For a long time, solar energy was only identified as converting sunlight into electricity. While this is not inaccurate, most of us are unaware that the harvested energy must first be converted into electrical energy in order to generally produce functional electricity. The conversion is made possible by the photovoltaics or PV, a method that uses semiconductors to convert the solar radiation into electrical energy.
Components of a simple solar energy system
Solar or photovoltaic cells
The assembly of semiconductors and electronics or solar cells is enclosed in a photovoltaic module, more commonly known as a solar panel. Different solar panels are called solar array.
A solar panel collects and generates energy from solar radiation. PV panels convert this energy into direct current, which is generated by batteries. While it is possible to connect a DC load directly to the solar panel, batteries play an important role in a properly functioning photovoltaic system.
A controller is optional yet an essential piece of equipment in a photovoltaic system. During the cycling process, the battery is likely to be overcharged or discharged, a situation that shortens the life of the batteries. A controller prevents such situations by controlling the condition of the batteries. It maintains a charging phase where it monitors when the battery is overcharged or discharged. In general, a regulator keeps the batteries in the most suitable working conditions.
A converter allows the direct current stored in the batteries to be converted into alternating current or alternating current, the type of energy used by the mains supply. The DC/AC or direct/alternating converter is also called an inverter and is used to adjust the required current and voltage through the load. It is typical to experience some energy loss during the conversion of electricity.
All appliances that consume electricity are considered a load. When choosing a load for the solar power system, it is necessary to start with a low power component before installing additional solar panels to avoid wasting resources. PV systems are ideal for lighting as lamps consume only a few watts compared to larger devices such as television, components or computers. There are also lights that run on DC power, allowing the use of solar energy on a low budget scale.
Solar panels, battery, controller, inverter and load make up the solar panel system. If all of these components are properly installed, a solar energy system can sustain itself for years.
Benefits of solar energy
For most residential users, the grid is the most suitable source of electricity. It seems that a massive power shortage or a power outage is still in the distant future. However, growing concerns about fossil fuel depletion are forcing authorities around the world to exploit renewable energy sources. Since solar energy is the most commercialized among other renewable energy, it is necessary to know how to take advantage of solar energy as a residential end user.
Solar energy is a proven commercial energy source. Among other renewable resources such as wind, hydropower, biomass, biofuel and geothermal energy, solar energy is the only clean energy capable of generating a large market scale, including residential users. Due to the advancement in solar technology and the consistent improvement of financing approaches, the implementation of solar energy projects is steadily declining.
China’s emergence as one of the largest solar panel manufacturers has largely impacted the cost of materials for end users. The country also produces wind turbines, although exports are limited unlike the global production and export of PV panels.
Infinite Energy Source
Depletion of fossil fuels is an ongoing threat to energy security. Fossil fuels are non-renewable energy sources and their depletion is inevitable, leading to power shortages around the world. On the other hand, renewable energy sources such as solar, wind and geothermal energy can generate electricity without depleting the natural resources. These natural energies are infinite sources of energy. If renewable energy is installed and used properly and strategically, the whole world can be supplied with clean electricity.
Solar energy, like all green energy, produces relatively small amounts of greenhouse gases or greenhouse gases, one of the main factors for the depletion of the ozone layer. It reduces the carbon footprint in all sectors. The use of alternative energy also promotes the production of low-carbon technology products such as LED-powered lamps, low-carbon appliances and hybrid cars. More energy-efficient storage and solar panels are being developed to improve the viability of alternative energy.
Electricity consumption change
Solar energy systems are not only able to generate and supply power to residential users, it also allows end users to adjust their electricity consumption. This is made possible by a two-way smart grid system between the main power supplier and the consumer. When your solar power system generates excess energy, the power meter spins backwards. A synchronous inverter is needed as it corresponds to the incoming mains supply. When such favorable conditions arise, your electricity supplier will reimburse you for the excess energy from the solar energy system. Alternative energy is by nature unpredictable because the amount of energy generated is highly dependent on weather conditions.
Relentless government support
The fact that the recession barely affected the demand for alternative sources proves that renewable energy is a stable and continuously strengthening industry. The government’s continued support, including stimulus packages from several countries, helped boost the industry, especially solar, wind and biofuel generation. Smart energy technologies are gaining increasing support from capital and private equity investors and are making way for digital and energy-saving applications in the market.
Governments around the world offer incentive packages of tax credits and incentives to private, commercial and industrial users. Aside from tax deductions for individuals and businesses installing solar energy systems, the federal government also offers cash-back rewards programs, property tax exemptions, sales tax exemptions, and incentives for electric utility companies. Even investors are partnering with solar companies to sponsor recycling programs and empower conscious consumers to properly dispose of old products.
Low maintenance and operating costs
The ideal setup requires optimal exposure to sunlight during the day, and if this is achieved, expect consistent power generation in ideal weather conditions. However, to ensure optimal sunlight capture, proper operation and maintenance must be performed on a regular basis.
PV panels, when installed correctly and strategically, are virtually maintenance-free. The basic maintenance of solar panels includes keeping the solar panel array clean and free of debris. Washing the PV panels is also recommended, especially if you live in a particularly dusty region. Use non-abrasive cleaners and washcloths to avoid scratching the panels. A garden hose can be used to rinse the panels.
In addition to being self-sufficient, solar panels have an average lifespan of 20 years or more. With recent developments of materials used in building PV panels, the life expectancy and viability of solar panels are expected to improve in the coming years. During these years, approximately $2,000 is required as PV panel maintenance and operating costs.
Eliminate the costs and difficulties of transporting conventional fuel
The federal government is allocating billions of dollars to transport fuel and other natural gas into the country for electricity generation. Solar energy systems reduce these costs, as photovoltaic panels do not require fuel or natural gas to convert sunlight into electricity. The construction of large solar power plants also enables local generation of environmentally friendly electricity where it can be supplied to residential, commercial and industrial users.
Solar powered indoor lighting is possible through a system that collects and diffuses sunlight for indoor lighting. Solar outdoor lighting consists of a simple solar energy system where the lights are continuously charged throughout the day and discharged at night by lighting walkways. Lighting takes a lot of energy and is therefore quite expensive, with Solar Lights really becoming a very viable and affordable green option. Solar lights have a huge range and include outdoor solar floodlights, dock lights, brinkmann solar lights and even solar night lights. Nowadays, Solar Lights are basically all the rage with hundreds of products and different varieties being marketed. Solar lighting is now being used in the house and even beyond, including the roof and garden!