Cut Out The Middle Man

By Neal Collier

Utility power began with a fight between AC and DC systems. Thomas Edison promoted DC distribution.  His ex-employee Nikolai Tesla, the real Tesla, came up with the AC system for George Westinghouse.  Both sides advertised how dangerous the other way was!  What a way to promote a new industry!

Power stations were not the huge plants of today.  They’d be tucked into a building on a corner and lines would run out a few blocks in each direction.  There was no grid.  The first microgrids?

DC lost out because you just couldn’t send it very far without a voltage drop.  AC could counter the drop with transformers to boost the voltage.  With this extended range,  The power plants could be bigger and send the wires out further.  Plants were also interconnected and the grid was born, making for more reliable power…except for country folks.

Country folks had to make their own electricity, usually using a gas generator like the Delco Light Plant, a Jacobs or Wincharger windmill, using battery for storage, or even a small hydro plant. Henry Ford had a hydro plant on his estate.  These systems were the forerunners of the independent power plants you and I are building with the clean and quiet solar systems.  They fell by the wayside when the Rural Electric Administration began subsidizing power cooperatives for the rural areas.

The power companies started dabbling with solar when they saw how many of their customers were adding solar.  Prices dropped and then solar became cheaper to build and WAY cheaper to produce power, even when they had to buy batteries, which are now all the rage.  The power companies began building solar farms.  Then they started a campaign to discourage or even prevent US from building solar capability for ourselves.  Recent power industry sources now openly admit this.

Here is something a little funny, though.  They seem to be on the verge of dismantling the grid system, at least on a small scale. Recently, an Australian power company was faced with upgrading a line to the boonies.  Instead, they cut that project and installed small solar plants at the far end of the line.  The customers saw no difference and the power company both saved money and still retained control of the power.  You have to wonder why the ranchers didn’t just make their own solar plants and be done with power bills.  Closer to home, a long line in the Appalachians avoided an upgrade by adding battery.  This morning, I see a report that ConEd, Mr. Edison’s company, is working on alternatives to upgrading lines that are struggling under peak conditions.  It won’t surprise me if they eventually add solar in the mix.  Puerto Rico’s thoroughly screwed up system seems to be moving to solar and microgrids.

So, the question is, if the power company admits that solar is the way to go and solar is cheaper than conventional generation, why isn’t everybody doing it?  Probably because of the upfront costs or maybe the word just hasn’t gotten out that the upfront costs aren’t that bad.  John’s sales guys have payback examples for their package systems.  Take a look and you may decide it is time to cut out the middleman, or at least have some backup and independence in the event of a utility power failure.  My lights don’t go out.  Ever.  Not for 25 years.  NICE.

Screw it and Let that crap go.

Check this out on YouTube.

Warning it’s not vulgar but it’s great therapy.

Don’t read it if your afraid of seeing the F word.

It’s for people who can understand how swearing can be away to release stress and to let things go among other things.

I will always work with you to lower your price so please call me or Roberto and we will give you a deal you can refuse. Latest worlds lowest price panel deals are on Astronergy, Sunpower and Suniva. See below.

Warboard solar panels sale

Astronergy 305 watts Qty: 10 containers FOB Miami  $.33/w  pallet price      

Suniva B grade 275 watts      Qty:27  pcs             FOB Chicago   $.29/w            Last Pallet 

Suniva B grade 280 watts        Qty: 1625 pcs         FOB Chicago   $.29/w           FOB Miami $.32/w   

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Suniva B grade 285 watts        Qty: 25 pcs             FOB Chicago   $.29/w              Last Pallet 

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Suniva B grade 325 watts        Qty: 44 pcs                 FOB Chicago    $.32/w             two pallets left 

Suniva B grade 325 watts        Qty: 22 pcs                 FOB Chicago    $.32/w             Last pallet

Suniva B grade 330 watts        Qty: 264pcs                FOB Chicago   $.32/w           FOB Miami  $.35/w

Suniva B grade 335  watts       Qty:682pcs                 FOB Chicago   $.32/w            FOB Miami  $.35/w            

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      GCL          330w             QTY:1,066 pcs      pallet  QTY: 26       FOB NC   $.40/w  FOB Miami $.45/w

Seraphin   280w         QTY:728pcs          pallet QTY: 28         FOB NJ    $.42/w  FOB Miami $.48/w

Boviet      350w            QTY:702pcs          pallet QTY: 26         FOB  NC  $.39/w  FOB Miami$.46/w

REC           335w              QTY:184pcs          pallet QTY: 30     FOB NJ $.42/W   FOB Miami   $.48/w

REC          345w               QTY:120pcs       pallet QTY: 30         FOB NJ  $.42/W    FOB Miami  $.50/w

Canadian Solar 305w   QTY135pcs      pallet QTY :27       FOB NJ   $.50/w FOB Miami $.58/w

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Trina max  350w          QTY:108pcs         pallet QTY:27     FOB  NJ  $.49/w    FOB Miami  $.57/w

Heliene 255w                QTY:108pcs         pallet QTY:26          FOB NJ    $.49/w   FOB Miami  $.58/w Hanwa 305w              QTY:350pcs          pallet QTY:25      FOB NC    $.38/w FOB Miami  $.42/w 

                     

 

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SUN POWER 305 watts Qty: 525  entire lot $.29/wFOB NJ

First Solar 105watts  Qty:950 entire lot only  $.40/wFOB NC

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GCL  335  watts  Qty: 5,980   container only  $.39/wFOB CA

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Yingli  325 watts  Qty: 8736 by  container only  $.37/w FOB NJ

Hanwa qcells   385 watts  Qty: 1,800 container only $.52/w DDP

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Trina       185 watts     $.26/w   per watt  qty: 290 pcs 

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Solar Park  250 watts    $.235/w per watt   qty: 630 pcs

ET Solar 265 watts      $.337/w   per watt  qty: 240 pcs

Note this solar modules are for exports only , we ship to any bonded warehouse ,verify whit your shippers if they received bonded merchandise ,additional charges apply for clearance of the products.

 

 

 

 

 

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SONALI SOLAR SS-260 IN STOCK QTY:728 PCS OUR COST  $.26 PER WATT CIF

SONALI SOLAR SS-275 IN STOCK QTY:728  PCS OUR COST $.26 PER WATT CIF

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Solar powered honey dipper.

John,
 
Solar everything, even the honey dipper!  If you spend much time around boats you know that you can’t just flush overboard.  The holding tank has to be pumped out on occasion. Now there is a solar-powered roving pump station.
 
 
In my opinion, they got this wrong.  There is way too much motor on this thing, probably because it was set up by the motor maker.  Or maybe they can actually get that rig up on a plane, for speedy service.  Torqeedos have a fair reputation if you can tolerate the noise they make.  Where it is underpowered is up top.  They are going to have to plug this thing in at night if they use it much or if it has to travel very far.  It is a FREE service for boaters and won’t use any gas, so I shouldn’t be too critical.
 
Neal

Another one bites the dust

Hi John,

While I generally support Trump’s trade negotiations with China, I agree with you that we should end the solar tariff.  You just can’t make money building modules, so let the Chinese take the loss.  They don’t really understand the need for profit, anyway!

https://www.pv-magazine.com/2019/02/12/rec-silicon-to-suspend-production-at-moses-lake-poly-factory/

https://www.pv-magazine.com/2019/02/11/investor-search-for-solarworld-failed-module-factory-to-be-auctioned-off/

Kinda makes you wonder how all these new solar farms are going to be built.

Neal

Write to the government.

Hi John,
 
Last time I came down to Miami, I went through the Panhandle at night.  I could not really see the hurricane damage, except for the trees that were cut off even with the edge of the road and the signs saying that the rest areas were closed.  Friday, I went through there for a family day in Georgia.  The right-of-way is pretty well clear, but work crews are hard at it, getting out the damaged timber.  Some people still don’t have a new roof!  This is over a distance of maybe 60 miles, with some areas looking like they were carpet-bombed.  Even mile markers were blown away.  I think it is 4 rest areas that were decapitated and still out of commission.  This is well inland from the coast.
 
I keep wondering what it would take to get a big push for solar in those towns, like Chipley, Marianna and Chattahoochee, as well as the coastal communities.  I found this http://solarpowernola.com/ about New Orleans, which is huge on solar power.  It seems they had some help with “programs.”  That’s personal rooftop solar, too, not corporate farms.  Whatever they did needs to happen here in Florida!  Somebody with some clout needs to get the ball rolling.  Any ideas?
 
Neal

Half cut cell panels

Half Cut Solar Panels: Higher Efficiency & Better Shade Tolerance

half-cut panel and installer

Don’t let a half-cut solar installer install your half-cut solar panels.

Silicon solar cells of the type now used for almost every residential solar installation in Australia have been around for a long time.  They are 64 years old.  This makes them same age as nuclear power generation.  They’ve come a long way since they were first made at Bell Labs in the United States.  Originally they were only able to convert around 6% of the energy in sunlight into electrical energy but now the most efficient solar panels on the market manage 22%.

Unfortunately, the days of large improvements in efficiency have long been over.  Now we only see small incremental improvements and one of these in use that will be much more common in the future are panels that use half cut solar cells.

Luckily, explaining what half cut solar cells are doesn’t involve complex scientific explanations involving quantum mechanics.  They are literally normal solar cells that have been cut in half.  Instead of having 60 solar cells, as most panels put on roofs do, they have 120 half sized ones.  This results in lower electrical resistance that improves efficiency.  An additional benefit is half cut panels resist the effects of shade better than standard solar panels.  This isn’t directly due to the cells being cut in half but because of the way they are wired together.

While the increase in efficiency is only small, several large manufacturers are convinced modern production techniques make half cut solar cell panels worthwhile.  At the moment REC Solar‘s TwinPeak panels are the only half cut ones widely available in Australia, but with many large manufacturers either starting to produce them or planning to we will soon be spoiled for choice.

How They Work

If you cut a solar cell in half it will produce half as much current and one fourth as much resistance.  But you’ll have twice as many of them so, if they are wired up to operate like a standard solar panel, you will have the same current but with half the resistance.  This lower resistance reduces electrical losses and improves panel efficiency.

But it’s not that simple because there will also be twice as many connections that will have their own resistance as well.  All up, the decreased electrical losses can increase the output of a panel by up to 3% over what it would be with full size cells.  That’s enough to bump a panel from 18% efficiency to 18.5%.  In terms of panel wattage, it will increase a 300 watt panel to 309 watts.

Shade Tolerance

A conventional solar panel typically contains sixty 0.5V solar cells wired up in series. Voltages add in series, so the solar panel operates at 30V.

Solar cell wiring

If half cut cells were wired together as in a standard panel, they would produce half the current and twice the voltage.  This would not be appreciated by installers using normal solar inverters or trying to stay within Australian standards for residential solar voltage.

Half cut solar cells wired in series

To make them operate like standard panels they are wired together differently. There are 2 lots of sixty series-connected cells that operate at 30V each. These two 30V halves are then connected in parallel. Voltages in parallel stay the same, so the panel remains at the standard 30V.

half cut solar cells wired in parallel

Instead of having 3 panel cell-strings like a standard solar panel, the half cut panel has 6 panel cell strings making it a 6 string panel.  Thanks to bypass diodes (shown in red below), one small spot of shade on a panel, caused by say a leaf or bird poop, will knock one entire cell string out of action, but not affect the others. Because the half-cut panel has more strings, the effect of partial shade is less severe.

On a roof without shade in an area where the birds are not particularly incontinent, this will make very little difference in overall generation, probably less than 1%, but that’s still an advantage.  On a roof with a significant amount of shading I would expect a modest improvement in output.  But it won’t be great because shade is basically solar panel kryptonite.

3 string solar panel

A regular solar panel has 3 cell-strings, each of which can be bypassed with a (red) bypass-diode. One shaded cell will shut down one-third of the panel.

 

half cut panel cell arrangement

A half cut solar panel has 6 separate cell-strings (but only 3 bypass diodes), offering better partial-shade tolerance. If half of the panel is shaded (e.g the LHS), the other half can still operate.

Hot Spots Not So Hot?

When one solar cell in a panel cell string is shaded, all the preceding unshaded cells can dump the energy they produce into the first shaded shaded cell as heat.  This creates a hot spot that can potentially damage the solar panel if it lasts for a long time.  Twice as many panel cell strings means only half as much heat, but as the shaded cell only has half the area to radiate heat as a normal cell, I’m not sure there will be much of an improvement.  But the decreased total amount of heat produced should be less damaging to the panel so there is likely to be an improvement in resistance to hot spot damage.

Split Junction Box

Standard solar panels have one junction box that cables come out of located on the back of the panel near the top. Panels with half cut solar cells can have junction boxes that are split into three, as you can see in this picture of a REC Twinpeak half cut panel. The middle box is for the middle bypass diode.

REC TwinPeak half cut solar panel

At first I thought that since the junction box, or boxes, were in the middle of the panel it made no difference which way up it was installed.  But then I was reminded that one cable is positive and the other is negative and it’s probably best not to confuse them.  While there is enough length in the cables to cross them over if necessary, the thought of doing that gives me the creeps.  It is not an elegant solution.

More Resistant To Heat?

I have read that half cut cells are more resistant to the effects of heat and so won’t suffer as much of a decrease in efficiency when they get hot.  And they will get hot if they have been installed properly, which is outside in the sun.  But this may just be the result of the slightly higher efficiency of half cut panels causing more more sunlight energy to be converted into electricity and less into heat.  Looking at solar panel datasheets I can’t clearly see better heat tolerance compared to standard panels of similar efficiency.  As information on more half cut panels becomes available I might be able to arrive at a conclusion.

Half Cut Panel Disadvantages

Half cut panels aren’t new.  They’ve probably been around ever since someone accidentally broke some cells and decided to wire them together anyway.  Solar cells used to be incredibly expensive so it must have happened a long time ago.

But despite having some advantages, panels with half cut solar cells also had some disadvantages that prevented them from being put into widespread production until now.  These problems were:

  1.  Higher cost
  2.  Twice the potential for soldering defects
  3.  Internal cell defects become doubly dangerous

Higher Cost

Half cut panels have the expense of cutting solar cells in half with a “laser”.

The laser that is used doesn’t even cut all the way through.  It only puts a groove in the cell and then it’s snapped in two.  This is apparently cheaper than just using a bigger laser.