For owners of solar electric systems with Enphase microinverters, the company has just updated its Enlighten system monitoring portal. The new design is great. The site uses intuitive tabs. All of the same great charts and reports are available. You can now upload photos of your system to the site to show in a gallery. There is also a handy download button to download charts as an image file or PDF like shown below. The site leads you into time-lapse views of your energy production over time more intuitively. Now I’m waiting for the ability to download a video of the time-lapse views. These wouldRead More →

According to The Solar Foundation, Florida ranked 6th among states for solar jobs in 2011 despite being ranked 17th for solar electric capacity installed. Many of the solar jobs in Florida can be attributed to the solar thermal industry. Solar pool heating and solar water heating installations are popular in Florida. California had more people employed in solar than the next five states combined, but was ranked #6 in the number of solar jobs per capita (Colorado was #1). Florida by comparison was ranked #15 in solar jobs per capita. Rank State Solar Jobs #1 California 25,575 #2 Colorado 6,186 #3 Arizona 4,786 #4 PennsylvaniaRead More →

In a recent lecture, I discussed the many reasons that people decide to invest in solar energy systems.  The reasons range from practical to financial to ideological to competition. All of the reasons are [arguably] legitimate. This list is by no means comprehensive, but I break it down this way: Go Green – an environmental motivation Reduce Operational Costs – motivated more by future cost savings than initial investment Lock in Price of Energy – motivated by concern about future energy costs Tax Shelter – motivated by incentives that increase tax savings Geopolitics – motivated by concern about ability to obtain energy from foreign (orRead More →

It was a pleasure speaking to the Introduction to Engineering class at Edison State College last night. The questions asked at this type of event never cease to amaze me and always inspire me to understand what people want to know about solar energy. This was my second time speaking to this class. This time I decided to add a section on emerging technologies. I’m glad I did! Many of the questions revolved around the emerging technologies discussion. I should have known. After all, this was an engineering class at a college! I don’t recall being so inquisitive in school. For the second time IRead More →

The Solar Energy Industries Association reported last month that Florida ranked 14th in solar energy installations in the first quarter of 2012. That’s an improvements from the ranking of 17 among states for the 2011 calendar year, but it is still appalling that Sunshine State cannot score better for solar electric growth. Florida residents and businesses installed only 2.8 megawatts of solar electric compared to 173.8 megawatts in New Jersey, the leading state in the first quarter. Yes, New Jersey, in the winter, installed 62 times the amount of solar electricity as Florida. The reported numbers are for solar electric (photovoltaic) installations. Keep in mind that FloridaRead More →

Solar salespeople don’t like to talk about hurricanes when discussing solar panels with prospective customers. With hurricane season in full swing, there are understandable concerns about high winds and their effect on solar panels. The truth is that there is not much to fear. Hurricane prone Southwest Florida has seen its share of storm activity over the years, so there is some precedent for solar panel performance here. Under the Florida Building Code (FBC), solar panel attachments must meet very stringent wind uplift requirements. In Collier County, for example, the maximum ultimate design wind speed we face is 172 mph for a typical residential solarRead More →