Tag Archive | "solar panels"

Solar Panels – Popular Questions And Answers

With growing concerns about the environment, rising energy costs and unstable economies more people every day look to the possibility of installing solar panels so that they can generate their own electricity. The subject isn’t however as clean cut as you might expect and after investigating a little you will undoubtedly be filled with questions. A few of the most popular questions have been addressed here.

How many solar panels will I need to install?
This really is a ‘how long is a piece of string’ question. You first have to work out how much electricity you consume on a daily basis. You can easily do this by consulting your old utility bills. Take into consideration that your summer usage and winter usage will be different. Then you need to look at the type of solar panel you will be installing. Each panel has an energy rating signaling the amount of electricity that they produce. Ideally, you will need panels which produce a little more that you consume. You will then discover that you are going to need a lot of space for panels and quite a large budget to go with it.

What if the sun doesn’t shine or if it rains?
Obviously your solar panels will not be generating electricity all of the time. Apart from the overcast and rainy days you also have night time to take into consideration. For this reason the solar panels should really be connected to a bank of batteries where the electricity can be stored. Most household appliances will not run off battery power so a device called an inverter is used to convert DC electricity from the batteries into AC electricity that can be used around the house.

Can I sell my surplus electricity?
Yes this is possible. There are companies that will install your solar system and a special electricity meter which is capable of running backwards. This way, you have no batteries. When you are not generating electricity you are using the current from the utility company. When you are generating electricity, all the extra that you are not using will go back into the grid and your meter will start to run backwards. This is not a very efficient system however as the price that the electric companies pay for your electricity is very low and it will only serve to lower your bill a little. you will hardly ever end up making money out of it.

Can I make my own solar panels?
The photovoltaic cells that are the heart of the solar panels cannot be made at home. They can however be bought as factory seconds off eBay. the are only very slightly chipped and have the same electrical output as their specification and cost just a fraction of the price. Many of these can be soldered together and mounted in a glass covered frame and you have your own cut price solar panel. There are blueprints for making solar panels available on the internet.

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Installing Solar Panels On Your House

When it comes to installing solar panels on your house there is a lot more to it than initially meets the eye. It entails more than simply buying the panels and getting them installed. I am going to cover some of the basic components you will need so you can plan your project (and your budget) with ease.

The first thing to consider is of course the panels themselves. I am presuming that you are going for the photovoltaic panels that produce electricity as opposed to the solar panels that directly heat up your water.

The Solar panels will produce DC voltage when ever the sun shines. So unless you only plan on using electricity during the day when it is sunny then you will need to store it in a bank of special gel batteries. These batteries have a long life and will hold their charge for many days. They are also designed to be constantly charging and discharging.

As you will already know, the DC electricity from the batteries is not suitable for supplying household items so another apparatus is needed. This is called an inverter and its sole function is to convert the batteries’ DC electricity into usable domestic AC electricity that can be sent straight to the internal wiring system in your home. You will also need a small device which will detect when the batteries are fully charged and will divert the charge coming from the panels to somewhere else so as not to overcharge them and shorten their life.

When you are installing solar panels on your house you ideally need to have them facing south to get the most out of the sun as it goes from east to west. Then you need to have somewhere to store all of the batteries. They are quite cumbersome and if you are going for complete autonomy then you will need a lot of them. Ideally you should have an outbuilding for this or maybe you have a small utility room near to the roof. You only need one inverter which needs to be connected to the batteries and then to your mains outlet. You can either have a separate plugboard for the solar power or, if you have enough panels and batteries you can take the output from the inverter and wire it into your domestic circuitry. (please get an electrician and/or a solar panel installation specialist to help you here).

Before pricing up your solar installation you need to decide if you are going to just power certain appliances from your solar panels or if you are going to go for complete autonomy and power your whole house. If you decide on the later then you would be wise to get enough batteries to be able to supply you with electricity for about 3 days. This way even on rainy days you should have enough power to see you until next time the sun shines.

So now as you plan your alternative energy system you know that there is much more to buy than just the panels themselves. You also need the batteries and the inverter and you need to think about if you have the space or the budget for becoming autonomous. Installing solar panels on your house is not something to be taken lightly so please consult a professional when planning and installing.

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