This last year was an exciting one in the solar power industry and a great year for ECC Solar. Along with growth and many new innovations in green energy, ECC was able to expand our areas of service to our New Mexico customers. We completed many projects that we are really proud of and enjoyed working with all of our wonderful customers.
Some of the highlights from this last year include smaller projects, working with many homeowners in our northern New Mexico area, and providing maintenance to the army’s largest solar power system on White Sands Missile Range.
ECC Solar designs and installs a range of different solar PV systems for our customers, from small residential systems to large systems for businesses and the government. These are some of the projects we completed in 2016 that highlight different types of solar PV systems.
A grid-tied solar power system is designed to connect with the utility grid to offset a portion of your electrical usage. Grid-tied systems employ an array of photovoltaic (PV) solar panels to produce electricity from the sun and an inverter to provide regular AC power to your existing electrical panel.
When a grid-tied solar power system is making electricity, it slows the billing meter or actually spins it backwards, leaving any usage not met by solar as the net monthly amount billed by the utility. This is known as “net metering.”
There is no backup as part of these systems, and if the utility goes out the power still goes out in the house.
Example #1: This 4.68 kW PV array is mounted on a pergola next to a modular home, providing about 90% of the residence’s electric load. A pergola is an attractive and useful installation, providing power and extra shade around the home. Pergolas can be designed to the customer’s specifications. This installation is located in Wagon Mound, NM for our customer Ernie Encinias.
James and Charlene Courson had this 4.68kW ground-mounted PV array installed at their Alamogordo, NM home. Ground installations are common for situations where the roof of the home is not the ideal angle or when it is a more convenient solution for the homeowner’s property. The advantage is that a ground installation can be designed to maximize the angle of the sun for power production.
This is an example of a roof-mounted 4.16kW PV array on the home of John Albright in Eagle Nest, NM. A roof mount can be the most cost effective solar PV installation.
An off-grid electric system produces power for the customer completely independent of the power utility. Off-grid systems employ an array of photovoltaic (PV) solar panels to produce electricity from the sun and a large battery bank to store it for whenever power is needed. Because solar modules make DC power and batteries store DC, an inverter is used to provide regular 120 or 240 volt AC power to the electric panel.
Off-grid systems are typically designed with a battery bank large enough to meet the planned electrical load for about three days without solar recharging. This is enough to get through most storms in our area. The solar array is sized large enough to completely recharge the battery bank on a daily basis.
During the design phase, ECC Solar works with our customers to calculate the amount of power needed and the number of PV panels and batteries required to keep their home running. Many of our customers in the mountain areas install off-grid systems because they are more reliable than the local power source.
This is an example of a 9.0kW ground-mounted PV array ECC Solar installed at the Quillman residence in Ribera, NM.
Grid-tie solar with battery backup
A grid-tie with battery backup is a hybrid system which connects to the grid and operates just like a grid-tied solar power system when the grid is working. If the grid fails such as in a storm or other unexpected event, a battery bank provides stored power. This ensures that certain necessary devices such as computers, security systems, communications equipment, or other “critical loads” are not unexpectedly shut down. This gives many customers peace of mind, avoiding data loss, equipment damage, and other problems.
This 8.32kW ballasted roof-mounted PV array with a lithium ion battery bank was installed in 2016 at the Stapelton residence in Santa Fe, NM.
Large grid-tied solar systems (typically greater than 1 megawatt) are connected directly to the utility grid and provide energy to the utility grid that is then distributed to many utility customers. Many use tracking systems to optimize the output and shift output to later in the day to better match the utility load profile. Some are owned by the utility and some are owned by third-party investors who sell the energy to the utility. These systems usually have extensive data logging systems to monitor performance and are often tested annually to be sure production is at its peak.
In 2016 ECC provided system testing and maintenance on a utility scale system located on White Sands Missile Range, including IV curves and replacement of weak modules in the system. This 4.1 MW tracking system is the U.S. Army’s largest solar PV system.
For more information about this large solar PV system, you can click here.
Looking ahead to 2017
We expect 2017 to be full of just as many interesting projects and new customers that we look forward to meeting. If you are ready to get your solar PV system, give us a call to set up your no-obligation appointment. We look forward to designing the system that works perfectly for your unique needs!
Ready to get your solar PV system underway in 2017? ECC Solar is your solar PV expert! Click here or call us today at (505) 454-0614 to set up your free evaluation.