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A Unique Solar Array
March 18, 2012
My previous article on Getting to Net Zero sparked some interest in the specialized photovoltaic solar array we are preparing to install at the project on Pine Avenue, so I wanted to go into more depth on the system. To refresh your memory, we are installing a 13,455 watt solar array which incorporates three unique products that offer several advantages over traditional systems. The three primary components include the: Florian canopy structure, Sanyo HIT Double 195 photovoltaic modules, and SolarEdge inverter system.
Unlike most solar systems that are mounted on top of a finished roof, this system actually is the lanai's roof. The initial component is the extruded aluminum canopy structure produced by Florian Solar (www.floriansolarproducts.com). The structure is properly engineered for our area and integrates seamlessly with the Sanyo panels to create a water-tight roof system. All of the wiring is hidden within the structural beams to add to the aesthetics. This type of canopy system helps overcome some problems associated with traditional solar systems, such as roof penetrations, access to roofing material under panels, and general aesthetic issues.
The high-performance panels selected for the canopy are Sanyo HIT Double 195 Watt solar panels. These panels are one of the most efficient in the industry and feature high conversion efficiency, excellent temperature characteristics, and considerable output under diffuse and low light conditions. We are installing 69 panels in the array, consisting of 3 rows of 23 panels - totaling 13,455 watts. Due to the fact that these panels are bi-facial, they can capture reflected sunlight from the bottom of the array and actual power production can exceed the rated power production of each panel by 30%. Another benefit is that 15% of the natural light penetrates through the panel, thus enhancing the atmosphere and look of the lanai.
The final critical component in our array is the inverter system that converts variable DC power produced by the Sanyo panels into a utility compatible alternating current. During the development of plans for the Pine project, a new type of hybrid inverter system came to market and caught our attention. The Solar Edge Power Optimizers and Inverter System (www.solaredge.com) overcomes the limitations of traditional central string inverter systems, but at a much lower cost than micro-inverter systems. Typical hurdles of central string inverters include partial shading sensitivity, undervoltage losses, module mismatch losses, and tracking performance issues. The Solar Edge system overcomes each of these production problems and does so at a much lower cost than other offerings. It will greatly improve our system's efficiency.
The combination of three great solar components creates a one of a kind product that is helping achieve my client's goal of a Net Zero Energy home. We appreciate the support and expertise of Superior Solar (www.superiorsolar.com) out of Longwood throughout this process and look forward to a successful completion to the installation in the coming weeks. I believe our project is the first residential installation of its kind in Central Florida, so please look for updates and photos at my website (www.e2homes.com) and Facebook page (www.facebook.com/e2homes).