Friday, February 3, 2012

Understanding Solar Energy

Solar energy is on the news being touted as the ultimate energy source. Basically, the sun shines on solar panels which generate electricity that flows to a battery where it is stored for use. It is however, more involved than that.

Opponents decry the cost of solar systems for houses. Solar panels cost vary from as little as £20 and up. The size of the panel, the amount of electricity they produce and the materials used in the panels all factor into the cost.
A solar pv panel produces the most energy in direct sunlight. In dim light or on cloudy days, they still produce, but not as much. It makes a great deal what materials are used inside the panels, such as crystalline silicone, cast polysilicon or string ribbon silicon. This is confusing for most consumers, as most people are not educated in science or engineering of solar power systems.

Once the panels are mounted in place, they begin working immediately. Electricity is generated when sunlight strikes the panels. That power travels down cables through a charge controller to the battery bank, where it is stored for use. The charge controller ensures the batteries do not receive too much power at once, and when the batteries are full, it shuts off the electrical flow to prevent overcharging and damaging them.

A power center displays how much power is being used, how much power is in the batteries and can send the consumer alerts to low batteries. Circuit breakers and other equipment detect power outages in the power grid. If the power grid is not working, the system detects it and keeps power from flowing back to the lines. This prevents utility workers from being injured.

Inverters transform the power from the battery bank in to electricity the household can use. The consumer does not need to unplug devices, buy special devices or inverters for each appliance.

Components can be purchased separately as funds permit, which allows each person to design a system to suit his or her specific needs. Homeowners, business owners, those in caravans, camping trailers and campers can use small panels, charge controllers, and one or two deep cycle batteries for electricity.
The size of the building, the total electrical use and more must be taken into consideration before choosing or building a system. Currently, building societies may or may not loan funds to install a system. Insurance companies may require separate insurance for a solar power system.

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