With energy prices rising steadily over the last few decades and no reason to think they’ll fall anytime soon, many homeowners are exploring the option of powering their homes with renewable, or “green”, power systems. The two most common home green energy systems are wind turbines and solar panels. Of these two, solar energy panels have emerged as the most popular, due to their solid-state nature – therefore it means that with fewer moving parts, they require less maintenance over the years.
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. 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.
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 created from 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 in series produce much more electricity.