Solar panels are devices that can be used to create electricity or to heat water by using solar energy.
Solar panels are panels that are designed to absorb sun energy for electricity production. The power generated by solar panels can also be used to heat up water in houses.
There are mainly two types of solar panels used these days.
- Photovoltaic solar panels.
- Thermal solar panels.
Photovoltaic solar panels are the most used type of solar panels. They generate electricity that can be stored and used to power up electrical appliances in your house. On the other hand, thermal solar panels are used to heat water in domestic applications.
In a photovoltaic system, one or more solar panels are connected with one another and other things like wires, inverters and charge controllers are used to generate, store and distribute electricity in your house. Solar thermal panels are used to absorb the sun’s heat and use it to heat the water in a cylinder. This setup is places in your roof.
Working of Solar Panels
Use of solar panels is increasing everyday. But do they work?
Photovoltaic panels are used to generate electricity that is used as an alternative to the conventional grid electricity. This reduces your electricity bill. The solar thermal panels on the other hand generate heat that is used to heat up water for domestic uses. The overall performance and efficiency of the solar panels depends on various different factors.
- Weather conditions.
- No shading.
- The incline angle of the panels.
- Component quality.
- Orientation of the panels.
- Modules chosen.
Choosing an Installation
You can choose the installation method of solar panels in your house, but it depends on various factors.
The number one factor to consider is the size of your house, and the overall energy consumption per day.
If your house is small and only consumes 3200 kWh energy per annum, you will need solar panels capable of making 3800 kWh in order to fully support your energy needs. The extra capacity is gone in adjusting efficiency. This setup will require you to connect 15 solar panels of 260 Wp each.
So far, we have learned what is a solar panel, what are its different types and how these types differ from each other.
Let’s now discuss the Photovoltaic panels in detail.
A photovoltaic solar panels is designed to convert solar energy directly into direct current. This current is later converted into alternating current to be used in normal appliances. An inverter is used for this purpose.
There are two distinct types of photovoltaic systems.
- Isolated (these are only connected to your house).
- Grid connected (Connected to the electricity grid).
Isolated solar systems are best used in remote areas where grid electricity connection is not available. Your house, RV can be fully powered with an isolated solar panel system without needed a grid connection.
Grid connected solar systems are designed to work with the grid connection. This system produces electricity and minimizes the use from your grid connection. This system has the potential to lighten your electricity bill to a large extent.
If your grid connected solar setup creates more energy than your house needs, the extra electricity can be fed into the grid. And you can get compensation for doing this.
Solar Thermal Panel System
Thermal solar panels are very different from photovoltaic solar panels in their working and application. Many people often get confused between photovoltaic solar systems and solar thermal systems.
Both of the systems use sun’s energy in their working, but the thermal solar panels are used to heat houses and water for domestic and (rarely) commercial purposes.
There are two distinct types of solar thermal panels.
- With vacuum tube.
- Glazed floors.
Glazed floors type is more affordable. It is common in countries like Italy.
The other type is more efficient, and is therefore more expensive.
Flat collector system us also worth mentioning here. This syst3m is used to achieve low temperatures, between 50 °C and 90 °C. This works easily by heating flat sun surfaces.
Here are the components used in flat collector systems.
- A glass plate that works like greenhouse glass. It allows the radiations to come in, but blocks the outgoing radiations.
- A copper absorber. It is a tube in which the water or air to be heated circulates.
- Thermal insulation to prevent heat dissipation.
This whole system works together to provide you with heated air or water for number of different purposes.
Modules are vital for the normal functioning of the solar panels.
Here are three types of modules mostly used in solar panels.
- Amorphous silicon.
Monocrystalline solar panels are the most efficient, and hence the most expensive ones. They are known by their black color.
Polycrystalline solar panels are relatively easier to make, and that is why they cost you less. They are less efficient as well. They are often blue or purple.
But when it comes to domestic applications, the difference between mono and polycrystalline solar panels is not huge.
The third type of solar panels, the ones with amorphous silicon are the cheapest, but they have less efficiency. The silicon power used in the production of these solar panels makes them more flexible.
To get the same production out of the amorphous silicon panels as mono or polycrystalline panels, you will have to use more of them. That is why they occupy more area. However, they are bear high temperatures and the rest two can not.
But why should a homeowner install solar panels in his house?
While energy bill savings is a big factor for many people, not everyone looks for this benefit. Many people choose to install solar setup because they want to use a renewable type of energy. This lessens their carbon footprint.
Converting to renewable energy like solar power helps both our environment and our family/ future generations.
Photovoltaic system creates clean energy without any CO2 emissions, and lessens our dependence on the grid energy supply. We can also save money in energy bills by doing this, and use those bucks in other useful things.
You can also invest in a photovoltaic solar setup, and the price of your house will increase due to the future proofing potential.
But the story does not end here. Here is another area of concern in this field.
Recycling Solar Panels
Solar modules can last a really long time, but they must be recycles at the end of their service time.
The latest technological advancements allow us to recycle up to 95% of all the materials used in solar setups. It us a very important and beneficial thing to consider.
Many countries with increasing solar setup usage are also investing in increasing their recycling potential. The solar setup usage got popular only recently, and the recycling market will start in a few years. Keep in mind that the average life of a solar setup is 20 to 25 years.
Many people do not wait for their old solar panels to malfunction in order to recycle them. They just buy the new ones when better efficiency panels come in the market. However, this percentage is still low.
Let’s take a look at the recycling process of photovoltaic modules.
There are three steps involved in the recycling process of photovoltaic modules. The first step begins with the separation of aluminum frames electrical branches from the setup. The second step includes the separation of glass, EVA and Tedlar from the panels. This step can be done by using heat or chemicals.
The last step is all about recovering silicon from the whole setup. A chemical treatment of all the separated components is done to extract silicon for recycling purposes.
This is the whole recycling process in a nutshell. This process is not yet fully developed, and small scale recycling of the solar panels is not yet economically feasible.
Heating Your Home With a Solar Setup
The prerequisites for heating up your house with a solar setup include that the house must have a good insulation. Good insulation has many banality, and is vital for less energy consumption to achieve the desired temperature.
There are lots different types of home heating setups that run on solar power, but the Combi systems that provide both ACS and to heat your house. With this system, you can also cool your house and heat the pool in summer and winter.
However, the total size of the solar setup depends on the size of your house and your specific energy needs. Things like insulation can help in reducing the energy needed to heat up your house.
A medium sized solar setup can ensure up to 40% energy savings for your house. Energy produced by a solar setup is fed directly into your house’s power lines and is ready to power up the appliances. You can also add a heat pump into the solar setup to reduce your gas consumption as well. It can be used to heat up water for domestic usage, and to heat the house as well. Most of the latest appliances support the usage of photovoltaic solar setup to power up.
Up to 75% of the total power consumption of a family comes from heating the house. That is why you should use a solar setup to heat up your house.
While there are many benefits of solar setups, they come with their own costs.
There are many things associated with the running costs, initial cost and maintenance of the setup. So, to assess the whole price of the setup, you must consider all the included factors.
If we generalize the cost of a solar setup, it can cost around $5000 for an average house of 100 square meters per kW installed.
There are also other things to consider, here are some of them.
- Cost of buying the Photovoltaic panels.
- The installation costs. These include the costs of providing enough support to the solar panel array as well.
- Costs of other components like batteries, wires, inverter and charge controllers.
- Masonry work before and after the installation.
These are all the costs included in the installation of solar system in your house.