I am often asked to explain the fundamentals of Solar Electric Energy and it's advantages.
And once any discussion gets going, it looks like there's no end to the angles and points taken in this topic.
It always seems that the individuals and groups of people I speak with really want know, “What's needed to build a Solar Power System, and how much will it cost”?
This article is intended to give you the basic requirements for building or contracting out your project.
We will not get into too much technical detail but here's what you need.
There are four (4) main pieces of equipment that are needed to get you on your way to free energy (well almost).
1. Solar Panels
2. Charge Controller
3. Storage Batteries
4. Power Inverter
Solar Panels are the units that look up at the sun, and collect the sun's rays.
These panels convert the sun's light rays into DC current. This is the same current that you would find in a flashlight or an iPod battery.
The amount of Solar Panels required is determined by the amount of electricity you need when the sun is not shining. You see the electricity produced during the day is stored in the batteries for later use.
The Charge Controller does just that. Its job is to make sure that your batteries do not get over-charged during the day. A good controller will also direct electrical current to any individual battery that requires more charging than the others.
Storage Batteries are the fuel for all of your Solar Electricity. These batteries come in a variety of types, including RV / Marine / Golf Cart, AGM, Flooded and Gel. The different type of batteries store and, charge and release electrical current differently, but that's a whole new article.
When power for your home is required when the sun is not shining on the solar panels, these batteries are called upon to supply electricity to where you need it.
The amount of electrical power available for you use is determined by the amount of battery storage capacity. And remember that the batteries only supply DC current. Your appliances, lights, etc use AC (alternating) current.
So how do we convert DC to AC power?
Here's how …
Power Inverters change 12 Volt DC current into 110 Volt AC, usable current for home use in North America, and 220 Volts in most other countries.
The Inverter will supply a continuous flow of power to where you need it, as long as there is power stored in the batteries.
There are many free online Solar Estimating programs available that will let you know just how many Solar Panels and Batteries you require for your project.
But basically it will take 100 square-feet of solar array for each kilowatt (kW) of solar output we want. But that too is in the next article.
You see it's not a hard as you think.
So let's get started and good luck.