I was asked, "How do you connect solar panels? Will that fix an electricity cost problem?" That question is addressed below.
Our day by day electricity costs from the utility companies are becoming so expensive. The electrical utility companies are embracing renewable energy using solar and wind farms, which is producing green power for them at lower cost. But, a lot of that electricity you buy from the grid still gets generated through non-renewable energy resources.
There is dependence on using thermal coal for electrical power. A thermal power station uses heat energy from burning coal to convert water into steam which turn turbines to generate electricity. The burnt coal emissions are causing damage to the environment.
Over time there has been an increasing demand for electricity. Electric power has become a necessity for most people and they use more start thinking about its price and invariably seek to conserve or find cheaper alternative sources of energy.
Fortunately, with advancing technology, we are also finding better ways to generate power using renewable energy resources. Gone are the days when people only have diesel generator sets or coal power plants for making electricity.
More people are finding ways for installing solar panels on their rooftops. People who are new to renewable energy options sometimes ask about how to connect solar panels to get solar power.”
Installing A Solar PV System
If you are also thinking about installing a solar PV array for generating your own renewable energy, then now is a good time to do it. The price of solar panels is falling as the number of installations goes up and competition among solar panel manufacturers grows. But, the initial installation cost is still high. You might like to see my blog on solar panel kits where a DIY solar kit solution is discussed.
Jane Weismann, President and CEO of the non-profit Interstate Renewable Energy Council, said; “A solar project is a big project where you can’t say that if I make a mistake, the next time I’ll know better”. It's usually a project you do one time in 25 years or so; be careful and collect as much knowledge as you can before you start to connect solar panels.
How to connect solar panels in a solar project? Well, there are three ways that you connect a solar power system when you install a PV array. It can be a Grid-Tied, Off-Grid or a Hybrid Solar System. We will discuss each type in turn, considering the advantages and equipment for the installation.
Working A Grid-Tied Solar System
Grid-Tied Solar Systems
Grid-tied, on-grid, utility-interactive, or grid inter-tied system all mean the same thing. It's a solar power system that is connected to the home and to the utility power grid. It is a system that links with and is dependent on your utility's electrical grid for back up power. This type of solar panel set-up doesn’t connect with battery storage.
Whenever sunlight shines on the solar panel, it will generate DC electricity. The solar panels connect to an inverter, and that converts DC electricity into AC electricity (120V or 240V). The inverter in turn connects into a switchboard, which monitors the electricity going to your home appliances. The switchboard connects between your home's appliances and utility's electricity meter.
Your solar system may produce more power than your home needs or consumes at a particular time in the day. The surplus electricity from the inverter goes into the power grid, via the house electricity meter.
Connecting Solar Panels - On-Grid Solar System
What are the main reasons to choose an On-Grid solar system?
On-grid or grid-tied solar systems require no batteries or other stand-alone equipment (like generators) for functioning. The grid is there and supports the operation of a solar system. However, an on-grid solar system without battery backup cannot operate while the grid is shut.
Easy to Install and less maintenance
On-Grid solar systems are easy to install and require little maintenance compared to off-grid solar systems. It has a solar panel connection to inverter that reduces the maintenance cost because there is no charge controller, and no under-charging and over-charging of batteries. You won't have to know how to connect solar panels to battery banks and worry about battery maintenance.
Reduces electricity bills
Many utility companies are required to buy electricity from homeowners at the same rate as the utility sells it. So, this cost structure is financially beneficial to the householder from a system size point of view.
Connecting Solar Panels - Off-Grid Systems
What Components Are Used For Connecting Solar Panels?
Being off-grid is the second option when connecting solar panels to your solar project. This solar system runs independently of the electric grid. To do that you need to add equipment such as charge controller and a bank of rechargeable batteries. Sometimes you will also need a generator to boost the start up or operation of high energy appliances. You design your off grid system in such a way that it generates enough power to operate independently throughout the whole year. The design must cater for power use at night, through periods of low sun in the depth of winter and multiple inclement days of cloud and rain in the wet season.
Off grid systems use batteries to store the power required to meet all your home’s energy needs. The prices for batteries are high, which can make the off-grid solar option much more expensive. Off-grid solar systems are regularly used in remote areas away from any electric grid. Sometimes generators are used to boost batteries or for shut-downs of the PV systems such as during maintenance. However, the cost of solar battery storage is reducing. So, as battery storage options become cheaper the future demand for the off-grid solar system will grow, even in suburbs and towns.
How Does Off-Grid Solar System Work?
We call off-Grid solar systems stand-alone or autonomous power systems. They generate electricity when sun illuminates the PV cell solar panel array. DC power from solar panels goes to a charge controller that charges the bank of solar batteries. Battery power converts into AC electricity using an inverter. Home electric appliances use AC power. Solar energy stored in solar batteries will power the home appliances at night or when there is low sun.
The Major Components Used In An Off-Grid Solar System
A set of PV cells that produce power when the sun radiations fall on them. The amount of energy it produces depends on the amount of available sunlight in your region, the usable space of your rood, and your energy consumption needs.
Solar charge controller regulates the voltage and current from your panels that your solar batteries receive. The control prevents them from damage due to overcharging.
The off-grid solar system has batteries to enable you to run your home appliances after the sun goes down. The solar panel DC current will recharge your solar batteries during the day. Batteries store the energy generated by Panels that are not consumed during the day.
In order to convert the DC electricity into AC electricity to run your electric appliances, you also need a solar inverter.
The Advantages Of An Off-Grid Solar System
There is no access to the utility grid
If you live in a remote area, there may be no immediate access to the electric grid. In those cases it can be very expensive to extend the power lines. Using an off-grid solar system might be a cost effective solution. You won't need to depend on electric power grid extensions for your electricity which can cost to $174,000 per mile for rural construction and a way lot more for urban grid extensions.
No need to worry about power failure
Some people see living an independent life and being self-sufficient being worth more than saving money. With an off-grid solar system, you won’t worry about unexpected power cuts or electricity bills.
Hybrid Solar System
As the name suggested, a hybrid system is a combination of on-grid and off-grid solar systems. We have noted that the prices of batteries are trending down. This means solar power systems that already connect to the electricity grid can add battery storage. They can store the solar energy generated by a solar panel during the day to use it at night to avoid energy tariff peaks. When the battery stored energy exhausts late in the night when power costs are lowest, the grid is there to power the home's appliances. It allows the consumers to take the benefits of both worlds.
What Are The Major Components Used In The Hybrid Solar System?
The Advantages Of A Hybrid Solar System
Lower expense than off-grid solar systems
The off grid people will add a generator for a backup to the solar and battery system. This increases the cost of the whole system. When you use the hybrid solar system, you do not use a backup generator. Also you might decrease the capacity of your battery bank, as your back-up requirements won’t extend to long periods. These changes to specification make the hybrid system less expensive than the off-grid solar system.
Extends the life of battery
With the grid link of the hybrid solar system, you will depend on the battery less, which will reduce the battery usage somewhat. You will discharge the battery less frequently and enhance the lifespan of the battery.
What Is The Future Of Solar Panel System?
We have mentioned all the ways of how to connect your solar panel with your solar project. If you have a view to the financial bottom line, the grid-tied solar system is the cheapest option. However, that option leaves you chained to your electric company. Furthermore, if the grid goes down for whatever reason, you will be without power, like everyone else.
The off-grid solar situation is expensive because it requires solar batteries for back up. With batteries you have the responsibility of their maintenance. In a blackout autonomous systems can appear to be the best option: That means the Off grid and Hybrid System will be favourable.
Hybrid solar systems with grid connection and batteries can leverage the benefits of off-grid and on-grid solar system, and can be an effective compromise.
Click here to view one on the battery options on Amazon.
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