Solar Energy | What You Need To Know

What is solar energy ?

Solar power is usable energy generated from the sun in the form of electric or thermal energy. Solar energy is captured in a variety of ways, the most common of which is with photovoltaic solar panels that convert the sun’s heat into usable electricity.

Aside from using photovoltaics to generate electricity, solar energy is also commonly used in thermal applications to heat indoor spaces or fluids.

Residential and commercial property owners can install solar hot water systems and design their buildings with passive solar heating in mind to fully take advantage of the sun’s abundant energy with solar technology.

Solar Power benefits

  • Solar power will save your money, with solar system you have not to rely on expensive electricity from your utility company. An average solar energy customer saves tens of thousands of dollars over the lifetime when he goes Solar.
  • The commercial solar power plants construction is emerging market and the investors can earn billions of dollars in revenues.
  • Solar increases property values, when you install solar panel on your roof, it adds thousands to your home’s resale value and also attracts green-conscious home buyers.
  • Solar is great for the environment, using Solar energy means you are utilizing zero emission electricity and shrinking your carbon footprints. If you have electric car, you can even power your commute with the sun instead of traditional fossil fuels.
  • Solar works all over the world, the solar system could be installed where the sun’s average hours are above 4.

How does solar system work ?

The solar panels convert the sun’s heat into electricity. This is achieved by installing solar panels which generate DC (Direct Current) electricity.

This is then fed into a solar inverter which converts the DC electricity from your solar panels into AC (Alternating Current) electricity. This electricity is used to run home appliances or exported to the Grid when it’s excessive.

solar energy grid layout

The solar system consists of following components

  • Solar Panels.
  • Power Inverter.
  • Battery Packs.

1. Solar Panels

The solar panels convert son’s heat into electricity. A solar panel is a collection of solar cells. Lots of small solar cells spread over a large area work together to provide enough power to be useful. The more light that hits a cell, the more power it produces.

Usually, three kinds of solar panels are designed these are monocrystalline, polycrystalline, and amorphous.

The monocrystalline panels have greater efficiency for moderate temperature while polycrystalline are used for high temperature areas.

2. Power Inverter

The power inverter is part of each solar configuration. The job of power inverter is to convert DC power from batteries and solar panels to AC electrical power. This AC could be used to run AC appliances like TV, bulbs, AC pumps and many more.

Modified Sine Wave: These tend to be cheaper and less powerful. However, these are good for everyday electronics you will want to use, just not very large ones.

modified sine wave

Pure Sine Wave: These are compatible with almost all electronics, gadgets and home appliances. They produce a powerful current most like the one supplied by the electric grid.

These are the most common choice, because these are more likely to be compatible with anything you need to plug in. The Pure sine wave inverters are most reliable but these are comparatively expensive. 

sine wave, solar energy

I recommend to buy pure sine wave inverters only, because these support all home appliances and commercial applications.

The advanced solar inverter are also equipped with built-in charge controllers. The charge controllers are also available as standalone device.

The solar panel voltage varies with increase/decrease in sunlight, a solar charge controller is used to regulate voltage and current coming from solar panels. The charge controllers maintain optimum charging level by following techniques;

  • On/Off
  • PWM
  • MPPT

MPPT charge Controller is most efficient charge controller but it is little bit costly. I recommend to buy pure sine wave inverters with MPPT charge controller only because these are most reliable and efficient controllers.  

3. Battery Bank

Battery bank is crucial part of off-grid solar system. In batteries, energy is stored in chemical form this chemical energy is converted to electrical energy using special electrodes.

The power inverter converts DC power stored in batteries into AC electrical energy which is fed to home appliances.

The batteries are connected with off grid and sometime on-grid solar systems to provide uninterrupted power supply during Grid failures and during nighttime when sun is not available.

Usually, batteries are more expensive as compared to other solar energy components.

The solar system can be installed with following three configurations. The customers need to choose from following solutions as per their requirements.

Solar System Configurations

1. Grid-Tied Solar Solution

The Grid-Tied solar systems are the most common and widely used by homes. These systems do not need batteries and use common solar inverters.

The Grid-Tied system are connected to the public electricity grid. Any excess solar power that panels generate is exported to the electricity grid and owner credits for the energy which is exported.

Grid-Tied Solar Solution

2. Off-Grid Solar Solution

The Off-Grid solar solution is suitable for the people living in remote areas. Both the AC and DC home appliances can be connected with Off-Grid system.

This system is not connected to the electricity Grid and therefore requires battery storage. Batteries are crucial part of this system to run home appliances during night time.

Off-Grid solar systems is designed appropriately so that they have enough battery capacity to meet the home’s requirements, even in the depths of winter when there is generally much less sunlight.

Off-Grid Solar Solution

3. Hybrid Solar Solution

The Hybrid system are connected with Grid and also have battery packs. These solar system are available in different configurations.

The Hybrid solution does not export energy to utility Grid instead they charge the battery packs with the excess power.

During the unavailability of Grid, the power inverter automatically switches to battery power supply thus supplying uninterrupted power to the home.

Hybrid systems are also able to charge the batteries using cheap off-peak electricity usually after midnight.

Hybrid Solar Solution

The consumer living of-Grid have to install Off Grid solar system due to unavailability of Grid power. The battery bank connected with Off Grid solar system provide uninterrupted power supply to consumer’s energy needs.

Most people of connected with public Grid supply, they usually prefer to install On Grid solar system to meet their energy needs and this system is capable of exporting excessive power to the Grid.

Solar financing options

Your solar energy ambitions could be achieved using different financial methods. Following are the common solar financing method.

Pay Cash

Usually majority of the home owner use this method to install their solar system. The owner pays the cost to solar installation company and they install solar system without any Lender intervention.

If home owner is unable to pay cash then following methods could be adopted.

Home equity Loan

The second solar financing method is home equity loan. Your home acts as collateral and payback period and amount can be discussed between the parties.

Solar Loan

Various organizations including banks and sometime governments offer loans for solar system installation. Usually, solar system installer work together with banks or credit unions to get approval for solar loan.

Lease Financing

The solar lease financing method offers minimal returns for the home owner. Furthermore, Leasing Company can install solar panels as per their requirements.

Usually, home owner have no control upon his rooftop. We do not recommend this method due to unsustainability and minimal returns.

Solar approval and net metering

The solar system installation requires few approvals and permits from the concerned authorities. Mostly, the solar contractor secures all these approval and permits on your behalf. The solar installation guideline may vary state to state.

The net metering is an energy mechanism that enables import and export energy from public electricity Grid.

The recorded energy is measured monthly and if the home owner’s net delivered energy exceeds energy import, the electricity Grid Company credits the consumer for the net electricity exported according to the existing tariff.

Solar approval and net metering application process

  • A completed Interconnection Application is submitted to the Company (comprises: UL 1741 compliance, application fee, electrical Single-line diagram, and site Layout).
  •  Company reviews Application.
  • The Grid Company informs applicant about the approval or disapproval of the application. They may ask for further rectification.
  • On approval, an interconnection agreement is assigned between consumer and Grid Company.
  • The Grid Company’s personnel may conduct site inspection for the verification of installation and commissioning of the solar facility.

Solar panels design and installation

After all approval and financial arrangements, the solar contractor (Installer) designs your system according to your energy needs.

Few consumers also deploy independent solar consultant to review design and installation of your project. After design completion, the installation of solar system is conducted.

The completion time of your project depends upon the power rating of solar project.

Solar operation and maintenance

The residential solar projects do not required regular maintenance but commercial solar project need dedicated resources for proper operation and maintenance of solar project.

The residential solar project continue operating without any defect for many years. For better performance, the consumer need to clean solar panel to avoid dust accumulation. In short, the residential solar projects require minimal operation and maintenance.

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