Monday, June 19, 2017

Solar power and solar panels



The basic PV or solar cell (for example: Goal Zero Nomad 20 ) typically produces only a small amount of power. To produce more power, solar cells (about 40) can be interconnected to form panels or modules. PV modules range in output from 10 to 300 Watts. If more power is needed, several modules can be installed on a building or at ground-level in a rack to form a PV array.
In addition to solar cells, a typical PV module or solar panel consists of these components:
  • A transparent top surface, usually glass
  • An encapsulant -- usually thin sheets of ethyl vinyl acetate that hold together the top surface, solar cells, and rear surface
  • A rear layer -- a thin polymer sheet, typically Tedlar, that prevents the ingress of water and gases
  • A frame around the outer edge, typically aluminum.
Energy performance ratings for PV modules include the following:
  • Peak Watt -- Measures the maximum power of a module under laboratory conditions of relatively high light level, favorable air mass, and low cell temperature. These conditions are not typical in the real world.
  • Normal operating cell temperature -- Measures a module's nominal operating cell temperature after the module first equilibrates with a specified ambient temperature. It results in a lower Watt value than the peak-Watt rating, but it is probably more realistic.
  • AMPM Standard -- Measures the performance of a solar module under more realistic operating conditions. It considers the whole day rather than "peak" sunshine hours, based on the description of a standard solar global-average day (or a practical global average) in terms of light levels, ambient temperature, and air mass.
Home Solar Electric System Arrays
For home solar electric systems, the most common array design uses flat-plate PV modules or panels. These panels can either be fixed in place or allowed to track the movement of the sun.
The simplest PV array consists of flat-plate PV modules in a fixed position. These are some advantages of fixed arrays:
  • No moving parts
  • No need for extra equipment
  • A lightweight structure.
These features make them suitable for many locations, including most residential roofs. Because the panels are fixed in place, their orientation to the sun is usually at an angle that is less than optimal. Therefore, less energy per unit area of array is collected compared with that from a tracking array. This drawback, however, must be balanced against the higher cost of the tracking system.
Energy Performance
Solar arrays are designed to provide specified amounts of electricity under certain conditions. The following factors are usually considered when determining array energy performance:
  • Characterization of solar cell electrical performance
  • Determination of degradation factors related to array design and assembly
  • Conversion of environmental considerations into solar cell operating temperatures
  • Calculation of array power output capability.
The amount of electricity required may be defined by any one or a combination of the following performance criteria:
  • Power output -- power (Watts) available at the power regulator, specified either as peak power or average power produced during one day.
  • Energy output -- the amount of energy (Watt-hour or Wh) produced during a certain period of time. The parameters are output per unit of array area (Wh/m²), output per unit of array mass (Wh/kg), and output per unit of array cost (Wh/$).
  • Conversion efficiency -- defined as "energy output from array" ÷ "energy input from sun" × 100%.
This last parameter is often given as a power efficiency, equal to "power output from array" ÷ "power input from sun" × 100%. Power is typically given in units of Watts (W), and energy is typically in units of Wh, or the power in Watts supplied during an hour.
To ensure the consistency and quality of PV systems and increase consumer confidence in system performance, various groups -- such as the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), and the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) -- are working on standards and performance criteria for PV systems.

Home Solar Electric Components

A typical home solar electric system consists of these components:
  • Solar cells
  • Modules or panels (which consist of solar cells)
  • Arrays (which consist of modules)
  • Balance-of-system parts.
The balance-of-system equipment required depends on whether the system is a stand-alone system, connected to the electric grid, or a hybrid system. Balance-of-system equipment can include:
  • Mounting racks and hardware for the panels
  • Wiring for electrical connections
  • Power conditioning equipment, such as an inverter
  • Batteries for electricity storage (optional)
  • Stand-by gasoline electric generator.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

North Texas State Rep. targets fly by night roofers with state certification bill



ROWLETT -- An effort is underway in the Texas House of Representatives to protect storm victims from roofers with big promises and shoddy work.

On December 26, 2015, a tornado left Joyce Ghormley's house with significant damage. Desperate to get their kids back home, she and her husband hired a contractor to do their roof and more. They say he was a friend of a friend.

"We thought this was someone we could trust, they’re local and we felt confident with using someone that we thought we kind of knew," she said.

Their instincts would be wrong, when two and a half months later, they say their $17,000 new roof had a faulty chimney, broken rafters, and cracks big enough to let daylight in.

"Honestly at one point we thought about just letting our house go," said Ghormley.

That meant more frustration on top of already serious stress, and their story is one of many.

State Representative Giovanni Capriglione serves parts of Tarrant County.

"I’ve just heard from countless constituents that have quite frankly lost their money and have had really bad workmanship when they’ve had their roofs repaired," he said.

This month, he introduced House Bill 3293, that would create a state certification for roofers.

"Texas is one of the only states that doesn’t have a roofer’s certification," he said.

Capriglione envisions a voluntary program, where roofers could say they are state licensed if they can show they’re certified to work in Texas by the Secretary of State’s office, have enough liability insurance and pay a small fee.

The big target is fly-by-night roofers who swoop in after storms. Ghormley’s roofer was local and she did settle with him out of court. But she supports any bill that could keep people who’ve had damage to their home, from losing more.

"Anything that would help a homeowner with feeling more confident that their work will be done correctly and they have some grounds for repercussion if it’s not, that’s definitely a benefit," she said.

In Texas, some cities and counties have their own rules about what type of contractors need licenses to operate.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

How To Increase Profits This Year





The goal of any business is to increase profits every year and continue to grow. However, rising costs and a changing financial market may affect your day-to-day living as well as the profitability of your business. Thankfully, you can rely on flexible, accessible strategies to manage and increase your overall profits throughout the year.


Provide services that help you stand out


Your small business is essentially a boutique that offers similar services other businesses also provide. Take the opportunity to provide services your competitors do not offer to enhance your business prospects in the long run. For example, customers often prefer one-stop shopping over visiting multiple stores for their needs. Time is as valuable as money in today's fast-paced world; take time to ask customers what other services would assist them when they visit your business.


Cut back on expenses


There are always ways to go through your budget and cut expenses.. Some products used on a daily basis may be available at cheaper or discounted rates. Buying in bulk, for example, often results in discounts, especially if you can form a partnership with the vendor in question. If unable to store bulk items in your office, keep them in a different location until needed. Micromanaging every element about your office expenses will allow you to use that money on more profitable business aspects over time.


Reward employees who strive to increase profitability


As you find solutions to increase company profits, reward employees who show initiative by making suggestions or following your lead. Even casual rewards, such as a small gift, can go a long way, helping everyone feel motivated to work collectively toward the same goal. Always express your acknowledgment and personally thank them. This positive reinforcement and treatment ultimately leads to reciprocation, as others see the mutual benefits involved.


Get to know your customers


For many customers, the feeling that a business they frequent is almost part of their family is enjoyable and preferable. They feel like they are doing business with a good friend, rather than an organization. Always spark a friendly conversation with a customer by asking about their well-being, their family, or local events and other interests. Simple gestures can indirectly lead to increased profits, as many would choose your business over competitors.


Create a customer rewards program


There is always great joy when a customer refers other people to your business, and their gesture should be acknowledged. Advertise a rewards program offering various goodies to participants who refer others. Likewise, offer similar rewards to those who make a purchase of a certain price or frequently buy from you. If this sounds too stressful for your business goals, give the referring customer a small discount or coupon next time they come to your business.

Accommodate customers efficiently


In today's fast-paced world, customers simply lack the time to stand in line and wait to be serviced. When possible, have other employees postpone their active duties and assist in servicing others during these hectic situations. This works especially well with foot-tracked businesses, such as convenience stores and pharmacies, proving excellent and efficient customer service can gradually lead to increased company profits.

Get involved in your community


Involvement in your community can assist in recognition of your business. Donate or help with charitable events, making your brand or logo relatively visible while giving back to the community. In most cases, organizations allow you to casually advertise your business at the event through eye-catching logos and related graphical designs. Actively participate throughout the year, especially in causes that align with your company's vision.

Taking small steps can improve profitability, while simultaneously helping everyone involved. Assessing your priorities and acknowledging your audience are excellent ways to ensure your business continues to flourish for years to come

Saturday, March 4, 2017

6 Benefits of Joining a Coworking Space



With start-ups popping up across the country and the freelance workforce growing exponentially, modern office space is taking on a new form. We have heard of billion-dollar companies that started out in a garage in Seattle or in an Ivy League dorm room, but most entrepreneurs need a space that falls between those humble digs and an elegant downtown office. Enter the coworking space, which allows multiple businesses to operate out of the same location. If you are in need of a base for your operations, here are six benefits to joining this movement:

1. Lower office costs


The most obvious benefit of sharing an office space with other companies is a break on monthly rent. While you can expect to pay several thousand dollars to rent an office space in any major U.S. city, dedicated desks at a shared space in New York's fashionable Soho district start at just $450 per month. You will find the numbers to be more than palatable as you start out with a handful of employees. Printing, coffee, conference rooms, and 24/7 access are usually included in the price.

2. The ability to work in peace


Never underestimate the lure of your living room couch or the impact of your children in the next room when working from home. Even if you are comfortable working at home, the reality for many small business owners is that the system does not work. Busy home environments can distract you in both good and bad ways. In order to work in peace, you need a space where you can sit and talk with your team without your private life interfering with the plan of attack.

3. Positive peer pressure


Peer pressure can be a good thing when it engages your competitive spirit and encourages you to aim higher. In a coworking space, you will feel this type of pressure on a daily basis. Across the room, you may notice a rising technology company with an owner who has an effective management style. While you will most likely feel inspired by the company's early success, you may also get some pointers on how to manage a growing team. This positive impact is easily worth the monthly costs.


4. The chance to network


If you need a web designer for a site overhaul, you may be sitting across from the best in the business for your budget at a communal work space. You could even be neighbors with someone who offers you your next big client as a referral. When you are surrounded by hardworking people who know what it means to rise from the lowest level, you have the opportunity to network and grow your business in several ways. After a short period, you might consider a shared working space to be the best investment you ever made for your business.


5. A healthy work-life balance


What would you pay to not have a big project staring you in the face after the end of a 12-hour day? Divide the monthly fee for a coworking space by 30 and see if that number works. By avoiding working out of your home, you have the chance to live a more conventional life that consists of doing your work at another location and leaving it there when you return home to relax or be with your family. This benefit is priceless to small business owners.


6. A path to your next big idea


You might find more than the spirit of healthy competition when sharing a work space with other companies; you could find your next venture. Seeing another company operate with a good idea but the wrong execution tends to get entrepreneurs thinking about what they could do with such a business under their control. You will have to differentiate your own company from anything already in existence, but by sharing a work space, chances are that you will find inspiration and ideas from others in the room.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Six Signs A Freelancer Is A Good Fit



When your small business has staffing needs but lacks the resources necessary to hire full-time employees, a freelancer is often the best solution. Independent contractors are available to help with web design, copywriting, bookkeeping, human resources, and every other operational issue a company may have.

However, finding freelancers that fit your business profile can be a challenge. As you weigh the pros and cons of hiring temporary staff, you will see how some relationships are problematic from the start. Here are six signs that a freelancer is the right fit for your company:


1. Easy communication.


Even if you hire someone for a single project, you will want to establish a good rapport with all freelancers. Receiving timely answers to emails, text messages, and phone calls will keep your mind at ease and allow you to continue with your usual day-to-day routine. Contractors might set certain boundaries with you, especially if they work off-site, but there is no reason to accept long delays in business correspondence. Stick to working with people who keep the lines of communication open and cordial.

2. Past results.


You may be willing to deal with a few personal quirks if a freelancer's work is top-notch, but you will want to carefully review contractor portfolios before bringing them on board for a project. Look for the qualities you think are important for your brand's development. In many cases, you will find freelance employees who are even more dedicated to their craft than some full-time staff. When a contractor's reputation is constantly tested, the quality of their work tends to be high.


3. Pricing that works for both parties.


Before taking on new contractors, ask what they earned for past projects to get an idea of whether you have the budget necessary to make the relationship work. A freelancer who feels undervalued will be quick to move on to the next job, leaving you in a pinch if you were hoping for an ongoing relationship. If you like the quality of the work and can afford someone's pay demands, you will get the most out of your freelancers.


4. Delivering on deadline.


With everything you have to deal with on a daily basis, you should not have to micromanage freelancers in order to get work done on time. Independent contractors with a solid track record know how to deliver assignments in a timely fashion. So if you see missed deadlines and a nonchalant attitude toward the various stages of production goals, chances are that you are not working with the right freelancer.


5. Good employee feedback.


Your staff members are going to interact with contractors at various times. These encounters offer you a chance to see how a freelancer works with your team. If you are considering the first gig to be a trial run for a full-time position, the insight your employees offer on the individual is invaluable. If a contractor fits in well with your team, operations around the office will be easier.


6. Consistent quality.


High-level work is the mark of a professional in any field, so look for consistency in the first batch of assignments and every other job you outsource to an individual. Some business owners prefer to start with a trial period in order to ensure quality, but this policy will not be necessary if you are working with a more experienced contractor. If you offer feedback on work and still find inconsistent results, the freelancer is most likely not a good fit for your needs.

A productive freelance team can help a business grow at a minimal cost. Use these tips to weed out anyone who is not a good fit, and you will end up getting the most for your money. Outsourcing is another great option and you can find discounted small business solutions from The UPS Store.