Why Solar System Output Can Vary From Place To Place
Solar power ratings are based on how much power they produce in ideal sunlight and temperature conditions . This is defined as the maximum power rating.
The problem is that actual sunlight conditions aren’t always at their peak. This means that the amount of electricity your home’s solar panels will actually produce on any given day depends on several environmental factors, including:
- The average amount of sunlight your roof might get daily or annually
- Whether recurrent shading, which could be from wind-blown tree branches, obscures direct sunlight from constantly hitting your solar panels
- The size of your solar panels and the level of efficiency the solar cells operate at converting energy into electrical power
Do Some States Get More Solar Energy Than Others
Obviously, some states get more sun than others. So the real question is: if weather can affect solar energy production, are some states better candidates for solar energy than others? The short answer is yes, but not necessarily because of weather.
Take clouds for example. Anyone who has been sunburned on a cloudy day knows that solar radiation penetrates through clouds. For that same reason, solar panels can still produce electricity on cloudy days. But depending on the cloud cover and the quality of the solar panels, the efficiency of the solar panels electricity production commonly drops from 10 to 25 percent or more compared to a sunny day.
In other words, solar power can still work well in typically cloudy, cold locations. New York, San Francisco, Milwaukee, Boston, Seattle – all of those cities experience inclement weather, from rain and fog to blizzards, yet they’re also cities where people see huge savings by getting solar.
No matter where you live, solar energy can be an excellent investment and an excellent way to help combat climate change. How much you’ll save – and how quickly you’ll see a return on your investment in a particular state – depends on many factors, like the cost of electricity, solar incentives available, net metering, and the quality of your solar panels.
A Brief History Of Solar Power
In 1954, Bell Labs developed the first silicon . Although solar energy had previously been captured and converted into usable energy through various methods,only after 1954 did solar power begin to become a viable source of electricity to power devices over extended periods of time. The first solar cells converted solar radiation to electricity at an efficiency of 4 percent – for reference, many widely available solar panels today can convert sunlight to solar power at above 20 percent efficiency, a number constantly on the rise.
Although adoption of solar energy was slow at first, a number of state and federal incentives and policies contributed to driving down the cost of solar far enough to become more widely adopted. At this point, solar power accounts for enough capacity to power 11 million of the 126 million households in the country.
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How Does Weather Affect Solar Energy
Weather conditions can impact the amount of electricity a solar system produces, but not exactly in the way you might think.
Perfect conditions for producing solar energy include a clear sunny day, of course. But like most electronics, solar panels are actually more efficient in cold weather than warm weather. This allows the panel to produce more electricity in the same amount of time. As the temperature rises, the panel generates less voltage and produces less electricity.
But even though solar panels are more efficient in cold weather, they don’t necessarily produce more electricity in the winter than in summer. Sunnier weather often occurs in the warmer summer months. In addition to fewer clouds, the sun is usually out for more of the day. So even though your panels may be less efficient in warm weather, they’ll still likely produce more electricity in summer than in winter.
How Does Grid Connection Work With Solar Panels
Though electricity generation with solar panels may make sense to most people, theres still a lot of general confusion about how the grid factors into the home solar process. Any home that is connected to the electrical grid will have something called a utility meter that your utility company uses to measure and supply power to your home. When you install solar panels on your roof or on a ground mount on your property, they are eventually connected to your homes utility meter. The production of your solar systems renewable energy can actually be accessed and measured by this meter.
Most homeowners in the U.S. have access to net metering, a major solar incentive that significantly improves the economics of solar. If you have net metering, you can send power to the grid when your solar system is overproducing in exchange for credits on your electric bill. Then, during hours of low electricity production , you can use your credits to draw extra energy from the grid and meet your household electricity demand. In a sense, net metering offers a free storage solution to property owners who go solar, almost like a battery, making solar an all-in-one energy solution.
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What Does A Solar Inverter Do
A solar inverter takes the DC electricity from the solar array and uses that to create AC electricity. Inverters are like the brains of the system. Along with inverting DC to AC power, they also provide ground fault protection and system stats, including voltage and current on AC and DC circuits, energy production and maximum power point tracking.
Central inverters have dominated the solar industry since the beginning. The introduction of micro-inverters is one of the biggest technology shifts in the PV industry. Micro-inverters optimize for each individual solar panel, not for an entire solar system, as central inverters do.
This enables every solar panel to perform at maximum potential. When a central inverter is used, having a problem on one solar panel can drag down the performance of the entire solar array. Micro-inverters, such as the ones in SunPower’s Equinox home solar system, make this a non-issue. If one solar panel has an issue, the rest of the solar array still performs efficiently.
System Panels And Equipment
There are a few factors to consider when selecting solar panels for your system. The most important is the wattage of the panel. You will need to select a panel that has enough wattage to provide the power you need.
The cost of a solar system is affected by what equipment is included. Panels, inverters, and mounts are all essential components of a solar system and can increase or decrease the overall price.
Another factor to consider is how many batteries you will need. Batteries allow you to store energy from the sun so that you can use it at night or during times when there isnt enough sun available. The number of batteries will depend on how much sun you receive and how much power your home needs.
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Solar Power For The Home: Benefits
A significant benefit to PV installation is a lower energy bill, but the magnitude of this benefit depends on the amount of solar energy that can be produced given the available conditions and the way in which utilities charge for electricity.
The first consideration is the solar irradiation levels available in the home’s geographical location. When it comes to using solar panels, being closer to the equator is generally better, but other factors must be considered. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory produces maps for the U.S. showing solar irradiation levels the tools on its website provide detailed solar information for specific locations within the U.S.
Similar maps and data are available in other countries as well, often from government environmental agencies or renewable energy organizations. Equally important is the home’s orientation for rooftop arrays, a south-facing roof without trees or other objects obstructing sunlight maximizes the available solar energy. If this is not available, panels can be mounted on external supports and installed away from the house, incurring additional costs for the extra hardware and cables.
The final benefit is the potential effect on a home’s value due to the addition of a solar array. In general, it is reasonable to assume that solar panels would raise the value of most homes.
Solar Batteries To Store Extra Energy
Battery storage is another option for storing solar energy. Companies such as Tesla, LG, and sonnenBatterie are producing batteries that make solar plus storage for homeowners more available. Batteries give the option of more independence from the grid. You can pull energy from your battery at night, rather than switching to utility power when the sun stops shining.
Battery backup also comes in handy in cases of power blackouts. You could run your appliances and electronics using a solar battery for a day or two. Thats generally enough time for your utility to get things up and running again. Of course, your solar panels will kick back in when its sunny as well, giving your battery a break.
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What Is A Solar Panel
Solar energy begins with the sun. Solar panels are used to convert light from the sun, which is composed of particles of energy called “”, into electricity that can be used to power electrical loads.
Solar panels can be used for a wide variety of applications including remote power systems for cabins, telecommunications equipment, remote sensing, and of course for the production of electricity by residential and commercial solar electric systems.
On this page, we will discuss the history, technology, and benefits of solar panels. We will learn how solar panels work, how they are made, how they create electricity, and where you can buy solar panels.
The Age Of Solar Panels
Its argued throughout the scientific community as to when the first photovoltaic cells were created. But scientists give credit for the invention to a French scientist Edmond Becquerel. He determined that light could increase electricity generation when two metal electrodes were placed into a conducting solution. This breakthrough was deemed the photovoltaic effect.
There were several other great minds involved in the process throughout the 1800s who worked with different products to find the best way to produce electricity. But it wasnt until 1954 that Daryl Chapin, Calvin Fuller, and Gerald Pearsons created the silicon photovoltaic cell at Bell Labs. This event was significant because it was the first time that a solar cell could power an electric device for several hours a day. The first-ever cell could convert energy at just 4% efficiency. Thats a huge difference from the almost 50% efficiency thats been obtained today.
As you can see, solar panels have come a long long way from where they first started. Not only are they much more complex and efficient but scientists today are still working towards making these systems more and more efficient so that you can save more money and pay less to get them installed.
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Basic Steps In Solar Energy Generation And Transmission
Now that we have a basic idea of the generation and flow of solar electricity, lets take a deeper dive into the science behind the solar photovoltaic panel.
Explore Your Solar Options Today With Energysage
For any homeowner in the early stage of shopping for solar that would just like a ballpark estimate for an installation, try our Solar Calculator that offers upfront cost and long-term savings estimates based on your location and roof type. For those looking to get and compare quotes from local contractors today, check out the EnergySage Marketplace.
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Ac Electricity Is Distributed Throughout Your Home
The AC electricity is fed directly from the solar panel into your houses electricity system. Throughout the day, you can use your solar panel to produce energy at any time. You can also use solar panel energy at night if you have solar energy stored on a battery.
Solar energy is the same as the electricity sourced from your local grid.
You do not need to convert any aspect of your house to accommodate solar power.
You can double-check that your solar panel is creating solar energy by checking the inverter.
If the inverter is displaying a green light, it means that the panel is cultivating solar power.
If the inverter is showing red, it means that its not bright enough outside for the solar panel to cultivate any sunlight.
But it could also mean that theres something wrong with the setup or wiring of your solar panel. Consult an experts advice if so.
You will still be able to receive regular electricity from your local grid. Your home switchboard will pick solar energy over grid energy.
How Do Solar Panels Work
When photons hit a solar cell, they knock electrons loose from their atoms. If conductors are attached to the positive and negative sides of a cell, it forms an electrical circuit. When electrons flow through such a circuit, they generate electricity. Multiple cells make up a solar panel, and multiple panels can be wired together to form a solar array. The more panels you can deploy, the more energy you can expect to generate.
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Impact On Electricity Network
With the increasing levels of rooftop photovoltaic systems, the energy flow becomes 2-way. When there is more local generation than consumption, electricity is exported to the grid. However, an electricity network traditionally is not designed to deal with the 2- way energy transfer. Therefore, some technical issues may occur. For example, in Queensland Australia, more than 30% of households used rooftop PV by the end of 2017. The famous Californian 2020 duck curve appeared often for a lot of communities from 2015 onwards. An over-voltage issue may result as the electricity flows from PV households back to the network. There are solutions to manage the over voltage issue, such as regulating PV inverter power factor, new voltage and energy control equipment at the electricity distributor level, re-conducting the electricity wires, demand side management, etc. There are often limitations and costs related to these solutions.
When electric networks are down, such as during the October 2019 California power shutoff, solar panels are often insufficient to fully provide power to a house or other structure, because they are designed to supply power to the grid, not directly to homes.
What Is A Solar Battery + Off
Weve talked from time to time about solar battery banks and the advantages that they bring. But how do they work, and when are they utilized? As solar experts, we do our best to advise on the best practice for your solar energy system, but at the end of the day, whether or not you choose to install a solar battery bank is up to you. There is one case in which youll want to be sure to get a solar battery bank, and thats with off-grid solar systems.
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The Benefits Of Solar Panels
Using solar panels is a very practical way to produce electricity for many applications. The obvious would have to be off-grid living. Living off-grid means living in a location that is not serviced by the main electric utility grid. Remote homes and cabins benefit nicely from solar power systems. No longer is it necessary to pay huge fees for the installation of electric utility poles and cabling from the nearest main grid access point. A solar electric system is potentially less expensive and can provide power for upwards of three decades if properly maintained.
Besides the fact that solar panels make it possible to live off-grid, perhaps the greatest benefit that you would enjoy from the use of solar power is that it is both a clean and a renewable source of energy. With the advent of global climate change, it has become more important that we do whatever we can to reduce the pressure on our atmosphere from the emission of greenhouse gases. Solar panels have no moving parts and require little maintenance. They are ruggedly built and last for decades when porperly maintained.
There are many other applications and benefits of using solar panels to generate your electricity needs – too many to list here. But as you browse our website, you’ll gain a good general knowledge of just how versatile and convenient solar power can be.
Choosing Solar Panels For Your Home
There are many different options when it comes to what panels or solar energy systems you choose to install on your home. The first thing to note is that solar installers only offer specific amounts. In most cases, this means that your choices will be limited, making it even more important that you choose a reputable solar installer for your home.
When you choose solar panels for your home, what you should look for most is the efficiency rate and life expectancy. You want the panels to produce a high amount of electricity and also to continue producing a high amount of electricity for several years. In some cases, the panels production will decline rapidly as they age, making them less effective and valuable. At Sun Badger, we only install solar panels that are guaranteed to produce at 80% of their capacity after 20 years. That means your solar investment will last for years to come, and even after a longer period of time, youll still be getting electricity from the panels.
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