Considerations When Purchasing/Using Solar Energy
There are two major reasons wherefore people all across the world try to save energy. In a world where everyone cares for themselves and their families, it makes perfect sense to be concerned about the costs. Energy costs keep going up on a regular basis. It is just part of life. Everything costs more and more as time goes by. However, energy is crucial for your comfort and convenience.
From this point of view, saving energy is about saving money. If you take your time to analyze where you are wasting energy and how you can save it, chances are you will save a decent amount of money on a yearly basis. If you do the math for five or ten years, the result will be encouraging enough to direct you toward other sources. After all, solar panels rely on a source of energy that is less likely to be gone while you still exist – the sun.
On a different note, there is also a different category of consumers who are more concerned about what they leave behind. These are the environmental advocates. They would rather sacrifice some of their convenience, comfort and money in order to preserve the environment. They are aware of the negative consequences of human actions over the planet. They do not only care about themselves, but also about the environment.
These individuals know what global warming means. They try their best to leave a peaceful and healthy world to their children and grandchildren, so they recycle, adopt healthy lifestyles and preserve energy. The financial purpose of this action is only a positive and direct consequence of their lifestyles. Once again, solar energy becomes the most appropriate solution for their necessities. The sun is less likely to go out too soon anyway, so renewable energy can keep the planet safe overtime.
Understanding the operating principles of solar panel systems
Understanding how solar panels work is probably the best way to convince yourself that you are about to make an excellent choice. They only require sunlight for a top notch operation. They grab it from the sun and convert it into direct current energy. For maximum efficiency, they are usually installed on the roof. They may also be installed in open fields, as long as there are no tall trees or buildings around. All in all, since homes require alternating current electricity, the energy is not used as it is. Instead, it is transformed with an inverter.
Once you have all these, you can finally power your appliances. If you are still connected to the utility grid, you can sell the excessive energy to the local network. On the other hand, if you have large batteries, you can store it accordingly for further uses.
The overall efficiency is obviously directly proportional with the location. Solar panels are most efficient when they face the sun, so they should never be orientated toward north. They need to be installed at a specific angle as well, while trees and tall buildings are out of discussion. Your location is also relevant, as well as the climate and weather conditions. Just like you have probably guessed already, solar panels are excellent for hot sunny areas.
How to tell how much energy and panel capacity your household requires
Understanding the current and future necessities of your household is imperative before even educating yourself on solar panels. Not sure how to guess how much energy you require? There are a few easy ways to tell. The hard way implies counting all the appliances around the household, as well as their needs and usage frequency. The easy way implies checking out the last year’s bills. It is usually a matter of minutes. Solar panels function at their peak during daylight, just like you do. As the sun loses its intensity, so do they. Your lifestyle is also quite relevant in the process.
If you are a night owl or you spend most of your daytime at work, you do not require too much energy during the day. Therefore, you can get along with a small system. On the other hand, if your family is large and different family members have different needs, you should opt for a large system instead. Matching these two variables is the solution to get a solar panel system that will pay for itself quickly.
If you are already thinking about making money by selling electricity to the local utility network, you should think twice. For now, chances are you will not make a lot of money by feeding energy into the grid. Time might change, yet given the increasing popularity of solar panels, this will probably never be a good business idea. Instead, enhancing your financial situation is all about maximizing the internal use. Exporting should not even be taken into consideration.
Selecting the right types of solar panels
Years ago, solar panel capacity was directly proportional with your available roof space. Things have changed a little over the past few years, especially with the wide variety of innovative changes in this industry. Back then, limited roof space asked for a top notch efficiency. You were mostly limited to mono-crystalline panels, which were quite expensive. Their efficiency did pay off, indeed, but the initial costs were quite high. Luckily, polycrystalline panels have overcome these issues. Even so, you still have to put output and panel size in a balance. You do not want to overcrowd the roof and kill scalability.
Determining the efficiency of a solar inverter
Without a power inverter, solar panels will not be able to supply your home with energy. The inverter is nothing but a simple box that converts power. It can be installed in any home, since it does not require too much room. However, despite the insignificant appearance, solar inverters are not identical in efficiency. A poor quality inverter will take more time to pay for itself, so pay attention to this relevant consideration. Efficiency is reversely proportional with the waste during the conversion. Be aware of generic brands built in countries that you cannot even locate on the map. Just stick to the front runners.
Assessing the climate before getting solar panels
The climate is probably the most significant element when not sure whether or not you should get solar panels. It tells you how much sunlight you should expect on a yearly basis. Obviously, the closer you are to the equator, the more sunlight you will get. Days are also longer in the respective area.
Snowfall is not a problem, unless it floods your panels. Some parts of your roof are less exposed than others. If you got snow during winters, the panels will be covered anyway. What you do not want is to have snow buildups on them. Think about cloudy regions too. The more cloudy your area is, the less efficient solar panels will become. They will still be economical though.
Smog, air density (thinner is better), temperature (lower is better), fog and winds are not to be overlooked either. Sometimes, these factors are all related to preventing unexpected situations. Humid environments can ruin joints, so seal them appropriately. As for wind, you better ensure that your equipments are perfectly installed.
Exploring the limitations associated with panel installation spots
While it looks like you got plenty of options for solar panels, the truth is that you do not. Of course, you are free to install them in your basement too, but then, you want a top notch efficiency. If your home construction allows it, the roof is by far the best place. The roof should face southwest, while its inclination angle must be at around 45 degrees. Of course, you can pick other places too, but the more accessible these panels are, the more wear and tear they are exposed to. Besides, mounting racks tend to skyrocket the costs. As if all these were not enough, they will ruin the overall appearance. Your home will end up looking like a factory, so racks kill its appeal.
When it comes to the altitude, it depends on the sun’s. You have to do a little match. Consider the two equinoxes – March 20-th and September 20-th and check the altitude between these dates. The angle is highly connected to the latitude as well.
The real challenge occurs when trying to spot the south. You probably know where the sun comes from. You know where it goes down, so you just have to check the sides. A compass can be just as helpful – apparently. The planet is not so perfect in construction. Therefore, the south will not always match the compass indication. So how do you do it then?
Stick a short pole into the ground. It can be anything – even a broom. Check a local newspaper and find the dawn and dusk times. They are usually mentioned. Do the math and find the middle minute. It will be around noon, with or without an hour. It depends on the time of the year though. Check the pole at this middle minute between dawn and dusk, while its shadow will indicate south.
Installing solar panels yourself versus hiring a specialist
There is a fairly good chance to be able to install the solar power system on your own. A lot of people choose this option for its cost efficiency, since they no longer need to pay contractors. On a different note, this option may also cause a lot of defects and a decreased efficiency if you are not experienced with such technical things. Therefore, hiring a contractor does have a few benefits as well. Solar systems are like puzzles. If you miss a subtle element, your work becomes useless, so experience has a huge impact on the final outcome.
Do your homework and check some considerations before making a final choice. First of all, read a few manuals. Read them twice and ensure that you understand everything. You can find manuals for free online, depending on the solar system you purchase. If something is not clear, get a different system. Get in touch with the local requirements too. Are there any aspects you have to respect? Are there any permits you need to obtain? These things become your responsibility. Double check with the insurance company as well. Some companies may not accept DIY operations.
Other than that, you should know that some manufacturers do not really sell equipments to random individuals. Instead, they only deal with licensed contractors. You might, however, be able to come up with a good deal, but chances are you will lose the warranty. Since warranties for solar panel systems float between 10 and 25 years, this is not something you want to overlook. At the same time, it might be a good idea to analyze your savings. Do not make this decision without putting both solutions in a balance. How much money can you save by conducting the installation yourself?
Most contractors do not buy one or two systems per request. Instead, they buy in bulk. Therefore, they have better prices than you do. Sometimes, even if you hire a contractor for the installation, you may obtain a better final price than doing it yourself. Try to get quotes from a few different contractors before making any assumptions, but also get in touch with more manufacturers and check their price tags.
Last, but not least, remember that this is not the type of DIY project that can be fixed and adjusted as you advance. If you are new to electricity, you better forget about this idea. Solar power systems can expose you to a series of dangers. They may show up out of nowhere. Not understanding electricity may lead to ugly accidents.
As a short final conclusion, solar power is likely to take over the world at some point or another. The change is quite slow, but also obvious. More and more individuals opt for the regenerative energy for both their homes and commercial properties.