How Can You Tell If Your Roof Can Hold Solar Panels?

Solar PanelsOne of the more popular questions people ask before buying solar panels and having them installed on their home is this: will my roof be able to hold them?

Solar panels, including their mounting equipment, typically weigh between 2 to 4 pounds per square foot. This is a weight that most roofs can handle. As long as installers distribute the weight optimally, most roofs should have no problem with the addition of solar power systems.

Solar panel manufacturers have come up with solutions to work well for all sorts of roofs, whether they’re flat or sloped.

Some of the things to consider before adding solar panels to your particular roof, though, include its age, slope, and whether or not adding panels voids the roof warranty.

First, keep in mind the age of your roof. If it’s older (think 15 to 20 years old) and you plan to have a new roof replacement done soon, then it makes sense to wait to add solar panels at the same time the new roof is put on or right afterward.

Next, if you have a steep sloped roof special equipment may be needed to install panels; check with GR Solar Solutions beforehand to get an idea of what could be done to make it work out just fine. If your roof is made of specialized material such as slate tiles then installers may need to charge extra because they have to take special precautions not to damage the unique roofing material.

Sometimes people get nervous that solar panel installation will cause damage to their roof, leading to leaks. Generally, installers use sealants and metal flashing to make sure leaks do not occur.

What about the roof warranty? Adding solar panels may cause the roof warranty to be voided, but solar power system installers often add their own warranty into the mix so homeowners need not worry.

Finally, one other option is solar shingles. These integrate with conventional asphalt roof shingles.

If you have any questions about solar panel installation on your roof, please call GR Solar Solutions at 915-581-0461.

Do You Need to Clean Solar Panels?

Solar panels rely on taking in the sun’s rays to convert sunshine into electricity. Solar panels are typically placed on the roofs of buildings, including residential homes. A common question for new solar panel users is this: “How often do I need to clean them?”

Rainstorms are really good at cleaning solar panels; they’re nature’s way of cleaning so you don’t have to. However, if you live in an area that doesn’t get rain often, you may need to get a hose and spray them yourself.

What makes solar panels dirty? Typically, wind-blown dust and pollen are the chief culprits. Occasionally bird poop might interfere as well. Dirty panels’ output may decrease by 5 to 20 percent, so it is a good idea to keep in mind their cleanliness and attend to them as needed.

Basically, how often you should clean your solar panels depends on a couple factors. First, your location matters. If it rains a lot, you’re good. If it doesn’t, you’ll need to clean them more often than not. Next, what does the tilt of the panels look like? The steeper ones stay cleaner than the more horizontal ones. Thirdly, do you live in a windy, dusty area? If so, you’re apt to need a regular schedule of cleaning the panels every couple weeks or months. Also, if the electric rate is high it might be time for a cleaning. Finally, cost factors in– how much is it going to cost you to clean the panel(s)? Can you do it yourself with a ladder and hose or do you need to hire someone else to come do it professionally?

If you want to talk to a professional about cleaning solar panels, please call GR Solar Solutions of El Paso, Texas, at 915-581-0461. GR Solar Solutions is one of the most experienced solar power companies in Texas and New Mexico.

The History of Solar Panels

Solar panels seem like they’ve been around awhile, don’t they? While the sun has been around since time began, solar panels are a more recent development, getting their start in 1955.

Though you’d almost expect solar panels to have been first developed in a sunny state like Florida or California, the solar panel got its start in… New Jersey. It was there, in the mid-1950s, that scientists from Bell Laboratories came up with the first practical photovoltaic cell. Using razor blade-sized strips of silicon, the scientists found success at converting sun rays into electricity. Soon after that, in 1958, Bell Labs provided solar electric power for NASA’s first permanent satellite.

In the 1960s and 1970s, New Jersey became the leader in solar research thanks to the efforts of a company you’ve probably heard of: Exxon. Labs were set up in Linden and Florham Park, and the company spent more money on solar technology research during that time than the U.S. government did! Exxon was convinced that oil was on its way out and solar was on its way in as reports that society would run out of oil in the coming decades surfaced. Exxon helped make solar energy a viable alternative to oil.

Interestingly, while practical solar panels were a mid-Twentieth Century development, it was way back in 1839 when Alexandre Edmond Becquerel discovered the photovoltaic effect which allows for sunlight to be turned into electricity. Attempts to make this effect work for practical purposes didn’t work out well at the time. Eventually, though, in 1941, Russell Ohl invented the solar cell. From there, Bell Labs utilized solar cell technology to develop solar panels.

Now that it’s 2016, something interesting has happened: solar employment has overtaken oil, gas and coal employment in the U.S. according to an article from Bloomberg.

GR Solar Solutions is one of the companies providing solar power to thousands of people in New Mexico, Texas and beyond. Find out how GR Solar Solutions can save you money through solar panels by calling 915-581-0461.

Why Solar Impulse 2 is Making People Dream Big

solar PlaneAt the end of July, history was made in Abu Dhabi when the world’s first entirely solar powered plane completed its flight around the world without a single drop of conventional fuel.

The all-solar plane, Solar Impulse 2, first set off from the United Arab Emirates in March 2015, flying eastward around the world in 17 flights of varying length that took it through numerous countries. Despite some setbacks – including a nearly year-long delay in Hawaii caused by overheated battery damage, as CNBC reports – the plane performed well, traversing the planet completely without the use of carbon-polluting fuels.

This record-setting achievement is just the latest example of the myriad possibilities that solar technology offers in the field of travel. While the plane was not exactly fast enough to support long-distance travel as a viable solution – Solar Impulse 2 traveled at an average speed of 75 kilometers per hour, according to the project’s website – its fuel-free flight could open the door to further improvement and refinement to help conventional planes be more efficient. For example, if solar was added to a conventional aircraft, it could reduce in-flight energy costs and help diminish the reliance of airliners on jet fuel, making a more efficient and green flight a viable option.

The plane also used new battery technologies that allowed it to sustain flight even at night. The energy generated in excess of the plane’s immediate needs was stored in the onboard battery systems, which then allowed for 24-hour operation, including five nights as part of the plane’s longest trip from Japan to Hawaii. This technology could help to improve automated devices like drones or satellites, allowing them to conserve power more efficiently and operate for longer periods of time without the need to land or switch to a conventional fuel source.

Perhaps the most important part of the mission was to change attitudes around the world toward solar power and show the capabilities of solar technology.

“I hope that the result of this project will be the people understanding that you can achieve absolutely incredible goals with renewable energies and energy efficiency and new monitoring technologies,” said Bertrand Piccard, chairman and co-pilot of Solar Impulse 2, in an interview with CNBC.

Here on the ground, Solar Solutions can help your home or business add solar energy and make your home less reliant on conventional fuel. Solar energy can power your lights and other electronics, or even be used to heat the water in your shower or pool. To learn more about the capabilities of solar power for your building or to get a quote on adding solar panels, call us today at 915-581-0461.

Solar Panels Could Soon Proliferate Up North

Since solar power is fairly new to most people, questions arise about the details such as, “Will it work with a steep roof or a flat roof?” or “What if I don’t want panels on my roof– are there other options?”

In Madison, Wisconsin, a solar demonstration project exists to test out solar panel designs, directions and angles with a focus on figuring out what works best in northern climates like Wisconsin, where it’s more likely to snow in the winter than, say, Texas.

Solar panels capture sunlight and convert it to electricity which can then run the many appliances and gadgets in a home like TVs, computers and washing machines.

Since states in the southern part of the USA are well-known for their sunny climates, solar panels have become quite prevalent in places like Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico and California. So what’s next for the industry as a whole? The idea is to adjust panels as needed in order to meet the electrical needs of people in the Midwest as well as places far north like Minnesota and Maine.

Overall, solar panels are like most technologies: over time they become more efficient as more people work toward developing smaller, better, faster models that improve on the generation that came before them.

There’s definitely a move away from coal-supplied energy in America and abroad. Solar power is emerging as a major player in the world for supplying people with energy to run their homes and businesses. After all, the sun is an amazing natural resource, and the technology to harness its rays to create electricity has arrived. Now researchers just have to figure out how to make the panels as efficient as possible so that even on cloudy or snowy days they’re still “up to par” with what people expect.

By the way, at the solar demonstration project in Wisconsin, there are solar carports with electric-vehicle charging stations. You’ll also find special “solar trees,” whereas panels are mounted on curved steel structures that look like trees or flowers! The day could come where everything is powered by the sun.

Could You Soon Make Photocopies With Solar Panels?

For years Xerox was a company synonymous with making photocopies of documents using paper. However, the times, they are a changin’, like Bob Dylan once sang, and today Xerox-affiliated researchers are looking to help expand their business with something else… copied solar panels.

Could there be a machine that copies solar panels? It is possible. Xerox’s idea is to develop a new digital printing process to make it cheaper to mass produce “solar photovoltaic systems,” aka solar panels. Just like a lot of things, these items could be smaller, cheaper, and more efficient than what’s currently on the market today. Think about how phones used to be bigger and bulkier, as well as computers. Now imagine the solar panels you see on rooftops– they’re generally pretty large, aren’t they? What if a company like Xerox could design and make smaller ones that do a great job for people?

How can Xerox-affiliated researchers make this technology a reality? They’re developing a new kind of printer which can deposit tiny semiconductor chips on a flat panel. So, instead of depositing ink, like most printers and copiers do, this new version would be able to assemble together electrical and optical components, thus making improved solar panels on a mass scale.

Strides have been made by engineers to shrink components needed that concentrate and focus sunlight down to the millimeter scale. In a few years, it’s possible that precision-made solar panels will be able to be made like the way we photocopy documents today.

Since this technology isn’t quite ready just yet, you have the option of utilizing today’s solar panels on top of your roof to harness the sun for power. Solar Solutions Inc. is one of the most experienced solar power companies in Texas and New Mexico. If you’d like solar electric and solar pool heating systems designed and installed for your place, call 915-581-0461.

Solar Power Is Gaining Traction Around the Globe

Solar energy has been a growing market within the U.S. for some time now. In fact, according to SEIA’s U.S. Solar Market Insight for Q1 2015 (released in June), residential installations grew 76% compared to Q1 2014. Additionally, non-residential and utility solar PV installations continue to grow.  Recognizing the need for alternative energies, the United States is well on its way to becoming more energy efficient and the trend is a growing global trend.

China, for example, is now considered to not only be the manufacturing hub for solar photo voltaic panels, but also the fastest growing market for energy over the next five years, according to a Nasdaq article.

As the world’s largest consumer of coal, China is also the world’s largest emitter of carbon. This concentrated effort to become more energy efficient and to consciously reduce of the amount of greenhouse gas emitted as a country is huge. And the amount of investment into renewable energies is also huge. China’s renewable energy market is valued at $89.5 billion, making it the largest in the world.

In their effort to reduce their carbon emissions, China will soon begin construction on — yep you guessed it — the world’s largest solar power plant. Spread across 10 square miles in the Gobi desert, the solar plant will have the capacity to power nearly one million households.

When the solar power plant is commissioned, it will help decreases coal consumption by about 4.26 million tons per year. It will also reduce the amount of carbon dioxide and sulfur dioxide emissions by 896,000 tons and 8,080 tons, respectively.

If you’d like to read the full article, you can do so here.