With governments offering financial incentives and with solar energy costs dipping, everybody should think of making the switch to sun-powered energy. Couple these benefits with a chance to make a contribution to environmental protection efforts, and a huge opportunity to cut down on home expenses. Intrigued? Below you’ll find the basics of this project.
What is a solar-powered home?
A solar-powered home is one that uses energy directly sourced from the sun. Collected solar energy is changed into electricity with the use of Photovoltaics (PV). Another method is using concentrated solar power indirectly. Some systems use a combination of both. The concentrated solar power type uses mirrors and lenses to focus large amounts of sunlight into small beams.
What are solar panels?
Sunlight is composed of energy particles called photons. Photons, when captured, can be converted into electrical energy. The devices for capturing photons are called solar panels or PV (photovoltaic) panels.
Solar panels are used in many applications. Aside from residential and commercial uses, remote sensing systems, telecom equipments, and remote power systems also utilize solar panels.
Different types of solar panels
There are three:
* Solar Photovoltaic Panels
* Solar Thermal Panels
* Thin Film Solar Panels
Solar Photovoltaic Panels This is the most common type. The panels are made of solar cells with crystalline silicon as material. The shape is rectangular and flat. These are the panels usually installed on roofs.
Solar Thermal Panels This type does not change solar energy to electrical energy. The primary use for these panels is to heat water. This explains why their construction involves water pipes.
Thin Film Solar Panels This type has been gaining popularity in recent years. They function like the conventional PV panels, but they are made to be significantly thinner and more malleable.
Things to consider before installation
Consider the following:
* Amount of sunlight Check the amount of sunlight hitting your roof. Is it covered in shade most of the day? If yes, then you cannot generate sufficient electricity and the cost of panel installation can’t be justified.
* Structural readiness Again, the panels will be installed on the roof. Are you looking into a house renovation in the near future? If the roof will be involved, you will have to detach the panels, which will jack up your renovation costs.
* Usage trimming It’s important to assess how much energy you need to produce through solar panels. Trim your electricity usage, do an energy audit, and check for efficiency upgrades. This will help you see if you need these devices at all, or determine how many panels you need to buy should you give installation a go.
Pushing through with the installation
When looking for an installer, credentials, good reputation, and references are extremely important. If you can’t find a reputable contractor near you, you might have to forego the project at the moment and extend your research to eventually find someone you can truly trust.