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.