With the increasing awareness to promote a greener environment, using alternative energy sources like solar power systems are gaining in popularity. In fact, installations of these systems are increasing every year thanks to the various programs supported by the government. Examples of this are the Feed-in Tariff and the Renewable Heat Incentive scheme, which encourages the population to install green energy systems in their homes and buildings.
One of the fastest growing renewable energy sources is Solar Photovoltaic (PV) system.
How do Solar PV Systems work?
Solar PV systems use solar arrays or panels installed on roof top to collect sunlight and convert it directly into electricity using a semi-conductor material. The system usually consists of:
PV panels made from solar arrays connected in series which generates electric current when expose to sunlight.
Batteries which store the direct current generated by the PV panels.
Charge Controller which acts as a voltage regulator as it monitors the direct current stored in the batteries. It reduces the generation of energy when battery is fully charged or it reduces the current discharge when the battery’s stored energy is close to being depleted.
Inverter which converts the direct current stored in the batteries to alternate current (AC) which is what most household electrical appliances uses.
Thus, with the right amount of sunlight and solar panels, a solar PV system can have many uses and applications. For residential use, the solar PV system will be installed by a certified contractor and will be wired to the house’s electrical system so the current generated by the PV system can be use to power appliances, lights and many more. Commercial establishments can install large scale PV system so it can be used to power the whole building instead of using gas or electricity.
Here are some of our “pros and cons” to installing a solar PV system:
Installing solar photovoltaic systems mean that you have your own independent power source as an efficiently installed solar power system can supply up to 60% or more of the household’s energy needs. This translates to bigger savings on electricity bills.
Using renewable sources of energy such as solar PV reduces the use of gas or fuel which can help reduces carbon footprint for the conservation of the environment.
Quality PV panels usually have warranties of up to 25 years which means that you have a free green energy source up to this period.
Owners of solar PV can also benefit from the feed-in tariff program where energy providers pay a fix rate for every kWh of energy generated and exported to the national grid by these solar panel systems.
Installing solar panels can increase the value of the property and can even extend the life of the roof.
Installing solar PV requires an upfront investment with the prices depending on how large the installation will be.
Return on investment for this system can take up to 6 to 10 years.
Just like any other product, this system will degrade at approximately 20% over a period of 25 years.
It requires more roof space to install the system.
If we will look closely, installing solar PV systems has more pros than cons. Yes, it requires initial investment but over time, it will translate to bigger savings as it can help save on electricity bills. Aside from the monetary benefit, renewable sources of energy can greatly reduce the use of fuel and gas which can be a big help in saving our one and only planet Earth.
If you are new to solar electricity, or any electricity for that matter, there are likely a whole lot of terms that are causing confusion. Don’t worry, you’re not dumb, the first time most people look at these terms and numbers it goes right over their heads too. It did to me.
Let’s start with the basics of electricity here (and the ones you will see most in dealing with solar electricity): watts, volts and amps.
What is a watt?
A really basic definition of a watt is the amount of power provided by a circuit, basically the work performed. A basic incandescent light bulb requires 60w of power to perform its designed work, to illuminate. Make a bit more sense now?
What is a volt?
Volts are a measure of electrical pressure, how much electricity is being pushed through a circuit. Think of it like water pressure in a pipe. The amount of force with which the water is pushed through the pipe, either with a pump or through gravity, is similar to a volt in electricity.
What is an amp?
Let’s simplify a bit. What you really need to know is that an amp is the amount of electricity that flows past a given point. Again, think of the pipe. Where a volt was the amount of pressure forcing the water through the pipe, an amp is like the amount of water that is able to pass through the pipe.
The basic breakdown goes like this:
- the watt is the power, or the amount of work that can be completed.
- the volt is the amount of force with which the electricity is pushed through a circuit (like water pressure in a pipe).
- the amp is the amount of electricity passing through a circuit at a given point (like the amount of water through a pipe).
Great, now we know the basic terminology, but how is it all connected? And how do we put this new found knowledge to practical use?
The relationship between the 3 looks like this:
Watts = Volts x Amps
Volts = Amps / Watts
Amps = Watts / Volts
Which means, if we remember our high school math, when we have any 2 of those units, we can figure out the third.
In real life what does that mean? Lets use a cooking example, because really, who doesn’t love food? The slow cooker in my kitchen runs at 180w on low and 120v. So if I am cooking up a pulled pork roast, on low at 180w using 120v, how many amps must be used? Based on the equations above:
Amps = 180w / 120v
1.5A = 180w / 120v
Keep in mind, this example is based on AC (alternating current), while a solar system will store power in DC (direct current) and doesn’t incorporate time into the equation.
Why Install Solar Power
As the world finds itself in the midst of an energy crisis, now is a perfect time to look into investing in an alternative energy solution for your home. Not only does it save power and reduce energy bills, but it also helps the governments of the world fight the looming energy shortages.
While there are a number of alternative energy options, solar power and wind power systems tend to be the most popular for do it yourselfers. Wind power, or a windmill is a fantastic option, but is not a feasible solution for most due to its requirements. Windmills and wind generators require a large area, more than an acre is best, with a relatively high average wind speed. For a solar panel system, all that is required is lots of sunlight.
To implement a total solar power solution requires several components. Often, however, only a few of the elements are installed to fit specific needs.
Solar cooker: A solar cooker tends to be the most popular appliance to install because:
Healthy cooking – Unlike fried foods, cooling with a solar cooker is generally very healthy.
Variety cooking – With a solar cookery ou can roast, boil, or bake, all with the same system.
Fuel Free – The only fuel required for a solar cooker is the sun.
Emission Free – A solar cooker emits no harmful gasses making it the most environmentally friendly method of cooking.
Solar generator: Solar generators are systems capable of running all electrical appliances using only solar energy. It converts the sun’s energy into electricity by way of solar cells, also known as photovoltaic (PV) cells. Using deep cell batteries, a solar generator system is also capable of storing electricity for later use.
Solar heating system: Using a solar heating system, also known as a solar thermal system can heat an entire home, maintaining a steady temperature with minimal impact on the energy bills.
Advantages of solar power:
Solar power is becoming more and more popular among renewable energy solutions.
•It is a green energy solution: Solar power requires no additional fuel, other than the sun, to generate power and electricity. It also emits no hazardous byproducts into the atmosphere.
• Least expensive power solution: The “fuel,” being the sun, is free. Installations is a one time, up front cost for the equipment. Once a system has been installed for several years, and the payback point is reached, further electricity is free!
• Is is storable: When tied to the grid, you cannot store power for future use. With the sun, you can, even in the dark and cloudy times or when power has been lost on the grid. Using a deep cell battery system ensures 24/7 access to electricity, even at night, during storms and through power outages.
• It is easy to maintain: Because there are no moving parts like in a windmill or turbine, solar power systems are easy to maintain. Clean then once in a while and that is about all.
Uses for solar power:
Solar power can be used for all of our everyday energy needs.
• Solar cooking: Solar cooking, through the use of a solar cooker, or solar oven, can cook almost any food by baking, roasting or boiling using only the power of the sun! It does require patience as cooking times are increased by a few minutes. Is a little extra time so much to ask when cooking using zero electricity?
• Solar lighting: Many of us have seen solar powered lights in gardens, along walkways and in parks. The great thing about them is with a proper system they can also be used indoors and require no electricity. They even have an energy storage system, in the form of a rechargeable battery, built right in so the lighting systems can provide light when you need it, at night or in the dark.
• Solar heat: There are several forms of solar heating systems that use the power of the day’s sun to produce heat both during the day, and at night. Different designs are required depending upon the location and climate to avoid overheating or freezing of the systems.
Many people dream about getting “off the grid,” and returning to a simpler way of life. But the reality is that it is nearly impossible for any of us to live life as we have come to know it without some sort of electricity. If you want to get off the grid and become completely self-sufficient, one of the only ways to do it is with a combination of wind and solar power. The following article will provide some information to get you on the right track for choosing the right system and getting it installed.
Solar and Wind – You Will Need Both
There are few areas in the United States that provide enough constant sunlight to provide all of your electrical needs when only running solar. While you can optimize the location of your solar panels and expand them significantly, you will find that the winter months and overcast days cause you plenty of power shortages. Having a wind turbine to supplement the solar generators will minimize the likelihood of running out of energy at a time when you really need it. Hiring a consultant to install the systems in a complimentary fashion is a good idea, as mixing and matching energy sources can become complex.
Choosing the Right Batteries
Most alternative power systems will require the use of batteries to help convert DC to AC, which is necessary to run our electronic gadgets. Making sure your batteries are optimized is important, or you could find yourself with plenty of juice that you can’t use. Most batteries need to maintain more than 50% of their charge in order to be usable. It is also important that the batteries stop charging when they are full. Again, hiring a consultant is a good idea to make sure that everything is tied together properly.
Conservation Is Your Friend
Even if you have an alternate source of energy, you want to make sure that you are conserving as much of the electricity as possible. Living off-grid and generating your own power is very different from being hooked in to the local power plant. Your energy production is limited, so you should limit your consumption, too. Learning how to effectively ration your electricity is going to be essential to completely separate yourself from the grid. This is probably the most difficult challenge for those getting started for the first time with an energy production system fully separated from the grid.
Living Off The Grid
Want to explore living off the grid? Concerned about the global energy crisis, power shortages, and consuming non-renewable energy, the environment? Or maybe just looking to get away from it all to a little slice of desert or beach front heaven that has no services? If you answered “yes” to some of these questions, then living off the grid may be the answer.
What can be gained by living off the grid:
- Reduction in energy costs. Wouldn’t it be nice to stop getting an electric bill every month? Off the grid means no energy bills.
- Reduction on the dependency for non-renewable energy. Using a solar generator or windmill system helps the environment and helps you to reduce your impact on dirty, non-renewable fuel sources. Sounds nice, right?
- Going green for a healthier environment. No emissions, no fuels to burn, no negative environmental impact. Nice. Living off the grid helps you to start taking care of the environment for your kids, and your kid’s kids. By reducing emissions and use of non-renewable fuels, you are helping to ensure a better, cleaner, safer world for future generations.
- Freedom. This one is my favorite. I day dream regularly about a desert oasis, or a South American beach retreat. Problem is, most of these far away places have next to no infrastructure. This means no electricity. Now, with the wonders of technology, however, it can be done! Living off the grid gives you the freedom to set up shop ANYWHERE. No utilities? No problem. Try homemade solar panels or a wind generator and you’re living the good life, off the grid. Add a satellite system for television and internet and you are fully connected to the world, while being nowhere near it. Peace and quiet and piece of mind.
Living off the grid may not be for everyone, but it is a legitimate option. Alternative energy solutions can be both feasible and cost effective. At the very least, they’re worth exploring, so go ahead and read up more about living off the grid.
Homemade Solar Panels
Homemade Solar Panels can change your future. We hear every day about the cost of fuel, shrinking oil reserves, global warming or air pollution. It is costing us more and more to get our hands on less and less available energy which is in turn leading to trying to reduce energy use, particularly our dependence on fossil fuels like oil and gas. But we’ve also seen the price of a solar system to power your home which can exceed 6 lacs. In this economy who can afford that?
Good news! There is a way that is less expensive and more economical to build homemade solar panels that, used in conjunction with deep cell storage batteries, can produce your required household energy and help get you “off the grid”. I mean really, who wouldn’t want to reduce their electric and energy bills by up to 75% or more? Sounds good right? If you are one of the many that wants to reduce your energy bill, you too can implement your own home solar energy solution, which you can build yourself, for as little as 15k.
By far the best guide to build homemade solar panels that I have seen so far is from Earth4Energy. Over the years they’ve been building history of satisfied customers and positive user reviews. In fact, most people can’t believe how easy and inexpensive it was to go solar.
The folks at Earth4Energy’s guide features:
- Complete, simple and detailed instructions that anyone can understand and execute, regardless of skill level. Anyone with a little dedication and a few simple tools can build homemade solar panels.
- Full details about how and where to obtain the necessary materials and components to build a homemade solar panel.
- Tips and tricks on building alternative energy solutions that aren’t readily available from other sources.
- One time investment that gives you lifetime updates to both the manual and the videos included at no additional cost.
- Full cash back offer if you do not save money on your energy bill after using the homemade solar panel system.
Solar generators take advantage of the most abundant and affordable source of energy on the planet. The sun. Yet, in these times of shrinking resources and growing prices, we still do not fully understand nor utilize its full potential.
How Can You Use Solar Energy?
Solar energy can be used across a multitude of areas such as:
Cooking: Ever heard the term “You could cook an egg on the sidewalk”? Well, I don’t recommend it but you can use solar energy to cook using an appliance called a solar cooker. These cookers can cook enough food for four or five people and can boil, bake and roast. Patience, however, is required.
Heating: Solar energy heating systems can heat an entire house without impacting your energy bills. Ever seen a solar cover or blanket on a pool? That is the sun at work heating!
Generating Electricity: Solar energy, when used properly, can run all of your appliances. Homemade solar panels used in conjunction with deep cell batteries create a solar generator system that can create energy and store it for use at night, or when no sun is available.
What is a Solar Generator?
A solar generator is an ingenious device that converts solar energy into usable electricity. Through the use of photovoltaic (PV) cells, also known as solar cells, a solar generator converts the sun’s light energy into electricity. Efficient solar generators can have a fast return on investment leading to a low cost of electricity. They can also help store power that can be used at a later time when the sun is not prominent. This means you can heat, light and use appliances at night or when it is cloudy.
Advantages of Solar Power.
Cost efficient: making use of free energy from the sun saves money. Over time the electricity produced by a solar generator is FREE!
Low maintenance: Once built or installed, a solar generator requires minimal maintenance. Occasionally washing the solar panels ensures high efficiency. This will save you time, effort and money.
Power storage: A proper solar generator system stores power for a rainy day. Pun definitely intended. This ensures an uninterrupted power source for your home.
Pollution free: Solar generators lead us down a path to a greener environment. A solar generator emits no pollution whatsoever and also reduces the world’s requirement for diminishing, polluting fuel sources.