How Power Companies Spend Your Money

Whenever you open your wallet to pay for a product, it is usually after you made sure that what you are buying is well worth the price. Why is the price low or high? Does it align with your ideas about the cost of resources that go into manufacturing the product? Is there any way to get the same quality cheaper?
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Tampa Solar Panel Installation Experts MC2 Solar Continuously Evolving with Improvement of Technology

MC2 Solar -Tampa Solar Panel Installation Experts-May 2016The owners, Keith Allman and Greg Gary, who have been running and overseeing successful businesses for more than 15 years, concur that their Florida-based MC2 Solar is an organization comprised of Tampa solar panel installation experts boasting a myriad of experience to their credit. With a proven record of accomplishment and a formidable reputation in the industry, MC2 Solar operates by a mantra that suggests “honesty in the only policy,” its representatives committing themselves to completing all projects within the timeline set by clients. The company has also evolved with the ongoing improvement of technology in the solar sector, utilizing the best of that technology as well as tools to ensure that all projects exude a sense of redefining attention to every conceivable detail.

“The rapid improvement in solar technology and the freefall in costs since early 2009 have transformed this industry,” says Allman. “Systems that were completely unaffordable or downright impractical just two years ago are now considered cost-effective; yet, it is not just costs that have changed – the solar panels that are available today are smaller, more effective and more robust than ever before. Additionally, efficiency levels are improving, notably in poor lighting conditions, as is product quality, as customers demand better product with longer warranty periods. When all these improvements are taken into consideration, it’s really no surprise that solar is making such great leaps forward, and we are thrilled to evolve with this landscape…a landscape that regularly proves how solar is the best and most cost-effective way to generate electricity.”

Allman and other MC2 solar panel installation experts point to research that suggests technology and the industry will continue to evolve at a similar pace over the coming years. In the next three years, to be more exact, it is believed that solar will become the cheapest way of generating electricity available, with many homes likely to see solar energy incorporated into more and more everyday objects such as laptop computers, mobile phones – even clothing. Meanwhile, far away from Florida, solar energy may perhaps cause a revolution for large areas of Asia and Africa, where entire communities currently have no access to electricity at all.

“While we concentrate on helping our Florida-based client roster, we’re well aware of how solar technology is evolving around the world,” adds Gary. “Even large-scale solar projects – entire solar power stations, capable of generating many megawatts of electricity – are now becoming feasible, with the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, and Mexico good examples of how photovoltaic power stations have been generating electricity for entire towns. In Spain, new giant thermo-solar power stations have devised new ways of not only generating electricity during the day but storing the sun’s energy so that it can be used for generating electricity overnight…and that is indeed something special.”

In the U.S., solar power that is clean, reliable and increasingly affordable is experiencing remarkable growth, with experts such as those associated with MC2 Solar pointing out solar power’s ability to generate electricity with no global warming pollution, no fuel costs and no risks of fuel price spikes. In fact, industry insiders such as Allman and Gary go so far to say that solar has the potential to help move the country toward cleaner, reliable and affordable sources of electricity.

Small-scale solar photovoltaic systems, typically on rooftops, account for the majority of solar installations while large-scale PV systems and concentrating solar power (CSP) setups constitute the majority of solar’s overall electricity-generating capacity,” both Allman and Gary conclude. “All three are undergoing rapid growth, and given the abundance of sunshine across the country – notably in our home state of Florida – solar power has the potential to supply a significant amount of electricity that is both environmentally and economically attractive. That’s something we have absolutely no problem evolving along with.”

Solar Power Systems Protect Homeowners from Ever-Increasing Energy Rates and Add Value to Their Properties

Beyond the enMC2 Solar April 2016 Blog Image 2MC2 Solar April 2016 Blog Imagevironmental benefits of having a home solar power system installed, many homeowners choose this solution as a way to dramatically decrease electricity expenses. Power bills are the one certitude of the modern world, and the constant increase in electricity rates is not likely to put any financially minded homeowner’s mind to rest.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the national average price for electricity rose for the last three years and is expected to follow the same upward trend for 2016. Regional extreme weather events (such as the 2014 Polar Vortex hitting the Eastern U.S.) or the effect of related shortages (such as insufficient gas pipelines, as it happened in Massachusetts) can cause drastic spikes in electricity costs. In such an environment, investing in solar electricity protects a home or business owners from unpleasant surprises.

Installing solar panels have an immediate effect on the mighty power bill. Homeowners can see the decrease in electricity expenses starting with the first month of using solar energy. Even better, depending on how large the solar power system is, it is possible that the power bill can be totally eliminated. In addition, the savings are likely to increase with the rise in electricity prices, making the gap between these and the actual expenses consistently larger.

But equally important is the fact that, while homeowners can count on ever-rising electricity costs, they can also expect falling costs for solar panels. This is largely due to the continuous growth of the solar electricity industry and the advances in energy technology and in the efficiency of solar cells. It is a winning equation for the financially savvy homeowners with a taste for certainty when it comes to their bills.

In short, the return on investment for solar power systems steps into double-digit territory, with a possibility of recovering the upfront cost in its entirety in as little as 6.5 years. But there is another return on investment that homeowners who choose such renewable energy resources have the right to expect. Solar power systems dramatically increase the value of a house, approaching or reaching a 100% ROI. When the house is in an environmentally minded community, the opportunities for a satisfying sale are even better.

In order to correctly appreciate the value of this investment, homeowners have only to consider that, according to the 2016 Cost vs. Value Report, home improvements such as midrange or upscale bathroom additions or composite deck additions bring a return on investment of only 56-57%. They may find that, when it comes down to hard numbers, priorities have a way of redefining themselves, and solar panels may become more appealing than the upscale master suite they dream of.

When the value of the house increases on top of already major energy savings, it is a promising scenario, whether homeowners intend to keep or sell their property. So if you are considering adding to the value of your home and to the power of your wallet, and if you are looking for low-cost solar panel installation in Tampa, give us a call. We will find the best solution for your home and we will put you on your way to start saving.


MC2 Solar Now Offers a Superior Battery to the Tesla Battery for Residential Solar Power


Without batteries, solar panel systems would be, at most, inconsistent sources of energy. Due to the changing nature of solar power, generous during sunny days and nonexistent at night, batteries are needed to regulate this cycle. These batteries store electricity when solar energy is at its peak and discharge it when needed.

Big-brand batteries such asScreenshot_2 Tesla’s Powerwall have become well-known for doing just that. However, the Tesla battery is not by any means the end of the road in terms of battery quality, nor when it comes to flexibility. This field is a highly innovative one and a better product is always on the horizon. We are now offering our clients such a product – the Enphase AC battery, a perfect choice for residential solar power systems and one that wins on many fronts when compared to Tesla’s battery.

First, here are the details. Enphase is an AC-coupled battery, a safer option that means that no high-voltage DC passes through the system. Due to its lithium iron phosphate chemistry, Enphase has a long cycle life and charges fast. Its round trip cell efficiency of 96% ensures minimal energy waste, while the 95% depth of discharge means efficient and reliable usage. These numbers are important when trying to couple the best solar panels with the best way of storing energy.

While the Powerwall has its definite advantages, one of them being its bigger power output, these advantages are coupled with harder things to swallow. A heftier upfront price that means serious upfront commitment, lack of flexibility in adapting to your specific consumption needs, difficulty of installation and considerable weight are only a few of the things that may make you look at other alternatives.

Enphase counteracts many of these disadvantages. At a mere 55 pounds, the battery comes at a fifth of what Tesla weighs. The installation generally takes one person less than two hours, and the battery easily connects to the AC wiring found in most homes.

But it is when this ease of installation combines with the modular construction of the Enphase battery that you get the formula most homeowners need. It happens often that prospective residential solar panels owners are not sure about their future energy consumption and would prefer to advance cautiously in order to find a scenario that works for them. If you are one of them, the Enphase battery allows you to get no more than what you need and avoid waste. If your energy needs grow in time, another Enphase battery can be installed in a simple plug-and-play manner, which keeps installation costs under control and allows for maximum flexibility. These may dramatically reduce the upfront costs in case you prefer to gradually add to your storage system.

While Powerwall can be installed only on compatible solar systems, Enphase works on any existing solar system and residential solar panels, with any brand of inverter. Finally, if incompatibilities are the bug of the modern technological world, this is not the case with Enphase batteries. With an Enphase software that controls the battery and all energy production and consumption, there are less chances of conflicts than with Powerwall that uses outside control software. The Enphase Enlighten monitoring software is a fully integrated management system that allows you to make smart decisions and use your energy efficiently.

How Africa’s fastest solar power project is lighting up Rwanda

By David Smith via The Guardian.

“Arise, shine for your light has come,” reads a sign at the entrance to the first major solar power farm in east Africa.

The 8.5 megawatt (MW) power plant in Rwanda is designed so that, from a bird’s-eye view, it resembles the shape of the African continent. “Right now we’re in Somalia,” jokes Twaha Twagirimana, the plant supervisor, during a walkabout of the 17-hectare site.

The plant is also evidence, not only of renewable energy’s increasing affordability, but how nimble it can be.  The $23.7M  solar field went from contract signing to construction to connection in just a year, defying skeptics of Africa’s ability to realize projects fast.



What happens when I need new shingles?

I have a home with 10 year old asphalt shingles, 3-tab that have an average lifespan of 15 to 18 years but they are dark in color which shortens this. If I am planning for a ROI of 10 years, that’s just about the time I will be needing a new roof. How do roofers install new shingles “around” my new solar panels?

Morocco to build world’s largest concentrated solar power plant

By Milena Veselinovic from CNN.

It may be famous for its meandering medinas and the scenic Atlas Mountains, but Morocco might soon make its name as a solar superpower.

The north-western African nation is building the world’s biggest concentrated solar power plant, which will supply electricity to 1.1 million Moroccans by 2018, according to the World Bank.

The plant is being constructed in a 30 square kilometer area outside the city of Ouarzazate, on the fringe of the Sahara desert, famous as the filming location of Hollywood blockbusters like “Lawrence of Arabia” and “Gladiator,” and the TV series “Game of Thrones.”

The first phase, titled Noor 1, will be operational in the next few weeks, according to officials.

“Morocco stands at the forefront of climate-friendly policies in the region,” Inger Andersen, World Bank Regional Vice President for the Middle East and North Africa, says in a report.

“The country is well positioned to benefit from its head-start at a time when other regional powers are beginning to think more seriously about their own renewable energy programs,” he adds.


Stand alone versus grid connected solar power systems

You’ve probably run into the terms “stand alone” and “grid connected” in the context of solar panel systems. These are important terms that define how the power you collect from the sun is transferred to your home. So what do these terms mean and which is better?

Let’s start out with grid connected systems. As the name implies, grid connected systems are connected to the local power grid allowing surplus energy collected by the panels to feed back into the grid. For example, if your family is on vacation on a sunny day and the lights and air conditioning are off in your home, you’re going to produce more energy than your house uses and that power will go into the grid. Energy companies will then deduct this power from your energy bill. When your house requires more power than the solar panels are collecting, that power is supplied by the grid. Furthermore, grid connected systems don’t store power; therefore, during the night, the power grid supplies 100% of the power.

In contrast, stand alone solar power systems aren’t connected to the power grid. Instead, they store power in the form of batteries, which are then fed directly into your house. Stand alone system’s independence from the power grid make them an attractive and popular option for remote houses where power grids are not available. However, if you’ve recently bought a pack of batteries you know that they’re not cheap. The high cost of batteries is the principle reason stand alone systems are so expensive.

Due to the high cost of stand alone systems, grid connected systems have become far more popular than stand alone systems in the last five years. It’s possible that stand alone systems will become more popular as the price of batteries decreases but until that happens, grid connected systems will remain the more popular option for buildings on the grid.

Backing up your grid-tied system with batteries

As we have discussed in the introductory pieces on solar, there are two principle kinds of solar systems: grid-tied and stand alone. Grid-tied systems are directly connected to the power grid and any energy that is collected is converted into AC by an inverter and supplied to your house or sold to the grid. Alternatively, stand alone systems supply power to batteries, which are then directly plugged into the house. A third kind of solar system is a combination of the two: grid-tied with a converter that can also feed into batteries. This alternative setup allows the solar owner to have more control over how and when their power is used. Let’s talk more about how this would work and why it may or may not make sense for a typical home owner.

One of the common questions asked by people new to solar systems is: do solar panels power the house when the power supplied by power lines goes off? If you are among the majority of solar panel owners with a grid-tied system, the answer is no. When the power grid goes down, so does the grid-tied solar system. The inverter, which is responsible for converting the DC power of the solar array to the AC power used by the house, goes down with the grid, thereby blocking the power from being used in any way. It could be the sunniest day of the year and it wouldn’t matter; all the energy collected by the panels wouldn’t be used without the inverter to convert the DC to AC.

One way to get around power outages is to use bidirectional inverters, which are capable of converting both to AC and DC. Essentially, they are capable of converting energy gathered by the sun to usable energy for the house (i.e., DC to AC) and energy from the grid to charge batteries (i.e., AC to DC).

Another benefit of bidirectional inverters and batteries is they allow you to decide when you buy energy from the grid versus when you sell energy back to the grid, which gives solar owners the potential to save money on tiered pricing. It basically comes down to using less power from the grid and selling more power back to the grid when you would be paying more per kWh for that energy. In some states, such as Hawaii, too many people are attempting to sell power back to the grid, which has prompted utility companies to disallow selling energy back to the grid. Even in these states, however, having a bidirectional inverter and a battery system allows you to decide when to buy the least amount of power. Once again, paying attention to the tiered system would allow you to save the most amount of money possible if you used your batteries most when the price of energy was the highest.

Although bidirectional converter and batteries are an attractive option, there are some important factors to consider before getting out your checkbook. The biggest deterrent for buying bidirectional inverters with battery storage is price. A typical inverter is thousands of dollars and the batteries are hundreds. A complete set of batteries with a standard bidirectional inverter would run for about $8,000. The battery life is mostly determined by the ambient temperature in which the battery resides. In a typical basement, the battery should last about a decade.

As battery technology improves, we may see the prevalence of battery systems increase. However, for now, the high cost will continue to deter many potential customers. Closely considering all the factors that go into the cost of energy where you live and your energy usage is important before pulling the trigger on a battery kit. If you would like to discuss your personal situation with a representative and figure out if buying such a system is in your best interest, give us a call. We’re happy to help.

Federal, state and local tax credits and rebates

Solar energy tax credits and rebates are offered at the local, state and federal levels to encourage homeowners to use renewable energy and lower their burden on the environment. The solar rebates help pay for a percentage of the cost of the systems, covering up to 30% of the cost. Furthermore, the federal government allow new solar system owners to deduct 30% of the cost of their solar system from their federal taxes.

The tax credits and rebates dramatically lower the cost of setting up a solar system, allowing more home owners to take advantage of the technology. The tax credits and rebates were made to reward early solar users to jump start the new technology. The incentive program is possible due to an allotted fund, which will eventually run out. Because this fund is finite, the tax credits and rebates are gradually going down as the fund is used up. That’s why it’s important to get with the program while the federal government will pay you to buy solar panels.

Contact us now to get the highest tax credit and rebate possible. By taking advantage of local, regional and federal funds, we guarantee we’ll find you the best deal possible!