With growing concerns about the environment, rising energy costs and unstable economies more people every day look to the possibility of installing solar panels so that they can generate their own electricity. The subject isn’t however as clean cut as you might expect and after investigating a little you will undoubtedly be filled with questions. A few of the most popular questions have been addressed here.
How many solar panels will I need to install?
This really is a ‘how long is a piece of string’ question. You first have to work out how much electricity you consume on a daily basis. You can easily do this by consulting your old utility bills. Take into consideration that your summer usage and winter usage will be different. Then you need to look at the type of solar panel you will be installing. Each panel has an energy rating signaling the amount of electricity that they produce. Ideally, you will need panels which produce a little more that you consume. You will then discover that you are going to need a lot of space for panels and quite a large budget to go with it.
What if the sun doesn’t shine or if it rains?
Obviously your solar panels will not be generating electricity all of the time. Apart from the overcast and rainy days you also have night time to take into consideration. For this reason the solar panels should really be connected to a bank of batteries where the electricity can be stored. Most household appliances will not run off battery power so a device called an inverter is used to convert DC electricity from the batteries into AC electricity that can be used around the house.
Can I sell my surplus electricity?
Yes this is possible. There are companies that will install your solar system and a special electricity meter which is capable of running backwards. This way, you have no batteries. When you are not generating electricity you are using the current from the utility company. When you are generating electricity, all the extra that you are not using will go back into the grid and your meter will start to run backwards. This is not a very efficient system however as the price that the electric companies pay for your electricity is very low and it will only serve to lower your bill a little. you will hardly ever end up making money out of it.
Can I make my own solar panels?
The photovoltaic cells that are the heart of the solar panels cannot be made at home. They can however be bought as factory seconds off eBay. the are only very slightly chipped and have the same electrical output as their specification and cost just a fraction of the price. Many of these can be soldered together and mounted in a glass covered frame and you have your own cut price solar panel. There are blueprints for making solar panels available on the internet.
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Continue Reading Solar Panels – Popular Questions And Answers
When it comes to installing solar panels on your house there is a lot more to it than initially meets the eye. It entails more than simply buying the panels and getting them installed. I am going to cover some of the basic components you will need so you can plan your project (and your budget) with ease.
The first thing to consider is of course the panels themselves. I am presuming that you are going for the photovoltaic panels that produce electricity as opposed to the solar panels that directly heat up your water.
The Solar panels will produce DC voltage when ever the sun shines. So unless you only plan on using electricity during the day when it is sunny then you will need to store it in a bank of special gel batteries. These batteries have a long life and will hold their charge for many days. They are also designed to be constantly charging and discharging.
As you will already know, the DC electricity from the batteries is not suitable for supplying household items so another apparatus is needed. This is called an inverter and its sole function is to convert the batteries’ DC electricity into usable domestic AC electricity that can be sent straight to the internal wiring system in your home. You will also need a small device which will detect when the batteries are fully charged and will divert the charge coming from the panels to somewhere else so as not to overcharge them and shorten their life.
When you are installing solar panels on your house you ideally need to have them facing south to get the most out of the sun as it goes from east to west. Then you need to have somewhere to store all of the batteries. They are quite cumbersome and if you are going for complete autonomy then you will need a lot of them. Ideally you should have an outbuilding for this or maybe you have a small utility room near to the roof. You only need one inverter which needs to be connected to the batteries and then to your mains outlet. You can either have a separate plugboard for the solar power or, if you have enough panels and batteries you can take the output from the inverter and wire it into your domestic circuitry. (please get an electrician and/or a solar panel installation specialist to help you here).
Before pricing up your solar installation you need to decide if you are going to just power certain appliances from your solar panels or if you are going to go for complete autonomy and power your whole house. If you decide on the later then you would be wise to get enough batteries to be able to supply you with electricity for about 3 days. This way even on rainy days you should have enough power to see you until next time the sun shines.
So now as you plan your alternative energy system you know that there is much more to buy than just the panels themselves. You also need the batteries and the inverter and you need to think about if you have the space or the budget for becoming autonomous. Installing solar panels on your house is not something to be taken lightly so please consult a professional when planning and installing.
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Continue Reading Installing Solar Panels On Your House
In a previous article I spoke about how I was convinced that it would be more economical and efficient for me to install a solar power system for heating my water instead of a system that would generate my electricity. Here is a brief explanation of the water heating system I eventually got and why it is more efficient for me.
The system for heating water that I had installed was a new system of Nordic design. It consists of a large cylindrical water tank with a series of 24 black glass tubes coming out of it. The water in the tubes gets super heated and the hot water then rises naturally up the tubes without the need for any electrical pumps and enters into the tank, the tube is then replenished by the colder water at the bottom of the tank and is heated again, and so it goes on.
So I have a large cylindrical tank of hot water on my roof… but this is NOT where my hot water comes from. There is a cold water supply that goes into the tank through a copper tube which spirals around inside the tank of hot water… the water in the tank gets so hot that it heats up the copper pipe and by the time the water comes out of the other end of the copper pipe it is literally boiling hot. It gets so hot that I had to have a mixer valve installed which makes sure that if the water is more that 60 degrees Centigrade that it gets mixed with cold water limiting it to a maximum temperature so we don’t get scalded.
The beauty of this system is that it doesn’t really matter how much water you run through the tank because it will not cool down very fast. You are not limited to one tank of water as with other solar power systems… I have seemingly unlimited hot water on tap 24 hours a day. I have drawn several bath tubs at night one after the other and still had boiling hot water to do the washing up after.
What’s more, because of the ecological design of this system, the water tank remains heated even on rainy days. It is heated by the radiation from the sun more than its heat. The only time it doesn’t heat up is when it is foggy but even then, the tank remains hot for several days. I have yet to be a day without hot water.
I was told that with the saving I would make on my fuel bills that I would be able to pay for the solar panel in about 4 or 5 years. I calculated how much I really am saving and I now know that my solar power system will have paid for itself completely within only 2 years from the time of installing it.
Continue Reading Solar Power For Heating Your Water
The installation of an alternative energy system using photovoltaic solar panels can be very expensive, In this article Im going to address some of the pros and cons of having these fitted and will try to shed some light on some of the elements needed apart from the panels themselves in order to get this running,
This system is probably one of the most common of the energy saving systems available. Photovoltaic Solar Panels are the standard large black rectangles that you often see on peoples roofs. They are made up of many small photovoltaic cells. These are special cells about 4 inches square that generate a small electrical current when exposed to the suns rays. The solar panel itself is made up of many of these joined together turning lots of small electrical currents into one large electrical current.
The main drawback with this system is that the electricity produced is DC electriciy, the same current that batteries use. The answer to this is to have what is called an inverter. This basically changes large amounts of DC electricity into small amounts of AC electricity which can be used around the house.
Another problem with this system is that it obviously doesn’t create energy at night or on cloudy days so it is most efficient when the energy it does create can be stored. This is done by using special Gel battery packs which store the electricity produced for later use.
This system can be very costly. The panels themselves are not the main cost factor here.
The Battery packs are extremely expensive and the invertors do not come cheap either.
The system as a whole needs a very large amount of solar panels to be able to produce enough power to provide for a small family household. If this type of system is installed then it is prudent to be able to have 2 or 3 days of autonomy accounted for. You will need to have an extremely large amount of batteries for this which can be extremely expensive and will require a very large storage space too. The amount of panels required would take up a lot more than the roofspace available on most houses and the cost would be astronomical . Most people who get these systems installed use them to supplement their existing power supply. This drastically reduces their electricity bills as they generate a great part of their own electricity.
You need to bear all of the above points in mind when planning the installation of your solar panels. Know that you will have the extra cost of the batteries and the inverters, try to calculate how much electricity you use and to plan for having enough batteries for 2 or 3 days of usage. With this information clear you can easily work out how much you need to spend, how much you will save and how long it will take you to amortize the investment made on your photovoltaic solar panels.
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Continue Reading Are Photovoltaic Solar Panels Cost Effective?
Solar panels are no longer an unfamiliar sight to almost everyone in the world now but solar energy advice is now being sought on an unprecedented level. There seems to be such a lot of unknowns when it comes to alternative energy and there are lots of unanswered questions on the subject for a lot of homeowners. Questions like:
How do they work?
Are they efficient?
How difficult is it to install them?
How much do they cost?
How long before they pay for themselves in energy savings?
Here are some answers to some of these questions.
How do they work?
It seems like where ever you are traveling, large black rectangles which are solar panels can be seen high up on many buildings now but unless you have one yourself you have probably never got close enough to inspect it to see how it works. There are basically two types of solar panels, photovoltaic panels that generate electricity and heat transfer panels whose function is to heat water.
Are they efficient?
Both types of panels are indeed extremely efficient in as far as they will provide you with potentially unlimited energy for free once installed. You need to work out how much you were paying for heating your water or for your electricity before, calculate the saving you will make by using solar energy and then offset this against the cost of the system itself. This is where solar energy advice is really needed as you need to get your figures right before investing in a costly system.
How difficult is it to install them.
Most solar energy systems come with installation included in the price and though it is not that complicated to install them once you know how, it is not really a task that you can undertake yourself unless you have some electrical knowledge and some home repair experience for the mounting of large panels in tricky to access high places.
How much do they cost?
A lot… In order to get enough electricity out of the photovoltaic panels you need to install a large number of them. This type of panel are the most expensive and often on a normal rooftop there is not enough space (and at times not enough money) to install sufficient panels to cover the average household usage. The heat transfer panels however are a lot cheaper and will provide the household with more than enough hot water for most of the year round.
How long before they pay for themselves in energy savings?
As I just mentioned, the cost of the photovoltaic panels is elevated and you can install a few which will supplement your current electricity usage. The saving you make will be a small percentage of the total cost of the panel and it will typically take 10 to 12 years to pay off the cost of the panel with the savings.
The water heating panels are a lot easier to pay off. Until recently these would provide most of the hot water needed by a household and would pay for themselves in saving on water heating in about 4 years. Now though with the advances being made in making more efficient nordic panels containing tubes of water that you can get an almost unlimited amount of hot water even on rainy days. The only time these panels don’t heat up is when there is fog or mist. These panels can pay for themselves in about 2 to 3 years.
The conclusion here is that installation of any kind of solar panel will definitely make you a huge saving on your energy bills but the initial investment can be quite large. There are ways that you can build your own solar panels quite effectively, which is fine if you have the time and are good with your hands. The know how is not widely published but can be found on the internet. Whichever system you are considering, you should definitely seek some solar energy advice from a professional in the field before going ahead.
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Continue Reading Solar Energy Advice
I recently installed a solar energy system in my home that heats my water. I originally wanted to install photovoltaic solar panels, the type that generate electricity. I had it all worked out where I was going to put them and so I started doing some investigation as to where to purchase them.
After looking around for a while I realized that there was more to this that I originally expected. I needed to decide on how I was going to hook up the electricity I would be generating to my house. The most straightforward way would have been to replace my main feed from the utility company with my own. For this I realized that I was going to need some way of storing the electricity so that I could still use it at night when the panels were dormant.
Ok, so this wasn’t so difficult. I would set up a bank of batteries to store the electricity generated so I could use it at night. I then realized that of course the batteries only output Direct Current, DC electricity. What I needed for my home was the standard AC electricity, Alternating Current.
Well this was no problem either. There is an apparatus called a DC AC inverter that will convert battery power into domestic electricity, So all I had to do was to install one of these an I would be autonomous in my solar energy electricity production.
The next step was to price it all up and this is where I got a shock. I decided that I would need to have at least enough electricity in the batteries to last me about 3 days in case of a dull period with no sun, living in a hot and sunny areas this was a good estimate. The amount of batteries that I would have needed for such an installation was a lot. I discovered that the only really viable type of battery was the gel batteries which were extortionate in price. There were none to be found in my hometown and so I would have needed to order them… delivery of the batteries would have cost a small fortune too because they each weigh about 2,000 pounds each and I needed 12 of them.
The number of solar panels that I would have needed to set up the system like this was more that the space I had available and the cost was unthinkable. The inverter too was a pretty high investment too as I needed an especially powerful one to power the whole house and a special type if I wanted to use computers in the house which o course I do.
With the rising cost and the complication I called in a specialist to assess me. There were other points I had not taken into account too like where to direct the excess electricity I generated when the batteries were full and how to maintain a connection with the utility company just in case we had more than 3 rainy days in a row.
The final conclusion was that being as most of my fuel bill was due to heating hot water that maybe the best option for me would be to install a solar power system for heating water instead.
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Continue Reading Why A Solar Energy System May Not Be The Best for You
In this article I am going to reveal the top 3 Alternative energy sources for homes. Each and every one of us can do our bit to help save the environment so the following energy saving applications can be be considered by the home owner who is looking to reduce their energy spending and to help save the planet at the same time.
Using solar panels to produce electricity is probably the most common form of alternative energy that people are using at the moment. These panels produce small amounts of DC electricity which is normally stored up in special battery packs for later use. DC to AC inverters are used to change the battery power into useable domestic electricity. This system can be quite costly as the expensive price of the batteries and inverters are often not taken into account when calculating the price of installing the panels.
The second most popular of the Alternative Energy Sources For Homes is wind power. You can get your own wind turbine installed either on top of your building or as a stand alone tower. These turbines generate electricity like windmills and have a set up very similar to that of the solar panels. The wind turbine will produce DC electricity periodically but not constantly so the energy needs to be stored in batteries and then converted into AC current for domestic use.
The final and most overlooked alternative energy source is the use of panels to heat water. We all use hot water and the amount of energy we use to do that can be immense. Some have their water heated by electricity and others by gas, oil or coal fired furnaces. When you install a solar panel that heats water you will be making quite a huge saving on your energy bills. These panels only heat the water, they will not generate electricity but with the latest advances in the technology with just a bare minimum of light these panels will continue to heat up giant tanks of water. The hot water that comes out for your use is not what has been heated up on the tank but it is water that has passed through a spiral of copper piping running through that tank of boiling hot water. This provides for hot water seemingly without limits for most of the year around. They heat up the water even on rainy days. The only time they do not heat the water is at night or when it is foggy or misty and the suns radiation is blocked.
Of these three energy sources the solar panels to produce electricity are probably the most expensive and complicated to install. It may take many years to amortize your investment on these. The wind power is similar but as it generates less electricity it also takes a while to pay for itself. Depending on how much you spend on heating your water then the water heating solar panels are often the most effective with a smaller outlay and a great saving. So of the three main alternative energy sources for homes my personal recommendation is the water heating solar panel.
Continue Reading Alternative Energy Sources For Homes