Tuesday, 27 September 2016

On Commercial V. Residential Solar Installations

Sweet Spot Solar is delighted to see that a lot of commercial buildings including apartment complexes, warehouses, and large office buildings have expressed an interest in solar in recent months.

As a company whose focus is on providing the best quality product at the lowest price possible, we are uniquely positioned to work in this sector for several reasons.

First, the differences between commercial and residential solar applications have become less pronounced due to changes in technology. Our team members have been involved in some of BC's largest and smallest grid-tie solar photovoltaic arrays, and it's worth noting that some of the largest arrays in the province have been installed on residences.

Second, BC Hydro makes a distinction in terms of interconnection requirements between simple and complex distributed generation. In short, solar arrays less than 27 kW in size on a 200A or smaller service using Single Phase qualifies as simple in terms of the application process for net metering, whereas solar arrays up to 100 kW that don't meet these requirements are automatically defined as complex. We have done both kinds.

Third, the main difference between residential and most commercial arrays is that commercial properties often have flat roofs. We work with engineers through our supplier to design ballasted racking systems to work perfectly on flat roofs. Given the light weight of solar modules (typically less than 45 pounds) plus the balance of the system, these ballasted systems spread the load across rooftops very well. Here's an example of a system that our supplier provides for this application. For larger commercial installations, we use the consulting services of Sentinel Solar in Ontario to do system design.

For example, for a flat roof with dimensions of 73' by 137', our engineers estimated that 160 modules can be mounted on a ballasted rack angled at 15 degrees. Using 265W modules, this array would be rated at 42.4 kW DC. We provided recently a quote for an installed system like this for $140,000 all-in [$3.30/Watt installed is unbeatable].

Thursday, 22 September 2016

In-Roof Module Mounting

Sweet Spot Solar is pleased to offer for new home construction or re-roofing projects, a slick integrated in-roof module  system by GSE

This approach is taking France by storm and it has accelerated dramatically the installation of solar in that country. 

It is also being used for many historical building restoration projects due to its enhanced aesthetics.

Sunday, 11 September 2016

Solar: Perfect Versus Cloudy Days

Solar modules have become so good in recent years that they can harvest photons from the Sun even on cloudy days. Here's an example from one of our arrays built upon LG 310 modules and M-250 micro-inverters. In the first graph we have a close to perfect solar day with 45.3 kWhs generated. Note the smooth bell curve which indicates no cloud coverage at all.

The second graph, from the same array, is from a day with lots of variability and constantly changing cloud cover. Even on this day the array generated 37.6 kWhs - or 83% of a perfect solar day.

When a system is properly and professionally designed and installed, this kind of performance is normal. Sweet Spot Solar can make your solar dreams a reality.

Friday, 9 September 2016

Best practices for mounting solar on shingle roofs

A natural fear that homeowners have about mounting solar on their roof is the integrity of the installation with respect to water incursion.

In the past, many solar installations were simply screwed down to the roof with lots of a roofing compound placed around entry points. This approach is simply unacceptable on shingle roofs nowadays, and code and industry association requirements demand that flashing be used.

At Sweet Spot Solar we are constantly exploring new product lines and our staff take regularly continuing education programs.

Although our company does not do installations ourselves, we work with installers to provide you with the best project price and the highest quality equipment.

When it comes to flashing for shingle roofs, one of the most effective products we have found is made by Quick Mount PV. Although more expensive than competitors, it's better to spend money on good quality equipment like this upfront rather than risk a leak in the future.

The E-Mount is a specially designed flashing kit that uses an elevated water seal to provide the best possible waterproofing and durability over the long run. We have samples of this product and others like it to show clients when we review your solar needs.

Here's a great video profiling this flashing kit and how it mounts. Hopefully this will give you greater peace of mind when considering a solar option for your roof.

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Solar at the cottage/cabin

Here's why a small solar array at your seasonal property makes a lot of sense.

If you have a cabin or cottage that is primarily used in Summer, a solar array will produce a rolling credit throughout the year that will likely neutralize your bills (or create income) on an annual basis.

In the example below, this array of 18 modules is producing significant credit when most of the electrical load is turned off.

When your family is there during the Summer, your electrical demand is met first by what your array produces, any extra consumption is pulled from the grid, and any extra production creates more credit.

For a property that is used primarily in the Winter months like a ski chalet, a solar array makes even more sense since you can accumulate a very large credit during the solar peak months (typically March to October in Western Canada) to reduce or neutralize your Winter bills.

Even a small system of  5-10 modules can make a difference for such property owners.

Saturday, 3 September 2016

Solar strata is possible too

A lot of people who live in condo and townhouse stratas can also benefit from solar to reduce their fees. Sweet Spot Solar can help do something like this.