While solar is comprised of a diverse suite of technologies, there are three main types: photovoltaics (PV), solar heating & cooling (SHC), and concentrating solar power (CSP). Homeowners and businesses interested in going solar are primarily interested in the first two technologies, while utilities and large-scale energy project developers primarily utilize the latter.
PV panels directly produce electricity from sunlight, while SHC technologies use thermal (heat) energy to change the temperature of water and air. PV panels have no moving parts, and use an inverter to change the direct current (DC) power they produce to usable alternating current (AC) power. SHC technologies are often used to heat water for domestic or commercial use, but can also be used to heat or cool the air in buildings.
Photovoltaic panels can use direct or indirect sunlight to generate power, though they are most effective in direct sunlight. Solar panels will still work even when the light is reflected or partially blocked by clouds. Rain actually helps to keep your panels operating efficiently by washing away any dust or dirt. If you live in an area with a strong net metering policy, energy generated by your panels during sunny hours will offset energy that you use at night and other times when your system isn't operating at full capacity.
Yes, it is possible. The annual production is dependent on a range of parameters such as the size of the solar panel-array, orientation and sloping of the roof, irradiation (latitude, local weather conditions), efficiency (panel type, temperature). In ideal conditions, with high quality solar panels installed, a rooftop installation can cover the average electricity consumption for a residential house.
Installing solar panels enables you to generate your own clean, green electricity directly from the sun. This not only reduces electricity bills but also CO2 emissions and greenhouse gases.
Solar installations are built by assembling solar panels. The manufacturing of the panels starts with silicon, the second most abundant element in the planet's crust, usually in crystalline form. Purified silicon is then cast and cut into wafers a fraction of a millimeter thin. The wafers are then turned into solar cells. Finally, the cells are assembled into solar panels. The panels are made from solar cells that are linked together in series to generate power output. A number of solar panels can be linked together in an array to produce the desired electrical output.
Depending on the type of application, the rest of the system ("balance of system" or "BOS") consists of different components such as the mounting structure (racks/trackers), DC switches, inverters, and meters.
Power output is determined by the size of the system and solar irradiation in the area. REC panels are usually installed in areas with many stable sun hours per day. For example, an installation for residential use in Germany generally requires 5 kW to provide stable output for an average household for one year.
Since the electricity generated depends on light intensity and not irradiation or direct sunlight, it will produce electricity in cloudy conditions. However the greater the intensity of the light, the greater the flow of electricity. Hence you generate more on sunnier days. REC panels are optimized to produce power on cloudy days as well.
Solar panel installations will normally be installed in areas with high irradiation. Although generally installed on a roof, they can be installed on any surface such as a facade, sunshade, garage or on the ground, usually by constructing a tracker system. They should not be placed in shaded locations (e.g., places that are in the shadow of other buildings or large trees) since this will decrease electricity output.
Energy payback time is the time it takes for a panel to produce the amount of energy that was spent while producing the panel. Currently the energy payback time of REC panels is about 1 year. The panels are sold with a 25 year guarantee, so for 24 years the panel will give a net energy gain.
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