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So what are the components of a solar power system ?

Solar power components When you see solar panels on someone's roof, you know that that person has invested in a solar power system, but have you ever stopped to think what extra components are needed for a system to work? Here is a complete guide to all the elements you need for a solar power system.

The Panels

PV (photovoltaic) panels are the most common type of panel, especially for residential installations. They are made from three layers:

* The N-Layer – silicon that is mixed with phosphorus

* The P/N Junction – pure silicon

* The P-Layer – silicon that is mixed with boron

When sunlight strikes the N-Layer, it knocks electrons loose. These electrons pass through the P/N junction (which is a one-way junction) into the P-Layer. This creates an electrical field that then drives the electrons that have been “knocked off” from the silicon, creating an electric current.

The Inverter

If you know your physics, then you will know that the electric current that is generated in this way is direct current (DC), which is like the electricity stored in batteries. However, mains electricity is alternating current (AC) where the flow of electricity changes direction 50 times a second. To make the electricity supplied by solar power suitable for use in domestic homes, a device is needed that converts DC current to AC current, and this device is called an inverter.

An inverter works in a very simple way, using a series of switches which are known as “solid state switches” that “flips” the DC current backwards and forwards 50 times a second, to create the AC current.

The Battery

Not all solar power systems have a battery, but some systems that produce more electricity than is needed for the building they are powering have a battery connected to store this excess energy. The stored energy can then be used when the solar panels are not providing enough energy, such as dark and rainy days.

The Distributor

The distributor is the device that distributes the AC power created by the inverter to the grid, and sometimes to both the home in which the solar power system has been installed and the grid. The output from the inverter is fed to a dedicated breaker in your house's electric panel, and then through to your home. If you are creating more power then you are using, then some of the power flows backwards and into the grid, and you receive a credit from your utilities company. If your system is not supplying enough energy for your home, then the shortfall is made up as usual by your utilities company.

These are the basic components of any solar energy system and as you can see, solar power is not a complex energy system – the cells create DC current, the inverter changes it to AC current, and the distributor controls the way in which power is distributed between your home and your utilities supplier.

Now you understand the components that make up a solar energy system, why not consider making the switch to the money-saving, cleaner and more environmentally-friendly source of energy that is solar energy ?

What Are The Differences Between Residential and Commercial Solar Power Systems?

Commercial solar power plant It is not only individuals who are increasingly likely to embrace solar energy these days. More and more commercial enterprises are making the leap to power their buildings with electricity created via the free energy received from the sun. Not only does making the switch save money, but such companies are hoping they will be viewed more favorably if they are seen to be displaying a commitment to more environmentally-friendly energy sources.

The question though is, what's the difference between residential and commercial solar power systems?

The most obvious answer is the scope. While a home has only a small number of people using electricity, the amount of people at a commercial premises can easily number into the hundreds. Solar panels for residences are usually smaller, and generate less power. This is because the roof space of residential buildings is less than the roof space of commercial buildings, so while a residential solar panel typically has 72 cells, a commercial solar panel will be about twelve inches wider, and have 96 cells.

Solar energy is a black and white issue

Commercial solar panels are also like the Model T Ford – you can have any color you like, as long as it's white. While most residential homes who go for solar are happy to accept white panels, if you do not want your panels to be so apparent, you can go for black ones instead.

As commercial panels are also likely to be needed to generate more power, they are usually more expensive per panel, although the actual price for solar energy is calculated by the power that they produce, and not the size or efficiency of the panel. Therefore, a 4kW system for a residential system will cost exactly the same as a 4kW system for a commercial system.

Because commercial panels are larger than residential ones, they are more efficient at producing electricity. Commercial panels have an efficiency of just under 20 percent, making them two percent more efficient than residential panels.

A non-stalling installation

In the case of both residential panels and commercial panels, they are installed using a bolted racking system, but as the roof of a commercial building is more more likely to be flat than the roof of a residence, a mounting system using non-penetrating ballast can be used, making installation easier. This makes a commercial installation easier than a residential one, although because many commercial installations can involve upwards of one hundred panels, as opposed to between eight and sixteen panels for a residential system, a full installation at a commercial premises can take longer than a week, or even as long as a month.

It's worth noting that if you are a residential customer who has decided to install a solar panel system, there is nothing to stop you from installing commercial-standard solar panels, especially if you have plenty of roof space, and you are not too bothered about how your panels will look on your roof. These are just some of the slight but important differences between a commercial and residential solar energy system installation. There is one thing that both types of system will have in common though – they allow the owners of the system to save money by using the free energy supplied by the sun, and they will both help to prevent global warming from becoming any worse.

If You Wish to Go Solar, Read This FAQs

Solar Panels Placed on Many Rooftops These DaysIf you have made the decision or are thinking about making the decision to go solar, then you may be wondering - how does sunlight actually get turned into electricity? You may have other questions too, such as will your solar panels work on cloudy days, and will your panels work at night via moonlight, which, after all, is reflected sunlight? To find out the answer to these questions and a few more, please read on. 

Q. How does solar power work?

The sun may be around 93,000,000 million miles away, but it is still a very powerful source of energy, and if you've even been sunburnt, you'll know just how powerful! Solar energy came about thanks to a chance discovery. While studying light, the French scientist Alexandre Edmond Becquerel noticed that when certain materials, such as silicon, absorbed light, they “knocked” electrons loose. From this observation, he perfected the photovoltaic (PV) cell, which was a device containing an electric field that made these “knocked” electrons flow in a certain direction, hence creating an electric current. Modern-day PV cells still use the same principle.

Q. Do solar panels work on cloudy days?

Yes, but less efficiently. The brighter the day, the more light arrives at the PV cells, and the greater the number of electrons that are sent flowing. If the sun is blocked by cloud, less light reaches the cells, and less electricity is produced. On a dull day, a panel will only produce between 10 and 25 percent of the electricity it can produce on a clear day.

Q. Can solar panels work by moonlight?

No, the sunlight reflected by the moon is too weak to generate any solar power. Your system will still power or at least partially power your home at night, as most systems come with a battery that stores some of the electricity generated during the day to be used at night.

Q. How long do solar panels last?

That depends on the manufacturer. Most PV solar panels have a lifespan of around 25 years, but can run for 40 years and beyond.

Q. Is there a need to keep solar panels clean?

Yes, there is. PV cells only work if they receive direct sunlight, so anything that is blocking them will prevent them from generating any electricity. This could be leaves and other natural debris, bird faeces, and of course in winter if your roof is covered in snow, your panels will not work. In general terms, it is probably worth having your solar panels cleaned once every couple of years or so.

Q. How much electricity does a solar panel typically produce?

That depends upon the kind of system you install. As a general rule, each 1kW of solar panels produces 850kWh of power in a year. Therefore, if you have a 4kW system, you will generate 3,400kWh of electricity annually, which is roughly worth about $400, and is enough to power nine big screen plasma TVs for a whole year.

Hopefully, that should have answered some questions you may have had about solar energy. If you wish to get more info, you can visit the Department of Energy Solar Website , which have plenty of information and resources

Can Switching to Solar Panels Save Me Money ?

Switching to Solar Energy Can Save You BigThere are plenty of reasons why using solar power is a great idea, especially when it comes to environmental issues, as solar energy is one of the cleanest forms of energy there is, with little in the way of the harmful emissions associated with other, traditional forms of energy such as gas and electricity.

One of the main reasons people can appear a little reluctant in adopting solar power as an alternative power source within their home is the amount of money they think it will cost to install a solar energy system. The truth is, there is more than one way to obtain a solar energy system, and you can even have a solar energy system installed in your home for no cost to yourself whatsoever!

Solar – the free energy source

The biggest advantage when it comes to solar energy is that solar energy systems are powered by the sun, and of course, sunlight is free. Solar energy systems still draw power from the sun even on cloudy days – your house does not have to be in direct sunlight all day in order to benefit from solar, and solar energy systems 'store' power during the day, so don't think all your appliances will be useless once the sun goes down. It is possible to install enough solar panels on your roof so your home is completely powered by solar energy – meaning that you pay utility companies absolutely nothing!

There are other financial aspects to take into consideration if you're thinking about converting to solar energy. Some utility companies will buy any surplus energy your system generates but which you yourselves do not use. All states in the US also now have so-called solar incentives, which includes tax credits and other incentives that are offered to people to hopefully persuade them to convert to solar energy.

Solar is a great long-term investment

According to figures released by the Energy Department, converting to solar would save you money in the long term in 45 out of the 51 US States (the unlucky ones being South Dakota, Idaho, Arkansas, Indiana, North Dakota and Mississippi). If you are lucky enough to live in Hawaii, you will save nearly 24 percent on your fuel bills over 25 years, and States such as California, New York, Colorado and New Jersey will all save 10 percent. If that doesn't sound too great, then consider that the same amount invested in 30-Year US Treasury Bonds over that time would only generate a return of under 4 percent!

If you don't want to pay for your solar panels, you can always lease them instead. This means a company will 'lease' your roof-space off you so they can install panels there. They will then sell you the power that the panels produce at a 'locked-in' fixed rate that's cheaper than mains electricity, but you would not receive the tax breaks and incentives that paying for your own installation brings.

Switching to solar power will definitely save you money, just how and how much is up to you. If you're still unsure about going solar, why not head to the Cost of Solar website and use their handy 'Solar Saving Calculator' to find out just how much money you could save?

Why Use Solar Power These Days ?

Solar Power Usage is on the RiseOne thing is clear now, global warming is a very real aspect of our lives. The latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change confirms that average global temperatures have risen 0.85 degrees Celsius since the Industrial Revolution. That may not sound like a lot, but even the smallest rise in average temperatures across the globe causes significant changes to our planet's climate, such as rising water levels and devastating weather events.

If we want to leave the planet in a fit state for future generations, then we need to clean up our act, environmentally-speaking, but even if you are not overly concerned about environmental matters, there are plenty of reasons why you should consider using solar power.

It's free and it's clean

Solar energy systems work by converting sunlight into power for your home. Sunlight is, of course, free, and solar energy systems work whenever the sun is in the sky, even if there is a layer of cloud cover. Solar energy can be used to power all your domestic devices, from an electric toothbrush to a widescreen TV. It also has virtually no impact on climate change, unlike other energy sources which often result in unwanted, harmful emissions.

It's almost infinitely renewable

Because solar power takes its energy from the sun, there's very little chance that the sun will cease being a source of energy – for the next one billion years at least. Other typical forms of energy, such as coal, gas and oil, will one day run out.

It will both save you and earn you money

The power that is created by a solar energy system is converted into electricity, and that electricity is then used to power devices within your home. As a result you will need to use a lot less energy from utility companies, especially if you use less gas-powered appliances within your home – particularly when heating and cooling, as nearly half the energy used in a typical US home is used in this manner – and use electric-powered ones instead.

In some states you can obtain tax credit for installing a renewable-energy system. You may also be able to claim incentives from your utility company, as some companies will buy any energy you create but do not use in your home off of you.

Your home will be worth more

Energy-efficient homes are becoming more attractive, and as austerity measures continue, people are seeking energy-efficient homes in a bid to reduce their utility bills and their overall monthly spend. The US Department of Housing and Urban Development estimates that for every $100 that a house is able to save in annual utility bills, and additional $2.000 is added to the house's value.

If you would like to know more about solar energy, then please feel free to stick around at Solar Nation.org. By adopting solar energy, you will be achieving many short term and long term goals. Short term in the savings you will make, and long term in the less damage you will cause to the Earth's climate. People from our planet's future will no doubt thank you for your decision.

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