A guide for solar new-comers

by HE Solar LLC

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HE Solar LLC is an electrical contractor that specializes in advanced electrical systems including Solar Power, Energy Storage, Electric Vehicle Charging, and Home Electrical Systems.

Which Customer profile best fits you? This will be helpful when determining which solar panels and options we recommend:

Customer Profile: Which profiles do you relate with?

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Solar Invester

Solar Panels are expected to last 25+ years, allowing you to control your energy cost as electricity rates continue to increase.

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Energy Independent

Make your property less reliant on electric companies by creating your own power. Gain complete independence by going off grid with the addition of energy storage.

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Technology Geek

Solar Energy is a cutting edge technology that attracts technology enthusiast. We offer the latest premium solar panels, inverters, and monitoring.

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Environmentalist

Politics aside, solar power is the most feasible, environmentally friendly and maintenance free power option for a home or business.

Get Pricing: Submissions go directly to the Hoffman Brothers... or call 512-921-6763
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Getting Started

Understanding Sunlight

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Here in Central Texas we can face solar arrays East, South or West to maximize production. South facing arrays produce around 7 to 12% more energy then due East or West arrays.

Also important is the tilt of the panels:

  • Low Tilts: 0 to 18 degree tilts will produce more during the summer and less during the winter
  • Medium Tilts: 18 to 36 degree tilts will have good production during both the summer and winter.
  • High Tilts: Will produce more during the Winter and less during the summer.

Choosing a Solar Panel

That's right for you

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Solar Panels are made of materials that react to sunlight by creating DC electricity.

There are a lot of solar panel brands out there and most are fairly reliable. So what separates them from one another?:

  • Solar Cell Efficiency: Efficiency is the amount of sunlight that is converted into usable electricity. Price typically increases with efficiency so the available roof space may be a deciding factor on how efficient your solar panels are.
  • Bus-Bar Conductors: Traditional solar panels had 2 or 3 bus-bars running down the cells collecting energy. These bus bars are adhered to to the solar cells and over time the glue breaks down lowering the power output. Premium solar panels combat this issue by adding bus-bars and/or moving them to the back of the solar cell.
  • Over All Construction: Solar cells, glass top sheets, back sheets, and aluminum frames are also important. The quality of these components are the small details that separate cheap solar panels from premium solar panels.

Visit our Solar Panels Compared page where we compare Premium Solar Panels from SunPower, Panasonic, LG, and more!

Choosing a Solar Inverter

That works for you not the installer

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Solar Inverters are the most critical part of a solar power system. They take the DC electricity produced by the solar panels and invert it in to AC electricity that our homes and businesses use.

There are three main types of Solar Inverters:

  1. String Inverters: String Inverters are installed on a wall typically next to the electrical service. Multiple solar panels are wired together and ran down to the inverter.

    • PROS - Reliability & Cost: String Inverters offer increased reliability because there is only one point of failure. Systems with string inverters typically cost less because there are no additional power electronics at the solar panels.
    • CONS - Code Compliance & Options: String Inverters lack solar panel electronics for new shutdown requirements and luxury monitoring features.

  2. Micro Inverters: Also known as AC Modules, micro inverters offer module level monitoring and shutdown by placing a micro inverter under every panel.

    • PROS - Module level monitoring and Shutdown: Individual monitoring and control is possible because each solar panel has it's own inverter.
    • CONS - High Failure Rate: It turns out that placing an inverter under a solar panel on a hot Texas roof isn't a good idea!

  3. DC Optimizers: This technology utilizes a string inverter but places power electronics under every solar panel. There is less components and heat build up than micro inverters because the inversion process takes place at the string inverter.

    • PROS - Module level monitoring and Shutdown
    • CONS - Lower Failure Rate: DC Optimizers are a great technology but the harsh reality is that there is still a failure risk by placing the units in high heat areas.

Hungry for more Inverter knowledge?? Take a look at our Inverters Compared section where we put them side-by-side!

Last but not Least

Monitoring your Investment

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Every solar consumer should demand solar monitoring with their system. We have serviced countless systems (not ours of course!) that were under performing and/or installed incorrectly and the consumer had no idea. There are two main types of monitoring available:

  1. System-Level Monitoring: Gives production values for the entire system. System monitoring is better than no monitoring but module level problems easily go unnoticed.
  2. Module-Level Monitoring: Gives module level production in addition to entire system monitoring. This is a MUST HAVE for anyone with micro inverters, AC modules or DC optimizers. We strongly recommend it for all solar systems!