Sunday, 31 July 2016

Follow the sun like a sunflower and make 40% more power with a tracker

Sweet Spot Solar has a limited opportunity to provide you with another option for solar involving tracker technology.

This Lorentz 1000 tracker will follow the sun as it moves across the sky each day - and produce 40% more power than a static roof or ground array.

These trackers are mounted on the ground on a concrete foundation. In some cases where proper support exists, this tracker can also mount on flat roofs.

Each tracker will hold six 60 cell modules and could work with our Hanwha 260 or LG 310 modules and their paired micro-inverters.




Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Solar and the value of your house

A US study led by a researcher from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and a home appraisal expert found that in some markets adding solar to your house generated a 100% return on investment when the house was sold. In other words, for every dollar spent on solar the seller was able to get that dollar back. Try that bathroom and kitchen renovations!

Furthermore, having a house that has low or zero electricity bills is likely to become more attractive to buyers in the future - especially as utility rates increase.



Solar is taking off in BC, and its about time

There has been a rapid increase in net metered solar arrays in British Columbia. We now have around 750 interconnected systems that sell power back to BC Hydro. There is so much room to expand however given that there is 1.7 million BC Hydro clients.




An inverter converts the DC electricity made by the solar module into AC power for use in your home

In most cases, Sweet Spot Solar recommends that your array be built using high-quality micro-inverters like those made my Enphase.
This approach allows for future expansion of the array with minimal cost, reduces power production loses due to shading/shadowing/dirty modules, and minimizes long-term financial risk and system downtime.

It also makes DIY options a breeze! It's all plug-and-play.

It also provides the longest warranty option in the industry (25 years) compared to old-fashioned string inverter or centralized inverter approaches (typically 10 years).
Module by module diagnostics also becomes possible with this approach. An optional Enphase Envoy unit will provide real-time, detailed monitoring of the array with a user-friendly internet-based interface.
All of the technology is on the roof and micro-inverters are mounted under each solar module. This approach also reduces fire and electrocution risks since micro-inverters put out 240V AC instead of high voltage DC as per string/centralized inverters.
Micro-inverters are used to build some of the biggest solar farms in the world, and Enphase has sold millions of them globally. We really recommend this product.
Think of it like the revolution in cell phone technology. At one time cell phones were huge and expensive. A micro-inverter like the Enphase M215 is sweet, small, powerful, and efficient. We sell them starting at $175!
Here are photos of a string inverter and a micro-inverter. We can of course provide you with string inverters from a range of manufacturers too.





Monday, 25 July 2016

Sweet Spot Solar Scored A Hat Trick Today - Thanks For Your Support

What a great day for solar! Three systems sold today alone including a stunning 28 module array based on the LG 310 modules. We will be profiling that system as it gets installed. Our sale for the 1 kW starter system ends soon. Don't miss out.


Saturday, 23 July 2016

Sweet Spot Solar at the Gabriola Island Farmers' Market

Your Central Vancouver Island/Gulf Islands team of Sweet Spot Solar had a wonderful day at the Gabriola Island farmers' market. We met dozens of people and had a chance to hear about the dreams and goals of many people about how they would like to adopt solar. There were many questions about batteries.
Our grid-tie systems connect directly to the utility company's lines through your breaker box, and they don't require batteries. Through net metering you can essentially sell power back to BC Hydro and create a rolling credit. This is all done automatically and seamlessly through your smart meter.
Of course, if you want batteries... we can do that kind of system too.



Former sales associate Connor Drader at our tent

Friday, 22 July 2016

An Infographic On How To Understand The Financial Returns On Your Solar Plans

Solar is fun and it's definitely the right thing to do on many levels. Lots of people have questions about the financial performance of solar. Here's an infographic that we've produced based on our pricing model and approach for British Columbia clients. We'll work on another infographic for Saskatchewan soon.



Thursday, 21 July 2016

Sweet Spot Solar Carries Monocrystalline and Polycrystalline Modules

Sweet Spot Solar can provide you with a range of options for solar modules including high-end monocrystalline modules like the LG 310 (the black one on the right in this photo) to very good quality polycrystalline modules like the Hanwha 265.



We currently sell the LG 310 for $520. It is a 310 Watt module that performs at 18.9% efficiency. It comes with a black frame that is thicker than most competitors, is aesthetically pleasing, and is ideal in situations where you have limited roof space and want to maximize power production. Also, it looks fantastic! It is made in Korea.
The Hanwha 265 is sold for $285. This 265 Watt polycrystalline module is rated at 15.9% efficiency. It is an affordable, high quality module that will work in any application and is made in Poland. This module pairs with the Enphase M215 micro-inverter.
The choice is yours. Although the LG 310 is $235 more per module, and requires a higher output micro-inverter that costs around $30 more, when you consider a system with 10 modules - the overall cost of the best technology only increases system cost by around $3000. There is no difference in cost to install higher output modules. In fact it may be lower due to needing fewer of them to produce equivalent power.
This is part of the Sweet Spot Solar approach. We aim to make high quality solar equipment available to more people, companies and communities while also providing an option to purchase the highest quality equipment currently available (like the LG 310 with an Enphase M250 micro-inverter) for the best price possible.

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

At the Gabriola Island Farmers' Market this coming Saturday

Sweet Spot Solar will be at the Farmers' Market this Saturday on Gabriola Island to answer questions about solar power. We will have new equipment to showcase, and can do a pre-screening of your property's solar potential using your address and satellite data. See you then!




Why Continuing Education Is Important

This morning our team of sales associates is participating in an online training session from Quick Mount PV on new mounting technologies. It's great to keep up on changes in the field so that we can provide the best knowledge and product to you. We are exploring specifically rail-free systems.



Friday, 15 July 2016

How Much Sunlight Does Get BC Get?

To understand better how solar works in British Columbia, it's useful to look at some charts and tables of seasonal variation and regional differences.
Below is a sunlight hour chart by month based upon current data for the Central Vancouver Island region. The lighter colour band shows sunrise and sunset times by month.


The following tables also show differences in annual sunshine hours across the province. Worth noting is that places like Kamloops (often perceived as very hot and sunny compared to Nanaimo or Vancouver) has 2080 sunshine hours/year while Nanaimo has 1940 sunshine hours/year. This is less than a 6.7% difference! An extra solar module or two can make up the shortfall quite easily.



Germany - a solar powerhouse in terms of installed capacity - has less sunshine hours in its southern region than Nanaimo (with one exception) and many parts of BC.



Thursday, 14 July 2016

Solar The Green Alternative

On May 7, 2015, Sweet Spot Solar's President Michael Mehta was asked to give a talk on solar power at an important milestone event in Nanaimo about the technology and how it has changed. You can watch the talk and other speakers here.



The Sun Shines In Mysterious Places

Dean Shock's dog Ted was very happy with the results of his free solar site assessment today. He was under a lifelong impression that the sun didn't shine back there. For your free assessment go to www.sweetspotsolar.comor contact us at info@sweetspotsolar.com



Only two weeks left to take advantage of our special offer

Sweet Spot Solar has just sold another 1 kW Solar-Ready Plus array. There will be two of these systems going up in Nanaimo in the next week or two. Don't miss out on this special offer!



Finding The Sweet Spot For The Size Of Your Array Is Easy

When you hit the sweet spot for system size you will start to see this pattern between early Spring and late Fall. It's like a musical score. Yesterday this SSS 15 module system powered a larger house and created a -2.5 kWh total. A credit in other words.



Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Solar Power Has Changed A Lot In Recent Years

"Solar costs have dropped so much that today it’s possible to generate all or most of a home’s electricity—for decades to come—for about the purchase price of a new economy car."

This article from Consumer Reports provides some context to how and why solar has changed over the past several decades.

With Sweet Spot Solar you too can be part of this transformation at an affordable price with high-quality equipment.

Sunday, 10 July 2016

A small taste of how Sweet Spot Solar got started

Sweet Spot Solar officially opened its doors for business on June 21, 2016.

On June 21, 2013 founder Michael Mehta did an interview with CBC on how communities like Gabriola Island can embrace a renewable energy future and become part of the "electrovore movement."

He subsequently brought together people to form what soon became a non-profit called GabEnergy.

Michael's history with energy goes back to the late 1980s. He has been a Director of several large utilty companies, and is a Professor who teaches courses on renewable energy.

He also leads a new project called the Solar Compass - Canada's first solar road!

Here's a clip from the 2013 CBC interview that helped get our community to where it is today with solar power.


Saturday, 9 July 2016

Solar is also about community and capacity building: It creates local jobs

One of the goals of Sweet Spot Solar is to work with local trades people across the province. On Gabriola Island we are proud to have an established electrician and a home builder as partners.
Our home builder is willing to custom-build wooden ground mounts like this for you. For example, a mount that will hold 15 modules (five in a row in portrait mode, stacked three rows tall) can be built for around $650.00 (labour and materials included)!


Thursday, 7 July 2016

Tracking The Sun Can Generate Up To 40% More Electricity

Like candies in a sweet shop, solar applications come in several different flavours, kinds, packages and sizes. For larger power users, community groups, farms, and commercial projects where land is available, you should consider this utility-scale dual axis tracker. This tracker is rated at 12 kW in size but its ability to track the sun throughout the day, and to shift its angle by time of year, means that is can produce 40% more electricity than stationary solar modules. Sweet Spot Solar is a dealer for the Titan Sentry tracker through our supplier. These trackers follow the sun just like a sun flower! They tilt vertically when snow load is detected and go table top flat with high winds to prevent damage.



Here's a short video of this system.



Wednesday, 6 July 2016

Solar - One Door At A Time

Don't be surprised if you find one of these on your doors. It means that one of our sales associates has noticed that your property is solar ready.



Tuesday, 5 July 2016

Keeping Solar Modules Clean Is Easy

It's a good idea to keep solar modules clean of major obstructions like bird droppings and heavy pollen loads. They will still perform well when dirty but if these obstructions accumulate over time, a decline in performance will result. Solar modules should never be washed with harsh chemicals or a pressure washer. Liquid dish soap in a bucket of warm water with a squeegee is all you need. You can do this yourself or have a window washer take care of them. Here's Tim and Stu cleaning windows and ready to tackle solar modules as well.



Monday, 4 July 2016

Free site assessment of your property by Sweet Spot Solar

Not sure if solar is right for you and your property? Sweet Spot Solar is pleased to offer free site assessments. We are doing several on Gabriola Island this week but there is room for more if you're interested.

Sunday, 3 July 2016

What Is The Financial Return On Solar?

A lot of people ask us about the economics of putting together their own solar array. There are two ways to look at financial returns from solar arrays.
The first involves using an industry-wide approach called levellized cost. All utility companies use this model when making decisions about investing in a generating asset, and given the long life of solar arrays (likely more than 30 years), the logic makes sense here too.
Levellized cost is the cost per unit of electricity (kWh) produced over the lifetime of the asset. It is calculated by taking the total cost of the asset (including maintenance and financing, if required) and dividing it by the power produced over a 25 or 30 year period.
For example, a 10 kW array will produce at this latitude around 12,000 kWh/year and could be installed for $30,000 or less depending on how much work the client does.
For 25 year calculation: 12,000 kWh X 25 years = 300,000 kWh. $30,000/300,000 = electricity locked in at 10 cents/kWh
For 30 year calculation: 12,000 kWh X 30 years = 360,000 kWh. $30,0000/360,000 = electricity locked in at 8.3 cents/kWh
This does not include financing, but a lot of people on their term investments etc are only generating 1% per year return or less yet continue to pay high electricity bills. Increases in rates will not affect people with arrays, and in fact as rates increase the financials of your array get better every year! You'll be screaming... bring on the rate increases.
The second approach involves looking at projected rate increases to calculate money saved on bills each year. This can be extrapolated (even assuming a modest 1% rate increase by BC Hydro). At current rates, a 10 kW array for a client using 12,000 kWh/hour (BC average) will save this year $1200.00. It goes up every year with rate increases, and when time of day pricing is eventually introduced (which will happen sooner than most realize), the savings will build. We have put together cost-effective arrays that can pay for themselves completely in 12-15 years.
We don't like the second approach since it doesn't really work for these kinds of assets. We never ask how much our car will return on investment. In fact, we know that it simply depreciates.
To learn more and to get a free site assessment/quote from Sweet Spot Solar, contact us at info@sweetspotsolar.com

Toward An Understanding Of How Net Metering Works On A Hourly Basis

To expand this example of net metering, you should note a few things from this hour by hour breakdown of consumption and production on a day when a credit of 4 kWh was generated.
Between midnight and 7AM the solar modules were not producing. You'll see that on a hourly basis this house used around 500 Watts or 0.5 kWh/hour for background functions like running refrigrators, water purifiers, standby loads for television/computers etc. We'll call this the baseline. With no additional loads like dishwashers, dryers, electronics on, this house will use at least 12 kWh/day (.5x24).
The solar array kicked in around 8AM and by 9AM it began to generate credit. In other words, it produced more than the house needed. That band of credit between 9AM and 5PM was enough to create an overall credit for the day.
A key goal with net metering is to create enough rolling credit in Spring, Summer, and Fall to offset power consumption and lower production during the Winter. This is why we don't need batteries on grid-tie arrays like this.


A Net Metering Example

Here's a simple example from this week of how net metering works from one of our medium-sized (15 module) arrays. On July 1 this house consumed 4 kWh for the day, and on July 2 it generated a credit of 4 (the -4) in the chart. Total consumption for the billing period so far = 0



Friday, 1 July 2016

What If My Roof Just Can't Work?

Happy Canada Day from Sweet Spot Solar. Not everyone has the right roof or house placement to make solar work. Fortunately there exists other options like ground mounting. Sweet Spot Solar can provide you with two high-quality and affordable approaches to make this happen. Take a look at this slick pole mounted approach. We can get pole mounts like this accommodate 4, 6, 8, 10, or 12 modules. These mounts start at $1150.00. We can also use a second ground mounted approach for 10 or 12 modules. They start at $1540.00



Thursday, 30 June 2016

How does solar work with BC Hydro's net metering program

BC Hydro makes it very easy to connect your solar array to their network. With Net Metering your smart meter is constantly calculating how much power you are making and how much your home is using. If you produce more than you use from your solar array a rolling credit is generated. In a sense, you are selling back power to the utility company.

To learn more about this program click here.

When you buy solar equipment from Sweet Spot Solar, we help you complete this application and get everything lined up easily and quickly.

Here's a good video to explain how everything comes together.


Wednesday, 29 June 2016

What If My Roof Faces East-West?

If your roof is facing East-West, you can also do solar in most instances by being creative. Here's a simple, low-cost, and extremely strong racking system we developed two years ago. The roof shown is pitched East-West but the modules are mounted perpindicular to the pitch in a Southerly direction. The angle can be adjusted by using different lengths for the rear supporting bars. This allows us to work with existing obstructions. In this case, trees in the backyard and in neighbours yards can be worked around by adjusting the angle of the module to be a little flatter. This only reduces overall production by a few percentage points on an annual basis.



Can Solar Work On A North Facing Roof?

Here's a well-written and informative article about how solar output varies by which way your roof faces. Most people automatically assume that if their south-facing roof is obstructed by trees or other things, that they can't do solar. Depending upon the pitch of your roof and other factors, other orientations can work well too. With the low-cost of equipment provided by Sweet Spot Solar it might just simply be a matter of adding a few more panels to make up any loses compared to having a true south facing roof.

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Solar Powered Pergola Or Awning

Here's an idea for a solar pergola. Costco will reduce the 12'x16' OLT Breeze Pergola by $1000 between July 4-17. Sweet Spot Solar can sell you a system of 12 modules for a 3.2 kW array to fit on top of this. Keep cool in the shade and provide 3500 kWh/year for your house. OK, the pergola isn't really powered... but it will power your house.

We can also have a local carpentar build something for you to fit your property and budget.

What's in a name? Sweet Spot Solar

A lot of people have asked us about the inspiration for our name. The sweet spot can mean different things to different people, and it often refers to several of them at the same time.

For some, the sweet spot is finding the right sized system to help meet financial goals. We will design you a system to cut your power bill down to zero, a larger system to create some income, a medium sized system to keep you out of Step 2 electrical pricing where you pay a 50% premium to your utility company, or a small system (like our Solar-Ready Plus 1 kW to help you get started). 

The sweet spot for others can be symbolic and a demonstration to your family, neighbours, community, and future generations that you are doing the "right thing" by supporting locally-produced renewable electricity. 

The sweet spot can also refer to the location on your property where solar potential is the best. We'll help you find that sweet spot with ease.

There's one more reason why we call ourselves Sweet Spot Solar... because it's fun. Solar doesn't have to be all techie and have company names that sound like equipment you would find in a lab.  

If you play tennis, golf, or baseball... you're already aware of what happens when the sweet spot is hit. Wham... a perfect return, drive and home run.

The Sweet Spot Solar Company is about educating and informing people on how to hit that sweet spot. Of course, we would also love to design and sell you some top-of-the-line of equipment too. Working with the sun is not difficult and it's something we've had to do since the dawn of our time as a species.

Here's some fresh cinnamon buns cooked with the sun in a sun oven in less than 30 minutes. Working with solar is easy, fun, and now affordable.



Saturday, 25 June 2016

Our Solar-Ready Plus 1 kW Array

For many people, solar power at home is too expensive and it is sometimes seen as complicated or requiring significant modifications to your house.

Sweet Spot Solar has changed all of that with our special Solar-Ready Plus 1 kW array. This four module, 1 kW micro-array is a starter kit that has plenty of power and built-in room for expansion up to 17 modules - for a generous 4.42 kW array. That's like strapping a 4400 Watt generator onto your roof!

This starter kit won't power your whole house or allow you to generate any credit by itself, but it is the foundation for a larger array.

The Solar-Ready Plus 1 kW array will be installed fully by a licensed electrician with all permits and approval from BC Hydro to sell power back to them through the Net Metering program.

It's so simple that it can be put together in three steps.

Step 1. Four solar modules are attached to your roof securely and in a weather-proof way. 



Step 2. A junction box is placed with connection to those four modules, plus room for future expansion. This is what we mean by Solar-Ready Plus. You could add up to 13 more modules on this same line and junction box. TEK cable connects the junction box right into your breaker box, and it could look like this or be tucked away depending on your house.



Step 3. A 20 Amp double breaker is used to connect the array from the TEK cable directly. Nothing else in your house, and simple. Your entire house is now ready to work with solar and the grid simultaneously. This can even be connected to any other breaker box or sub-panel to the same meter, and provide power to the entire property on that meter.



Orders for this special system are now being placed. Don't miss out on the solar revolution.