Manual Solar Energy Essentials for the Homeowner: Common Questions about Solar Energy for the Home

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Some scientists would say that the real tricky part is enhancing the cell with an electrical field to get all these electrons in line to flow as a current in the required direction: enter silicon. Silicon is popularly used as the solar cell's semiconductor. Yet it must do more than simply absorb photons; it has to employ an electrical field and get their current moving along.

The basics of solar power - RGS Energy

Moreover, it must be fashioned with impurities, because pure silicon will not do the job alone. After the photons are transformed into electricity, the panels direct this energy to power the home.

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Some homes, those independent of the utility grid, must rely on battery storage to store energy, yet they may also have to rely on backup generators when there is too much demand on the size of the system. Many people use solar in tandem with the utility companies so that they have a convenient back-up during fluctuating periods of energy. This net metering partnership is a bit involved, but it has also been evolving to become more effective as more and more people choose solar to provide the bulk of electricity to power their homes.

It goes without saying that solar panels are essential for a solar power system. Actually, what you will probably need is known as a solar array.

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That is because each panel generates a small amount of electricity. The number of panels included in your solar array depends on how much power you need to generate. PV photovoltaic modules, often referred to as solar panels, convert light energy into a direct electrical current DC. As solid-state devices, solar panels have no moving parts and are extremely reliable and durable compared to any other generator electronic technology. While solar panels have become somewhat commoditized in recent years, there are important differences in form, quality and performance that can impact both installation time and long-term system performance.

Our web pages presents a selection of high-quality polycrystalline and monocrystalline solar panels with a variety of features and cheap price points to suite virtually any homeowners project. Solar panels come in two types; monocrystalline and polycrystalline. Where home or cabin owner wants their solar installation to be grid tied, off-grid or emergency solar backup each of those systems starts with a solar panel selection.

Monocrystalline solar panels are generally higher efficiency, but they tend to derate faster in hotter conditions. Polycrystalline are sometimes considered a better choice for warmer climates, but the truth is that either panel type is so similar the differences are relatively not worth comparing.

What is the Best Solar Panel to Choose? The output power, voltage and current profile of the solar panels will dictate the number of panels needed and what inverters or charge controllers can be used. Larger solar panels with output voltages ranging from 24 to 50 VDC are more commonly used in grid-tie home systems where a high DC voltage is required to operate the inverter.

If you have the roof or ground space with limited shading issues on your property, the larger solar panels may provide a better investment since the cost per watt is cheaper than smaller PV Photovoltaic panels. PV photovoltaic systems can be grouped into two categories, off-grid and grid tied. In off-grid systems the energy produced by the solar panels must match the daily demand of the home or cabin, and the power is stored in a set of batteries.

With grid-tie solar systems, the local utility company functions essentially as the battery bank during the night. In America, most solar systems are grid-tied with all of the excess electricity generated being fed back to the utility grid hence the term NET metering. When you hear the term off-grid which is synonymous with stand alone systems, you may generate a picture in your mind of rustic pioneer-type living in a cabin with few modern conveniences.

In fact, this is not necessarily the case. While it is true that off-grid solar power is usually not sufficient to power an electric heating and cooling system unless you just won the Lotto or work on wall street, nearly all other appliances can be adequately powered with a properly configured off-grid system.

You simply start with a daily energy budget and match the right components to meet your power demands. Check out our off-grid living page for some great information to help you plan the right system for you. Solar panel mechanical characteristics such as dimensions, frame profile, and static load rating, as well as grounding and mounting locations will need to be understood when designing your home solar grid tied or off-grid system.

  1. Manual Solar Energy Essentials for the Homeowner: Common Questions about Solar Energy for the Home.
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  5. Frame and back sheet color may also come into play for residential DIY customers. Black frame solar panels are very popular because the aesthetics of the panel blend very well with many roof applications. Solar mounts and solar trackers are nearly as important as the panels themselves. Solar mounts provide the stability your panels require to remain in place.

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    Solar trackers allow you to orient your panels automatically to take maximum advantage of the sun's rays. The IronRidge, SnapNrack and UniRack roof and ground mount module racking we sell were developed by teams of engineers working with installers in the field to ensure quick, efficient installation.

    The electrical current generated by your solar array will be direct current, or DC electricity. Most electrical appliances run on alternating current, or AC electricity. A power inverter converts the DC power of your solar array into AC power that your appliances can actually use. DC electricity travels in only one direction but AC electricity alternates back and forth. Without a power inverter, you will be forced to rewire your home and to purchase expensive DC powered appliances over lower cost mass-produced appliances made for the conventional home power source.

    In some cases, DC powered appliances will not be available and you will have to do without certain appliances. If you intend to be off-grid, you should consider propane to power things like stoves and refrigerators. Heat with a pellet or wood burning stove but make sure they are highly efficient modules that use less fuel.

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    Without a deep cycle battery system, you will be unable to store the electricity that your solar power unit generates. This means basically that you will only have power when the sun is shining.

    How to Install Home Solar Storage - Ask This Old House

    Deep cycle batteries are specially configured to be charged and discharged frequently with a high demand system like a solar power system. The battery monitor provides a visual gauge of the electricity generated and stored by your solar power system, while the solar charge controller manages the process of charging your deep cycle batteries making sure they receive just the right amount of power but controlled and regulated throughout the day. These small items are minor but essential for making your solar panel kit work.

    Cables and connectors on the solar panels we carry above 80 watts are generally manufactured with PV wire into the panel junction box that are listed to UL This can save time during installation. The modules with MC4 cable connectors are fully waterproof when connected, touch protected and designed for up to volts DC and 30 Amps.

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    8. It is important to keep in mind that PV cables cannot be safely disconnected under load. All of our grid tied and off-grid output cables are made with UV resistant wire that is Listed to UL You may also wish to add other solar accessories. A backup solar generator can provide you with peace of mind during utility power outages and blackout or other weather related emergencies.

      With a grid-tie system when the utility provided power goes down, your solar power system is nonfunctional, you will be literally in the dark without a backup generator or battery bank to power essential loads. Your solar back up generator will automatically switch over to your battery bank and so that it takes over immediately in the event of a blackout when the grid goes down. Our solar generators are designed in compact kits that work by having stand-by batteries connected to an AC inverter. Until very recently there were few options available to homeowner with grid-tied systems to utilize the energy from their solar panels when there is a utility blackout. On our backup solar page we offer a number of stand alone AC coupled emergency backup kits that use your existing solar system with our AC coupled system to provide power to your home in the event the utility goes down.

      The AC coupled system will take the energy from your solar panels and use it to charge a battery bank that will in turn power your essential loads. A unique feature provides daytime power from your solar panels even in the event of a grid outage, without the need for batteries.

      Solar can recharge your life while creating jobs in a new economy. Solar is Art to Us. Solar for the Rest of Us. They have proposed relocating the development to less sensitive tracts of public land. See " Solar showdown in Calif. In addition to establishing an RES, Amendment 37 also specifically boosted solar energy development in Colorado. Half of this four percent must be generated from individual residential and business solar systems. To encourage residential and business solar system installation, two major utility companies, Xcel Energy and Aquila, are required to offer rebates to their customers for installing PV systems.

      Under Amendment 37 , at least 2, solar-powered homes and businesses must exist in Colorado by in order to meet the two percent RES requirement for customer systems, which is equivalent to about 40 MW of solar energy generation. Homeowners and business owners who install a solar photovoltaic electricity generating system on their home or business can qualify for rebates and renewable energy credits depending on the size of the system.

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      For an eligible medium-sized system, producing It is currently the third largest concentrating solar power CSP plant in the world. Two solar projects currently underway in Nevada are aided by federal stimulus funding, which provides up to a third of the project costs and fast-tracked approval. This is the first of a multi-phase project that could ultimately produce megawatts of electricity, or enough to power about , homes. New Mexico is one of the sunniest states in the west with an average of to sunny days per year.

      Perhaps it is not surprising then that New Mexico will soon be home to the largest concentrating solar power CSP plant in the United States. This would far exceed the capacity of the largest CSP plant currently in operation, which produces about 70 MW. El Paso Electric Co. The federal government is encouraging renewable energy development on western public lands, as exemplified by the BLM's exemption of , acres of land from entry for new mining claims in order to promote solar development click here for BLM's fact sheet on solar energy development.