Are Solar Panels Worth It
It depends on what your goals are. If youre looking for ways to save money on your utility bills, then installing solar panels means you wont see the benefits of that for around 6-7 years, because the cost of the installation is so high. If you plan to sell your home in the near future, then you may be able to install them and get your money back when you sell your property.
However, for most the cost of installation and their unsuitability for so many areas of the world means that they may not be worth it, and you might be better off doing your part for the planet by switching to a renewable energy plan.
Solar Panels & Solar Cells
Before we begin to explain the overarching process of the solar farm, let us first define the nuances of solar panels, a.k.a. Photovoltaic panels since theyre the most crucial and necessary component in capturing and harnessing the power of the sun.
As with any electrical circuit, solar cells create electricity by generating a flow of electrons, but how does it begin?
Simply put, a solar cell is made up of four layers, with the two outmost layers being conductive plates from which the electrons will flow to the power source.
However, its from the two innermost layers where most of the solar-electrical magic happens.
The two innermost layers of a solar panel are two different types of silicon one which has been positively charged , and one which has been negatively charged .
Its with these two layers of silicon that the particles of light react.
When the sun shines on a solar cell , it knocks an electron out from the layer of negatively charged silicon.
Then, due to the inherent charges with the two layers of silicon, the newly removed electron is forced to the outer conductive plate.
From the outer conductive plate, the electron then flows to the connecting wires and then further on to its destination in the form of direct current.
While one cell might only generate up to 0.5V, if you string multiple cells up together in one panel, the energy output will increase accordingly.
For example, 12 solar cells together will be enough to charge your phone directly.
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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How To Find A Solar Partner For Installation
When you start looking for solar installers to help with your home solar installation, youll likely have a lot of questions. Before diving in and working with just any old solar installer, take your time to thoroughly vet each company that you might work with. Youll want to find a company that has your best interest in mind, and thats willing to work with you. Here are a few filters to put them through and questions to ask.
- How long have they been in business? Look for five years as a good threshold.
- Do they have a clean and easy-to-use website? A professional company will put time into its online presence.
- Do they offer a warranty? Not all companies will offer workmanship warranties. A good warranty is vital.
- Do they offer professional customer service? How youre treated in the sales process will likely be how youre treated throughout the time you work with them.
- Will they be there for you in the future? Finding a company thats willing to partner with you throughout the future and not just right now is a huge advantage.
Do Solar Panels Work In Rain
Solar panels do work in the rain even if the amount of energy produced is reduced. The presence of light even if talk about diffused light, is enough for the panels to produce electricity through the photovoltaic effect.
The rain is also useful because it washes off the dust and debris from the panels, and keeps them clean.
Dirty solar panels produce less energy even in the summer, because the surface on the panels used to capture the sunlight is almost opaque.
This is the reason why you should keep your panels clean all the time.
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What Are Solar Panels Made Of
Solar panels are made of several layers of material. The top layer of glass protects the individual smaller units called solar cells. Solar cells have two layers of semiconductor silicon. Silicon gathers electrons and allows them to move around through a positive and negative charge. Each solar cell is interconnected to form the solar panel.
Grid Rules Define System Permissions
The Distributed Network Service Provider is the company who owns and operates the grid in your local area. A portion of your energy costs are paid to the DNSP as a contribution to the maintenance and operational costs of the network though for residential customers this is not visible and is bundled into your electricity retailer bills. Each DNSP have slightly different rules on how much solar can be installed and whether you are permitted to export energy back to the grid or not. For a break down of the rules in each state read our guide here.
As a general guide:
- Most DNSPs permit solar up to 5kW with permission to export via a relatively automated approval process
- For commercial projects over 30kW a network protection device is required
- For commercial projects over 100kW a more detailed approval process usually is required meaning an engineering study will need to be completed to approve the system and there might be some design alterations required for the install to be approved
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How Do Solar Panels Work Step By Step Overview Of The Solar Generation Process
In a nutshell, a solar panel works and generates electricity when particles of sunlight knock electrons free from atoms, setting in motion a flow of electrons. This flow of electrons is electricity, and solar panels are designed to capture this flow, making it a usable electric current.
Solar power generation starts when solar panels absorb sunlight with photovoltaic cells, generating this direct current energy and then converting it to usable alternating current energy with the help of inverter technology. AC energy then flows through the homes electrical panel and is distributed accordingly. The main steps for how solar panels work for your home are:
Solar Panels Generate Dc Electricity
Homes with solar power systems typically have between 15 and 25 solar panels installed on their roofs.
Each solar panel comprises a string of 60 or 72 photovoltaic cells, each made out of monocrystalline or polycrystalline silicon. The solar cells are designed to capture sunlight, and convert it into direct current electricity through the
The amount of solar electricity that is produced depends on the strength of the sunlight and the design of the solar panel. As of 2021, individual solar panels typically produce between 300 and 350 watts each under optimal conditions.
Learn more:How do solar panels work?
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Economical Benefits Of Alternative Fuels
Traditional fossil fuels such as gasoline and diesel are generally convenient and affordable, but there are situations where alternative fuels are cheaper. Natural gas, specifically, has been consistently cheaper than gasoline and diesel when measured on a gasoline gallon equivalent basis. Operators of city buses, dumpster trucks and other commercial vehicles have saved millions of dollars by converting their fleets to run on CNG.
In addition to being low, the price of natural gas is also stable over time. Natural gas prices tend to avoid the cyclical price fluctuations that petroleum-based fuels such as gasoline experience. As a result, owners of compressed natural gas vehicles enjoy operating costs that are both lower and more predictable.
Can I Use A Solar Powered Battery Pack Instead Of A Generator
Generators are loud, dirty, wasteful, and very inefficient. They also only provide power for a limited amount of time. On the other hand, solar powered battery packs are environmentally friendly, have a longer life than generators, and emit no noise.
Additionally, solar powered battery packs dont require any servicing or maintenance, they come with a 10-year warranty, and they are smart home ready. Theres a misconception that solar panels only work on bright sunny days. However, solar power battery packs make it possible to use solar energy at night and during adverse weather conditions, meaning your home will never be without a steady supply of energy.
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How Does Solar Energy Work Step
How Does Solar Energy Work Does It Save Money
Nowadays, solar panels are everywhere you look as more people have begun using solar as their primary source of energy. Have you ever wondered how solar panels turn sunlight into electricity? And, how does a solar photovoltaic system perform on a cloudy day?
Solar energy, technically referred to as solar photovoltaics simply works by converting sunlight into electricity. At a basic level, solar panels use photons to separate electrons from atoms, and the byproduct of this process is electricity. The electricity created is called solar energy.
The photovoltaic cells that make up a solar panel consist of silicon atoms that lose an electron when sunlight the surface.
As explained earlier, sunlight consists of very small particles called photons that are capable of hitting electrons off the silicon atoms from the photovoltaic cells embedded in all solar panels. These electrons make up direct current electricity that flows out from a solar PV system. As most of our household appliances are functioning on an alternating current , we need to have an inverter that will convert electric current from DC to AC. This is another important element of the system.
What is an Inverter?
A solar inverter is very essential in a solar system. It takes the DC formed by the electrons and converts it into AC, which is then routed to the main power supply of your house/establishment.
Leftover Electricity Goes Back to the Grid
Do Solar Panels works on Cloudy and Rainy days?
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Solar Energy: What Is It And How Does It Work
The sun does more for our planet than just provide light during the daytime each particle of sunlight that reaches Earth contains energy that fuels our planet. Solar energy is the ultimate source responsible for all of our weather systems and energy sources on Earth, and enough solar radiation hits the surface of the planet each hour to theoretically fill our global energy needs for nearly an entire year.
Where does all of this energy come from? Our sun, like any star in the galaxy, is like a massive nuclear reactor. Deep in the Suns core, nuclear fusion reactions produce massive amounts of energy that radiates outward from the Suns surface and into space in the form of light and heat.
Solar power can be harnessed and converted to usable energy using or solar thermal collectors. Although solar energy only accounts for a small amount of overall global energy use, the falling cost of installing solar panels means that more and more people in more places can take advantage of solar energy. Solar is a clean, renewable energy resource, and figures to play an important part in the global energy future.
Homeowners Guide To Going Solar
Since 2008, hundreds of thousands of solar panels have popped up across the country as an increasing number of Americans choose to power their daily lives with the suns energy. Thanks in part to the Solar Energy Technologies Office’s investments, the cost of going solar goes down every year. You may be considering the option of adding a solar energy system to your homes roof or finding another way to harness the suns energy. While theres no one-size-fits-all solar solution, here are some resources that can help you figure out whats best for you. Consider these questions before you go solar.
See the Spanish version here. Vea la versión en español aquí.
How does solar work?
There are two primary technologies that can harness the suns power and turn it into electricity. The first is the one youre likely most familiar with photovoltaics, or PV. These are the panels youve seen on rooftops or in fields. When the sun shines onto a solar panel, photons from the sunlight are absorbed by the cells in the panel, which creates an electric field across the layers and causes electricity to flow. Learn more about how PV works.
Is my home suitable for solar panels?
How do I start the process of going solar?
Can I install solar myself?
How much power can I generate with solar?
Will I save money by going solar?
Can I get financing for solar?
How can I find state incentives and tax breaks that will help me go solar?
Is solar safe?
What does mean?
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Benefits Of Distributed Energy Resources
Distributed energy resources, or DERs, are increasingly popular among utilities and wholesale electricity market participants.
DERs are a category of power generation resources defined by their size and their location. Definitions vary, but few physical DERs would be larger than a couple of megawatts. Diesel or natural gas generators, microturbines, run-of-the-river hydro units, solar arrays, wind turbines, and battery energy storage units are common sub-megawatt DERs. For more on this, check out what are Distributed Energy Resources and how do they work.
DERs, being smaller in size than traditional power plants, have lower permitting requirements, use less land, and dont involve extensive infrastructure upgrades.
Crucially, many DERs are already there. DERs can be found within microgrids, central generation networks, and beyond. Numerous homes and businesses are now equipped with battery energy storage units or backup power generators designed for their own use. Increasingly, utilities and DER aggregators incorporate these assets in virtual power plants that support the wider electric grid. From a utilitys perspective, installing the communications upgrades and software platform needed to effectively control these existing assets as a virtual power plant is easier, less expensive and faster than building an equivalent generating resource from scratch.
Different types of distributed energy resources are available for these various application scenarios.
What Else Happens In A Solar Farm
When solar farms made in agricultural areas, one might find that the photovoltaic cells are made in conjunction with a pre-existing agricultural process because solar farms are the most nature-friendly way of providing electricity to a power grid.
This is mostly due to the lack of harmful materials and lack of moving parts .
There are many examples in the United Kingdom of solar farms being used in conjunction with other types of farming, such as grazing sheep .
Furthermore, there have been a few studies from places such as the Argonne National Laboratory from the US Department of energy that show solar farms to be pollinator-friendly.
What this term means is that the environment present at a solar farm is ideal for pollinators such as birds and especially bees since the limited mowing and spreading of herbicide promotes the growth of a wide array of different flowers, therefore increasing botanical diversity.
What they also showed, was that if the owners of the solar farm also applied some targeted herbicide for weeds, and sowed some seeds, it could create an ideal pollinator environment.
The promotion and protection of bees is also nothing to be dismissed since its estimated that honey bee pollination adds more than $15 billion in value to the U.S. agriculture industry every year .
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Benefits Of Alternative Fuels And Fuel
Internal combustion engines using traditional and alternative fuels are an integral part of life in all parts of the world. They are almost universally used in motor vehicles of all kinds, in power generation, and more. Traditionally, internal combustion engines run on liquid fuels. These fuels are distilled from petroleum. Think gasoline, diesel, kerosene or heavy fuel oil.