Solar is a great alternative.

A solar power system can be highly efficient

Use a solar power system as a sustainable source of cheap energy for years to come. The system is cheap to operate, and the cost of maintenance is low.

When you use an off-grid system, batteries can become expensive though.  This is because you must maintain and replace the batteries.

The important components of a solar power system

The main components are the solar panels, batteries, charge controller, and inverter.

Monocrystalline Solar PanelsMonocrystalline Solar Panels.

The solar panels

You get monocrystalline, polycrystalline, and thin-film solar panels. The solar panels capture the heat from the sun. It produces electric energy that we measure in watts. This is to determine the amount of power that a solar panel produces.

The output of the solar panel depends on the size of the panel and the heat from the sun. Also, the angle at which the ray of sunshine “hits” the panel.

The largest output occurs when the sun is perpendicular to the panel. This is during mid-day. The output is DC voltage, 12, 24 or 48 volts.

We must convert to AC voltage when used for home appliances.

The Batteries 

Solar energy comes with one big disadvantage. The source of heat to generate electricity is only available for a limited period during the day.

To generate enough electricity for e.g., a household, you need to install more than enough solar panels. We then must store excessive electricity by making use of battery banks. We can then use this stored electricity when there is no light source available.

The charge controller

A Solar Charge ControllerA Solar Charge Controller.

The controller does the same work as a voltage regulator in a motor car. It protects the batteries against overload and against surges and voltage overload.

It also protects the batteries from drainage when not in use. It can happen that a battery can drain back to a solar panel during low light conditions. This can happen when you do not use a charge controller.

The inverter for the solar power system

 We need a solar inverter to convert DC voltage to AC voltage when we want to use it for home appliances.

There are square wave and sine wave inverters available in the market.

Square wave inverters are cheaper but less effective. Sine wave inverters are effective but more expensive than square wave inverters.

My suggestion is that you always buy a proper sine wave inverter.

You do not want to experience problems from an ineffective inverter. It is best to pay the price, go for quality, and have peace of mind.

Types of solar power systems

Off-grid

When using an off-grid solar power system you do not need the utility power grid.

The system generates electricity and stores it in a power bank. It is available for users without any connection to the power grid.

To store enough energy, you need large-capacity batteries. These batteries which can be quite expensive.

It is still better and cheaper than paying an ever-increasing electricity bill for years to come.

The grid-tied system

With the grid-tie systems, the solar panels generate the DC power. The DC power goes into a grid-tied inverter.

The grid-tie inverter converts the DC power to AC power. You then use the power for your household requirements. The system then delivers any excess power to the grid. When you need more power than your system can generate it again draws power from the grid.

This system does not use batteries and no stored energy is available. It only functions when the grid is up and running. When the grid does not operate the grid-tie system cannot function. It will shut down with immediate effect.

The hybrid solar power system

A hybrid solar system generates power in a similar manner as grid-tie solar systems. It uses hybrid inverters and batteries to store energy.

It can use different sources to power the battery bank. It does not only have to be solar panels. It can utilize power from the grid or from electric generators.

The hybrid system is handy to have during power outages. You can use it as a power backup because of the stored energy in the battery banks.

Maintenance

A solar power system can last for many years. The different components come with proper warranties. The solar panels come with a warranty of 20 to 25 years.

You must maintain and replace batteries.  At present high-quality batteries are available.

Dirty vs clean solar panelsDirty vs clean solar panels.

 The frequency of replacement is not too high.

It is good practice to clean dirty panels. This ensures proper operation with high efficiency.

In a conclusion

When you invest in a solar power system you can rid yourself of high energy bills. You can enjoy cheap and “clean energy” for years to come.

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