When we formed Green Sun Energy Services, it was our goal to assemble a set of reasonably priced, high end solar product configurations that would look great and last for the term of our SolarBase™ Programs and beyond. - Christopher Torre, Managing Partner, Engineering and Technology, NABCEP Certified Photovoltaic Associate # PVA-111016-016148
Residential Solar Panel Systems
The Solar panels themselves seem to be the primary focus of research when our client's start investigating solar. While the panels are the part of the system that most people see there are other components that are critical to the long term reliability of the system. These essential parts of your solar power system help make the power useable (the inverter), connect your system to the roof (the Mounting System), record your SRECs (the ANSI C-12 Meter), and let you know how well your system is functioning (the Monitoring System). Let's look at each of these in a bit of detail.
What Are The Best Solar Panels?
Our clients are faced with a wide variety of choices from the size of the panels (watts), to efficiency ratings, to the material they are made from (Monocrystalline, Polycrystalline or Thin Film), to their warranty, to where the solar panels are made. We currently only use Monocrystalline silicon panels for residential installations because of their even coloring and uniform appearance. This high-purity silicon is made of single-crystal wafer cells cut from cylindrical crystal slabs. The deep blue color of the panels is because they are made from a single continuous ingot. While they cost more than other types of silicon, they are also the most efficient, producing more power per square foot than other types.
We work with each of our client's to determine the best solar panels for their application. Many factors impact this decision including: your current energy usage, the amount of energy you want from solar, the size of your roof, the angle and pitch of your roof, the amount of irradiation your roof receives from the Sun. your warranty preferences, and your budget.
There are two main types of warranties provided by the solar panel manufacturer. Fully understanding these warranties is critical for having a long-term, low-stress solar energy system for your home. All of the panels that we install come with a 25 year production warranty guaranteeing that by the end of the term the solar panel will continue at a certain percent of original production. The workmanship warranty, also known as a materials or product warranty for the same panel is also important. The panels that we offer come with a 10, 12, 20 or 25 year workmanship warranty.
We currently offer PV solar panels from: Canadian Solar, Hanwha, Jinko, LG, Mission Solar (USA) Panasonic, Solaria, SolarWorld (USA), and Trina. Please see the chart below for a summary of each panel.
What Are Inverters?
If not for inverters, solar panels would be relatively useless for homeowners. Once the solar panels have collected sunlight and changed it into DC (direct current) power, an inverter is needed to convert that electricity into AC (alternating current) power for use in your home. There are three types of residential inverters on the market today. Central (or string inverters), Central (or string inverters) with Power Optimizers and Micro Inverters.
Central (or string) Inverters
Solar panels are connected in series to form a string. The string connects to one large inverter where the DC power is converted to AC power. There are many drawbacks to this inexpensive (and outdated) technology. Shading of one panel brings the output of all the panels down, we can’t tell the performance of individual panels, only the system as a whole, Solar panels must be lined up in the same orientation to the sun to produce similar current, and if the one inverter breaks, the whole solar system shuts down. Central Inverters typically come with a 10 or 12 year warranty. Enough said. We don't use standard Central Inverters.
Central (or string) Inverters with Optimizers
Priced slightly higher than Central inverters, this technology is used with a central inverter, power optimizers are attached to each panel in the array. They condition the DC power at the panel level before it moves on to the inverters and the power output is individual to the panel so shading or other problems with one panel don’t bring down the whole system. Solar panels do not need to be lined up in the same orientation to the sun to produce similar current, and power optimizers allow for individual monitoring of each panel. SolarEdge Inverters with Optimizers include a standard 12 year warranty on the Inverter (upgradable to 20 or 25 years) and 25 years on the Optimizers. We like these!
Each solar panel has its own small inverter attached to its backside. The DC power is converted to AC power at the panel level so they can be oriented differently without impacting the system. Panel outputs are independent of one another, so shading on one panel does not impact output of the others. Individual monitoring of each panel allows for easy identification of where a problem is. This solution is a bit more expensive that the Optimizer solutions, but it makes up for it with redundancy - if one micro inverter breaks, the other solar panels can continue to produce power. EnPhase Micro Inverters boast a 25 year replacement warranty. We really like these.
What Is A Solar Mounting System?
Mounting systems are probably the least discussed and most important part of the PV solar system. No matter the weather, your solar panels need to stay solidly on your roof (and the penetrations need to keep from leaking) . That’s where the solar panel mounting system comes in. Rooftop installation costs can vary quite a bit based on the type of mounting system used. Most of our competitors use rails that are attached to the roof. Then the panels are attached to the rails. We use rail-less systems because we find to be more aesthetically pleasing, reliable and they offer better electrical bonding solutions. The equipment we use will not invalidate your roof warranty. However, other mounting systems and installation methods may invalidate your roof warranty. The two products that we use are EcoX (with a 15 year warranty) and QuickRack (with a 25 year warranty).
Why Do I Need Metering & Monitoring?
Metering. In accordance with New Jersey's Clean Energy Program, All solar energy systems eligible to earn SRECs must report system production based upon readings from a revenue-grade meter that meets the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) Standard C12.1-2008. This meter is in addition to the electric meter installed by the local utility to measure the home or business’ electric consumption. There are many types of metering devices available including digital meters, digital meters with wi-fi or cellular connections, and integrated meters. All of our SolarBase™ programs included integrated meters with cellular connectivity.
Monitoring. Remotely monitoring systems help us to measure and track how much electricity your system is producing, and identify and promptly fix any performance issues so that you are maximizing the production of electricity from your solar system. All of our SolarBase™ programs include panel level monitoring as part of our service.
Our Solar Packages
To help simplify all of these choices, we've put together three PV Solar Packages for our clients to choose from.
Our high-end SolarBase program features panels from Canadian Solar, Jinko, LG, Solaria, SolarWorld, and Trina; EnPhase micro inverters; and the Quick Rack rail-free mounting system. This package also includes an industry leading 25 year installation workmanship warranty.
For our more value minded client's, we created our Value Line. Here we utilize panels from Canadian Solar, Hanwha, Jinko, LG, Panasonic, Solaria, SolarWorld, and Trina; SolarEdge Inverters (upgraded to a 25 year warranty) with Power Optimizers; and the EcoX rail-free mounting system. This package also includes a 15 year installation workmanship warranty.
For our more budget minded client's, we created our Economy Line. Here we utilize panels from Canadian Solar, Hanwha, Jinko, LG, Panasonic, Solaria, SolarWorld, and Trina; SolarEdge Inverters (standard 12 year warranty) with Power Optimizers; and the EcoX rail-free mounting system. This package also includes a 10 year installation workmanship warranty.