Solar News

Sierra Pacific Congratulates KYOCERA Solar

Sierra Pacific would like to congratulate the team at KYOCERA Solar for their industry leading accomplishment. This 3rd party testing validates what we’ve come to know from personal experience with using and observing this product in operation. Reliable and proven performance, it’s the reason Sierra Pacific proudly offers KYOCERA solar products.

Read more here!

Kyocera Solar Modules Show Excellent Long-term Performance

Kyocera has recently announced results from an independent study conducted at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems which revealed very low output degradation (5%) of solar modules over a ten year period. Read more here.

Financing Solutions Surpasses $1 Billion

EGIA (Electric & Gas Industries Association) has just surpassed $1 billion in funded loans targeting upgrades and solar projects, conducted via their GEOSmart Financing. Utilizing special programs, they are able to offer these to some participating contractors. After reviewing various contractor focus groups and surveys, EGIA is better able to address both their needs and their customers.

EGIA is a national non-profit energy efficiency and renewable energy contractor association. For more information, visit www.egia.org

Why You Need To Calculate the Heat Load for Home Energy Assessments

You will need to calculate the heat load of your building before you install heating and cooling appliances in your space. This helps a lot in determining the type and quality of heating and cooling systems that will be appropriate for your house. While doing home repairs and remodeling, homeowners are encouraged to recalculate the heat load before installing or upgrading heating and cooling systems. Since these types of home improvement can alter the size and structure of spaces in a home, calculating heat loads is critical when making such changes.

A heat load refers to a scientific measure that is used to determine the amount of heat required to achieve a specific temperature. In other words, a heat load will determine what kind of heating system and how much energy it will likely use to heat certain spaces in your home.

Calculating the heat load for a particular building involves many variables, and Sacramento HVAC specialists offer several methods you can use to calculate the heat load for a given space. The accuracy of a technique depends on the ease with which the results can be obtained.

The space and the size of the area are critical factors when calculating the heating load of your structure. From this calculation a homeowner can decide whether to install a more reliable insulation material that will reduce the amount of heat loss. A smaller space will heat faster and use less energy, while a larger space might require a more powerful unit.

If you are concerned about your home’s heat load, you should note sources of heat loss such as windows, doors, rooms, and the amount of air coming from outside. Therefore, the more ventilation, the higher the heat load you will require. You can design your ventilation system to compensate for losses and reduce the amount of energy required to heat and cool your space.

Understanding the fundamentals of heat load is incredibly important when you are planning to lower your overall energy cost. Thus, the lifetime cost of maintaining a structure depends on the costs associated with heat loss. The more heat or cooling you lose, the more costly it will be to maintain your house… it could also lower the value of your house if you decide to sell. Fortunately, Sacramento HVAC specialists will use special methods to determine if your spaces are efficient and how they can be improved.

With the growing energy cost brought on by skyrocketing oil and fuel prices, homeowners are concerned about the amount of energy that are likely to consume. While there are several strategies you can use to cut down your annual energy cost, it can be tempting to just disconnect your heating and cooling systems to eliminate their impact on your energy bills. Of course, it would be far easier and more pleasant to determine ways in which you can decrease your energy costs and usage with the help of a trained professional rather than shivering and sweating your way through the year. You don’t need to pay a lot to live in a comfortable home.

When planning to overhaul current or install new heating and cooling systems, it is essential to contact qualified Sacramento HVAC specialists to help calculate the possible heating load and design of the system. We want you to live as comfortably as possible at a price you can afford.

What are the advantages of solar water heating versus tankless water heating?

In the last decade, the green energy industry has revolutionized the way homes heat, store and even use hot water. Rather than suffer the high utility bills of old conventional water heating systems more and more people are switching to solar water heating systems or tankless water heating systems. If you’re considering investing in a new water heating system, how do you know which is right for you? Each come with their own advantages and disadvantages so think carefully about your family’s needs.

Solar Water Heating:

There are two types of solar water heating systems: active and passive.

  • Active systems have circulating pump controls so that water that is collected in tanks is pump-circulated throughout your home.
  • Passive systems store tanks near solar panels and merely rely on convection to move water throughout the system. In essence, cold water is pulled up to the panels to heat and sent down when it reaches an optimal temperature without as much control.

How the Systems Work:

Passive System

Solar panels pull water into tubing around the outside of the panel. Energy collected from the sun is used to heat that water. When the water is warm it is transferred back into the system and cold water is pulled up again. The system will continue to circulate water so long as whatever is the storage tank is colder than the water next to the panels. If you don’t use a lot of hot water it would be in your best interest to get a temperature controller that regulates the system, otherwise your water could overheat.

Because these systems directly heat the water, the tanks need to be stored closer to the solar panels. Either next to or directly beneath the panels. In many cases, unless near a garage, they need to be stored outside, which leads to weathering of the tank faster as well as greater heat loss. These systems tend to be cheaper than active systems.

Active System

Solar panels collect water or a heating fluid in tubing next to the panels. Once whem, the system will circulate that fluid down into the tank and through a heat exchanger in the middle of the tank, which warms the water in the tank. Once the fluid that was transferred up to the panels is warmer than the fluid in the exchanger, the system will circulate again creating a constant movement of fluid for maximum efficiency.

Generally, these systems are far more sophisticated than passive ones because they offer much greater control and flexibility. For example, the tanks can be stored away from the panels in insulated areas, which reduces heat loss, and are managed by a controller. This controller often has the ability to monitor efficiency, temperature readings, differential settings, which determines how often fluid circulates through the system, and even energy saved.

Tankless Systems:

The major difference between tankless water heating and solar water heating systems is that tankless uses energy to power a fast-heating device for on-demand service. They can still be solar powered, but only if you use solar power for your electric supply. Otherwise, they are gas powered.

Solar water heating systems have their own panels and piping that are not connected to your electrical supply.

How They Work:

Essentially, a heating element of some kind, either an electric heat exchanger or piping warmed by gas burners, is connected to a containment unit. When you turn on the faucet or shower water is transferred into the unit and rapid heated. According to Energy.gov, tankless water heaters can provide hot water at a rate of 2-5 gallons per minute, gas burners operate at a slightly higher rate. Unfortunately, since there is not storage tankless water heaters are not ideal for intense simultaneous use, such as operating a dishwasher and someone taking a hot shower. Otherwise, if you are a low-use household, tankless water heaters are a great alternative to conventional heaters. They are 24-34% more efficient than conventional systems. Additionally, if you install tankless heating units at every hot water outlet you can receive energy savings of up to 27-50%.

Which To Choose:

Both systems offer advantages and disadvantages, so your choice depends on your needs.

  • Tankless systems are a great alternative for a low-use household. However, if you are a family of six who all enjoy taking hot showers every day a tankless system may not work well for you (unless you install multiple units).
  • Solar water heating, on the other hand can be a great solution to all your heating needs. Since the system is solar powered you can sleep easy knowing your are decreasing your carbon footprint and your utility bill as well. Yet, these systems require more maintenance over the long run, but solar panels last on average 25 years, which we all know is much longer than a conventional storage tank system.

Your best bet is to monitor your hot water usage and to consult with a water heating specialists who knows about both systems. They can give you feedback about each system and help you design one that is right for your home.

The Right Pool Pump According To Sacramento Pool Specialists

Are you worried your pool pump is using far too much energy? Looking to replace an old pool pump? Is your pump not working up to snuff anymore?

Years ago, when you built a pool you were often given the option of a single or two-speed pool pump. Your technician probably showed you the two settings you’ll use: slow for filtration and fast for vacuuming/pool cleaning. Over the years the pump has served you well, but recently you noticed it’s not working up to the standard it used to or your energy bill seems a bit high. Unfortunately, your pump is likely worn out or you bill really is too high.

Two Speed Pumps

The older pumps were designed to handle the basic functions required to upkeep a pool, not to meet your variable needs as a homeowner. Many of these pumps were also designed before true energy conservation became a buzzword in California.

Here’s how they work:

  1. The first setting is for basic filtration regardless of the size of your pool. Many pumps are designed to meet varying pool sizes so there isn’t any customization about overall functioning. What you see is what you get, even if it’s too strong for a pool of your size and is therefore wasting money.
  2. The second setting is for cleaning. Considering you don’t need to do this for very long or that often, it isn’t a huge money waste. However, if you use this setting for other functions like jets you probably aren’t getting the optimal quality or are burning your pump out too quickly since it’s not designed for such heavy use.

Variable Speed Pumps

Recognizing that pumps were burning out too quickly or wasting energy, manufacturers created variable speed pool pumps. Their features include:

  1. A variety of speeds and pressure recognition sensors to adjust for your pool needs. For example, its basic function, filtering pool water, requires a very low setting. Yet, once you attach a vacuum hose, the system recognizes that it must increase speed to vacuum the pool.
  2. You can also pre-program settings for jets to enjoy the gentle or vigorous massage of your sitting areas in your pool.
  3. Some estimates show they can be up to 90% more efficient than single or two speed models.
  4. Because they operate at the most efficient speeds at all times, particularly a lower speed for filtration, they won’t burn out as quickly as two-speed pumps thus extending the life of your equipment.
  5. Since they are so much more efficient, there are a variety of rebates available for upgrading your system.

Which pump you need really depends on the size and use of your equipment. If you size your pump appropriately from the beginning and only want to filter and clean your pool, a two-speed pump may be perfect for you. On the other hand, if you have a larger system and more complicated equipment, like fountain jets and massagers, you should look into variable speed pool pumps. Both offer advantages and disadvantages that any homeowner should take into consideration.

The Most Cost-Efficient Solar Water Heating Systems Available

Solar water heating systems combine several technologies for collecting the sun’s rays, heating the water, and then storing it until it’s ready for use. Since energy from the sun is free, the solar-savvy homeowner only has to pay for the services of HVAC specialists or solar specialists in and near Sacramento and for the water heating system itself.

After the purchase and installation, the functioning system is entirely free to use. A solar heater will work for most of the year, but can slow down in the winter when days are much shorter. If this natural slowing casts hardship on the household, gas or electric water heating can help bridge the gap during these months. If your climate doesn’t have a winter season to speak of, solar heaters might slow a bit on cloudy days. However, these systems store have the option to store surplus energy in rechargeable batteries, which compensates for days with less direct sunlight. Overall though, your solar water heating system should meet all of your solar needs.

How Solar Water Heating Systems Work

Your heating system will consist of two parts: a storage tank for water and solar collectors for the sun’s energy. There are two general types of water heating systems that use solar power, known as direct and indirect systems.

  1.  A direct system will circulate water through solar collectors. The collectors are large panels that collect the energy of the sun.
  2. An indirect system will heat your household water by mixing it first in a reservoir with fluid that has already been heated by the collector. This heat transfer fluid is usually water but can also be a mixture of water and antifreeze mixed together. The antifreeze is propylene glycol which is non-toxic. Because of this process, indirect systems offer protection from freezing in the winter. However, indirect systems tend to be more expensive.

Active and Passive Systems

  • Passive systems cost less because they use naturally occurring heat convection to circulate water through the system. These are great for places with no winter because they can be efficient for long periods without needing maintenance. If your region experiences freezing temperatures, however, the passive system may not be for you, as it can freeze or overheat in extreme weather.
  • The active system uses a pump to circulate water rather than convection. Again, the relative complexity of this system in comparison to a passive one means that they can cost more.

Photovoltaic Solar Panels

Photovoltaic solar panels are used in photovoltaic systems (or PV systems) to collect the sun’s energy to convert to electrical energy. The direct current produced by the PV system can then be used for a variety of applications in addition to heating water. PV systems produce the highest energy yields, but you will need a converter to produce DC power. Several solar panels are often linked together to create a photovoltaic array to be able to collect enough solar energy for use in the household. A panel can produce 100 to 400 watts, depending on cloud cover.

Solar heating is more popular in Europe and Asia than it is in the United States. Israel is the first country to require new homes to install solar powered water heaters and today 85% of households use them, saving the country 3% in total energy costs. Considering the variety of systems available for household use, your local solar specialists would like to help you help Sacramento become a similarly green-powered area.

The Dangers of Carbon Monoxide

Faulty heating and cooling systems can lead to a potentially fatal buildup of carbon monoxide (CO) in a home. Sacramento HVAC specialists can examine home energy systems to minimize your risk of CO poisoning. To reduce this risk, as well as preventing damage to the system or your home, planning a heating and cooling inspection is a sound investment.

The effect of carbon monoxide on the body, as well as detection of high concentrations, is not well understood by most of us. In order to understand the facts about CO and its effects, it is helpful to learn from authoritative sources, like the Florida Department of Health, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, the National Environmental Public Health Tracking Network, and the American Association of Poison Control Centers. Such organizations, and their representatives, speak with a single voice about the inherent dangers of residential carbon monoxide hazards.

Home HVAC units, like all other consumer products and appliances, age and eventually wear out. No matter how wonderful your system is at the time of installation, it, like all things, will come to its natural end. Unfortunately, many homeowners do not pay close attention to the age of their heating and cooling units, and thus run the risk of allowing harmful gas to creep into their homes. Sacramento HVAC specialists are able to inspect all of your systems and determine how to best repair, replace, or maintain them.

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, approximately 170 people die each year as a direct result of carbon monoxide in the indoor atmosphere. The CO in such cases was released by something other than the family automobile. Upwards of 1,000 persons are admitted to U.S. emergency rooms annually due to CO inhalation and poisoning. In the majority of these situations, the poisoning was easily preventable.

While there are several sources of CO in residential homes, HVAC systems account for a large percentage of the total. In 2007 alone, more than 15,000 persons suffered CO poisoning. Of that group, 39 fatalities resulted. CO poisoning is of major concern to at least a dozen U.S. governmental agencies who oversee the nation’s health. The Florida Department of Health has estimated that deaths from CO poisoning are in excess of 500 annually. The Florida DOH further asserts that several thousands of U.S. citizens seek emergency medical care for CO exposure every year.

Sacramento HVAC specialists can eliminate the fear of CO poisoning by closely examining the entire home heating and cooling system. Consumers can enjoy peace of mind, knowing that one of the largest, most powerful appliances in their home is running safely and efficiently. In addition, when HVAC systems are in top working condition, consumers save money and energy.

There is no reason to live in fear of carbon monoxide poisoning. Regular HVAC check-ups can determine any problems that might lead to a broken heating or cooling unit. A properly functioning HVAC system results in safe, comfortable, affordable indoor temperature control.

Sources:

U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission:

http://www.cpsc.gov/en/Safety-Education/Safety-Education-Centers/Carbon-Monoxide-Information-Center/Carbon-Monoxide-Questions-and-Answers-/

Florida Dept. of Health:

http://www.doh.state.fl.us/Environment/programs/Environmental-Public-Health-Tracking/HTML-pages/Data-Carbon-Monoxide.html/

Amer. Assoc. of Poison Control Centers:

http://www.aapcc.org/

Nat’l Environmental Public Health Tracking Network:

http://ephtracking.cdc.gov/showCarbonMonoxideLanding.action

Sacramento Solar Specialists: Local and Federal Tax Benefits

California, particularly Sacramento, offers numerous local and federal tax incentives to residents who obtain their electricity from solar-powered energy producers. The rising prices of petroleum coupled with the recent economic recession have led many California residents to take advantage of the tax credits and rebates offered for using solar and other renewable energy sources. Aside from obtaining their energy from a renewable source that decreases their carbon footprint, residents can enjoy financial benefits from going with solar energy systems. Homeowners in the Sacramento area would do well to be aware of the various ways that they can obtain tax credit and rebates from their power company, the state and the federal government.

California Solar Initiative Program

Sacramento is part of the California Solar Initiative (CSI) Program. This state rebate program mandates that Sacramento solar specialists should offer a rebate to solar installations. This program covers different varieties of installations, including photovoltaic panels and other solar-based heating systems. Since 2007, the top solar companies have been offering financial incentives to those whose installations have been integrated into their own grids. This 10 year project has a budget of $1.95 billion, a great incentive for Sacramento residents to hop on the solar bandwagon.

The program has two main components: the Multi-Family Affordable Solar Housing program (MASH) and the Single Family Affordable Solar Housing program (SASH). Residents should contact reputable Sacramento solar specialists for more information regarding the CSI programs. Small-scale energy producers can also sell excess energy to local utilities in order to obtain deductions in their power bills.

California Property Tax Exclusion for Solar Energy Systems

Residents who are looking into solar energy can also take advantage of the California Property Tax Exclusion for Solar Energy systems. Under the California Revenue and Taxation Code (Section 73), certain installations or systems that produce energy from the sun can apply for property tax exclusion. The County Assessor’s Office has all of the information owner and builders need to take advantage of this particular tax clause. Sacramento solar specialists can also help homeowners determine whether or not they qualify for this exclusion.

Federal Tax Credit

Homeowners looking to get into solar energy generation can also take advantage of the 30% Federal Tax Credit. Each dollar homeowners spend in building, operating and maintaining their systems will be equivalent to a dollar deducted to their federal tax liability. People who have already paid their taxes prior to taking advantage of this program are still eligible for a tax refund. The tax credit expires in 2016 so home and building owners should plan accordingly.

Not only is the sun and environmentally-friendly energy source, but it also provides a financially viable alternative to traditional power systems. Sacramento’s solar energy programs are among the best in the country. With incentives on the corporate, municipal and the federal level, residents are encouraged  to get in touch with Sacramento solar specialists in order to find out more about what each particular program entails. Solar energy is the way of the future and with these tax and financial incentives, California in general and Sacramento in particular make a great place to set up a solar powered household or building.

Sources:

California Solar Initiative:

http://www.dsireusa.org/incentives/incentive.cfm?Incentive_Code=CA134F&re=1&ee=1

Property Tax Exclusion for Solar Energy Systems:

http://www.dsireusa.org/incentives/incentive.cfm?Incentive_Code=CA25F

Federal Incentives:

http://spearheadsolar.com/blog/?p=74