How to Work Out How Many Solar Panels You Need
If you are interested in the idea of using free, environmental friendly energy to power your household, and you want to have a solar panel array installed, one of the most basic requirements you need to keep track of is the number of solar panels that you need.
There are many factors that would determine just how many you would need to use, and how many you will actually be able to buy. www.sempersolaris.com Some of these include the results of your energy consumption target calculations (how much energy your household appliances and devices need in order to function properly), the budget you have at your disposal and the type of solar panel you are using.
Also, depending on whether you are considering the purchase of a high-tech solar array or you're thinking of building your own panels yourself out of cheaper materials, the prices may vary. Therefore, the number of solar panels you can put together in an array may be different, and their quality might also have to be assessed.
Calculating Energy Consumption
If you want to determine precisely how many solar panels you need, it is essential to measure the amount of energy that a solar panel can offer, and compare it with the value that you require. Considering that a normal household consumes about 8000 - 9000 kwh on a yearly basis, and the fact that a $300 solar panel of good quality can only provide about 100 - 200 watts of energy, the number of panels you need to power your entire home may be quite substantial.
Of course, depending on your needs, you might not always have to use up so much energy on a regular basis. Especially if you are an environmental enthusiast, and you know how to choose appliances that provide better functionality, while consuming less energy, you might actually be able to reduce that number to half, or even less.
Also, if you want to build your own solar panel, you might find that the manufacturing costs can effectively be reduced to under $200 for a standard 36 cell solar panel. Depending on the quality of your homemade solar array, you only need about 30 or 40 panels to provide enough power for your entire home.
This number may still be too large, but it can be reduced if you wish to use an additional type of energy, such as wind power. This can offer you more energy on cloudy and rainy days, when solar panels don't operate as well, and reduce the need for panels to half or even less.
Use caution, as different types of solar cells will provide a varying amount of energy. You can calculate the energy output easily, however: after you build your DIY solar panel, measure the current and voltage it produces, and multiply them to obtain the watt value. As a result, a small, 6 ampere solar panel that produces 12 volts, for instance, will offer about 72 watts.
Now, such a weak solar panel may not provide you with too much energy, but the good news is that there are many inexpensive panels on the market that can offer two or more times as much power, and you don't have to pay more than 300 to 400 dollars for one. A solar array made of 10 to 20 of these panels would, therefore, represent a viable option when it comes to powering a large number of low energy appliances or gadgets.
Different Solar Panel Types
The rate and efficiency with which solar cells are able to transform solar energy into electricity also plays a part in determining how many solar panels you will need.
In the case of panels using monocrystalline solar cells, for example, the amount of sunlight needed for generating a specific amount of energy is far less than in the case of thin film or polycrystalline cells.
In 2010, a company that produces high quality monocrystalline solar panels was able to break the world record for solar energy efficiency, producing solar cells that could transform more than 24 % of the sun's rays into usable electrical power.
Some researchers even consider that, in a few years, it may be possible to create monocrystalline solar cells that are able to go beyond the 30 % or even the 40 % mark, significantly increasing the efficiency rating of these types of solar cells, and that of solar energy in general.
A good example of the energy efficiency that these solar panels can offer would be that a solar panel using a total of 36 monocrystalline cells can generally produce around 100 to 130 watts. This practically means that if you want to get 1 kw (1000 watts), you will need about 10 of these panels. Depending on the quality and brand of the panel, pricing can range between $3000 and $5000 for this plan.
In contrast with these results, technologies using polycrystalline cells are barely able to get close to the 20 % limit today, while thin film based technologies hardly provide about 15 to 17 % efficiency.
These numbers may conclude the technological superiority of monocrystalline PV cells, but they do not prove that the best decision is to buy such panels. It's true that you will not need as many panels to reach a general output of about 1 to 3 kw in this case, but the problem is that the more monocrystalline solar panels you buy, the greater the price difference becomes.
You may also opt for less energy efficiency and a better pricing option in order to save money. In this regard, polycrystalline cells are far better, as they are not as weak as thin film-based technologies, and are somewhat less expensive than monocrystalline solar cells.
Now, everyone is usually thinking about budget issues when it comes to buying or manufacturing a solar panel. DIY solar panels are obviously cheaper, however, the quality differences can be great, not to mention that you will need to put a lot of work into it, if you want your new panels to perform properly.
If you decide to buy a solar panel, on the other hand, you will already have all the numbers necessary regarding how many watts it produces, and how stable it is. By using some simple math, you can then calculate exactly how many of these devices you need in order to meet your energy target.
The main problem here is that there are many brands focusing on offering different types of solar panels based on a large number of different technologies. As a result, you may have a hard time choosing between them, and you will have to look around on numerous websites to find out what past buyers think about any particular product.
Most people would believe that about $3000 to $8000 would be enough for a viable solar panel array; however, the numbers might double depending on your needs and the technology you want to use. Fortunately, most manufacturers are already starting to develop better technologies that allow people to buy more efficient solar arrays at a considerably lower price.
You have to take all the options into account, however, and avoid clinging to some brands simply because they have a "catchier" marketing agenda. Ultimately, the numbers will show you everything you need to know, and you can make up your own mind regarding which types of panels you should buy, and how many of them you will need.
You will often find that the company you do business with may actually provide you with a viable plan when it comes to dealing with energy consumption and solar panel numbers. Based on your budget and the proficiency of the solar power array you require, they can often give you a precise estimate of how much energy you can get from your purchase.
Use caution, however, since various brands may at times come up with new technologies that are cheaper and more effective, and would make the designs of other companies seemingly obsolete. You might actually realize then that new opportunities can appear at every step of the way.
So, if you are thoroughly informed about the factors that determine the quality of the technology used for manufacturing panels, you will find that you are in a much better position to establish how many of them you need yourself, without having to worry about any unknown factors.
Build Your Own Solar Panel System
The 2003 the Northeast blackout affected 45 million people in eight US states. Those using alternative sources of energy such as solar panels were able to benefit from their independence from the grid. No food going bad in refrigerators, no sitting in the dark for them. The Council on Foreign Relations, a think tank, has reported that electricity consumption and production have consistently expanded, resulting in an increased burden on a system not designed for such a large load, meaning that many people are turning to solar panels for security as well as financial and environmental reasons.
Solar power is a "green" and renewable power and doesn't emit harmful carbon dioxide, which means it's a great way to reduce your carbon footprint. Close to 3000 pounds of CO2 per year can be saved by a typical home solar energy system, which works out to about 30 tons over its lifetime. These clean, green technologies will be the core of the next industrial revolution, according to Tony Juniper, Friends of the Earth director.
The use of solar power drastically reduces electricity costs, and this is one of the most common reasons for choosing it. Federal and state governments offer solar incentives, which help to offset the initial expenses of a solar energy system. The 2005 Energy Policy Act provides two ways to be given a solar energy tax credit from the federal government. Solar energy rebates are also offered by more than 50% of US states.
An average of 164 watts of solar power per square meter is delivered to the Earth's crust by the sun. If we placed enough solar panels in the Sahara desert to cover just one percent of it, we could generate enough electricity to power the entire planet. This abundance of solar power means there's more than we'll ever need. But because the power sent out by the sun arrives as a mixture of light and heat, we can't use it as it is to directly power a car or a computer. This is why solar panels were invented - to convert the sun's power into a form we can use, like electricity.
Any extra electricity you create using your solar panels, if you're attached to the grid, will be paid for by the utility company. Accounting for a solar energy system's electricity production and enabling utilities to purchase excess energy from homeowners, net metering is allowed in 30 states. The most frequently used option is a single, reversible meter. As a solar energy system produces electricity, the kilowatts are used first to meet on-site energy demand. Excess electricity is then fed into the grid, turning the electric meter backwards, instead of being stored in a battery. The homeowner is credited for the extra kilowatts at the end of each metering period.
Excess electricity can be stored for use on days that are overcast. The ability to store excess electricity in batteries means you don't need to be attached to the grid even for cloudy days. In stand alone solar power systems batteries are charged with surplus electricity for night-time use. The life cycle of a battery is what determines its suitability for use with solar cells. The amount of electricity required, along with the size of the battery, will determine the number of hours energy will last during periods of no sunlight.
How is solar power produced? To produce solar power, you'll need a solar panel, which is composed of one or more solar cells. As sunlight falls onto a solar cell, the cell takes in light particles (called photons). Each photon contains power, and when soaked up, the photon releases an electron in the material of the solar cell. Electric wiring on both sides of the cell enable a flow of current as the photon is absorbed. Using this method, the solar cell produces electricity, which can be used immediately, or stored within a battery for future use.
Solar panels are made up of solar cells. An individual solar cell is not able to produce enough power for most purposes; therefore, several are joined in solar panels because of course, they create more electricity together. Solar panels are available in many types and sizes, the most typical of which produce as much as 50 W of electricity and consist of silicon solar cells. Interconnecting solar panels produce even more electricity.
A solar panel is a sizable flat, rectangular shape, usually somewhere between the dimensions of a radiator and a door. Power collectors, called solar cells, make up solar panels. A solar cell is usually 8-sided and blue-black in color, about the size of your palm. Just like the cells in a battery, these cells are intended to generate electricity. However, these cells use sunlight instead of chemicals to create electricity. Solar panels are also called photovoltaic panels (or PV panels), which comes from a combination of the Greek word for light, and electricity pioneer Alessandro Volta.
You may be curious about how sunlight is transformed into electricity. When the sun shines onto a solar cell, photons (light particles) are bombarded onto the upper surface of the cell. Each light particle then carries its energy down through the cell. The photons then transfer their power to electrons in the lower layer of the cell. The electrons use this energy to escape into the circuit by jumping the barrier into the upper layer. The movement of these electrons through the circuit generates the power for our lights and appliances.
Photovoltaic cells generate electricity from sunlight, but there are other methods for making solar energy. You can also get solar-thermal panels which heat water as opposed to creating electricity. Solar-thermal panels work differently than PV panels, and don't involve electricity. Although they seem similar to solar panels, instead of light particles being grabbed by solar cells, solar thermal panels have black glass which absorbs the sun's heat. Hot water is generated by directing water between the solar panels, heating it up as it goes, after which it is channeled into the water system and of course, comes out of the faucets as hot water.
It's incredible to think that the power transmitted by the sun in just one hour, is more than the whole world uses in a year. Designing (or redesigning) a building to take advantage of sunlight and heat is using passive solar power. This can be achieved by adding more insulation to your roof, or installing an extra south-facing window. Any "passive" adjustments like these would be installed either when the house is initially built, or during major renovation. Adding solar panels or other sunlight collectors would be referred to as active solar energy.
Any form of light that hits solar panels can be transformed to solar power, which means that even on gray days they can still create some power. You can receive back-up energy (for example at night) in one of two ways. One is that you can apply to be connected to the grid in the regular way, so that this acts as a back-up supply for when your solar panels are not operating as would be the case after dark. The other option is storing additional electricity from your solar panels in batteries which will then power your appliances and lights during hours of darkness.
In this environment of global warming and diminishing oil resources, it makes sense.to turn our awareness to natural and renewable resources. Solar power systems have become the most widespread source of renewable energy due to the fact that they make no clatter and manufacture no pollutants. Fitting photovoltaic (solar) panels while continuing to be connected to the grid is the most common method of changing to solar power. Any added electricity generated by the solar system is then fed into the grid. In this way the household can get paid for additional electricity produced, and can also acquire electricity at night.
Water bills can be cut by 50 to 70 % by using a first-rate solar water panel system. Apart from the evident environmental benefits of solar power, it makes financial sense. By combining both solar water panel and PV panel systems you can save even more. Installation costs for solar energy systems are high, although there are different grants available to help finance solar technology. A much more reasonably priced option is to assemble your own solar panels.
Traditional fuel sources are proving to be more tricky and costly to use, meaning an expansion in the value of solar power. Considering global warming and pollution it's apparent that traditional energy sources will no longer be viable. Renewable power sources, by definition, are limitless, unlike fossil fuel. As renewable energy technology continues to mature and the prices of accepted power sources rise, solar technology is starting to become more affordable.
Environmentally aware Hollywood celebrities, such as Cate Blanchett and Orlando Bloom, have taken their commitment further than recycling and driving hybrid cars. These actors have switched to using solar panels and other renewable power sources in their homes, slashing their energy use. Johnny "Captain Jack Sparrow" Depp's island in the Bahamas is to be powered by solar power rather than environmentally unfriendly generators. "Dallas" star, Larry Hagman has saved $24,000 per year by switching to solar power, taking his electricity bill from $37,000 to a mere $13,000 a year.
Actor, Edward Norton was so inspired by the solar panels installed in his own house that he created a program, in partnership with BP, to provide solar energy systems to lower income households in the LA area. Through the BP Solar Neighbors program a free solar system is offered to a low income household each time a celebrity buys one. An outstanding idea, the project has already had some of the best of Hollywood talent participating in it, including Owen Wilson, Alicia Silverstone and Will Ferrell. This project is probably contributing to the 30% annual growth of BP's solar division.
Around 50% the world's power supply will come from sustainable energy sources within the next 30 years according to forecasts from Shell. A great sustainable energy project is being shared by some of the top global corporations, including Total, General Electric and BP. The recent BP oil spill disaster has turned the world's attention to the increasing demand for alternative sources of energy and has increased public interest in solar energy as well as other renewable sources of power. The serious consequences of the oil spill have resulted in a substantial reshuffle of investment priorities, with American energy marketing campaigns placing a lot more focus on sustainable sources of power.
The United States is by far the major energy consumer in the world. 25% of the world's power consumption is by the US - even though it accounts for only 5% of the entire population of the earth. A 100mw solar energy plant in Israel will provide more than 200,000 people with electricity, and they have plans to build an even bigger plant in the future - a 500mw plant. The world's largest solar electricity system can be found in Bavaria, while around 1/2 of solar panels manufactured worldwide are used in Japan. When looking at these facts we can see how far America has to go in order to make the most of solar energy.
If you switch to using solar panels for your house, there are 2 aspects to the financial benefits. Using solar energy firstly means lower electricity bills. Second, if you stay connected to the grid, you've got the option to sell excess electricity to the utility company. With installation costs still being very high, the typical residential solar power system takes around 18 months to have paid for itself - although making your own solar panels is a less expensive option.
Many more individuals are creating their own solar panels now than ever before. Since solar system installation costs are still very high DIY solar panels are fast becoming popular. And the process is easier than you may think. DIY solar panels can be safe and highly effective if created and installed using a good instruction guide. Certainly, creating your own solar panels saves the initial installation costs which means the savings are even greater in the long run.
Property value can be increased by the addition of solar panels. According to HUD, for every $1,000 you save in annual utility bills the value of your home rises by $20,000. A house which is energy efficient is of great value in the eyes of a potential buyer. In addition to the other benefits, a solar system means a home has a back-up system during electricity blackouts. A home-buyer knows that if they buy a house with a solar power system installed, they are also buying peace of mind - knowing that during any power outages they will be unaffected.
Installing panels on a roof that faces east or west will still work - you don't have to have a south-facing roof. Another effective option is the ground-mounted solar system placed in a flat, un-shaded area. A pole, cemented into the ground holds the solar panel in place. Batteries which have been charged with any surplus electricity produced by the solar panels during the day can provide energy overnight.