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Solar Power System: A Definitive Guide for Importers

Introduction

Whether it is at home or business energy, you will need a reliable source of energy. It should be able to serve you well and at the same time come at an affordable cost.

In the recent years, we have seen most people opting for renewable energy. These energy sources are clean and affordable.

One of the most popular renewable energy sources is solar.  This green energy can be tapped through the home solar power system.

In this definitive guide, we are going to focus on solar power systems and solar power system kit for home.You will get all the vital information that you need to know about these sources of energy.

Chapter 1: Introduction to Home Solar Power System

Solar Power System

1.1. What is Home Solar Power System?

Solar Power refers to the conversion of energy from sunlight into electricity. A home solar power system. The conversion is made possible due to the presence of photovoltaic (PV) cells, concentrated solar power or a combination of the two factors.

From there, we can define a home solar power system as a combination of several PV panels, DC to AC converter (inverter) and a sturdy rack system that holds the PV panels into a perfect position.

A home solar power system is capable of generating enough electricity that can power a home, business, schools and other major installations.

1.2. A Brief History of Home Solar Power System

The history of home solar power system dates back to 1839. Alexandre Edmund made a discovery about the potential of the photovoltaic effect. He explained the potential of generating electricity from sunlight.

The photovoltaic effect was discovered by a French scientist known as Edmond Becquerel.

Prior to that, people still used sunlight as a source of energy. During the age of civilization, some people used the power harnessed from sunlight to power their steam-driven boats.

In 1873, a scientist known as Willoughby Smith discovered the photovoltaic potential of selenium. Ten years later,  Charles Fritts created the first solar cells that were made of selenium wafers.

Daryl Chapin, Gerald Pearson, and Calvin Fuller made a major invention that is directly linked to the modern home solar power systems. They invented a silicon photovoltaic cell in 1954. Most modern solar power systems still use these PV cells.

The discovery of silicon PV cells culminated into a series of inventions that led to the modern day solar power systems.

1.3. The Current State of Solar Power System

There is no doubt that the potential of solar energy is being appreciated across the globe. Most countries are encouraging their citizens to install solar electric systems in their homes and businesses.

Most governments have formulated policies that are geared towards increasing the installation of solar systems. Some have lowered the taxation on solar PV systems. Others have made it mandatory for certain buildings to install the systems.

Another factor that has led to the popularity of solar system for home use is the reduction of solar power system cost. The advancement of technology has resulted in low production cost. This has motivated manufacturers to sell different sell solar voltaic system at low cost.

Time has also played a major role in increasing the popularity of photovoltaic systems. Many people are grappling with the effects of environmental pollution. This has made it necessary to look for clean energy sources and one of them is solar.

Chapter 2: Basic Information About Home Solar Power System

In this chapter, we are mainly going to focus on the technical aspects of the home solar power system.

2.1. Components of home Solar Power System

Solar Power System

A residential solar power system is made up of three main components. They are:

i. Panels

The primary role of a solar panel in a solar power system is to house the solar cells/PV cells. The photovoltaic cells are made of silicon and are used to convert the energy from sunlight into electricity.

A solar panel also has metal conductor strips and anti-reflective coating. It also houses the hardware and wiring of a solar power system.

ii. Inverters

The photovoltaic cells on the solar panels generate direct current (DC). The electric energy in this form cannot be used by most appliances in your house. This is why solar power systems have inverters.

The role of an inverter is to convert DC energy to AC energy. This form of electricity will be utilized by almost all appliances in your house.

iii. Meters

There are two types of meters that come in a solar power system. The first meter measures your energy consumption. The second meter measures the energy that the system produces.

All these two meters are of great importance when it comes to monitoring the performance of your solar power system.

2.2. How Does a Home Solar Power System Work?

All the above components of a solar power system work together to generate electricity.

The light from the sun hits the solar panels that are strategically positioned. The PV cells in the panels convert the light particles(photons) into direct current electric (DC) energy. This DC current then flows into inverters where it is converted into AC.

From the inverters, a carefully-designed wiring system channels the electricity into your house. Most appliances in the house such as TV, computer, heater and many others use the energy that is in AC form.

The net meter on the solar power system keeps track of the energy that your system is producing. The energy that is not used will go back to the solar grid through the meter. This electricity will be used during hours when the production of solar energy is low.

For the purpose of optimizing their performance, most solar power systems are mounted on roofs. This position ensures that they receive the maximum amount of sunlight throughout the day.

There should be no any form of obstruction nearby. The rays from the sun should hit the solar panels directly. Obstructions such as shade can reduce the amount of energy from the solar component.

The working of a solar power system is not affected by the temperature variation. This is because the system mainly depends on sun rays and not heat.

2.4. How to DIY Your Own Domestic Solar Panel System For Home

Although the prices of solar panel systems keep coming down, you may still want to save more money. One way of achieving this goal is by making and installing the system on your own.

Naturally, a DIY solar power system will be off-grid. You won’t connect it to the main grid. You will also do the assembling of the system yourself.

You shouldn’t be scared as the process is not that complex as you may be thinking. Here is a simple guide on how to DIY your won domestic sola pane system for your home.

2.3.1. What You Will Need

Before you start off, ensure that you gather the following basic components of a solar power system: solar panel. Charge controller, inverter, and battery.

2.5. The DIY Process of Making Solar Power System

Here are the steps that you should take to bring all these components together so that they form a single unit:

Step 1: Determine the Power Load of the Home Solar System

Here you need to calculate the amount of energy that the solar power system will be able to produce. To get this value, you need to consider several factors including:

  • The type of appliances that will depend on solar and their respective power ratings
  • Calculate the watt-hour. This is the total wattage of all the appliances multiplied by the number of hours that they are expected to run.

Having the accurate figures will help you to come up with a solar power system that will meet the needs of your house.

Step 2: Select the Battery

The supply of solar energy varies during the day. To counter this effect, you need to get a good battery.

It is essential to get a battery for your solar power system because most appliances run at a constant voltage.  On the other hand, the solar panel voltage is not constant. It varies depending on the behavior of the sun.

The battery also makes it possible to use your appliances even in the absence of sunlight. You will be sure of getting be a constant supply of power.

There are various types of batteries that you can add to your solar power system, However, do not be tempted to use car and bike batteries.

Most experts recommend that you should get a lead-cycle acid battery. This type of battery allows partial discharge and at the same time give room for a deep slow discharge.

Lead acid batteries can also be sued for this purpose. Li-Ion batteries can be used in scenarios where you don’t need too much power.

Check on the battery capacity and buy one that will supply your home with adequate energy.

Step 3: Select a Solar Panel

The solar panel will be responsible for converting sunlight into electricity. When it comes to selection, you need to choose between monocrystalline and polycrystalline.

Mono crystalline panels are more expensive than the polycrystalline. They also tend to be more efficient than the latter.

It is important to consider the rating of a solar panel before choosing one. The panel should be able to keep your channel fully charged for the whole day.

In most cases, a 12 W 12V battery is enough to power your home.

Step 4: Select a Charge Controller

A solar charge controller is a small device that is positioned between a solar panel and battery. It regulates the amount of voltage and current that comes from the solar panel. The controller also maintains a constant charging voltage.

Some types of charge controllers that you should know are On/Off, PWM, and MPPT. The MPPT is known for its efficiency.

When it comes to rating, select a charge controller that is rated 12V and 10,4A. Alternatively, you can go for a home-made charge controller.

Step 5: Select an Inverter

The inverter does the work of converting DC current to AC. The AC electricity then flows into your home ready to be utilized by different appliances.

The three common types of inverters are the square wave, modified sine wave, and pure sine wave.

Although square inverters are cheaper, they can only work with some appliances. Modified sine inverter has a poor efficiency. Pure sine wave inverter is highly reliable and versatile.

For a 12V solar panel, it is advisable to get an inverter ranges from 12V to 110V/60Hz AC or 230V/50Hz.

Step 6: Arrangement of Cells in a Solar Power System

Once you have determined the capacity of your solar power panel, you need to get solar cells and arrange them on the board.

The arrangement can either be in series or parallel connection.

For a series connection, the wiring device should connect a positive terminal of one solar cell to the negative terminal of another cell.

The series connection tends to give out a high voltage output. The voltage of the cells involved is cumulative.

In the parallel connection, the positive terminal of one cell is connected to the positive terminal of the next solar cell. The same applies to the negative terminals.

The total voltage in parallel connection is equivalent to the voltage of one cell. The only thing that increases is the current.

Step 7: Metering

If you would like to know the amount of energy that your solar power system generates, install a metering system.

Step 8: Mount a Solar Panel

Once you have gathered all the necessary components, you can now arrange them on the panel. Place the solar cells on a wooden drawer. The arrangement should be on straight lines.

Arrange as many cells into the board until the output power is 24V. Exceeding this voltage will be a safety risk.

Once you are done with the wiring, you can go ahead to mount the solar power system on your roof. You may consider making a  special stand that will keep the solar panel in a perfect position.

Chapter 3: Different Types of Solar Power System

Solar Power System

In this chapter, we are going to discuss five types of solar power systems which are:

  1. Off-grid solar power systems
  2. On-Grid/Grid-tie Solar power systems
  3. Hybrid solar power systems
  4. Residential solar power systems
  5. Commercial solar power systems

3.1. Off Grid Solar Power Systems

An off-grid solar power system is completely disconnected from the main power grid that serves the area. It operates as an independent power source.

Since there is no connection to the grid, an off-grid solar power system is backed up by batteries.  They help to maintain a constant supply of electric energy.

When there is a low production of power, the batteries are discharged. In most cases, an electric generator is added to boost the production.

3.2. On-Grid/Grid –Ties Solar Power System

An on-grid or grid-tied solar power system is directly connected to the traditional power grid. It allows homeowners to tap their power from the utility grid which also serves other residents.

The grid-tied solar power system tends to produce a constant electric energy that can meet your home’s needs. If it happens to produce more than what you need, the excess energy is sold back to the utility.

When the household solar power system is not producing adequate electric energy, the extra energy will be drawn from the grid system.

A seamless energy management in an on-grid system is enabled by a net metering technology. It tracks the energy production and consumption.

3.3. Hybrid Solar Power System

Sometimes the energy from the sun is not just enough. You need more than that to run your household.

This is where the hybrid solar system for home electricity comes in. It is a combination of various energy sources.

If an area receives a consistent flow of wind, you may use wind energy to back up the solar energy. Hydro-electric energy or even a diesel-powered generator can also be used as a back up the solar energy.

The main advantage of a hybrid solar power system is they guarantee a consistent supply of energy. If one fails or under produces, another energy source will take over.

For example, strong wind that blows at night can be used to replace solar which whose supply may not be adequate at night.

One of the main drawbacks of a hybrid system is the maintenance cost. Maintaining all the systems at ago can be quite hectic.

3.4. Residential Solar Power System

As the name suggests, the residential solar power systems generate enough energy just for the home use.

A solar system for a house can either be on-grid or off the grid. Various factors can determine which one to use.

Depending on your location and energy needs, a residential solar system can also be backed up by other electricity sources.

3.5. Commercial Solar Power System

Commercial solar power systems are customized for commercial buildings. These buildings include offices, factories, streetlights, public institutions such as schools, hospitals among others.

The inverters of commercial solar power systems tend to have a higher wattage than the residential ones. Also, most commercial solar systems are grid-intertie. This is to cushion them against any kind of losses.

Chapter 4: Advantages and Disadvantages of Solar Power System

Solar Power System

Advantages of Solar Power System

Are there compelling reasons as to why you should install a solar power system? Here are the main advantages of installing a solar panel system either in your home or commercial premises:

1. Solar Power System is a Renewable Energy Source

Solar is among the highly-rated source of renewable energy. This simply means that its supply cannot diminish.

Unlike other sources, solar can be harnessed freely without worrying about running out of supply. It is always there as long as there is sunlight.

2. Solar Power Lowers the Electricity Bill

There’s no doubt that the cost of traditional sources of energy has always been going up. If you are keen on saving your money, you should consider installing the solar electric system.

With an off-grid solar power system, you won’t have to deal with the monthly energy bills. Even the bills of on-grid solar energy are lower than those of other energy sources.

Instead of bills, the solar power system can generate some income for you. The surplus energy on your system can be channeled back to the grid. You will receive bonus payments for this excess energy.

3. Solar Energy System has A Wide Range of Applications

The energy generated by a solar power system can be used for various purposes. It can be used to power electric appliances and at the same time produce heat.

Factories use solar energy to run heavy machinery. Solar energy can be used to run public institutions and installations such as schools and streetlights.

4. Low Maintenance Cost

The cost of maintaining a solar panel system is lower than that of other sources. You may only need to clean the surface of the solar panels. The cleaning doesn’t have to be on a regular basis.

A photovoltaic system does not have moving parts. This means that you don’t have to replace any components that wear out, You also don’t need to lubricate them regularly.

The only part of a solar power system that will need replacements are the inverters. They should be replaced after a period of 5-10 years.

Most solar manufacturers offer lucrative warranties that can extend up to 30 years.

Disadvantages of Solar Power System

As much as solar power systems have an array of benefits, there are also some problems that are associated with them. Let’s highlight some of these disadvantages.

1. High Initial Cost

The initial cost of installing a solar power system is quite high. You will need to buy the solar panel and other components which tend to be pricey.

However, there have been efforts to lower the prices of solar panels. This has drastically lowered the cost of installation.

2. Solar Energy is Weather Dependent

The supply of solar energy depends on the current weather condition.

Although solar energy can still be tapped on cloudy days, there will be a significant drop in its efficiency. Also, solar energy cannot be collected at night.

3. Storage of Solar Energy is Expensive

In off-grid solar systems, you may need to get storage systems for storing this energy. The batteries will be charged during the day so that the stored energy is used at night.

In most cases, you may have to part with huge sums of money to get efficient batteries.

Chapter 5: Solar Power System Cost Analysis

How much does it cost to install a solar power system in your home? This is one of the pressing questions that most people ask.

There is no direct answer to it. This is because there are many variables that determine the total cost of a solar power system.

The cost may still differ even if you still live in the same neighborhood.

To answer this question, we are going to do a detailed cost analysis on the cost of installing a solar power system.

5.1. The Cost of Solar Panels

The first thing that you need to consider is the cost of the solar panels. Its cost will depend on where you are buying from and who is buying.

If you are planning to take the DIY route, you will buy the panels from the retailer. Here the price of the panel is likely to be higher than when you buy from a wholesaler.

To get the price, you simply need to multiply the cost of a single solar panel by the total number of panels that you plan to install.

5.2. The Total Cost of Installing Solar Power System

Solar panels are likely to cost you at least a quarter of the total cost. Other solar power system components such as inverter will take up 30% of the cost.

Another thing that you need to consider is the cost of the service. If you are for DIY, you won’t have to pay the service cost. Otherwise, the service charge can take up to 45% of the cost.

Keep in mind that the cost of service includes the expenses incurred to design, consult and even permit the installation.

5.3. Factors that Affect the Cost of Installing Solar Power System

As stated earlier, there is no fixed cost of installing a solar power system in your home. Here are some key factors that can affect the cost of installation:

1. The Size of Your Solar System

Most people prefer installing 5kW solar power systems in their homes. However, some people opt for bigger systems such as 10kW and 20kW.

The size that you choose depends on your energy needs. If you need more energy, you will automatically install a bigger system.

As expected, you will pay more for a bigger system. It is critical to analyze your energy needs before deciding on the appropriate size of the power system.

2. Where You Live

The cost of installing a solar power system varies depending on the location. It varies from one country to another.

Different countries or states have different rules regarding the installation of solar power systems. The issue of taxes can also make the cost to vary.

3. Your Roof

Some roofs are well-built to accommodate solar panels. Others are somehow complex.

You will pay for service charge if your roof is extremely steep. This is because installing solar panels on such roofs can prove to be hectic.

4. installers

The people installing the solar power systems can influence to the overall cost of installation.

Some installers tend to charge more because they are well-equipped with advanced tools. Others just charge you highly due to their own reasons.

To be safe, it is advisable to get quotes from several installers. From there, choose the one that you can afford.

However, you need to be on high alert when dealing with cheap installers. This is because low prices can translate to poor workmanship.

Chapter 6: Solar Power System VS Fossil Energy VS Other Renewable Energy

How does doe solar power system compare to other sources of energy? Let’s look at some of the major differences.

6.1. Solar Power  System vs. Fossil Energy

Solar Power System

Fossil energy mainly consists of petroleum products. They have been available for centuries and here is how it compares against solar.

i.Cost

Solar energy is much cheaper than fossil energy. After all, solar is freely available from the sun.

Fossil fuel needs a vigorous process of extraction and refinery. These processes make the prices to be relatively higher.

The limited nature of fossil fuel is another reason for their ever-high prices.

On the other hand, solar does not require constant maintenance. Also, most governments offer attractive incentives and tax reliefs making the prices of solar to come down.

ii. Environmental Impact

Fossil fuels are always associated with environmental degradation and natural disasters. During the extraction and refinery process, some they release some toxic gas into the air.

The combustion of fossil fuel always ends up polluting the environment.

Solar power systems rarely pollute the environment.

iii. Availability

While fossil tends to be easily available, they are not reliable. Some countries always experience fuel shortage. The oil that is being extracted can get depleted.

The supply problem in solar power systems can be streamlined by storage batteries.

Of course, the supply of solar energy is not sufficient at night. However, you can be sure that the sun will always be there in the next millennium.

6.2. Solar Power vs. Other Renewable Energy

Other renewable energy sources in the market include wind, biomass, and hydropower. Let’s look at how solar energy compares with them.

i. Solar vs. Wind

Solar Power System

Energy from wind is mostly available in rural areas. It is not well suited for urban centers.

It may be impossible to install wind turbines in areas with obstacles such as skyscrapers or even tall trees.

Solar power can be installed anywhere, as long as the solar panels are directly exposed to the sunlight.

Solar power systems are cheap to maintain. This is unlike wind where you have to constantly maintain the turbines.

ii. Solar Vs, Hydropower

Hydropower generates energy from the running river whereby a dam is constructed to store this energy.

Constructing a high-capacity dam is a complex affair. This makes hydropower more expensive than solar.

Extreme climatic conditions can affect the level of water hence reducing the reliability of hydropower to supply energy.

Natural disasters such as an earthquake can damage dams. This will interfere with the supply of energy.

Chapter 7: Solar Power System Maintenance and Trouble Shooting

A solar energy system can also face some technical issue. You don’t have to call a technician every time you are faced with an issue. You can solve some problems on your own without involving a third party.

Occasionally, your solar power system will start discharging low power. Sometimes it cannot generate any power at all.

Here are the common troubleshooting steps that you should consider taking:

Carry Out a Shading Test

Do this test once you notice that the output power is not as high as normal. The test involves covering a portion of the panel that you suspect has a problem. You can use any item such as a piece of cloth to cover the panel.

The solar panel that does not respond even after being covered is the one that has a problem. You should separate it for further analysis.

Check the Wiring of the Solar Power System

Check if there is any problem with the panel’s wiring system. Be on the lookout for the corrosion and oxidation on the terminals of wires.

A loose connection can also lead to some problems with the wiring.

Check out for Heat Fade

Heat fade occurs when the sun causes an overheating effect on the solar panel. This problem can affect the overall performance of a solar power system.

You can solve this problem by checking the wire connection of the system.

Replace the Burnt Terminals on a Solar Power System

Like other electronics, the terminals on the batteries can burn out. Once they do so, consider replacing all the metal parts of the terminals.

Chapter 8: Cities which install Solar Power System?

There is no doubt most countries in South East Asia are embracing solar energy at a fast rate. Some are solely depending on it as their source of energy.

Some of the cities where solar energy is popular include:

  • Solar power system in Manila
  • Solar power system in Hanoi
  • Solar power system in Kuala Lumpur
  • Solar power system in Jakarta
  • Solar power system in Bangkok
  • Solar power system in Bedok
  • Solar power system in Singapore

Chapter 9:  FAQ About Solar Power System

Does a solar power system produce energy even when the sun is not shining?

Solar power systems depend on the sun for energy. The absence of sun due to factors such as cloud can hinder the production of this energy.

Is solar energy affordable?

Although the initial cost of installing a solar power system may be high, the systems are much cheaper in the long run.

Which roofs are suitable for solar panels?

Southerly facing roofs with adequate space and no shade are suitable for solar panels. Even if the roof does not meet these standards, there is always a way to work around the issue.

What is the best size of the solar panel?

The most appropriate size of the solar panel depends on your energy needs. Analyze your electricity bills and you will be able to know your energy demand.

How long does a solar power system last?

A quality solar system from a reliable seller can serve you for up to 35 years.

Do I need to replace my roof when installing a solar power system?

When you plan to install the solar, consider replacing your roof. Install a roof that will last long.

What is the cost of maintaining a solar energy system?

Solar power system attracts very little maintenance cost. You will use it for long without spending extra money on maintenance.

Will I receive electric bills after installing solar?

It depends on the solar power system that you have installed. For on-grid power system, you will still receive the bills. However, they will be much lower. You won’t receive the bills if you use the on-grid system.

What if I sell my house?

If you decide to sell your house, you will leave the solar power system intact. Studies have revealed houses with solar energy tend to have high values. If you have a portable solar power system, you can easily move with it.

Should I buy A Battery?

If you are using an off-grid solar energy system, it will be necessary to get a battery. However, you won’t need it if you are connected to the grid.

Conclusion

Solar power systems have proven to be the most reliable sources of energy. It provides an alternative way of powering your home.

The electrical energy from the solar power system can be used to run all the appliances in the house.

Apart from being cost-effective, solar power system comes with some level of independence. Moreso if you install an off-grid solar system.

If you are not sure about any technical issue regarding the system, do not hesitate to employ experts.

References

  1. https://www.lgenergy.com.au/faq/did-you-know/what-is-a-solar-power-system
  2. http://solarexpert.com/2013/11/07/how-many-solar-panels-are-needed-for-a-2000-square-foot-home/
  3. https://www.jinposolar.com/20kw-on-grid-solar-power-system/
  4. https://www.homepower.com/articles/solar-electricity/basics/what-solar-electricity
  5. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_power
  6. https://www.solarpowerauthority.com/how-much-does-it-cost-to-install-solar-on-an-average-us-house/
  7. https://news.energysage.com/how-much-does-the-average-solar-panel-installation-cost-in-the-u-s/
  8. https://www.energymatters.com.au/residential-solar/how-solar-power-works/

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