Tuesday, February 14, 2012
By William Benard
Have you been thinking about setting up solar panels for your home, but gotten discouraged because the solar panels cost happens to be too large? With the help of proper design and system sizing methods the cost of solar power systems will be considerably lowered. Additionally you can easily save in the vicinity of 40% on the cost of a solar power system by getting a kit and installing it yourself.
To start with you must decide to go with a grid-tied system or an off-grid system. One of the leading advantages of a grid-tied system is that you never have to purchase batteries. The batteries are generally expensive not to mention they need routine maintenance and they have to be replaced every so often. You might also decide to set up a smaller sized, less pricey system in order to decrease your solar panels cost. Given that you're still on the grid the small-scale system only needs to provide only a portion of the electrical power. On the downside grid-tied systems provide no electrical energy when the power grid is down.
The second step to planning your solar power system is to evaluate rebate options and acquire permits. Your area power utility company has rules you'll want to comply with when hooking up the finished system to the grid, and building codes may likewise apply. In conjunction with federal incentives, states (and certain cities) offer refunds that can help with the price of the system. Finding out the rules in your region before you start will certainly save you frustration later on. Check out the Database of State Incentives for Renewable Energy (DSIRE) for information and facts dealing with rebates in your state. It's also a good idea to learn about net metering guidelines where you live, which include how much money you can get paid for generating excess power.
Choosing the size of your system is the next step. With a grid-tied system, size is less significant, due to the fact the grid supplies electric power whenever your photovoltaic (PV) system falls short. Solar power systems no more than a couple hundred watts have proven to be practical, however you can also set up solar panels that will be able to generate enough electrical energy for all your needs. Review the amount of electrical power you use now, then calculate what you will likely be able to save as a result of implementing conservation and efficiency measures throughout your house. This approach is going to provide you with a better understanding of how big a system you'll need to build. You may build any size system you want, even so it may not pay to put in a bigger one. A scaled-down system will hold your solar panels cost down.
Determining ways to use less electrical energy in your house is almost always more cost effective compared with setting up a bigger PV array. The average amount of electrical power used monthly in a standard United States household is around 1,000 kilowatt-hours (kWh). It is actually feasible to get this lowered to approximately 500 kWh by investing in the region of $1,000 for energy efficient lights, power strips with switches, an efficient fridge along with a few other strategies. Compare that with a solar power system which generates 250 kWh per month but will cost you $6,000 - it's obvious where the best pay back is. Perform the efficiency measures 1st, then design the solar panel system.
Once you have a better understanding of the quantity of solar power that you need to produce each month you will be able to determine what the solar panels cost is likely to be. For instance, in the event that you conclude that you want a PV system that makes approximately 250 kWh monthly that is 3,000 kWh a year. These stats will be utilized to compute just what size PV system is actually ideal for you specific location. You should start with a service such as the National Renewable Energy Laboratory's PV watts calculator to compute this size of a solar energy system that would deliver 3,000 kWh a year in your region.
The following step is determining how to appropriately position the solar panel array. If possible, the solar PV panels for your home are going to face south, and also be tilted at an angle about equivalent to the local latitude. They will also remain in full sunshine with no shading from about three hours before solar noon (the time when this sun is right in the middle of its course across the sky) to three hours after solar noon. Performance won't suffer much if you can't get the panels aimed directly south or angled perfectly, on the other hand even a small amount of shading can have a serious negative effect.
A fairly new feature that is recommended for grid-tied systems is implementing micro-inverters. Micro-inverters provide a benefit in partial-shading scenarios since every single PV panel has got an inverter that delivers maximum power point tracking to obtain the most electric power possible out of that particular solar PV panel, whether it is slightly shaded or in complete sun. Regarding typical string inverter systems, partial shade can potentially cause the voltage of a string of solar PV panels to drop to the level where the inverter shuts down and electric power output drops to zero - a big effect, indeed. If you have serious shade issues which you cannot fix, a PV solar panel system is most likely not a beneficial choice for your situation.
A solar site survey should tell you about any type of potential shading issues for any season. You may do the solar site survey in a couple of ways. One way is a process in which you work with a "sun chart" for your location together with a basic sighting of objects that may cause shadows - this approach can potentially end up being an interesting family event to help teach everyone about the course of the sun throughout the year. Another simple method is actually to model the solar PV panel array as well as possible shading objects in the free Google SketchUp drawing tool. SketchUp has a feature that will demonstrate shading patterns for any time period of day and year.
If you have the space chances are you may choose to go with a ground mounted system due to the fact it will make the solar panel installation quite a bit easier (and less frightening), and you will not be required to remove the panels in the event that the roof ever needs to be replaced. PV solar panels are going to most likely last 30 years, so choosing where and just how the solar panels will be mounted is very important. Designing a system that provides you with the option to start small and grow the system when time and finances permit can without a doubt make the initial solar panels cost more economical.
Would you like additional information about how much solar panels cost? Simply click to read more about determining the amount of money you could save by installing solar panels.