in warranting them. These panels will usually have a 25-year warranty and will last much longer. At The Solar Exchange, all our panels are certified Tier 1.

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Inverters

Solar power does not come in a form that can be used by home appliances. Solar panels produce direct current (DC) power that needs to be converted or exchanged into power that can actually be used by the home in the form of alternating current (AC) power. Inverters are the equipment in a solar system that handles the conversion or exchange from DC to AC power ready to be used for the home.

There are two main types of inverters

PROS
CONS
TYPE
String Inverters
One centralized current exchange station. Least expensive option and industry standard.
  • Lowest cost, standard inverter, performs well with no shade

  • Production decline with damage or shade, no individual panel monitoring, suboptimal production if panels are facing different directions, not power scalable

Micro-inverters
Small unit built-in into each panel like a mini exchange station.
  • Not as affected by shade, individual monitoring, increasing power scalable, panels can face different directions

  • Higher initial cost

  • Not necessary if all panels face the same way

The Solar Exchange Tip

What to look for when shopping for an inverter that fits your needs?

Solar Panel Repair
  • How long is the warranty for? 5, 10 years or even 25 years? Make sure to know what is included in the warranty.

  • Your roof configuration will determine the type of inverter you will need. Multifaceted roofs with various angles and surfaces require microinverters to optimize for shaded areas. One single large surface lends itself to a single string inverter.  

  • Do you want an inverter that simply displaces your power bill, or one capable of working with batteries to keep your critical loads up in the event of utility/grid outages? Even if you’re not sure about batteries now, consider an inverter capable of adding batteries in the future.

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Batteries

When you need extra peace of mind, store your solar energy for a rainy day. The Solar Exchange has three decades of battery-based solar systems experience. Solar batteries store excess electrical energy from what solar panels produce. This energy can be set aside for usage during periods of outages or after the sun goes down. Many solar companies do not have the experience or knowledge in customizing solar systems with batteries, so make sure to look for one that does if you want a back-up. Here are some important reasons to consider battery storage for your solar solution:

1

Batteries are a great way to prepare for power outages. Batteries can power your home during short- or long-term power outages. 

2

Batteries allow homeowners to have more flexibility on Time-of-Use rate plans. Under Time-of-Use plans, energy used during the day costs less than the electricity consumed from the grid in the evening. Batteries can help defer those evening electricity costs by providing energy generated by the solar power system during off-peak times. 

Types of batteries

PROS
CONS
TYPE
Lead-Acid Batteries
  • Well known in the industry

  • Less cost upfront 

  • Easily recyclable 

  • Monthly maintenance required

  • Toxic fumes

  • More batteries required

  • Less reliable

  • Dirty and caustic

  • Cannot add batteries to original battery bank

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Lithium-Ion Batteries
  • Lowest cost over the lifetime of batteries.

  • Highest reliability

  • Computerized battery monitoring

  • Batteries can be added to original bank

  • Clean

  • Ease of maintenance

  • More cost upfront.

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At TSE, we only use Lithium-Iron Phosphate batteries, the best type of Lithium-Ion for safe and secure power storage. Our installers are well trained to help you take advantage of this new technology. 
There are many different types of Lithium-Ion battery chemistries, some are better than others.
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Installation

Solar installation typically entails

  • Consultation. A TSE representative will get to know you, your needs, and your goals. This way we can customize the entire experience for your specific site. 

  • Permit. We will survey the property and generate custom engineering to take care of all the permitting, both municipal and utility. This way, you can sit back and relax, and know that everything is in order. 

  • Install. Once permitting is completed, we will schedule with you a convenient installation date. Our trained professionals will come to your property to help you climb the ladder of energy independence. Their knowledge and training will bring peace of mind and answer all your questions, throughout the entire process. 

  • Approval. After a successful installation, inspections will be ordered with both the appropriate jurisdiction and the power company. Once passed, you become a member of the Solar Exchange Family, a group dedicated to quality, sustainability, and peace of mind. ​​

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At The Solar Exchange, we have our own professional installers to ensure that every project is built effectively and safely. Contact us to schedule an install today.

Repairs

Solar panels can have a useful lifespan of well over 25 years, but there are problems that occur commonly in low-quality installations. Luckily, the experts at The Solar Exchange can fix these problems for you. Common solar problems include: 

 

1.     Bad inverter programming 

2.     Generator communication issues

3.     Bad wiring that leads to loose connections, oxidation, and other electrical issues

4.     Insufficient battery settings, connections, and monitoring

5.     Out of date or low quality equipment

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The Solar Exchange provides a workmanship warranty for the first 2 years of your purchase. Talk to your sales representative about our maintenance package option for your system.
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Upgrades

If it is time to expand or improve an old solar power system, make sure to work with a provider that can handle all aspects of optimizing your current system. 

Common reasons
for upgrading:

  • Older technology is no longer available

  • Need more power production

  • Need more efficiency and savings

  • Repairing may not be sufficient

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