Find The Right Installer
Finding a competent installer is important. There are currently no formal qualifications that installers must have. However do note the following:
- Connection of the solar system must be carried out by a Registered Electrical Contractor.
- The Renewable Installers Register identifies installers who have received accredited training.
Our advice would be to get a range of quotes from installers, including contractors listed on the Renewable Installers Register.
The Sun Provides Energy
First, lets talk about how electricity is traditionally made in order to answer the question how do solar panels work? Generating electricity requires fuel. Many fuels used for power production can create serious environmental harm. The damage comes from both how we extract and use the fuels.
Conventional power plants use coal for fuel, which is dug up from mountains. They use natural gas, which is forced to the earths surface and transported via long pipelines, which can explode . For nuclear power, uranium is unearthed from mines.
Clearly, its a labor intensive and sometimes destructive process to obtain and deliver fuels used in electricity production.
The harm continues as the fuel is employed to produce electricity. The fossil fuelscoal and natural gasundergo a combustion process that produces air pollutants. Nuclear power presents the risk of radioactive leaks.
Solar, on the other hand, uses a very different kind of fuel: sunlight. No mining is involved, no big pipelines, and no moving of the earthjust natural sunlight pouring from the sky. Sunlight is abundant, easy to capture, safe, and clean. The sun is an infinite resource, which is why solar power is often described as renewable energy. This is why some areas will offer local solar installation rebates.
You may have heard solar energy also referred to as , which describes to the way solar panels convert sunlight into electricity. Photons are particles of light. Voltaics refer to voltage or electricity.
How Many Hours Of Daily Sunlight Does Your State Receive
The sunlight available to produce electricity varies greatly throughout the United States. Southwest states like California and Arizona get the most sunshine, while northeast states like New York and Massachusetts get the least.
However, you should not discard solar power just because you live in a state that isnt sunny. For example, New York only gets moderate sunshine, but it has very high electricity prices. Solar panels are worth it in this case, since they achieve high savings even with reduced production. Saving 750 kWh when you are charged 25 cents/kWh is better than saving 1,000 kWh at 12 cents.
After estimating how many panels are needed in your home, you can make better purchasing decisions. Keep in mind that you dont have to pay the full system cost upfront. Many banks finance for solar panels, and you can pay off the loan with the electricity savings achieved. Leasing solar panels is also a viable option, where you pay a monthly price instead of purchasing the system. Your local solar installer may offer several purchasing options, adapting to your needs.
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Order Of Module Connection
Module electrical connections are made in series to achieve a desired output voltage or in parallel to provide a desired current capability of the solar panel or the PV system. The conducting wires that take the current off the modules are sized according to the current rating and may contain silver, copper or other non-magnetic conductive transition metals. Bypass diodes may be incorporated or used externally, in case of partial module shading, to maximize the output of module sections still illuminated.
Some special solar PV modules include concentrators in which light is focused by lenses or mirrors onto smaller cells. This enables the use of cells with a high cost per unit area in a cost-effective way.
Solar panels also use metal frames consisting of racking components, brackets, reflector shapes, and troughs to better support the panel structure.
Solars Great Big Garbage Problem
From an electricity standpoint, solar panels are a key part of many proposed climate solutions. From a waste disposal standpoint, Mulvaney says theyre a tsunami about to crash into cities worldwide.
Part of the problem is that every panel will die, sooner or later. The rule of thumb is that the panels lose less than* 1 percent of their efficiency every year. As the modules age, impurities creep into the crystals and some of the electrons generated by sunlight want to go to those impurities rather than through the electrical circuit, he explained.
At least in theory, one set of solar panels could last someone for the rest of their life, but many people choose to ditch their panels after only a decade or two. When a homeowner removes old solar panels to fix their roof, for example, some of them will trade up for a newer, more efficient model. Lee-Tan Lu, an environmental science masters student working with Mulvaney, found that, if people get rid of their photovoltaic panels around the time of their warranted lifespan, it will result in an enormous amount of waste released into the environment, about 90 thousand tons by 2050 in the San Francisco Bay Area alone. By that same time period, the nation will have generated around 7.5 million tons of solar waste, according to the International Renewable Energy Agency.
Max Wechsler, Urban Ore operations managerNathanael Johnson
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Can A House Run On Solar Power Alone
Practically, it is not often possible. This is because solar only works when the sun is shining – which means when it is cloudy or nighttime, they do not generate electricity. There are some battery solutions to provide power during these times, but they still tend to be quite expensive. Most homes with solar panels still rely on the grid from time to time.
If Your Home Has Solar Panels Installed By You Or Your Landlord Or Through A Rent
This is to ensure that you are making the most of the free electricity that the solar panels are generating. It may mean you need to change your routines and plan ahead, for example using your washing machine or dishwasher during the day rather than in the evening.
Solar photovoltaic panels convert the energy in sunlight into electricity, and this is effectively free electricity that can be used in your house . Surplus electricity is exported to the grid.
However, there will be times when youre using more electricity than the panels are producing, such as on overcast days or on dark evenings. At these times the extra electricity will be imported from the national grid, as it was before you had the panels, and you will be charged for it by your energy supplier at the normal rate.
A typical household array of solar panels is rated at around 3000 Watts . This means that while the sun is shining on them they will produce around 3000W of electricity as long as the panels face more or less south and are tilted at the right angle to receive the most sunlight, and that the panels arent shaded by a tree, building etc. On a cloudy afternoon in December, of course, that output might be nearer to 200W.
In order to know how to make best use of this energy, you need to have an idea of how much electricity different appliances use. Lets look at some typical power ratings :
Low energy light bulb: 15WFridge: 100W Microwave: 750WWashing machine: 2500W
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Save On Your Power Bills
You should see a saving on your electricity bill, because you will be using power from your solar panels during the day rather than just from the electricity grid.
If you install a battery with your solar PV system, you can store your solar power not used during the day to use later. This should cut your electricity bill even further.
Curious About How Much Energy It Takes To Power Your Home Through The Holiday Season
The holidays have arrived, and only a Grinch would let December pass without putting up some lights. But between the lights on the trees, roofs, walkways, yards and home, a sneakily large electricity bill often lies on the other side of the New Year.
So, how much additional electricity do we use during the holidays for decorations? Could you offset that with solar panels? Lets find out.
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Choosing The Best Solar Panels
The right portable solar panels can completely change your relationship to renewable energy. In addition to serving as a clean energy emergency backup in case of a blackout, they can also empower you to enjoy the adventurous lifestyle you crave.
As you seek the best portable solar panels, make sure you weigh all the important factors, from power output to price point. Use this guide to start your search, but also be sure to carefully assess each product according to your own energy needs.
Josh Hurst is a journalist, critic and essayist. He lives in Knoxville, TN, with his wife and three sons. He covers natural health, nutrition, supplements and clean energy. His writing has appeared in Health, Shape and Remedy Review.
Types Of Solar Inverters
The inverter is an important component of any solar panel system because it’s the component that actually takes stored solar energy as DC power and turns it into more usable AC power. There are two primary types of solar inverters used for portable solar generators.
- Pure sine wave inverters are designed to produce smooth, reliable and quiet electric AC currents and work best at providing continuous power to delicate or sensitive electronic devices.
- Modified sine wave inverters provide a bit choppier and nosier current and are primarily meant for simple devices and appliances.
Knowing your inverter types is another important way to make an informed decision about your solar panel and solar generator purchase.
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A Short History Of Solar Panels
The development of solar energy goes back more than 100 years. In the early days, solar energy was used primarily for the production of steam which could then be used to drive machinery. But it wasn’t until the discovery of the “” by Edmond Becquerel that would allow the conversion of sunlight solar electric energy. Becquerel’s discovery then led to the invention in 1893 by Charles Fritts of the first genuine solar cell which was formed by coating sheets of selenium with a thin layer of gold. And from this humble beginning would arise the device we know today as the solar panel.
Russel Ohl, an American inventor on the payroll of Bell Laboratories, patented the world’s first silicon solar cell in 1941. Ohl’s invention led to the production of the first solar panel in 1954 by the same company. Solar panels found their first mainstream use in space satellites. For most people, the first solar panel in their life was probably embedded in their new calculator – circa the 1970s!
Today, solar panels and complete solar panel systems are used to power a wide variety of applications. Yes, solar panels in the form of solar cells are still being used in calculators. However, they are also being used to provide solar power to entire homes and commercial buildings, such as Google’s headquarters in California.
Solar Energy For Outdoor Lighting
Rather than 120-volt underground circuit wiring, or even low-voltage lighting powered by a transformer plugged into a 120-volt outlet, it is perfectly possible to provide good landscape lighting with individual lighting fixtures, each of which has its own small solar cell and rechargeable storage battery. At one time, these were rather puny and dim lighting fixtures, but today, thanks to LED technology and improved batteries, you can get quite adequate landscape lightingeven spotlightingwith solar-power fixtures that require no wiring connections at all. The solar panels charge the batteries during the day, and the charge is often enough to keep the lights powered all through the night.
Other systems are available that make use of a larger central solar panel that can power multiple landscape lights. There are also kits for seasonal lighting displays for holidays that make use of solar panels.
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Concentrating Solar Power Stations
Commercial concentrating solar power plants, also called “solar thermal power stations”, were first developed in the 1980s. The 377 MW Ivanpah Solar Power Facility, located in California’s Mojave Desert, is the world’s largest solar thermal power plant project. Other large CSP plants include the Solnova Solar Power Station , the Andasol solar power station , and Extresol Solar Power Station , all in Spain. The principal advantage of CSP is the ability to efficiently add thermal storage, allowing the dispatching of electricity over up to a 24-hour period. Since peak electricity demand typically occurs at about 5 pm, many CSP power plants use 3 to 5 hours of thermal storage.
|For a more detailed, sourced and complete list, see: List of solar thermal power stations#Operational or corresponding article.
Solar Panels Are Creating A Waste Nightmare This Salvage Company Could Have A Solution
This post has been updated.
In December of 2016, a flatbed truck carrying 450 solar panels enough to cover the roofs of an entire city block pulled into the waste-transfer station in Berkeley, California. New, each panel would sell for hundreds of dollars. Used, well youd have to pay to get rid of them. Though theyre green superstars, displacing fossil fuels while in use, most used solar panels are fated for a not-so-eco-friendly afterlife: an eternity in the dump.
Discarded photovoltaic panels pose a quandary for waste managers because they contain both low levels of toxic heavy metals, and valuable elements like silver and tellurium, so they probably shouldnt just go into a landfill with ordinary refuse like diapers and styrofoam. And as residential panels surge in popularity, more cities are having to figure out what to do with solar trash.
Local governments are freaked out. They are starting to get solar panels and they dont know what to do with them, said Dustin Mulvaney, an environmental studies professor at San Jose State who is working on answers to that question.
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But in on that December day in Berkeley, the solar panels didnt go to a landfill, or a hazardous waste facility, or even some photovoltaic recycling factory. Instead, a crew from the local salvage company Urban Ore intercepted them, hauling the load back to their property across town.
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What Is Solar Energy
Simply put, solar is the most abundant source of energy on Earth. About 173,000 terawatts of solar energy strike the Earth at any given time – more than 10,000 times the world’s total energy needs.
By capturing the sun’s energy and turning it into electricity for your home or business, solar energy is a key solution in combating the current climate crisis and reducing our dependence on fossil fuels.
Location & Sunlight Availability
Your latitude is one of the main factors in determining the efficacy of solar power. Not all locations get the same amount of annual sunlight, with the efficacy of solar power dropping dramatically the farther you get from the equator.
This means residents in places like Canada and Russia are at a solar disadvantage. However, in places like Hawaii where they average 277 days per year of rain and clouds, their location to the equator is irrelevant because they just dont have enough unclouded sunlight reaching the ground.
Solar efficacy is also determined by the season. In the summer you can generate more electricity than you need because the earth is tilted so that the sun is closer to your location. While in the winter, the earths tilt moves your location further from the sun making it so you cant generate enough electricity to supply your needs.
Like everything else that is left in the sun, solar panels will undergo deterioration from ultra-violet rays. Things like wind, hail, snow, dirt and temperature fluctuations are also serious threats to solar panels.
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How Do Solar Panels Work With Batteries
With solar panels, you use the electricity as its generated. However, solar batteries are now available which store the power your panels have produced during the day so you can use it later.
There are different types of solar batteries, all with different features and capabilities. Some are about the size of a car battery, while others can be as large as a generator or a washing machine.
Most people who have solar panels installed go without a battery as theyre happy to revert back to the power from the national grid when their panels arent generating electricity themselves. Its usually people who are determined to live off-grid who decide to use solar batteries.
Sunny Delight Or White Elephant
While at least some people are willing to take a gamble on used panels, I talked with several solar experts about reusing solar panels and many were a little skeptical. Most used panels one would want are relatively young and still in use, and the exceptions likely have issues, said Wyatt Metzger, a researcher at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.
With every passing year, photovoltaic technology gets better and cheaper. And the panels themselves are a relatively small part of the total cost of installing a new system. NREL has found that solar companies are charging around $2.60 per watt to install rooftop solar systems, and between 63 and 91 cents of that goes to making and delivering the panels. So you are hiring someone to put in a turn-key system, it probably makes more sense to buy the latest and greatest.
On the other hand, a do-it-yourselfer can avoid a lot of the costs that the NREL includes in its calculation. If you are getting used panels from Urban Ore you dont have to deal with the price tags that include the marketing, rent, and profits that keep solar companies in business.
Of course, eventually, the panels will grow too inefficient for any use, and at that point, they may have to be thrown away or recycled. Mulvaney thinks that if we dont recycle, we may create a shortage of a few key metals. Tellurium, for example, is already a relatively rare metal, and its primary use is to manufacture the film used on solar panels.
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