Solar Electric Systems

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eekaro

Member
I'm thinking of a new path career, the Solar System
Technology.
I'd like to hear opinions, any advice.
I understand this is the move in very near future
since the Goverment is implementing the sustainable energy management
How we electricians can benefit from this?
 

broadgage

Senior Member
Location
London, England
Solar electric systems are already economic in some circumstances and are likely to become much widely used as fossil fuels become more expensive.

Study of the relevant code articles is clearly important, but practical experience is very important as well.
Some suppliers of the equipment offer free training in installing or troubleshooting these systems, and I would recomend these.

On a very large job the actual fitting of the PV modules is done by a specialist, with engineering input.
On smaller jobs though the electrician may do this, and some knowledge of building codes and roofing is desireable.
In some cases the homeowner may mount the PV modules, and IMHO this is acceptable, provided of course that the actual electrical work is done by a licensed electrician.

Remember that during daylight, PV modules are allways live. The arrary should be fitted with a dissconnect, but the wires leading into this will allways be live.
A single PV module generaly produces a safe voltage, but they are often wired in series arrays of hundreds of volts.
 
There is a ton to learn about PV.
If you want to be an installer, I would take a class by the manufacturer and the entity that sets up the certification...whether that be the utility, state or municipality, etc...

Also, learn as much about the theory and applications as well.

Try John Wiles. He is very informative and has a 150 page download that is extremely helpful, his latest is from the fall of '08. Also, the IAEI.org site has 15 or so articles in relation to the topic. Then of course there is google.
 

boyle78

Senior Member
Location
new hampshire
There is a ton to learn about PV.
If you want to be an installer, I would take a class by the manufacturer and the entity that sets up the certification...whether that be the utility, state or municipality, etc...

Also, learn as much about the theory and applications as well.

Try John Wiles. He is very informative and has a 150 page download that is extremely helpful, his latest is from the fall of '08. Also, the IAEI.org site has 15 or so articles in relation to the topic. Then of course there is google.
do you have that particular 150 page link?
 

petersonra

Senior Member
Location
Northern illinois
Occupation
engineer
Solar electric is a best a niche technology, short of massive subsidies.

I would not be counting on it a whole lot. Why would people be dumb enough to invest in an energy technology that is a huge economic loser? Especially in tough economic times.
 

MarkyMarkNC

Senior Member
Location
Raleigh NC
Solar electric is a best a niche technology, short of massive subsidies.

I would not be counting on it a whole lot. Why would people be dumb enough to invest in an energy technology that is a huge economic loser? Especially in tough economic times.
True, without government subsidies it is an economic loser right now, but that's not to say it always will be. large commercial solar panels were costing $3.00 a watt to produce just four years ago, and are now under $1.00 a watt. Within 3 or 4 more years, many people expect the price to be close to that of energy production from coal or natural gas.
 

petersonra

Senior Member
Location
Northern illinois
Occupation
engineer
True, without government subsidies it is an economic loser right now, but that's not to say it always will be. large commercial solar panels were costing $3.00 a watt to produce just four years ago, and are now under $1.00 a watt. Within 3 or 4 more years, many people expect the price to be close to that of energy production from coal or natural gas.
The promise has always been that it will reach the magic $1 a watt number and everything will be honky dory. I don't know where your $3 a watt number came from but even large scale commercial systems are still more than that and the smaller panels used on homes are closer to $5 at best.

Even if the panels were free, it may not be viable. The problem is that solar is not an especially reliable electricity source so to use it, you have to have something backing it up that can provide 100% of the power needed when solar can't. Stuff that only runs a few hours a day is not real economical.
 

hillbilly1

Senior Member
Location
Atlanta,Ga
Solar panels are supposed to drop in price 10 to 20 percent this year, but as others have said, without the large government subsidies (taxpayers), it presently is not economical. the company I work for looked into it, but the major competion comes from roofers, who are installing the systems dirt cheap without permits.
 

eekaro

Member
sustainable energy

sustainable energy

To those who contributed to this subject with opinions, links and such, my appreciation,I found them very useful.
Thank you all
 

buddhakii

Senior Member
Location
Littleton, CO
They are currently engineering nano technonolgy which can make one solar cell produce twice the power it does now. The technology is there, they just need to mass produce now.
 

mthead

Senior Member
Location
Long Beach,NY
Solar Electric Systems

Actually at a time like this adding a familiararity with "Photo Voltaic System installation" makes much sense but is not as easy as one might think.
The technology,equipment and installtion requirements are changing and improving at what would seem to be almost an anual/yearly basis at this point.
At 'The Board' we have been attending seminars yearly since '05 just to stay on top of the changes.
If you are an electrician involved in an installation be assured that at inspection time you are responsible for the the entire installation at the time of inspection.
In a court of law it is difficult to rationalize why on your filing app it says photo voltaic system was installed but you say you only did the feeders ,disconnect etc..,but not the system--pciture yourself trying to explain that those on the other side of a lawsuit.
Roofers should not be installing these systems.
The installtion of any photovoltaic system will at some point require that a licensed elec put his name and number down so you should be aware of what you're taking responsibilty for.
Most importantly-within the current bailout package are items that will make those who can do this work very popular even with the most cah strapped h/owner.
You can complain or you can make the times work for you.
 

SolarPro

Senior Member
Location
Austin, TX
Solar Resources for Electricians

Solar Resources for Electricians

Some of the cost confusion in this thread is due to the fact that the module cost is only a portion of total system cost. System cost varies with project size?from, say, $5/watt to $10/watt?but where modules were available from manufacturers for $4/watt or more 12 to 18 months ago, they are available in the $3/watt range today, less at higher volumes. Global market conditions and commodities, determine what that price is. Also, this is the price for modules made with conventional silicon cells. At least one thin-film manufacturer claims to that their manufacturing costs are less than $1/watt. Who knows what their cost to integrators is? They exclusively sell product onto utility-scale and large-commercial projects and they are pre-sold years in advance.

The main things to know is that utility prices are trending upwards, while the cost for solar and solar-generated electricity is trending lower. Also the "American Recovery and Reinvestment Act" will encourage a lot of solar capacity building. This will take many forms, including utility-scale projects and efficiency upgrades for Federal facilities. The commercial and residential markets will grow as well. In general, solar electric, or PV systems, are not carrying 100% of the load where they are installed. These are utility-interactive systems, without battery backup, that only generate electricity during the day. So even if the the solar electric system is sized to offset 100% of the load, the utility still carries the load at night and many times throughout the day or year. PV is a supplemental resource to the overall mix of electric generation resources.

John Wiles and his "Suggested Practices" document is a great resource for electricians and inspectors new to solar. But the most comprehensive manual on the subject by far is the "Photovoltaic Systems" textbook developed by the NJATC and published by ATP. SolarPro magazine is another useful resource. It is a free technical, trade publication for the North American solar industry, focused on design and installation best practices or nuts and bolts type issues.

Here are links:

Photovoltaic Systems

SolarPro magazine
 

c_picard

Senior Member
Location
USA
...for what it's worth, I've been working steady for over 2 years installing PV systems, which is more than can be said for a lot of my house mouse contemporaries. Welfare, you say?
Maybe, but show me a U.S. industry that hasn't benefited from tax money input lately!
The topic of how much money is dumped into oil/coal subsidies is for another forum I supppose.
Good luck!
 
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