How does solar power work? El Paso Tx

The sun—that power plant in the sky—bathes Earth in ample energy to fulfill all the world’s power needs many times over. It doesn’t give off carbon dioxide emissions. It won’t run out. And it’s free.
So how on Earth can people turn this bounty of sunbeams into useful electricity?
The sun’s light (and all light) contains energy. Usually, when light hits an object the energy turns into heat, like the warmth you feel while sitting in the sun. But when light hits certain materials the energy turns into an electrical current instead, which we can then harness for power.


How does a solar cell turn sunlight into electricity? El Paso Tx

In a crystal, the bonds [between silicon atoms] are made of electrons that are shared between all of the atoms of the crystal. The light gets absorbed, and one of the electrons that’s in one of the bonds gets excited up to a higher energy level and can move around more freely than when it was bound. That electron can then move around the crystal freely, and we can get a current.
Imagine that you have a ledge, like a shelf on the wall, and you take a ball and you throw it up on that ledge. That’s like promoting an electron to a higher energy level, and it can’t fall down. A photon [packet of light energy] comes in, and it bumps up the electron onto the ledge [representing the higher energy level] and it stays there until we can come and collect the energy [by using the electricity].


Solar Energy Border Solar El Paso Tx

Every hour the sun beams onto Earth more than enough energy to satisfy global energy needs for an entire year. Solar energy is the technology used to harness the sun’s energy and make it useable. Today, the technology produces less than one tenth of one percent of global energy demand.
Many people are familiar with so-called photovoltaic cells, or solar panels, found on things like spacecraft, rooftops, and handheld calculators. The cells are made of semiconductor materials like those found in computer chips. When sunlight hits the cells, it knocks electrons loose from their atoms. As the electrons flow through the cell, they generate electricity.


Will Solar Panels Stand Up To The Elements? | El Paso, Tx

At Border Solar in El Paso, we have seen our fair share of extreme weather. If you are considering solar power for your home, you may be interested in knowing how durable your solar panels will be when subjected to the variety of weather extremes that occur on the east coast.

The solar panels installed by Border Solar are incredibly durable. The surface is made of tempered glass, like the windshield of a car. This means that, in extreme weather, you can expect the same type of performance from your solar panels as you can from auto glass.

In El Paso, we experience every kind of weather extreme, from snow and sleet, to high winds and extreme heat. The factor that would hinder the performance of your solar PV system most would be the build-up something that blocks the sunlight from the photovoltaic cells. So you may have to wipe them down every once and a while. The build-up of snow would decrease performance temporarily, until either the snow melted or it was brushed or swept from the roof. Luckily, it doesn’t snow that often in El Paso. However, neither dirt nor snow would damage your system in any way, and function would resume as normal as soon as the cells were exposed to sunlight.

A hailstorm is capable of damage to many outdoor structures, but the occasional hail that falls in our area is rarely very large or substantial enough to cause real damage. Again, think of the performance of your car windshield during a hail storm. The tempered glass is built to withstand different weather events.

The threat of high winds involves the force of flying debris, such as tree limbs, and smaller outdoor objects. Smaller branches that are tossed around in a thunderstorm will not do any damage. It is also important to consider that the threat of trees and branches is typically decreased because your solar panels will need to be installed in an area without significant shade.

Remember, solar panels are not fragile pieces of technology. They are constructed to endure a wide variety of weather events, and continue to produce electricity when exposed to the sun!


Tips for Going Solar | Border Solar El Paso, Tx

The following article is a great blog from Zillow. Check it out!


By Bob Vila

For decades, harnessing the sun’s energy to generate electricity for houses was a bright idea that simply wasn’t practical for the average homeowner. Only recently have solar roof panels emerged as a viable option for individuals seeking an eco-friendly and cost-effective alternative source of electric power. To decide if a solar solution is right for you, consider a handful of factors:

Amount of sun

A photovoltaic (PV) system is only worth installing in areas that receive adequate sunlight. How much electricity would an array of panels generate on your roof? Reliable online tools exist to help you arrive at an estimate, and solar installation professionals can offer advice based on previous experience in your area.

Local utility rates

While residents of the Sun Belt are perhaps the likeliest solar converts, you don’t need to live in the brightest states to benefit. In comparatively less sunny regions where electric bills run high, folks can still obtain significant savings by going solar. The more you currently pay, the more you stand to gain.

Incentive programs

The upfront cost of a PV system is high, but numerous financial incentive programs are in place to help make the technology more affordable. Find out if you qualify for federal, state or local tax credits and rebates.

Assuming financial incentives, plentiful sunshine and high local utility rates, a PV system could pay for itself within about five years. Like other “green” upgrades, solar panels deliver payback, not immediately, but over the long term.

A growing number of homeowners are choosing to side-step the upfront expense by contracting with a solar leasing company. Such a provider will install a solar panel array at no cost to the homeowner. In turn, the homeowner pays for the solar-generated power that his household consumes, typically at a lower rate than is charged by regular utilities companies. That means solar energy is no longer a future fantasy. In some parts of the country, it’s actually one of the most affordable options out there.


Bob Vila is the home improvement expert widely known as host of TV’s This Old House, Bob Vila’s Home Again, and Bob Vila. Today, Bob continues his mission to help people upgrade their homes and improve their lives with advice online at His video-rich site offers a full range of fresh, authoritative content – practical tips, inspirational ideas, and more than 1,000 videos from Bob Vila television.

Note: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of Zillow.


Electric Vehicles Impact on Home Energy | Border Solar El Paso, Tx

As we near the end of 2012, “plug-in” electric vehicles (EV’s) are beginning to catch. There is no doubt that plug-in EV’s are going to have a great and positive impact on the environment, but what about the significant impact it will have on how we use power in our homes? EV’s are great for the environment and also a great way to save on gas, but when you use the charging station, EV’s become the largest power user in our homes.

Vehicles such as the Nissa Leaf, Chevy Volt, Tesla Roadster and the Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid are some of the EV’s currently available on the market today. But the lack of feasible and economical charging stations and a slow economy couple with the high cost of these EV’s are really hindering sales in today’s market – but if EV’s can ever overcome these obstacles, charging strategies will be vital in managing the additional load they will have on the grid.

It takes nearly 8 hours to fully charge an EV using a 120 volt connection. But for people in a hurry, there is a 240 volt connection available that will cut the charge time in half. But cutting the time in half will almost double the power used during the 4 hour charging period – bearing in mind that electricity companies charge you by kilowatts per hour.

This could have a MAJOR impact on the grid if EV’s become widespread. Let’s look at the following scenario: If fifty (50) percent of your neighborhood buys an EV, consider the electrical load each person will have on the local substation when everyone plugs into their charger at more or less the same time every day. This could cause a multitude of problems – including blackouts on a regular basis.

But – people much more intelligent than I have already begun to address some of these potential issues. Smart Grid programs are being developed that will use time-of-use rates to encourage customer to delay EV charging until off-peak periods – let’s say around 10 PM or so. Another possible solution is to draw power remaining from EV batteries to serve the grid during peak periods – from 4 PM to 8 PM and return it to the vehicle during off-peak periods.

These solutions are feasible, but in either case, the electronic intelligence will be very complex. And this doesn’t change the fact that by buying an EV, your electric bill will be much higher than it is now. So let’s get to the main point of this blog: Border solar has a solution. Let us install a solar panel system for your home that will not only power your home, but also help to power your EV.

If you have an EV, or are considering one in the future, we recommend a reliable energy monitor that can measure your total energy as well as that drawn by your EV charger. This way you will have an on-going record of when it was on and, over time, allowing you to know exactly what it cost to “fuel” your EV.


Using Solar Power to Reduce Your Household’s Carbon Footprint | El Paso, Tx

Solar power is free and accessible to everyone. It supports the planet’s entire ecosystem, nourishing plants and animals. Now, we are learning how we can use it to create houses that don’t require so much energy from fossil fuels. El Paso has a pretty large carbon footprint. El Pasoans need to invest in clean energy as soon as possible, and solar panels can drastically help to reduce the size of our carboon footprint. Think about investing with Border Solar to provide your home with clean and green solar panel energy and electricity. Let our solar installers install a solar panel in your home today to provide clean and green electricity for your home in El Paso.

Solar Energy Can Help to Create a Greener Household

  • through the production of electricity using solar panels;
  • through the use of a solar water heating system;
  • through the use of solar air heating; and
  • through the growth of plants for cooling.

The Sun Can Generate Electricity

Solar panels, or photo voltaic panels, convert the sun’s radiation into a current of electricity. They are usually installed on south facing roofs (or north facing, in the southern hemisphere), and the energy produced is sold to the local power company and added to the electrical grid. The household that produces the power receives a proportional discount on their electricity bill, and many jurisdictions are paying for solar energy at high rates to encourage the installation of solar panels. With solar panels, it’s theoretically possible to get paid by the power company rather than vice-versa.

The Sun can Heat Water

Barring government incentives for solar PV systems, the most cost effective solar technologies available to homeowners today are solar water heating systems. These systems work with regular water heaters, either tank-based or on-demand, to save energy. Solar water heating systems usually consist of a network of heat absorbing, rooftop water pipes. They preheat the water before it’s brought to its final temperature by a gas or electrically powered system. This can amount to an energy savings of up to 60 per cent.

The Sun Can Heat Air

It doesn’t take a high tech system to make use of solar power for space heating. On cold, sunny winter days, a solar wall or rooftop air heating system can reduce the need for gas or electrically powered space heating substantially. These systems work by allowing interior air to circulate through metal ducts that are being heated by the sun. It’s that simple.

The Sun Can Make Plants Grow

Not only can sunlight be used directly as a heat source, it can also be used to help cool your home. Did you know that plants naturally cool the air? House plants absorb the sun’s heat and cool the air through transpiration. In other words, when a plant “breathes,” it cools the air rather than heating it. Filling windows with plants during the summer helps control solar gain and it also provides natural cooling.

Creating a greener household using the sun’s power is easier than you may have thought. Solar panels and solar-assisted mechanical systems are powerful ways to reduce your use of conventionally generated electricity and natural gas, and a simple awareness of passive heating and cooling can bring your energy use down, too.


The Future of Energy: Solar Power & Nanotechnology | El Paso, Tx

Nanotechnology is the specific branch of technology and engineering that focuses on matter on the molecular scale. Specifically, it concerns structures that are smaller than 100 nanometers, and constructing devices made of individual particles.

Currently, solar panels are comprised of silicone cells that absorb solar energy, which is converted to electricity. This type of solar panel boasts around 20% efficiency, meaning that 20% of the sunlight that hits a silicone photovoltaic cell is absorbed and used as electricity. Luckily, El Paso gets plenty of sun. So even though it’s only 20%, when that El Paso sun hits those solar panels, plenty of energy is generated from it.

Nanotechnology could transform windows into solar panels.

Nanotechnologies in development would be able to absorb and use more than just sunlight, utilizing ultraviolet rays, and infrared (heat) radiation as an energy source as well. Porous or microscopically textured materials have a much greater surface area than smooth, flat surfaces of the solar cells of today, meaning that more energy can be absorbed and used as electricity.

Imagine the increase in efficiency – essentially allowing you to store as much energy as you want because of the huge return. Any solar panel in El Paso with nanotechnology would be able to provide clean and green electricity for days with clean and green energy in El Paso.

However, efficiency is not the only benefit of nanotech as it applies to solar power. Extremely thin and flexible materials mean that the generation of solar power would no longer be limited to rooftop or pole-mounted systems. Instead, photovoltaic film could be applied to windows, turning them into highly efficient solar panels, while still maintaining transparency. Using nanotechnology, solar power could be incorporated into the design of products, making electricity easily accessible when needed.

Accessibility of electricity is a major benefit of nanotech developments because it also would decrease the cost of solar technology, meaning it would be available for many people who currently do not have access, or the means to purchase it. Because the material is so thin, it is printed on other surfaces, which requires less expensive manufacturing than the solar panels of today.


Solar Energy El Paso

Southwest needs power lines to become solar hub

Pick any stretch of road slicing through the American Southwest. The sun beats down on the asphalt like nowhere else and heat waves distort the landscape. What a great source for solar energy!

It’s here, in these open expanses, that experts say is a massive untapped source of solar energy that could meet the nation’s growing needs. But only if developers can get it out of the desert.

Even as renewable power (solar energy) projects get a boost from the federal government, a lack of transmission lines prevent states such as New Mexico—where the sun shines more than 300 days a year—from converting the obvious potential into real watts that can charge smartphones and run air conditioners thousands of miles away.

Aside from Phoenix, the nation’s sixth largest city, and Las Vegas, which glows around the clock, the region’s rural stretches—the ideal places for acres of solar panels used for solar energy—have few energy demands. And sending solar energy from there to population centers isn’t as simple as loading coal into boxcars and shipping it cross country.

“We have incredible renewable solar energy resources,” U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu said during a visit earlier this year to a solar research lab in New Mexico. “The bad news is they’re where there are not many people. We need a distribution system that can accommodate that.”

Transmission lines are key to developing the region’s solar energy resources. The problem is existing lines are maxing out, especially as the push intensifies to bring online more renewable solar energy.

Building new lines can take years or even decades of cutting through a tangle of bureaucracy.
Spanning some 200,000 miles, much of the nation’s existing transmission system is aging and will need replacement before 2030, according to preliminary findings of a new Department of Energy study on transmission congestion.

President Barack Obama reminded the nation during the Democratic National Convention that renewable power sources will play a key role in his “all of the above” energy plan. And nearly 5 gigawatts of solar energy and wind projects—enough juice to run about 3 million homes—were fast-tracked this summer by the federal government.

The Obama administration has also sped up permitting and construction of seven proposed transmission projects in 12 states, but industry experts say reaching into rural areas to tap more renewable resources remains a big hurdle.

Transmission gridlock is looming on the horizon in sunny Arizona, where the state’s transmission capacity would be overloaded by just half of the proposed projects currently in the works. In the Northeast, wind generation has already been curtailed due to a lack of transmission capacity, according to DOE researchers.

Utilities such as PacifiCorp., which serves more than 1.7 million customers in six Western states, are already pouring billions of dollars into transmission projects.

Hundreds of miles of lines are planned from Wyoming south to New Mexico and west to Arizona and Nevada, where nearly 7,500 megawatts of renewable energy requests are already in the queue.

By 2015, the industry nationwide is expected to spend around $66 billion on improving transmission reliability and building capacity, according to the Edison Electric Institute, an association of electric companies. But more would be needed to meet all of the nation’s needs.

In New Mexico, there were 18 utility-scale solar projects in the pipeline during the last fiscal year compared to none in 2010. But major transmission proposals that would crisscross the state are still in the permitting phase.

Some progress has been made in the last two years, but the lofty goals set years ago by former Democratic Gov. Bill Richardson to develop megaprojects and make New Mexico the “solar capital” of the U.S. have yet to be realized. Part of it has to do with competition.

“There are projects being developed in Arizona. There are projects being developed in California. And the states that have an interest in developing solar energy tend to have their own resources,” said Jason Marks, a New Mexico public regulation commissioner.

“They’re wanting to keep the money that they’re spending in their own economies,” he added.
Making solar energy into a reliable export to populated states is “the biggest game in town,” according to Abbas Ghassemi, an energy expert at New Mexico State University.

“For most of these states, they’re looking at it for economic development and job creation,” Ghassemi said, underscoring the reasons why solutions such as cost incentives and utility quotas haven’t helped states like New Mexico catch up to California and New Jersey, an unlikely solar leader.

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer recently said the success of the solar energy industry is a key asset to her state’s economy. Her comments came after learning Arizona moved up in the national rankings, becoming second only to California for the number of photovoltaic panels installed at homes and businesses during the second quarter this year.

Nationally, the Solar Energy Industries Association reported more than 20 utility-scale photovoltaic projects were completed during the second quarter, marking the largest quarter ever for solar panel installations.

At the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Colorado, scientists have modeled what the U.S. would look like in 2050, and they say it’s possible for renewable solar energy to make up 80 percent of the electricity generated, even with existing technologies.

Whether that comes to pass will depend on the price of technology, transmission capacity and policies and regulations that encourage renewable solar energy development.

With more polls showing Americans favoring renewable solar energy and politicians looking desperately for ways to boost the economy, Adam Browning, executive director of the California-based nonprofit Voter Solar Initiative, said the will seems to be shifting.

“Renewables provide a powerful solution that’s really about tapping into great American values of self-reliance, of technology mastery, of creating new industries that put people to work,” he said. “I really feel there’s a great political narrative to this.”

Credit for information found in this article goes to:

If you’re looking into Solar Energy, call Border Solar today for a consultation! (915) 875-1305.


Solar Panel El Paso TX

Efficiency of Solar Panels

Most solar panels have a rating of 11-15% efficiency. The efficiency rating measures what percentage of sunlight hitting solar panels gets turned into electricity that you can use. The higher the efficiency, the less surface area you’ll need in your solar panels. Although the average percentage may sound a little low, you can easily outfit a typical roof with enough power to cover your energy needs.

What are the most efficient solar panels?

In the lab, scientists have developed solar panels that are 40% efficient, or even slightly more than that. But there’s a big difference between the lab and the real world. Manufacturers haven’t yet figured out how to take these experiments and produce economically viable products. Thinking you should wait for new whiz-bang solar panels is one of the most common solar myths.

Should I choose the most efficient solar panels available? 

High efficiency doesn’t mean better, it just means your solar panels use less space on your roof. Efficiency isn’t usually a critical concern unless you have an unusually small space for your solar panels. The most efficient solar panels cost a little more, so they’re a less common choice.

Getting the best power performance

In addition to efficiency and size, there are other factors that affect how much power your solar panels will generate. It’s important to make sure solar panels are installed in the optimal position, which is why you want to work with a highly experienced provider.

Factors that affect the efficiency of solar panels include:

Panel Orientation
In the U.S., your roof ideally should face south, but a quality design can often compensate for other directions.

Roof and Panel Pitch
The “pitch” or tilt of your roof can affect the number of hours of sunlight you receive in an average day throughout the year. Large commercial systems have solar tracking systems that automatically follow the sun’s tilt through the day. These are expensive, however, and not typically used for residential solar installs.
Some solar panels like it hot but most don’t. So, solar panels typically need to be installed a few inches above the roof with enough air flow to cool them down. Some photovoltaic panels are designed to be more efficient in hotter climates.

Basically, shade is the enemy of solar power. With poor solar design, even a little shade on one panel can shut down energy production on all of your other panels (like a bad bulb in a string of Christmas lights).

If you’re in the market to add solar panels to your home in El Paso, TX or the surrounding areas, please Contact Border Solar by calling (915) 875-1305 today to set up a consultation.

Information used in this blog was obtained from One Block Off the Grid