Archive for February, 2012

“No Two Modules Alike” – Nor Are All PV Panel Tests Consistent

Wednesday, February 29th, 2012
Canadian Solar 240-watt module

ReVision has installed several manufacturers' PV modules over the years, and CSI is our favorite for its rugged construction and excellent field-installed efficiency.

After a couple of us found a chance to read a recent review of photovoltaic modules by Photon magazine(based in Aachen, Germany), we had to write a response to an unfair analysis of Canadian Solar modules (ReVision’s current choice for a standard grade solar panel based on ruggedness, efficiency and affordability).

While the Photon article does show interesting data on field installed performance (i.e. kWh/kW yields), it arranges data in a confusing way. Specifically, the authors show performance ratios from modules of different ages, as if they were all comparable. The “top-performer”– a 230-watt REC module from Norway–installed in 2010, was matched up against Canadian Solar’s 170-watt module, which has been installed and working since 2007!

The rating neglects the fact that photovoltaic cells degrade over time, and that a cell that has been installed for one year will show a higher efficiency. The older cells will be trailing by around 0.5 – 0.7% per year, simply because their circuits’ performance has degraded a bit. In fact, the ranking largely reads chronologically–so the modules that have been sitting in the field at Aachen for 4-5 years are shown as poorer-performing cells. In the specific case of the Canadian Solar 170-watt module, the California Energy Commission’s test result shows 87.4% module performance ratio at PTC (photovoltaic test conditions; this is right around the industry average.)

Photon Magazine Ratings on PV Modules 2012

In a recent test, a 4-year-old Canadian Solar module placed - not surprisingly - behind newly installed solar panels by competing manufacturers.

ReVision currently installs a much younger product generation: the 240-watt Canadians, which we see as a highly evolved component, and one comparable to the Norwegian RECs shown at the top of the rankings. We’d love to see Photon come out with a field-test study with a synchronous start date for all the different manufacturers; putting apples next to apples.

For the full article, read on: “No two modules alike” (PDF) Photon Magazine, February 2012

Button Up! 101 and 201 Durham, NH

Thursday, February 23rd, 2012
Time: Thursday, February 23rd, 2012 (Snow date: Tuesday, March 6th)
Location: Multipurpose Room, Oyster River High School, Coe Drive Durham NH 03824 (Map and Directions)

Button Up NH Weatherization WorkshopPlease join us for one or both sessions providing sound advice on (Button Up 101) and hands on experience with (Button up 201) the fundamentals of “buttoning up” our homes and making our region more sustainable and resilient. Refreshments too! Even door prizes!

To help us plan refreshments and seating, please pre-register. Pre-registered guests will be entered in a drawing for weatherization related door prizes!

Workshop Schedule**
6:30 – 7:30 PM Button Up 101 Introductory workshop
7:30 – 8:00 PM Refreshments Meet-and-greet, literature tables
8:00 – 9:30 PM Button Up 201 Intermediate hands-on workshop

** Attendees are encouraged to come to one or both sessions according to their interest and experience. For those attending just Button Up 201, feel free to arrive before 8:00PM to enjoy refreshments and a meet-and-greet with local experts.

Button Up 101: A Workshop on the Basics of Home Energy Savings

You will learn:

  • Simple steps to save energy in your home
  • Increasing your home energy IQ
  • Ways to make your home more comfortable
  • Next steps to “button up” your home
  • Technical and financial resources

Button Up 201: A Workshop on Advanced Measures for Greater Energy Savings

You will learn:

  • Weatherization do-it-yourself projects
  • Tips on working with an energy professional
  • Understanding of related health and safety issues
  • Technical and financial resources

We, a coalition of local sustainability groups, are pleased to cosponsor this event with the Button Up, New Hampshire group based at the University of New Hampshire. For more information on these workshops, see Button Up, New Hampshire site at

If you have questions about this particular Durham event, please contact Charles Forcey at or 603-868-9900.

Local Co-Sponsors

Community Church of Durham

Durham Energy Committee

Lee Energy Committee

Oyster River Sustainability Committee

University of New Hampshire:
Department of Natural Resources and the Environment


Button Up NH – Weatherization Workshop

Tuesday, February 21st, 2012
Time: Tuesday, February 21st, 2012, 11AM – 12PM
Location: The Boulders Campus of RiverWoods at Exeter, 7 Riverwoods Drive, Exeter, NH 03833 (Map and Directions)

Button Up NH Weatherization WorkshopA free “Button Up NH” Weatherization Workshop will be held on Tuesday, February 21st from 11am – noon at The Boulders Campus of RiverWoods at Exeter. The Workforce Housing Coalition of the Greater Seacoast, the Town of Exeter Energy Committee and ReVision Energy are sponsors of this free workshop, which will be facilitated by certified energy professionals who will provide attendees with information and techniques to save money on home energy use.

Please pre-register by contacting: or (603) 205-0539. The snow date is February 23rd. Light refreshments will be provided. All attendees will be entered into a raffle drawing for energy-saving prizes!

Home heating prices are predicted to rise by another 10% this season and this workshop will offer information on reducing fuel and electricity use via basic air sealing & insulation techniques, finding technical and financial resources, identifying sources of energy waste and easy do-it-yourself conservation measures.

The workshops are free and open to the public, thanks to funding provided by the N.H. Office of Energy and Planning from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. A total of 40 workshops will be held across NH in the next few months with the hopes of helping NH residents save money on their fuel bills. This UNH-based program is a collaboration with Clean Air-Cool Planet, Plymouth Area Renewable Energy Initiative (PAREI), UNH Cooperative Extension, and the Lakes Region Community College.

For more information on attending a Button Up NH workshop or getting a jump start on saving money on energy this winter, visit:

Sponsors for Button Up NH Workshops

Thank you for a Great Year Checking in to Charity!

Monday, February 20th, 2012
ReVision Visits Riding to the Top
Fred Greenhalgh of ReVision visited Riding to the Top to meet some of their riders, volunteers, and staff

A big thank you to all our readers for helping raise $6,000 this past year for 12 different nonprofits in Maine and New Hampshire. It was an experiment for us, but we have to say, “Check in for Charity” was a big success!

Here are the nonprofits who each received $500 this year as part of the program:

Check in for Charity will return in March, 2012 with terms similar to what we did in 2011. We are currently taking nominations for nonprofits, so please send in your choices and stay tuned for details in our March newsletter.

Also, please consider supporting some of the organizations we helped this past year – all are worthy causes doing great work, and the need for giving all across the nonprofit world is great. Thank you for doing your part!

Our Stance: Renewable Energy a Better Investment

Monday, February 13th, 2012

Renewable Energy a Better Investment than Fifth FleetWould Americans rather pay taxes to project 5th Fleet firepower in the Middle East, or invest those hard-earned dollars domestically to foment a transition from finite energy to renewable energy? Would we be spending so much blood and treasure in the region if not for the oil?

North America is rich in a variety of renewable and non-renewable resources. If we took all the money from the Iraq wars, Afghanistan and whatever we’re spending on all other Middle East oil protection, there would be enough resources to make America energy-independent.

Germany is an example of what can be achieved through heavy renewable energy investments. Since the early 1990s, they have installed more than 1 million solar energy systems and 26,000 wind turbines and now derive more than 20 percent of their energy from renewable sources.

In June 2011, German Chancellor Angela Merkel made an emphatic case for the success of this approach by declaring they will now eliminate nuclear power in the wake of the Fukushima disaster. Is it an accident that Germany has one of the strongest economies in the world today?

In World War II, the United States showed the world what can be achieved by a unified, innovative and highly motivated population. In 2011, Germany is showing us the way.

It’s time for America to pull together around energy independence and make it unnecessary for leaders like President Obama to navigate the perilous waters of the Strait of Hormuz.

Phil Coupe

Co-founder, ReVision Energy