Tri Cities Parade of Homes

We’re in the Parade of Homes September 2014!

One of this year’s solar customers is having their home showcased in the Tri-Cities Home Builder’s Association’s Parade of Homes. It’s a lovely 7.02kW system using products manufactured in Washington State.

You can find out about the Parade of Homes schedule here: Parade of Homes Schedule and Ticket Info.

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Hamilton Cellars Goes Solar

Russ and Stacie Hamilton of Hamilton Cellars are building a beautiful new winery and tasting room out on Red Mountain with the goal of being the 1st net zero winery in Washington State.

To that end Hire Electric’s Solar Division just installed a 33kW solar array on the east facing barrel room roof that will generate approximately 44MWh per year – enough to fully power about four northwest homes. We used 121 – SolarWorld 275 watt solar panels and Enphase Micro Inverters for module level monitoring. The winery features extensive efficiency measures, an electric vehicle charging station, innovative cooling systems and solar thermal water and space heating.

Ribbon cutting and open house will be announced soon.

Hamilton Cellars 33kW


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Wind Turbine Live Data

Ever wonder what the wind is doing in Pendleton, OR? The Tamastslikt Cultural Institute’s wind turbine live data page is up on their web site:

Tam Sunset

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Way Back OutBack

We installed this OutBack Power System in 2006 at an off grid “cabin”. Eight years later it is still running strong. Just back to get the cabin ready for full time retirement living. Hooked them up to the grid and added a 7.95kW iTek Energy system. Now they’ve got the Outback system as a 1st class back up and grid support.OutBack


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Solar 4 Schools @ Tri Tech in Kennewick

Educational opportunities for jobs that pay abound at Tri Tech Skills Center in Kennewick, Washington. Recently Hire Electric and the Bonneville Environmental Foundation helped Tri Tech add a solar training component to their skill set. It’s a relatively small array on an active tracking system in front of the school. The monitoring and control system allows teachers and students to access irradiance, temperature and production from home or the class room. In fact you can see what the solar array is doing right here:

Tri Tech Solar - Done

Photo by Tony Milewski – used without permission (Tony you’re awesome! Keep up the good work!)


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Dark Sky Lighting Options

Many cities and neighborhoods are adopting initiatives to encourage quality lighting that helps maintain our view of the stars at night.

Hire electric can help you retrofit or install new lighting that saves you money on your electric bill AND makes your property more secure.

The key is not to waste light that is going where you don’t need it – like up. The basic rule of thumb is to have a lens or reflector that hides the bulb and provides a full cut off at horizontal. This lens will point the light down at the things you need to illuminate and not out into your neighbors windows, eyes or the heavens above.

The other factor that helps comply with Dark Sky initiatives is the temperature of the light. Light that is very blue or white tends to reflect more off surrounding objects and dilate the eyes in ways that make them less effective for night vision. A kelvin (temperature) rating of less than 3000 is recommended. LED magazine article.

In many cases a lighting upgrade can meet both the goals of Dark Sky compliance and energy efficiency. The energy efficiency piece has incentive programs through most utilities (especially for businesses) that help with the upfront cost. We have helped many local gas stations convert to LED lighting with the power company paying for almost half the project cost. Customers love the new look, the lamps last forever (almost) and the electric bill is cut by 75%.

Learn more about Dark Sky here:  /

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Solar Shouldn’t Kill Trees

The Eltek Theia HE-t, Washington made inverter comes with an installation guide. It doesn’t come with a users manual. The users manual is 108 pages long and can be found here: We print out the safety section of the manual and show our customers how to use the inverter but we do not print out the entire manual. Solar shouldn’t kill trees. Keep it digital.

The user’s manual can also be found here: EltekUser’sManual

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Solar Open House in Burbank, WA

Saturday, June 7th, 11am to 6pm

1100 Hanson Loop Rd, Burbank, WA

Come meet all the experts:
  • Hot Solar Solutions – Solar hot water heating
  • Sun Solutions – Solar shading systems
  • Hire Electric – Solar electric systems

NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

See the news report here: KNDU Solar Story

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Solar Labeling 2014

Labeling, or not labeling, is second only to grounding when it comes to solar confusion. Confusion for the installer, confusion for the electrical inspector and confusion for the utility. At Hire Electric we’ve evolved into a system over the past 12 years that works pretty well for all parties involved. Now the NEC is changing things up a bit by coming in line more with warning and safety labeling standards from the American National Standard Institute (ANSI) Z535.4 – 2011 per Article 110.21(B).

Yellow and red and orange…oh, my. Different fonts and different colors, sizes and shapes. A whole new world to learn and comply with.

I found this article from Solar Industry Magazine that sums up the issues pretty well: “New Labels Bring Clarity to PV Infrastructure” 

One thing to keep in mind for Net Metered systems is that NEC compliance does not necessarily mean utility compliance. Often times power companies have another set of standards or rules or arbitrary wishes that they want you to comply with. At Hire we deal with 16 different utilities throughout Washington and Oregon. Each one is slightly different.Net Metering

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Note from the Chief – Photovoltaic Rules Delayed

Solar safety is extremely important. Safety measures included in the 2014 electrical code for PV systems are all technology based – adding layers of electronic protection and control. The issues with technology-based safety are excessive cost and decreasing system reliability. We’re very pleased that both Oregon and Washington have chosen to delay implementation of these technology related safety systems until the industry has time to perfect them. Here’s the notice that came in from Washington’s Dept. of Labor and Industries:

During the past few weeks, several Washington State manufacturers involved in the photovoltaic (PV) industry have contacted the electrical program. All expressed concerns that the industry is not ready for new PV requirements in the 2014 National Electrical Code (NEC) specifically, sections 690.11, Arc-Fault Circuit Protection (Direct Current), 690.12 Rapid Shutdown of PV Systems on Buildings and NEC 705.12(6), Wire Harness and Exposed Cable Arc-Fault Protection. Each manufacturer has technical obstacles in complying with the new NEC requirements by the July 1, 2014 effective date.
The electrical program conducted independent research and came to similar conclusions. We discussed the issues with all four in-state PV manufacturers, other PV industry experts, and the State of Oregon, which has already delayed implementation of NEC 690.11 until April 1, 2016 and NEC 690.12 until October 1, 2017. We conducted extensive online research and reviewed the Reports on Comments and Reports on Proposals for the 2011 and 2014 NEC revision cycles. All three requirements are meant to increase electrical safety for PV systems and in the future, no doubt will. However, by policy, I am granting a one-year delay, until July 1, 2015, in implementation of all three requirements, allowing the Washington State PV manufacturers time to address each of these issues.
Enforcement will begin July 1, 2015. This reasonable approach will ensure an acceptable level of safety while not hampering Washington State’s PV industry.

Rod Mutch, Chief Electrical Inspector

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