The future of clean energy production, according to many scientists and experts, is reliant on solar power. With the invention of PV cells in 1954, man could begin transforming energy from the sun directly into electricity. It seemed perfect. There was a consistent and ever-present source of energy, and a way to transform that energy directly into one of the most important and oft-used resources in the world… Electricity. Solar panels use these PV cells to produce different amounts of energy at a given time usually ranging from 250 – 500 watts per panel.
If you are interested in a hybrid or off grid system of producing electricity, a solar system is really your only viable option. There are many things, aside from panels, that you will need to setup a solar system for your home. Among other things, you will need an inverter that changes the Direct Current produced by the solar panels to Alternating Current that can be used in your home, a charge controller, batteries for storage, and probably a generator to charge your batteries when the sun does not come out. With that said, if you do not purchase the correct panels for your home, the other purchases will not be useful.
When purchasing solar panels there is some vital information that you will have to gather first:
- How many kW of electricity does your home need to operate at peak usage times?
- How much space do you have close enough to your house and out in the sun to install your panels?
- How many batteries will your system need to operate at night and when the sun is not fully out?
- Are you planning on being completely off of your local electric grid or do you plan on using a hybrid system that uses grid power when solar is insufficient?
These are all questions that need to be answered so that you can effectively choose and purchase the panels that will be needed for your home and your circumstance.
It is also important to note that there are some negatives associated with solar electricity. It is extremely inefficient because of storage issues. No matter how much electricity is produced during sunny times, at night the production ceases. What this means is that you either have to choose a hybrid system or produce twice as much electricity as you actually need, store it in batteries, and use that electricity to get you through the night and when clouds cover the sun. It is really expensive. A normal deep cell battery will last about three to five years and panels can be easily damaged if not properly installed and protected. While there is a huge upfront cost, there are also many maintenance costs that make solar energy considerably more expensive than staying on the grid.
While these are some unfortunate downsides to solar systems, the positives far outweigh the negatives. Solar power allows you to protect the environment, control your own electrical grid, only produce the energy that you need, and be prepared for any catastrophic event with the ability to produce power even when the grid is down.