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Cover: 7.2kW installed by Jim Bryant in Moab, Utah.



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Welcome

Welcome to our online catalog and store! Here you will find all the components for residential and commercial grid tie systems as well as portable and large off grid systems.

Are you new to solar energy?

Solar energy systems are composed of multiple components. Needless to say, all solar systems include solar panels. They will also include an inverter or a charge controller to harness the sun power collected by the panels. Off grid systems have batteries for energy storage, while grid tie systems do not require energy storage to operate. Additionally, to have a system safely installed you will need other components such as cables, connectors, breakers, enclosures, boxes, etc., commonly referred as Balance of System (BOS).

Equipment for Grid-Tie and Off-Grid systems

Across this website you will find a distinction between grid-tie and off-grid solar energy systems. They share some characteristics and use some of the same components but the application is entirely different. Grid tie solar systems are connected to the utility grid; energy flows in both directions, into the grid (sold) or taken from the grid (purchased). Off grid systems, also referred to as stand alone, use energy storage systems in lieu of the grid; energy from the solar panels is stored for latter use.

Note: there are two types of solar energy systems that combine grid connection with energy storage: grid-tie with battery back up and energy storage for (grid) peak shaving. These are advanced applications, please call for more information.

Solar (photovoltaic) Panels

Commercial solar panels are all made of silicon, they can be made with monocrystalline or polycrystalline cells. For simplicity, we grouped solar panels in two groups: low voltage (12V and 24V) and large format.

The solar cells in a low voltage panel are configured in a way that the output will be nominal 12 or 24 Volts DC. They are used in simple battery charging applications with the purpose of keeping the voltage constant across the system. These panels are available in sizes ranging from 5W to 190W. See 12V and 24V solar panels.

Large format panels are made with 60, 72 or 96 solar cells. The output voltage of these panels varies, but tends to be higher than 40VDC. These panels are preferred in a large number of applications from residential and commercial systems, to large power plants. See our solar panel selection guide.

Solar Power Electronics: Inverters and Charge Controllers

The power from the solar panels is not stable and for practical purposes it can’t be used as is. An electronic device is required to harness the solar power and convert it into useful energy. Systems that are interconnected to the grid use an inverter that converts the DC power from the panels into AC power compatible with the electric grid. When the solar power is used to charge batteries, a charge controller is needed between the panels and the batteries to protect the batteries from over charging.

Off-Grid Inverters

Off-grid systems can be fully configured in DC current, therefore not needing an inverter. The inverters used in off-grid systems convert the DC energy stored in the batteries into AC power to power standard appliances. The output of an DC/AC inverter is equivalent to power in a home outlet (120VAC) or the power coming from the utility grid (240VAC)

Batteries and Energy Storage

The batteries used in renewable energy systems are known as deep cycle batteries. Even with the new technologies, lead-acid batteries are still the most widely used in renewable energy systems. Deep cycle batteries come in two presentations: flooded and valve-regulated (VRLA). VRLA batteries are also known as maintenance free, the two most common types of VRLA batteries are gel and glass-mat (AGM).

Battery banks can be configured at any desired voltage, however it is rare to see a bank with a nominal voltage other than 12V, 24V or 48V. As a rule of thumb, small portable systems are 12V; 12V can also be found in mobile applications; most recently RVs, boats and custom vans are wired at 24V. 48V is the preferred voltage for medium and large power applications.

Wind and Other Power Sources

Solar is the most widespread renewable energy source, however, in certain locations it makes sense to add other sources such as wind and hydro power. Wind power has the advantage that is not limited to daily cycles, and it tends to be available when the sun is not. For example, wind can be harnessed at night or on stormy days, making it an ideal complement to solar for stand alone systems in remote locations.

Balance of Systems (BOS)

As you can imagine, there are other components needed to safely operate a renewable energy system. For circuit protections, think of breakers, fuses, cables, connectors, surge protectors, boxes and electrical enclosures. For the installation, you might require a racking system to mount the solar panels or an outdoor rated battery enclosure.


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