Us Solar Company Gaf Energy To Open Texas Manufacturing Plant
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The announcement comes amid growing U.S. concerns about the reliance on Chinese-made solar products of an industry considered critical to meeting the nation’s climate change goals.
In the last two years, panel supplies in the United States have faced major disruptions due to pandemic-related supply chain turmoil, import tariff threats and increased border scrutiny.
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GAF Energy said it was building a $100 million facility in Georgetown, Texas, that will bring its domestic production capacity to 300 megawatts annually, up from 50 MW today. The company’s existing facility is in San Jose, California, where it is headquartered.
The new facility will employ 260 people, GAF President Martin DeBono said in an interview, and will start production in the fourth quarter of next year. The company will receive $3.24 million in local incentives.
GAF is among a small number of companies, including Tesla Inc , producing next-generation technology that integrates solar panels with roof shingles.
In an interview, DeBono said his company’s confidence in setting up a factory domestically stemmed from the fact that it offers something different from the overseas-made panels that dominate the market.
GAF is a unit of privately-held conglomerate Standard Industries.
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How To Categorise The Different Types Of Solar Panels
Different types of solar panels serve different needs and purposes. For a quick and general overview, check out our ultimate solar panel guide, for a detailed description about the different types of solar panels, keep reading.
Given that sunlight can be used differently whether on Earth or in space points to the fact that location, itself, is a significant factor when it comes to choosing one of the types of solar panels over another.
Distinguishing between different types of solar panels often means differentiating between single-junctions and multi-junctions solar panelsor first, second, or third generations. Single-junction and multi-junctions differ in the number of layers on the solar panel that will observe the sunlight, whereas the classification by generation focusses on the materials and efficiency of the different types of solar panels.
Voltage And Amps In Series
To wire solar panels in series, connect the positive terminal on the first panel to the negative terminal on the next, and so on. The resulting voltage will be the sum of all of the panel voltages in the series. However, the total current will be equal to the output current of a single panel.
For example, in the graphic above, we have three 18-volt, 6-amp panels wired in series. The output voltage is 54 volts , yet the output current is still 6 amps.
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How A Solar Battery Adds Value
Add increased value to your solar panels by storing the energy they generate. Solar panels with battery storage maximizes the amount of electricity your installation retains for your use. By adding solar battery storage, you can take even greater control of powering your energy needs.
Surplus electricity created by your panels is stored in the battery until you need it. During an outage, when the sun sets, or if you’re using extra power, electricity draws from the battery. Its an easy, elegant solution with many benefits.
Design A Custom Solution
Each Sunrun solar system is custom designed and built for your energy needs using a proprietary solar design software platform. Theres definitely not a one-size-fits-all solution. It can be as small or large as you want or need. Sunrun doesn’t install cookie-cutter systems. Our proprietary technology, called BrightPath enables us to design a system and solar plan specifically for your home.
Large photovoltaic systems produce the most electricity and reduce your carbon footprint more than a smaller system. Yet, even if youre not limited by cost, the size of your south-facing roof may limit your system size. In that case, maximize your solar installation’s yield by considering smaller, high efficiency panels to achieve your energy goals.
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How Much Energy Do I Need From My Solar System
Now that you know how many solar panels you can fit on your roof, its time to figure out how many you want to put up there.
The first thing to do is to look at how much energy your home uses. If you can get utility bills for the past year or two, then its easy to figure out how many kilowatt-hours of electricity you use per year.
Central heating systems and aircon are the big-ticket items in your home energy usage, so make sure that you consider whether the year or years you use as a base to estimate your energy usage were unusually hot or cold. If so, then you can adjust your power usage estimate accordingly.
This process will give you your total energy usage in kilowatt-hours. Clearly, you want your solar system to produce as much of this electricity as possible.
Are Solar Panel Connectors Universal
In the past, PV modules used MC3, SolarLok, or another type of connector. With all these options available, homeowners generally had a rough time when they were going to purchase panels since they could get confused with the connector or had to cut the installed connector in the end and crimp their own at the cable with a crimping tool.
The connectivity issue was a clear sign that the solar industry had to do something about it to achieve the standardization of a solar connector for all of the various types of PV modules. This is why the MC4 connector was established in the end as the standard for connecting PV modules and other solar equipment, especially since they were more secure and had a quality design.
The MC4 excellent performance and high-security level have not been paralleled by any other collector. Due to the popularity of the MC4 connectors, it is now considered that solar panel connectors are universal since practically all manufacturers use the MC4 connector.
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Other Types Of Solar Panels
Monocrystalline and polycrystalline solar panels are the most common, but they are not the only types available. You will also find thin-film solar panels, which have a completely different manufacturing process:
- Instead of using crystalline solar cells, they use a photovoltaic material that is deposited in thin layers.
- There are many subtypes of thin-film solar panels based on their PV material. The most common are cadmium telluride , copper gallium indium diselenide and amorphous silicon.
- Since thin-film solar panels are not divided into cells, they have a uniform surface without divisions.
- Most flexible solar panels use thin-film solar cells.
The main disadvantage of thin-film solar panels is that they are much less efficient than polycrystalline or monocrystalline panels. This means you must cover a larger area with thin-film solar panels to reach a certain kilowatt-hour production.
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Solar Photovoltaic Cell Basics
When light shines on a photovoltaic cell also called a solar cell that light may be reflected, absorbed, or pass right through the cell. The PV cell is composed of semiconductor material the semi means that it can conduct electricity better than an insulator but not as well as a good conductor like a metal. There are several different semiconductor materials used in PV cells.
When the semiconductor is exposed to light, it absorbs the lights energy and transfers it to negatively charged particles in the material called electrons. This extra energy allows the electrons to flow through the material as an electrical current. This current is extracted through conductive metal contacts the grid-like lines on a solar cells and can then be used to power your home and the rest of the electric grid.
The efficiency of a PV cell is simply the amount of electrical power coming out of the cell compared to the energy from the light shining on it, which indicates how effective the cell is at converting energy from one form to the other. The amount of electricity produced from PV cells depends on the characteristics of the light available and multiple performance attributes of the cell.
Learn more below about the most commonly-used semiconductor materials for PV cells.
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Polycrystalline Solar Panels: Can Be A More Cost Effective Option
Unlike monocrystalline solar cells, polycrystalline solar cells tend to have a bluish hue to them due to the light reflecting off the silicon fragments in the cell in a different way than it reflects off a pure monocrystalline silicon wafer.
Similar to monocrystalline, polycrystalline panels have different colors for back sheets and frames. Most often, the frames of polycrystalline panels are silver, and the back sheets are either silver or white.
Same Rating Same Production
Since panels are tested in ideal laboratory conditions for their max production rating, this rating only tells half the story. Two panels with the same rating should produce almost identical amounts of power when theres no shading and outdoor temperatures are very cold. But as soon as a cloud passes over, a split panel will outperform a similarly-rated standard panel. Also, we live in the sunshine state where temperatures over 80F are all too common. For us Floridians, heat dissipation measures can have a tremendous impact on the solar systems production.
At the end of the day, you dont install solar systems for the rating on their labels we install them for the free electricity theyll provide. What matters to homeowners is how much energy the system will produce how much money can we stop throwing into the utilitys black hole of lifelong bills. Choosing the right panel is just one of the many important parameters in designing and installing a highly effective solar system.
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How Does This Apply To Solar Panels
Just like the examples above, you can choose whether to connect your solar panels in series or in parallel. Lets go over the pros and cons of each as well as how to choose between the two.
Connecting in series
When installing solar panels in series, the voltage adds up, but the current stays the same for all of the elements. For example, if you installed 5 solar panels in series with each solar panel rated at 12 volts and 5 amps youd still have 5 amps but a full 60 volts.
There are some major benefits to connecting solar panels in series. First, it allows you to get away with smaller wiring , which saves you quite a bit of expense and effort during the installation.
And second, you can have very long wire runs without losing too much electricity. For these reasons, most solar panels on homes today are, at least partially, connected in series.
There is one issue with connecting in series, however. If you remember our Christmas lights example from above, you can imagine the drawbacks to wiring your solar panels in a similar way. If one solar panel goes out or is shaded, then the entire systems production drops drastically.
Shading decreases production in any system and thats why installers typically avoid areas of your roof where nearby trees, shrubs, buildings, satellites, chimneys, or anything else could get in the way.
Connecting in parallel
Work Out How Much Roof Space You Have
Most homes in the UK have roofs that can accommodate solar panels. However, if your roof has a window, chimney or vertical flue, this could reduce the amount of space you have for a solar panel system.
For an idea of overall size:
Bear in mind that some brands of panel have a larger capacity so may cover a smaller area of roof space.
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What Makes Up A Solar Panel
Solar panels are collections of solar cells. These solar cells are where the magic happens and energy from the sun gets converted into electricity. Solar cells are made out of silicon, a semiconductor that produces electricity when it reacts with solar power. During daylight hours, each solar cell works away, converting solar energy into electricity.
Since individual solar cells dont produce a huge amount of electricity, manufacturers connect several solar cells together into solar panels.
Connecting Solar Panels In Parallel
Wiring solar panels in parallel implies connecting positive terminals of each panel together and wiring the negative terminals of each panel together as well. Then, they are connected to the charge controller or to the inverter of the solar system.
When solar panels are connected in parallel they all share the same voltage, and the current that each one of them provides is summed up.
The main advantage of this configuration is reliability. In case when one or more solar panels are affected either by shading or by other damage caused during the manufacture or along the life-cycle of the system, the performance of other solar panels in the array is not affected because the wiring connection makes every single unit independent from the other one.
On the other hand, there are some disadvantages of this connection type. Low voltages denote higher current values, which translates into higher electrical losses , and therefore, lower efficiency performance of your solar photovoltaic system.
Besides, increasing the current is not desirable either because it implies an increase of wire gauges in order to have better capacities for enduring higher ampere values . In the end, this translates into higher installation costs due to the bigger size of the cables and also due to an increase in the length of the cables to be able to perform the connection .
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Connecting Solar Panels Together In Series
The first method we will look at for connecting solar panels together is whats known as Series Wiring. The electrical connection of solar panels in series increases the total system ouput voltage. Series connected solar panels are generally used when you have a grid connected inverter or charge controller that requires 24 volts or more. To series wire the panels together you connect the positive terminal to the negative terminal of each panel until you are left with a single positive and negative connection.
Solar panels in series add up or sum the voltages produced by each individual panel, giving the total output voltage of the array as shown.
Use More Electricity During The Day
As your solar PV system will be working at its peak during daylight hours, its a good idea to run your electrical appliances such as your washing machine, dishwasher, and iron during the day. If youre at home, then this may be easier to do, but if you are away during the day, you could try setting timers for your dishwasher and washing machine.
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Are All Solar Panels The Same Size
Clearly, if solar panels contain different numbers of solar cells, then they arent all the same size. As a general rule, the more solar cells a solar panel has, the bigger the size. Sixty cell panels are usually smaller than seventy-two cell solar panels. But things get a bit more complicated when we look at the efficiency of solar cells.
Some solar panels are more efficient than others. The efficiency of commercially available solar cells is typically in the range of 15 to 20%. This percentage measure of efficiency shows how much of the suns energy a particular solar cell can convert into electricity.
These efficiencies are measured under laboratory conditions, so its unlikely that your home solar system will manage to achieve those figures. Nevertheless, the efficiency rating is a good way to compare different solar panels.
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The Major Types Of Solar Panels
There are three major types of solar panels: monocrystalline, polycrystalline, and thin-film. Each type has its own unique advantages and disadvantages, and the solar panel type best suited for your installation will depend on factors specific to your own property and desired system characteristics.
Major types of solar panels
|Solar panel type|
|Portable and flexible||Lower efficiency and performance|
Below, well break down some common questions and concerns about solar panels and how different types of panels have varying characteristics.
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Thin Film Solar Panels
You may have heard of thin film types of solar panels. They are a newer type of solar panel and less frequently used for homes. But they are growing in popularity.
The thin film panel gets its name from how its produced. Layers of semiconductor materials are rolled out as a film on a surface.
Thin film solar panels tend be less efficient than crystalline solar panels, and it requires a lot of roof space. They also tend to degrade more quickly, so companies may offer shorter warranties to homeowners.
But thin film is also inexpensive and more flexible than crystalline solar cells. They can be manufactured into shingles. So for those who dont like the appearance of solar panels on a roof, thin film is a good alternative. There may be local solar rebate incentives for installing these types of solar panels.
Keep in mind that solar manufacturing is a very competitive field. Researchers keep coming up with ways to make solar cells more efficient. The latest technologies use solar inks, dyes, mirrors, and plastics.
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Solar Panels In Parallel With Different Voltages And Currents
Here the parallel currents add up as before but the voltage adjusts to the lowest value, in this case 3 volts. Solar panels must have the same output voltage to be useful in parallel. If one panel has a higher voltage it will supply the load current to the degree that its output voltage drops to that of the lower voltage panel.
We can see that the solar panel rated at 9 volts, 5 amps, will only operate at a maximum voltage of 3 volts as its operation is being influenced by the smaller panel, reducing its efficiency and wasting money on the purchase of this higher power solar panel. Connecting solar panels in parallel with different voltage ratings is not recommended as the solar panel with the lowest rated voltage determines the voltage output of the whole array.
Then when connecting solar panels together in parallel it is important that they ALL have the same nominal voltage value, but it is not necessary that they have the same ampere value.