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Photo of the Month: June 2012   

Pictured above is SPX Arguson Solar Power Monitoring. LightWave Solar recently launched a unique platform that integrates online monitoring with multimedia content.  Our customers can loop live solar production data with photos, videos and more. Click here to see! 



Getting Down to Basics: AC Modules and DC Modules

AC Modules


One of the newest technologies on the solar market are AC modules (or AC panels).  These are solar modules with microinverters already mounted on the back. Although they cost more, AC modules can be a great solar option for sites with shading and/or irregularly shaped roofs.


Here's how it works: Standard DC modules are connected in series to make one or more strings that feed into one or more inverters.  Shading on one panel can affect the production of other unshaded panels in the same string.  With AC modules, however, an inverter is mounted on each module, so shading on one module will not affect the output of other unshaded modules.  For example, a tree might create shade on a single panel, and typically that obstruction would affect the output of the entire series-string of panels. With AC modules, the shade would reduce solar output for only the shaded panel(s).


Since AC modules are not constrained to stringing requirements, they can be added in any number to improve aesthetics and fully utilize roof space. 


AC panels use what is called Maximum Power Point Tracking (MPPT) on a panel level, whereas string inverters use MPPT at the string level. Panel level MPPT extracts the maximum power from each module in the array and provides energy production insight that was once previously unavailable. Online monitoring with AC modules allows us to monitor the output production of each panel.


Sharp and SunPower AC modules come with 25 year warranties, versus the typical 10 year warranty for string inverters.  Other advantages include a reduction of hardware and installation time. One drawback is that there are more units to fail.  The part is warrantied, but the service would be an additional cost to the system owner.


"AC modules make a lot of sense in some situations," says solar sales consultant JP Plumlee.  "It's an advanced technology that is made for roofs with less than ideal solar conditions."


LightWave Solar currently has three customers who have chosen to use AC panels, and their installations are underway.



Green Power Switch Pure Solar


Green Power Switch

If you haven't yet added solar panels to your home or business, consider buying blocks of renewable energy through TVA's Green Power Switch (GPS).   Each block purchased helps support the regional production of renewable energy, including the funding for the Generation Partners program.  


The Generation Partners program currently credits solar system owners for their clean electricity at a premium rate.


A new pilot program called Green Power Switch Pure Solar is sourced entirely from Generation Partners (which will soon transition to Green Power Providers). GPS Pure Solar is offered in only a few areas, so ask if your area is eligible. 


Please click the links below to learn more and sign up!



GPS Pure Solar:



Federal Support for Solar Energy Consistent with Incentives for Traditional Energy Sources  


A recent study published by the University of Tennessee Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy, Assessment of Incentives and Employment Impacts of Solar Industry Deployment, highlights the importance of federal incentives for emerging energy technologies like solar energy and the vast benefits solar energy could bring to the U.S. economy with continued federal support. The report not only emphasizes the value of consistent federal energy incentives, but shows how solar energy is following the same incentive-driven path as other traditional energy sources like coal, oil, natural gas, and nuclear.

Importance of Stable Federal Energy Incentives
  • Energy technologies, including oil and gas, typically require about 30 years to achieve widespread adoption. Stable incentives have been critical throughout this adoption period for traditional resources. Solar is following a similar but accelerated trajectory.
  • The study finds direct federal government support has removed
    barriers, encouraged private investment and enabled all energy technologies to reach maturity.
  • The study states that solar energy technologies are moving quickly toward widespread adoption. Consistent government support will be crucial for solar to become a major source of domestic energy production. 
Decades of Incentives for Traditional Fuels
  • The chart below highlights federal government spending for every major energy source over the past 60 years.
  • Solar has received a small amount of federal support compared to other energy sources.  

Economic Impacts of Solar Energy 

  • The study finds that, with consistent policy, solar could support 200,000 to 430,000 jobs across the United States by 2020.
  • Widespread solar adoption can lower peak electricity rates, strengthen our national energy portfolio, and benefit all Americans.


LightWave Insider is a monthly online newsletter from LightWave Solar bringing you news and information about the solar industry.  

Where We'll Be...


Tennessee Preservation Trust (TPT) Conference

Solar and Geothermal for Existing Buildings

Fri, June 1 at 1:30pm 

Hotel Indigo 

More info here


TPT Old House Fair

Sat, June 2 8am-3pm

Eastwood Christian Church

More info here


LightWave Solar Johnson City 

Open House 

Wed, June 7 5:30-7:30pm 

516 W. Oakland Ave

Ste 102

Johnson City, TN 37604  

Visit our new JC office and learn about solar.  See a working solar display and enjoy snacks and drinks.

More info here 



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3026 Owen Drive, Suite 104, Antioch, TN 37013