Do I Need To Clean My Panels To Get Them To Work
The beauty of solar as a long-term investment is that your panels require very little maintenance to work effectively. You do not need to regularly clean your panels. Your system will work a little better if your panels are clean, but the improvement is so marginal that it is often offset by the cost of cleaning. Your panels can have a lifespan of 25 years or more with very little upkeep.
How Long Do Solar Panels Last
Solar panels are made to last more than 25 years. Many solar panels that were installed as early as the 1980s are still working. Over the past few decades, solar panel longevity has increased dramatically. States, the average lifespan of a residential solar system is about 15 years, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration .
The average life of commercial solar systems, on the other hand, ranges from about 10 years to 20 years depending on whether the panels are installed on a commercial or residential property. Commercial systems are more expensive than residential systems because they require more energy to produce the same amount of electricity. However, commercial systems can be installed for less than $1,000 per system, compared to about $2,500 per residential system.
What Wiring Is Required For Solar Panels
For a solar panel to produce power, it must be connected to an inverter. An inverter is also known as a charge controller or battery charger and will convert the direct current power from a solar panel into alternating current power.
Solar PV panels are available in series and parallel configurations. The wiring configuration is determined by the size of your system, how much electricity you need, and the type of inverter you have.
To wire a solar panel, you will need to know the voltage and current rating of your PV systems. The size or wattage of your solar system is determined by multiplying the voltage times the current of your solar modules.
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Ensure Strings Have Similar Conditions Or Connect Strings With Different Conditions To Different Mppt Ports
Once youve determined that your strings are acceptable lengths for the inverter specifications, another key consideration is that the strings have the same conditions if they are connected to the same inverter MPPT.
Mismatches in the conditions on the strings will reduce the efficiency and power output of your solar design. For a discussion of why mismatches in shading, orientation, or azimuth result in lost power output see the fourth article in our PV system losses series: Tilt & Orientation, Incident Angle Modifier, Environmental Conditions, and Inverter Losses & Clipping.
If you are designing for a site where its necessary to have panels on different roof faces, or some areas of the array will get more shade than others, you can ensure that the panels with different conditions are separated into their own strings, and then connect those strings to different MPPTs of the inverter .
This will allow the inverter to ensure each string operates at the point where it produces the maximum power.
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.
How Do Solar Panels Work On A House
In a house wired to utilize solar panels to generate electricity, the panels are usually mounted on the roof. Sunlight hits the PV cells on the solar panels and creates an electric field. This electric field flows through an external circuit, which can be used to power devices or store the energy in batteries. The direct current from the solar panel is not very useful to most people, as it difficult to use in homes and businesses. So, an inverter is needed to convert the DC into an alternating current . AC can be used to power devices and is the type of electricity that flows through power lines.
The Science Behind Solar Panels
Solar power works by utilising a chemistry phenomenon known as the photovoltaic effect. Essentially the photovoltaic effect describes a reaction where certain materials generate an electrical current when exposed to sunlight. Silicon is well known for these properties and thats why its used in nearly all types of solar panels.
In contrast, traditional power generation systems rely on an energy source to spin a turbine, in turn charging a generator that creates an electrical current prime examples are coal power plants, wind turbines and hydroelectricity plants.
Do we still have you on board? This video may help
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How Do Solar Panels Connected To The Mains
Solar panels can be connected to the mains in two ways: through a grid-tie inverter or a battery bank. With a grid tie inverter, the solar modules are connected directly to the electrical grid and used to send power back and forth as needed. With a battery bank, the solar panels charge batteries that then provide power to the homes electrical system.
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.
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Solar Energy Diagram #6 Concentrated Solar Photovoltaics
CSV is one of the newest forms of solar technology. These systems focus a large amount of sunlight onto a small photvoltaic areasort of like a mini solar panel. However, compared to standard solar panels, CSV systems are typically much cheaper to produce since the use of expensive parts are minimized.
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Making Solar Cells Into Solar Panels
To make a solar panel work with some serious grunt, lots of these cells are connected together. A typical configuration would be 60 cells, which would make a solar panel that produces, 60 x 6.16W = ~370W of power.
Each of the 60 cells is wired in series the following diagram show how this works:
When something is wired in series their voltages add up, but their current stays the same. So in our example, the current output of the solar panel will be 10.86, but the voltage will be 60 x 0.57V = 34.2V .
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Explore A Few Different Options To Find The Best One
As you can see, there are many considerations when it comes to stringing your panels and finding the inverter and stringing configuration that is best for the customer.
You may not arrive at the optimal design the first time around so it can be helpful to evaluate a few different options. In order for this to be efficient, however, youll need a process where you can evaluate multiple designs quickly. This is where solar software, like Aurora, can be particularly valuable.
What Are Solar Panels Made Of
Most solar panels you see on American homes are made of PV cells that are made using materials such as silicon, germanium, or selenium. When these PV cells are connected together in a solar panel, they create what is called a photovoltaic system. PV cells are responsible for converting sunlight to electrical current.
The most common PV material is silicon and it is preferred because it has a higher efficiency in converting sunlight to electricity. However, silicon is a very expensive material. As a result, scientists are working on finding cheaper materials that can be used to create PV cells.
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How Do Solar Panels Fit Into An Entire Solar Installation
While solar panels are the basis of any solar installation, theyre actually just one single component. With even just one component missing, the installation simply wont work!
Like we mentioned at the beginning of this article, solar is actually a pretty simple system. Solar panels create electricity. That electricity is transported to your inverter via wires housed in protective metal pipes from the panels on your roof. The inverter changes the electricity from direct current to alternating current so your home and grid can use the electricity.
After that, it is then fed directly into your electrical panel, typically via a circuit breaker just like the ones you already have in your electrical box. From there, you can use it in your home. If your installation is producing more than you can use, that excess will go directly into the grid.
In the end, the solar panel, as well as the entire solar installation, is simply about moving electrons from one place to another. Its a simple concept, but amazingly complex once you really start to dig in. At least you now know that solars all about moving electrons pull that out at your next dinner party!
Have a follow-up question or thought on how solar panels work? Ask away in the comments!
How Does Grid Connection Work With Solarpanels
The next thing youll want to know is howgrid connection works. While solar power is pretty great in this day an age,changes are you wont be running your whole home from it at first. Plus,believe it or not, electric companies will actually compensate you for energyyou provide to the grid with solar power.
The connection between the grid and your solar panels
Solar panels will provide you with plenty of daytime energy, but if you remain connected to the power grid, you might not see a decrease in your electricity bill right away.
Now if youre scratching your head, dont worry, because there is a reason for this. Just because you have solar energy coming in during the day, that doesnt mean you wont need to be supplemented at night.
This is even more true if you have nostorage batteries, because youll be entirely reliant on the grid for storageand nightly energy purposes. The way this works is simple, the energy producedby solar cells will be turned into 240 AC electricity , and then if youre connected to the grid your energy will bestored in the grid.
Also, once you have enough energy stored,youll start to pay less on your electricity bill. Please keep in mind thatthis process will take time, so if you dont notice an immediate decrease, tryand be a bit patient with it.
Why do electricity companies send money your way when you go solar?
Sure, it might seem like stealing, but this will definitely help both you and the community.
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Can A House Run On Solar Power Alone
With a modern solar energy system, you can run a whole house on solar power. Todays high-efficiency solar panels and solar batteries make it cheaper to power an entire home on the sun. In fact, the cost of installing a solar system can be as low as $0.05 per kilowatt-hour .
Thats less than one-tenth of what it costs to buy a new gas-fired power plant, and its a fraction of the price youll pay for electricity from coal, natural gas, or nuclear power plants. And thats not even taking into account the fact that you dont have to pay any taxes or fees for the power you generate.
You can use it to run your appliances, heat your home, charge your cell phone, watch movies, play video games, listen to music, etc., all without having to worry about whether or not your power bill is going to go up or down.
Putting Your Solar Panels In Parallel
When solar panels are put to work in a parallel array, their voltage stays the same, but you add up their current.
Once your designer has worked out what string length to be used , the designer needs to work out how many of those strings can be placed in parallel to get the desired system size. All strings need to be the same length unless you have a special inverter with multiple inputs.
Heres a diagram showing how you connect up 2 series-strings in parallel:
This doesnt always work out nicely. For example, if you are designing a 24 module system, but your maximum string length is 11 panels, then you can only use 22 of the panels or find another inverter.
One last check that needs to be made is that the current from this array of solar panels wont exceed your inverters maximum current. Once that has been verified, youve got an array that should work in conjunction with your inverter to convert the high voltage DC from the panels into 240V AC that can be used in your home.
We hope youve found this information on how solar panels work of value. If youre interested in learning more, check out my guide to solar power systems.
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How Is Solar Energy Stored
Solar energy seems pretty simple right? You throw a panel somewhere, and boom, you have electricity. Well, while thats definitely sort of how it works, there is something going on beneath the surface.
Have you ever noticed that solar powered technology still works at night? Therefore, if solar panels did not store solar energy, this would not be the case. So if youre ready for a quick science lesson about the storage of solar energy, put that thinking cap on.
It can be stored in the grid
One of the reasons that power companies will one day pay you for your solar energy, is due to the fact that the power grid can actually be used to store your solar energy.
The grid connects everything, and transmits power through it. Therefore, when youre out of storage space, sometimes that solar energy can be stored within the grid. Well dive more into the details of how solar energy works in the grid in the following section.
Depending on your storage capabilities,solar energy can be stored in batteries. This is due to the fact that theenergy stored in panels needs some place to go. This is where batteries comein, and the energy produced from a panel can be transferred to the battery inthis case. The batteries will hold the energy, and release it when needed.
For heating purposes
So when you think about solar energystorage, think of it as a transfer of energy. The solar panel will take theenergy, and transfer it to another source for storage.
How Does A Pv Cell Work
Sunlight is composed of photons, or particles of radiant solar energy. These photons contain various amounts of energy depending on the wavelength of the solar spectrum.
When the strike a solar cell, some are absorbed while others are reflected. When the material absorbs sufficient photon energy, electrons within the solar cell material dislodge from their atoms.
The electrons migrate to the front surface of the solar cell, which is manufactured to be more receptive to the free electrons. When many electrons, each carrying a negative charge, travel toward the front surface of the cell, the resulting imbalance of charge between the cell’s front and back surfaces creates a voltage potential like the negative and positive terminals of a battery. When the two surfaces are connected through an external load, electricity flows.
Individual solar cells vary in size from about 1 cm to about 10 cm across. A cell of this size can only produce 1 or 2 watts, which isn’t enough power for most applications. To increase power output, cells are electrically connected into a module. Modules are connected to form an array. The term “array” refers to the entire generating plant, whether it is made up of one or several thousand modules.
The performance of a photovoltaic array is dependent upon sunlight. Climate has a significant effect on the amount of solar energy received by a PV array and, in turn, its performance.
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