If you are thinking about moving your utilities to more renewable sources of energy for your home, then solar panels have to be at the top of the list. Two of the main questions that come up when you start this journey is what is a solar panel? And is solar energy worth it? Well, that’s what this article is all about, as we look at some of the incredible benefits of investing in solar energy.
What Is A Solar Panel?
It collects sunlight and turns it into electricity. A solar cell panel, also known as a solar electric panel or photo-voltaic (PV) panel is made up of photo-voltaic cells which generate electrical power by using sunlight as a source of energy. These PV modules or cells makeup PV panels, and are mounted in a framework for installation either on roofs, walls or on the ground.
For a fuller description, check out The U.S. Department Of Energy article on how solar energy works.
The Benefits Of Solar Panels
Now that you have an overview of what a solar panel is, let’s look at why you should get a solar panel system. Well, other than generating your own cheap electricity, and becoming either self-sufficient or partially sufficient, (so you can run your major appliances), the other benefits of solar energy are especially strong, including:
These are just some of the benefits of fitting a solar panel system, let’s now look at the 6 critical factors you need to know when investing in a solar system.
How Do Solar Panels Work?
According to the Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy, “The amount of sunlight that strikes the earth’s surface in an hour and a half is enough to handle the entire world’s energy consumption for a full year.”
This is what you are tapping into. Solar radiation, as light released by the sun, is the energy source that is captured by the solar panel and then turned into electricity. This is done in a 3-step process.
What Are Solar Panels Made Of?
There are 4 main solar panel types in the market today. Each of them varies in terms of quality, price and efficiency. Ranking them from the lowest quality and efficiency first, they are:
In terms of the industry-standard solar panel engineers tend to choose Monocrystalline Solar Panels.
Each of the silicon solar cells is backed by electrical wiring and covered by glass. The wiring collects the flow of electrical current out of the solar cells. Each solar panel averages about 3 feet by 6 feet and weighs between 18 kg–20 kg.
What Does A Solar Inverter Do?
As we mentioned earlier, once the solar energy has been collected by the solar panel it needs to be changed from the direct current (DC) electricity captured by the solar panels, into alternating current (AC).
This is done by using a solar inverter which converts the electricity into the standard flow required by the electrical circuits in your house, so that you can use the electricity with your white goods and electrical appliances.
The three types of solar inverters are:
What's the difference between a String and a Micro-inverter?
Micro-inverters act as a centralized hub and are usually bigger, costlier and more energy efficient than string inverters. Whereas string inverters are smaller, cheaper with a lower energy efficiency.
One thing we would always recommend is that going for quality over cost is never a false economy where solar inverters are concerned.
What Are Solar Panel Racking And Mounting Systems
So by now you probably have a good idea as to the best type of solar panel and solar inverter for your house. The next thing to consider is where they are going to be fixed and how.
Essentially, you have 3 choices, roof mounted, wall mounted, or ground mounted.
You can either have a fixed mount, where the panels are static, or a tracking mount, which allows the solar panels to be moved and “follow” the sun throughout the day. Tracking mounts are more expensive but again contribute to the energy efficiency of the solar panel.
Where you place the solar panel is also really important as you want to mount them where you can maximize the peak sun hours.
What Are Solar Panel Performance Monitoring Systems
This is basically your monitoring and control system for your solar panels. It checks factors such as your energy output and consumption. All good solar inverters come with a performance monitoring system, either as an app, on the inverter itself or as a physical monitor.
Checking your solar systems performance regularly will help you adjust your panels and improve your energy efficiency.
What Is A Solar Battery?
The final thing to consider when looking at solar panels is solar batteries. To get the most out of your solar panel installation, you need to have electricity when there’s either no sun or limited sunlight. This is especially true during the winter months and at night.
This is where solar batteries help. Any surplus energy your solar panels produce during peak sunlight hours is stored for later use.
How to choose a battery for solar panels? Some of the main factors to consider include the:
Summary Of What Is A Solar Panel? The 6 Critical Factors You Need To Know When Investing In A Solar System
So, we have seen the benefits of solar panels including,
We then looked at what is a solar panel? How It collects sunlight and turns it into electricity and then went into detail of the 6 factors you need to know about solar panel systems, including:
When Looking For Solar Panels Which Solar Contractor Is Right For You?
Whatever your circumstances, never compromise on quality as solar panel installation is a tremendous investment.
If you would like to see how the leading suppliers compare against each other click on the link at the bottom of the page.