How Many Solar Panels Do I Need For My Business
The number of solar panels that you require to fit the power needs of your business will be dependent on varying factors.
First, you will need to know how much power you use per day or month. That is based on the equipment and appliances you have in your business.
Each device requires different amounts of hours. Therefore, you have to add the power needs of all of them to determine how much power you need.
For example, if your business uses an average of 25,000 kWh of electricity per year, it is logical to say that you need around 70 kWh per day . The next step is to know how much electricity an average solar panel produces.
For example, the standard panels produce an average of 1- 1.5 kWh per day. If you take 1.5kWh as the average, then you will require at least 47 panels.
The calculations would be like this / 1.5kWh per day = 47 panels.
Therefore, the larger the business, the more the power needed and hence, more solar panels to cover the electricity needs.
Also, due to varying factors like sunlight and the efficiency of the solar panels, businesses in some areas may require more solar panels than others.
The difference can occur even though both companies need the same amount of power.
How Does Solar Energy Convert The Heat Energy Into Electrical Energy
Solar energy works using 1) photovoltaics or using 2) solar thermal energy.
1) Photovoltaic cells convert sunlight into electricity. These cells are made up of semiconductors. Today, semiconductors are usually made up of silicon.
Sunlight hits the cells causing them to release electrons. This creates an electric current, which is then used as electricity.
2) Solar thermal energy uses the energy from the sun to heat a fluid to a higher temperature, that heated fluid is then transferred and heats water, which produces steam. The steam is converted to mechanical energy and produces electricity.
1) More specifically, when sunlight hits the photovoltaic cells, the cells absorb of light and release their own electrons. A charge difference built into the cells attracts the free electrons into another layer of the cell.
This movement of electrons into the next layer causes an electric charge between the two layers. This electric charge or current is then captured and used as electricity.
2) Unlike PVs, solar thermal energy generates electricity indirectly. Solar thermal energy uses the energy from the sun captured in the parabolic troughs seen above to heat a fluid. These troughs allow more sunlight to be captured. That heated fluid is then transferred and heats water, which produces steam.
Next, this steam spins a turbine, producing mechanical energy. This mechanical energy is then used to power a generator, which produces electricity.
How Solar Works In Your Home
Your solar panels gather energy from the sun and send it to your photovoltaic components , which convert it to AC power.
AC power then enters your home through the utility panel and is distributed to appliances or lights in the house.
If you don’t go through your breaker panel, you can also access the power by plugging appliances directly into the inverter’s power sockets.
However, if your system is connected through the utility panel, all the excess electricity created after your battery bank is full can be exported back into the utility grid and credited to your electric account. If you used a big enough solar system, you could make your utility meter spin backwards.
This is how solar energy works in your favor when you hook up to the grid and actually make money from your utility company. You can learn more about grid tied solar energy systems by clicking here to be taken to the solar system types section of our website.
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What About Alternative Solar Technologies To Photovoltaics
Weve been talking about , or PV, in this article, because its the most common type of solar energy generation, especially for homes and businesses. But theres more out there, and they work in different ways than traditional photovoltaic solar panels. Two of the most common alternative solar options that work differently than PV panels are solar hot water and concentrated solar power.
How Solar Energy Is Converted Into Electricity Using Solar Panels
Solar-based projects or devices convert light energy of the sun into electricity that is used to operate the device. For converting process, are used that are available in different sizes and ratings based on the application used.
Solar energy is classified into two types based on the way in which solar energy is utilized
1. Active Solar Energy
2. Passive Solar Energy
Passive Solar Energy
The passive solar energy is used directly from the Sun for various applications without using any intermediate devices or converters. By using the solar energy passively, we can heat water, water in swimming pools and can even heat houses or buildings. The best example of passive solar energy is drying up clothes in bright daylight.
Applications of passive solar energy include the following:
Solar heating and cooling
Drying up cloths, food products and other materials
Active solar energy
Active solar energy reduces a buildings fossil fuel energy requirements for loads operation. An active solar energy source has two major applications. With this energy system, the solar energy from the sun is converted into electricity by using an intermediate circuit .
Applications of active solar energy include the following:
Active solar space heating
Conversion of Solar Energy into Electricity Using Solar Panel
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How Is Solar Converted Into Electricity
Sunlight contains a lot of energy and a great deal of it hits the Earths surface. In fact, according to Energy.gov, enough reaches us in an hour and a half to account for a years worth of energy consumption worldwide. The sun is the ultimate renewable source of energy. Photovoltaic panels convert sunlight into electricity and are found on rooftops, roadside signs, street lights, and on spacecraft. View our diagram below to see how is solar converted into electricity.
As our solar panel diagram illustrates, solar energy is converted into electricity in the following steps:
How Much Solar Power Do I Need To Collect
This is going to depend largely on your own power usage habits and needs. If youre a Powershop customer, you can review your usage here. Understanding more about your day and night time power use can give you a better reference point when you start looking at solar power options.
There are a number of considerations:
- How many kilowatt hours of power a day is your home or business using?
- How much roof space do you have available for panels?
- What do you spend on power each month? Does the cost of the solar power system pay for itself in an acceptable period of time from the savings generated?
- Do you want to store solar power for use at night or use solar during sunlight hours and power from the grid at night?
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The Science Of Solar Panels In Depth
Silicon solar cells, through the photovoltaic effect, absorb sunlight and generate flowing electricity. This process varies depending on the type of solar technology, but there are a few steps common across all solar photovoltaic cells.
First, light strikes a photovoltaic cell and is absorbed by the semiconducting material it is made from . This incoming light energy causes electrons in the silicon to be knocked loose, which will eventually become the solar electricity you can use in your home.
There are two layers of silicon used in photovoltaic cells, and each one is specially treated, or doped, to create an electric field, meaning one side has a net positive charge and one has a net negative charge. This electric field causes loose electrons to flow in one direction through the solar cell, generating an electrical current. The elements phosphorus and boron are commonly used to create these positive and negative sides to a photovoltaic cell.
Once an electrical current is generated by loose electrons, metal plates on the sides of each solar cell collect those electrons and transfer them to wires. At this point, electrons can flow as electricity through the wiring to a solar inverter and then throughout your home.
How Does Solar Energy Work
Our sun is a natural nuclear reactor. It releases tiny packets of energy called photons, which travel the 93 million miles from the sun to Earth in about 8.5 minutes. Every hour, enough photons impact our planet to generate enough solar energy to theoretically satisfy global energy needs for an entire year.
Currently photovoltaic power accounts for only five-tenths of one percent of the energy consumed in the United States. But solar technology is improving and the cost of going solar is dropping rapidly, so our ability to harness the sun’s abundance of energy is on the rise.
In 2017,the International Energy Agency showed that solar had become the world’s fastest-growing source of power marking the first time that solar energy’s growth had surpassed that of all other fuels. Since then solar has continued to grow and break records around the globe.
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Benefits Of Solar Energy
Is solar a good source of electricity?
The short answer is yes, because the solar energy, while not absent from disadvantages, has several advantages:
1. Receiving electricity from solar energy can help you lower a buildings utility bills, so you can save money by installing a system for the collection of solar energy.
2. The fact that traditional means of receiving electricity impact global warming is a well-known fact, but by using solar energy to produce electricity you may improve the situation by reducing air pollution.
3. Further, solar power does not belong to anyone, as it is with fossil fuels, which means that anyone can use solar energy to produce electricity with no need to buy it from other countries.
This possibility means that countries that do not possess old fashioned means of producing electricity can gain some independence from those that do.
4. The sunlight is a renewable resource, unlike fossil fuel, and it is available for a long time from now while being an excellent source of energy.
These are only four of the most obvious benefits of solar energy, but there are more reasons why solar panels are good.
The Science Behind Solar Pv Cells
Solar PV panels are comprised of many small photovoltaic cells photovoltaic meaning they can convert sunlight into electricity. These cells are made of semi-conductive materials, most often silicon, a material that can conduct electricity while maintaining the electrical imbalance needed to create an electric field.
When sunlight hits the semiconductor in the solar PV cell the energy from the light, in the form of photons, is absorbed, knocking loose a number of electrons, which then drift freely in the cell. The solar cell is specifically designed with positively and negatively charged semiconductors sandwiched together to create an electric field . This electric field forces the drifting electrons to flow in a certain direction- towards the conductive metal plates that line the cell. This flow is known as an energy current, and the strength of the current determines how much electricity each cell can produce. Once the loose electrons hit metal plates, the current is then directed into wires, allowing the electrons to flow like they would in any other source of electric generation .
As the solar panel generates an electric current, the energy flows through a series of wires to an inverter . While solar panels generate direct current electricity, most electricity consumers need alternating current electricity to power their buildings. The inverters function is to turn the electricity from DC to AC, making it accessible for everyday use.
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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.
Find Out How Solar Power Works
Solar power works by converting light from the sun into electricity. This electricity can then be used in your home or exported to the grid when its not needed. This is done by installing solar panels on your roof which generate DC electricity. This is then fed into a solar inverter which converts the DC electricity from your solar panels into AC electricity.
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How To Make Solar Panels
Solar panels are usually made of silicon, which is a semi-conductor. There are typically two layers of silicon used. The top layer is infused with phosphorous to add extra electrons. Boron is added to the bottom layer so there are fewer electrons. The idea is to create opposing electrical charges. Various other components turn the electrons that break free into power that is suited for everyday use
Solar Panels Are Expensive But Prices Are Slowly Going Down
And there is the cost. Solar cells are not cheap to make, as they require precise growth of large crystals with very exact chemical compositions. The other parts of the system are also expensive, as they need to be able to handle large amounts of energy. When I put the details of my home near Boston into the Google site Project Sunroof , it estimated that I would be able to generate about 7 kilowatts of energy by putting up just under 490 square feet of solar panels on my roof. That, it estimated, could save me over $900 a year, or $18,000 over the 20-year life of the system.
The initial cost, however, would be high: that system would cost over $30,000 to install. You don’t have to buy a solar system outright, though, as there are companies that lease these systems, so you pay over time. In America, the feds also kick in to help — installing a solar system can get you a big tax credit of up to 26 percent of the cost.
This price is constantly falling, though, as new ways to make solar cells are being developed and new factories are opening up to make solar cells. Although solar power isn’t likely to completely replace other ways of generating power, we are going to see solar power as an increasingly important source of electricity. And that’s all because of that strange quirk of some materials that convert light into electricity.
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How Exactly Is Electricity From Solar Energy Produced
Solar panels are usually made from silicon installed in a metal panel frame with a glass casing. When photons, or particles of light, hit the thin layer of silicon on the top of a solar panel, they knock electrons off the silicon atoms.
This PV charge creates an electric current , which is captured by the wiring in solar panels. This DC electricity is then converted to alternating current by an inverter. AC is the type of electrical current used when you plug appliances into normal wall sockets.
How Does Solar Thermal Generate Electricity
You might be familiar with solar thermal technology from a widely publicized series of photos that debuted in the press in 2013, featuring the Ivanpah Solar Power Facility in the Mojave Desert, California. At the time, it was the largest solar power plant in the world. The array of 170,000 heliostats, which look like large mirrors are tracking the suns movement across the sky to power over 140,000 households .
Mirrors are one of the main components of the solar thermal system. They reflect sunlight onto a receiver containing a heat-transfer fluid, which is warmed up by the sun. The fluid used for this purpose is often molten salt, which is a mixture of 60 percent sodium nitrate and 40 percent potassium nitrate.
Molten salt has a great capacity to store and transfer heat . This allows the storage of the heat generated from the sun for periods of time with no sunlight.
For example, Gemasolar power plant in Spain can store enough heat to produce electricity for an extra 15 hours with no solar input .
The rest of electricity generation process is much the same as it is at coal-fueled power plants. The heat transferred by molten salt creates steam that runs steam turbines, which power a generator that produces electricity.
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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.