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101 renewable - pv solar panels electric power generation

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Last Updated
9th of October, 2018

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"Solar electricity it is like normal electricity. And it is free to grab it."

Solar panels or PV Panels are made of a set of photovoltaic cells connected series and parallel. Under the sun, a photovoltaic cell acts as a photosensitive diode and converts light (not heat) into electricity. That it means how long the intensity of light (called irradiation) remains in a specific value range we generate an electrical current which is a direct current. The current closes into a single direction between the front of the cell exposed to the light and the back of the cell where the electrical connections are made. The light acts as a natural type of switch setting the current on or off. The heat it is acting as an efficiency deterrent - to much heat and the amount of the electrical current generated start to be limited and declines in value. The way we connect the photovoltaic cells in series and parallel determine the total amount of current for that panel and respective the output voltage of that panel.

Solar Panels How it Works

We need more as a single panel to start to generate a significant amount of electrical energy enough to cover a household needs. For an average household, it is somewhere in the range of 3KW. First, we will connect two or more solar panels in a string. One or more strings are making an array of solar panels. In the case of a large number of solar panels the output it is way more manageable if we split the array into strings of solar panels. The output coming from the solar array it is directed through cables to the array combiner box containing electrical connection for each individual string or respective PV module. From the combiner box continues through home runs to main DC disconnect box and to the most important electrical component of our distribution chain which is DC to AC Inverter . Actually, in most of the installed inverters the DC to AC inverter, it is a galvanic isolator between the DC section and the AC section of a PV plant . In case we decide to monetize on a solar installation and to improve ROI (Return on Investment) we (will) sell the energy generated to the utility company. To keep track of the energy we sell back to the utility company (respective we put back on the grid) we use utility-grade, digital smart kilowatt-hour meters mounted before mains.

rooftop system

When it comes to residential or commercial installations most of the solar panels are mounted on top of the rooftops. Rooftop systems are the most convenient to integrate a residential or even commercial PV plant and they do offer additional security features based on their elevated position which make them out of easy reach. Rooftop systems do not need additional land for the specific installation and in this way, the start-up costs are considerable lower, the real estate used it is already there.

ground mounted

Where roofs are unavailable Ground-mounted solar panels systems are a viable alternative. Modules are mounted on racks and anchored into the ground. Additional labor and material costs are to be considered. It is a more expensive start up investment and securing the perimeter for that installation adds to the total cost. Real estate comes at a substantial cost to the total investment costs.

solar car port

Shelters; Canopies small PV plant applications. They do provide an energized roof acting as a power source for all the utilities they host under the structure. Are most seen as Solar Car Ports and they tend to become a common presence. Their main role is to provide EV and Hybrid cars with charging power.

solar utility scale

Utility - Scale systems are ground mounted or are using available space on industrial buildings rooftops. Their output is in MW range. They are complex in maintenance and most of the time is necessary to be equipped with real-time monitoring. Cleaning becomes a real issue and adds to the maintenance costs.

solar panel tracker

Trackers are a solution brought in mainly to increase the output power by moving the solar panels to follow the sun’s path and get more pick ours per day. At the sunset, they will be parked ready to be used at sunrise. Very common to be used with solar water pump systems.

How Long will Solar Panels Last?

Solar panels generally last over 25 years, and they require little to no maintenance. Most of the solar panels have over 20 years warranty. Very common for solar panel warranty is to state that the panels will produce  at least 80% of their rated power after 20 years (rest of the power it is lost through depreciation).

What are other factors we have to consider before we start buying solar panels?

Solar panel efficiency it is very important thus being reflected in dollar investment costs per watt produced ($$/Watt). The main trend is to have this number lowered to under 2$/Watt.

What types of solar panels we use for household or commercial PV Plant installations?

Solar panels are mainly classified as monocrystalline, polycrystalline or amorphous. One of the main constraint in a solar panel installation is the roof space (for residential and most of the light commercial projects). If space is not an issue, then an amorphous panel is a great option. Amorphous solar panels perform better than crystalline solar panels in very hot temperatures and are more tolerant to the partial shading.

What are the trends in solar panels industry?

The new trend in residential solar is the solar roof build from high impact resistant solar cells. The solar cells are not visible to the necked eye from the street level and they do integrate perfect into the house design.

Solar Roof House

Solar tiles come with high-efficiency ratio and they offer an excellent conversion of solar energy into electric power, being capable of supplying a household with all the electricity needed. Together with Powerwall battery bank, the household can relay 24 hours on solar electricity generation from what the solar roof harvest during the daylight time.

Made of extremely strong tempered glass, the solar roof tiles can withstand the impact of hail up to 200 mph. They can take on nearly three times the force of standard roofing tiles. To be integrated into the house general design, the solar roof tiles are using a colored louver film placed between solar cells and high tempered glass.

solar roof tile components

In this way, the solar tiles are blending perfect into the roof and the general look, giving a stunning glossy view from the street level with the different type of structures as slate, Tuscan, smooth and so on. This type of roof costs less than an equivalent roof when you include the projected savings from utility bill and last twice as much in time.

About the author of this article:
View Michael Comsa's profile on LinkedIn

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