Solar Energy Technology
Are you considering solar energy for your Cincinnati home and/or business…
…But you’re “on the fence” regarding whether to act?
You might be thinking of getting solar for your home and/or business. But given the information you’ve seen and heard so far, you might be “on the fence” as far as whether to take the plunge and convert to solar.
That’s fully understandable!
For the layman, the terminology, as well as the technology of solar energy can seem confusing. And for some people, it’s not really that relevant, since all they’re really interested in is saving money – and solar energy certainly fills-the-bill in that regard!
But if, on the other hand, you’re one of those who doesn’t want to act until you fully understand the technology behind this energy-saving system, then you need to read this page.
After reading the following, you’ll have a solid understanding of how solar power works, the terminology involved, and why converting to solar is such a smart move!
The Case for Renewable Clean Energy
Clean energy is produced from natural means such as watermills, wind turbines, geothermal plants, and solar power. These sources are termed “clean” due to the face that these sources do not cause pollution, unlike energy from fossil fuels.
The idea of using clean energy has been popular within the scientific community and has recently seen a popularity explosion. There’s a sustained effort in both the private and public sectors to conduct research regarding clean energy to develop new products, to educate people, and to develop effective implementation plans.
Critics believe that current environmental factors are not enough reason to make the change from the use of fossil fuels to renewable energy. The opposition also believes that shifting to renewable energy is impractical, since the process itself is said to be expensive.
Should you consider clean energy for your home? Is it as beneficial as they say it is? To help you better answer this question, here’s a summary of the important things you need to know about Solar Energy Technology.
What is a photovoltaic cell?
A photovoltaic cell, or solar cell, enables your photovoltaic system to convert energy from the sun into usable electricity. Your solar power system can use three kinds of photovoltaic cells.
Most traditional solar cells, or monocrystalline and polycrystalline cells, look like a flat-plate and are made of silicon.
The second-generation solar cells, or thin films, are made of non-silicon materials. You can use these cells as an alternative for your tiles or ceilings because they’re flexible, and are only micrometers thick.
Third-generation solar cells, or the single-crystal cells, which you can effectively use in places where sunlight is scattered, allows your system to concentrate sunlight because they use mirrors or plastic lenses. They’re not just made from silicon, but also from different materials like the solar inks.
The most practical cell is monocrystalline and the vast majority of residential installations use this type of cell.
Photovoltaic Power Systems (Solar PV)
Your photovoltaic system provides solar power through photovoltaic cells. Your solar power system consists of several integral parts which have their own functions. The most important components of your photovoltaic system are the solar panel, solar inverter, and the other electrical accessories such as the electrical cables.
The solar panel of your system absorbs and converts solar radiation into electricity, and the solar inverter facilitates the transformation of your electric current from the unusable direct (DC) to the usable alternating current (AC).
If you only need a few to several tens of kilowatts, you can use the small photovoltaic system. However, if your household or business infrastructure requires hundreds or thousands of kilowatts, it’s necessary for you to use the larger solar power systems.
You should also take note that the market price of solar panel systems depends on the size of the panel system that you prefer.
Concentrator Solar Cells
Concentrator solar cells are also called concentrator photovoltaics. If you want your solar power system to generate greater amount of electric power through solar energy, you should use concentrator photovoltaics, since they allow the photovoltaic cells in your system to concentrate sunlight, and then transform it into electricity.
The stronger the concentration of sunlight, the higher the quantity of the solar energy converted into electricity; thus, the use of concentrator solar cells increases the efficiency of your solar power system.
However, like the third-generation solar cells, you can only make the most out of concentrator solar cells if you place or set up your solar power system in places where a great amount of sunlight is available. It’s not advisable to use concentrator solar cells in cloudy places, due to the difficulty to diffuse light in such areas.
What is an “Inverter”?
The solar inverter in your photovoltaic system converts direct current into an alternating current, which your appliances consume. One of the three types of solar inverters may be integrated into your system.
If you use a remote photovoltaic system, then your solar power system most likely has a stand-alone inverter. This type of solar inverter obtains its DC energy from batteries that are charged by solar power arrays. Battery chargers are provided to recharge the battery from an AC source.
On the other hand, the grid-tied inverter shuts down automatically when there is no energy source present. It also doesn’t provide a back-up electric power supply for your household or business.
If you wish to have a back-up electric power supply, you could use the battery back-up inverter. It’s capable of supplying power during electric black-outs. It can derive solar energy from batteries, manage the battery charge through an integrated charger, and transport excess solar energy to the utility grid.
We recommend grid-tied as it is the most cost-effective and you still get the full reliability of the grid. Battery storage can always be added, and it is smart to start small.
What is a “Solar Array”?
In setting up a solar energy project, whether at home or at the office, you must know the difference between a photovoltaic system and a solar array. The solar array is only a component of your photovoltaic system, while your solar power system consists of all the other components of a solar array.
A solar array is a combination of several solar panels integrated in your solar power system. The arrangement of the solar panels that build up a solar array may include a single panel or different types of solar panels. A solar array, in totality, consists of thousands of photovoltaic cells, modules, and panels of your photovoltaic system.
A solar array can work as the main electrical power station of your home or office, and it can also generate direct current (DC) by capturing and converting sunlight into electricity.
The Rooftop Solar Energy System
The success of the solar energy system you set up basically depends on the amount of sunlight your photovoltaic cells can concentrate. Your location should also be spacious enough for the size of the system that you plan to put up.
You should know that your rooftop is a good place for collecting sunlight, and at the same time provides enough space for your photovoltaic system. You can get direct and scattered sunlight on your rooftop. Therefore, the solar cells of your system can convert the required amount of sunlight to off-set your energy consumption.
Furthermore, you can actually save money with a rooftop solar energy system, since the installation costs and the prices of materials are now much cheaper than ever before. It also improves energy efficiency in your household and business.
If you plan to set up a solar power system, you might find the difference between a solar panel and a solar array confusing. These two are both important components of a solar power system, but to make the most out of your system, you must understand their difference and how a solar panel functions.
To clarify, a solar panel makes up a solar array. It’s only composed of the thousands of photovoltaic cells, which are commonly known as solar cells, integrated into your solar power system, that transform sunlight into heat or electrical current. On the other hand, a solar array is the totality of the photovoltaic cells, the panels, and the modules integrated in your system.
The direct current generated by your photovoltaic system is then converted into alternating current, which powers your appliances and machines. Needless to say, the efficiency of a solar panel relies on the ability of the solar power cells used in your photovoltaic system.
In using a solar power system, it’s important for you to understand everything about how your solar panels are rated in terms of watts. This is to make sure that you’re only paying for the amount of electricity that you’re actually consuming.
The size of the solar modules, the productivity of the solar cells, and the amount of sunlight concentrated basically determine the amount of electric current that your solar power system generates.
You must know that photovoltaic systems don’t always produce an equal amount of electricity all throughout the day. More electricity is generated in the afternoon than in the mornings and evenings.
Nowadays, an average set of solar panels can yield an average of 250 watts of electricity. However, the amount of electricity varies depending on the size of the solar panels. The larger the solar panel, the greater the wattage generated.
What is Meant by “Grid-Parity”?
Grid-parity is also known as socket parity. It refers to the phenomenon where an alternating current (AC) source can yield electric power at a cheaper cost than what you can buy from the utility company. It essentially means it costs you more to buy electricity from your utility company than it does to produce your own.
In discussing renewable energy, the term grid parity is commonly misused, or worse, misunderstood by people, especially by consumers. Oftentimes, it’s forgotten by the consumer that grid parity varies among technologies, specifically among renewable energy sources.
For example, when solar power is said to be approaching grid parity, it doesn’t mean that it’s the same with wind or hydro power. One of the reasons for these variations is the difference in the electric rates among the renewable energy sources. Electric power rates also differ from location to location.
What is Meant by “Grid-Tied” and “Off Grid”?
Grid-tied is also known as grid connected solar. It’s a solar powered system that doesn’t use a battery. This means that your home or business is connected to the national grid AND to your solar energy system. Thus, electricity is provided whenever you need it.
Grid connected solar also allows you to have unlimited access to electrical energy and maintenance free battery at minimum costs, or in other words, without increasing your electric power bill.
On the other hand, an off-grid connected solar is a solar power system with batteries acting as the back-up power supply. In the morning, the batteries are charged by being exposed to sunlight, and provide you electricity. At night or during a cloudy day, the power stored in your batteries become the source of the electric current supply in your household or business.
We recommend grid-tied systems because they are absolutely the most cost effective and create the quickest return on investment.
Battery Storage Technology
Battery storage technology is also called energy storage technology. It’s established as a significant tool in allowing renewable energy, specifically solar energy, to be made extensively available to consumers. The use of battery storage technology also allows grid flexibility by reducing the rigidity of grids. It’s also energy efficient and cost-effective, as it allows you to limit the amount of electricity you use.
The use of battery storage technology is rapidly growing, since it reduces problems that cause renewable resources like wind and solar power to be less efficient. Using batteries diminishes the possibility of having intermittency and storage issues, and allows you to have a reliable source of electric power. Batteries also help your solar power system to consistently provide the amount of electricity that your household or business requires, even during bad weather conditions.
So… now you know a lot more about solar power
BUT because there so many different types of systems, equipment, and different options, you may still be confused about just which options will work best in your particular situation.
Not to worry!
Just contact us at (513) 818-4244 for a free solar review of you home. We’ll review your home, discuss all your options, and answer all your questions.
You’ll also get 8 Solar Pathway Lights WITH installation… FREE … just for calling!
American Dream Solar is a Cincinnati solar energy company. We’ve helped countless consumers and businesses convert to solar and save money on their electric bill… and we can help YOU TOO!
Let us help YOU save money with solar power!