Okay you're not sure how many solar panels you will need. Can you use different types of Solar Panels? Should you wire them parallel or in series. What does parallel and series mean? Mono versus Poly the two different names you see on Solar panel sales; what do they mean, and are they important? And the list will go on more and more questions about building your own Solar powered system. Even if you are going to make it a hybrid system. I know what does hybrid mean? All buzzwords, and they will make you doubt yourself and your ability to go Off-Grid. But the Tinkerer is going to help you understand these terms. What they mean to you and your plans of being independent of the Power Company.
You might say I don't have time for all this. I'll just get a Solar Company to build me an Off-Grid System. Okay that's an option. I will tell you now that about 90% of the Solar Experts don't know one thing about Sustainable Energy systems. You'll be lucky if they know how to install Grid-Tied systems. Indeed, even that they took maybe a 6 week class on installation of the popular 3K kit okayed by the Power Company. That is before the Power Companies found that Solar panels work very well. Too well for their profit margin. As I posted before the option of Grid-Tied systems getting closed. As reported in many articles (This link is from Scientific America). The power Companies did not expect Solar Systems to work so well. Now that Solar cuts into their pocket book, and they have to watch that bottom line. They are not so pro-Solar.
However ,even if you want someone else to do it and you have the money to sit back and watch, or maybe tinkering just not in your blood. Whatever, the reason it is still smart to know something about the power system that you will have installed. So this post is going to target information on solar panels.
Solar Panels, come in two types Monocrystalline and Polycrystalline. There used to be a big difference in the output of these two. One square meter of monocrystalline solar cells would of generated around 190W
One square meter of polycrystalline solar cells would of generated around 180W That was a year ago, technology has advanced so much in one year that if you place a Poly next to a Mono the difference is not enough to make up for the price difference. You can tell the difference between a mono and poly panel because of the darker colour of the mono-cell, and also the mono-cell generally are not perfectly square as they started off in life as a round wafer.
Some people think aesthetically the mono looks best, being an artist myself I prefer the designs of the poly; however, who's going to climb up on your roof to look that close at them anyway. Of course I stated before ground mounting is the best way to go if you have the room. But still at 50 feet they're all going to look blue.
The average sun time (when solar panels can produce electricity) is five hours. This can be really different in your geographical position to the sun. They have instruments called sun trackers that can be used to show the sun's relative position to your location year around. Or you could have lived long enough at this location to know the suns path year around. Another source is a FREE site called SunCalc you type in your address anywhere in the world, and they will show you the sun path that day, or you can change dates and get more information for your entire year of Sunshine (How Cool Is That?) There is also the calculator on Weather Underground site that not only tells you the amount of sun; in addition, you can put in different brands of panels and it will tell you how efficient they are.
Well that part is over you know what Panels to buy. You know where the best position to place them is to make them get the most out of the sunshine in your location. How about we go even further and introduce you to Sun Trackers or Sun Tracking systems. To be truthful there are a plethora, of Youtube sites where some very innovative people have designed sun tracking devices so you get the most out of your locations amount of sunshine. Just remember if you do decide to build your own tracker they're single axis and dual axis.
This is a single axis sun tracker for panels. It will only track singularly meaning you will have to adjust it as the seasons change. This is not a hard thing to do but just another thing to put on your Honey Do list. Now not that I'm lazy I just think it's incredibly cool. Is the Dual axis automatic sun tracker.
This is a commercial one. Again there are so many places out there to show you how build one of these guys. Just remember it's going to have to hold quite a few Solar Panels. You can virtually pick the one that fits your needs from all the designs out there or buy one already made. Commonly it is driven by sensors usually two that activate motors that move your panels into always optimum sun exposure. You must remember that the average home with four people in America uses 19.5Kh of power in a 24 hour period. One 200 watt solar panel at peak exposure to sun produces different amounts according to its manufacturer. However, they are not staggering amount of differences, and a term you need to get used to is Efficiency (%) = (Output per input light irradiance using STC; energy conversion efficiency; module efficiency.) You need to know this because everything in the process of you generating energy is working against you! Line resistance, inverter efficiency, solar panel efficiency, battery bank efficiency well I hope you get the point.
It is vital that the Solar Panel system you build for whatever use; has the capability to produce a larger production of energy than you use. The same with your energy storage, it has to be larger than the amount of energy you use in at least a day. I'm promoting Off_Grid systems to people that have access to the Grid also. It will save you money in the long run to be Off-Grid than to be Grid-Tied. And as I have mentioned before the Power Companies want to take away that option anyway. Why? Because, Sustainable Energy systems work, Solar Panel systems they work really well. So well in that in a short time Power Companies are going to be screaming to stop any kind of power production that they do not have control of. It makes them loose money.
Ending on this David Roberts wrote a post that is a must read!
Next on the list How should I wire up my Solar panels for my Off-Grid System?
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