How Solar Energy Works
Solar energy is more common than you think! Calculators, watches, flashlights and even home appliances use photovoltaic energy on a daily basis. Solar energy technology allows property owners to convert sunlight into usable electricity. The sunlight enters through a photovoltaic panel as solar radiation, passes through invertors and wiring, and is transferred back into your local energy grid. Solar energy systems also include batteries, which allow the system to store energy. This process, known as “net metering”, allows you to both generate solar energy and pull electricity from the grid as needed. Depending upon the size of your solar energy system, you may be able to generate enough energy to offset your fossil fuel use with solar power.
What are Solar Energy Panels Made Of?
Solar panels, or photovoltaic panels, contain cells made up of semiconductor crystals. Each cell includes several layers of crystals, conductors, and anti-reflective materials to efficiently process the solar radiation that enters during the day. Monocrystalline solar panels are manufactured from silicon that is cut from a single crystal. Polycrystalline solar panels are manufactured by melting together multiple pieces of silicon to form the photovoltaic cells. In general, polycrystalline solar panel types are more affordable but can be less energy efficient. Photovoltaic panels also include layers of protective plastic and glass, allowing them to withstand heat and weather conditions for up to 30 years. Once the solar radiation enters the cell.
Solar Power Materials & System Components
Almost all solar panel systems consist of the same basic power conditioning equipment: an inverter, converter, battery, and a charge regulator. Power conditioning equipment includes components of your solar power system that work together to convert photovoltaic energy into a state that is suitable for use. The inverter is a device that transforms direct current from the cells into alternating current which can be used as power. Conductors are made of electrical wire that transmits energy from the solar panels into the system. Batteries are used to store energy during the generation process. The charge controller is used to control the flow of electricity to and from the battery. It protects the strength of the battery over time. Together, all of these components define the strength and efficiency of your solar energy system.
Grid-Connected Solar Energy Systems
Most solar energy systems are grid-connected solutions. This means that they generate their own energy via solar panels while also accessing energy from the local power grid when solar power is not available. An “off-the-grid” system does not give or take energy from the local power grid. The amount of power contributed to the grid is credited through net metering programs.
Net-Metering Programs for Solar Energy
Most local power companies offer net metering. This means that you can send your solar energy back into the grid and receive credits for the amount you contribute. Your energy bills will reflect the total amount of power generated versus the amount of power consumed. Many of our clients report reductions of up to 50% on their energy bills using this process. Depending on the size of your property, your energy usage needs, and the time of year, you may be able to provide sufficient power to offset the majority of your energy needs. Our experienced team will help you design the right size solar energy system to support your return on investment.
Solar Energy Batteries
Every battery has a capacity rating which indicates the maximum charge it can hold. The latest generation of solar energy batteries have a high capacity for energy storage over a long period of time. In addition, the batteries have an activated shelf life which defines how long the charged battery can store its energy. New solar energy batteries also indicate the battery life cycle so that you can determine how many times the battery can be charged before it starts to lose capacity.
Measuring the Strength of Your Solar Energy System
Prior to your solar power installation our team will conduct an energy audit. This review will confirm your site’s potential to generate energy, compared with your energy consumption needs. Our team will also calculate your system’s “downtime”, or the hours per year which it will not be able to provide energy due to sun exposure limitations. We will also review your energy bills to determine your average kilowatt-hour usage. Your energy bill will usually show this metric and can be a good guide of what size solar power system your property requires. Once your system is installed you will be able to measure its energy output in kilowatt hours.
The Solar Energy Installation Process
Before installing your solar energy system we’ll perform an in-depth inspection of your site. We will review your property’s current energy usage, seasonal energy needs, square footage, and solar panel placement options. After a comprehensive analysis, we’ll discuss the best solar panels, battery, and wiring options for your property. Our evaluation will include key technical factors like directional sun exposure, nearby shade sources, seasonal energy consumption, and local climate patterns that will impact your system. Our team will also conduct a thorough roof inspection to ensure that the structure can safely host panels. Following this review our team will create a comprehensive quote for your new system, including costs for the entire solar installation process. This quote will include itemized costs for materials, labor, permits, fees, and an approximate timeline.
The Costs of Solar Energy
Solar energy costs can be analyzed with two methods. The first approach is to evaluate your current price per kilowatt usage, then determine the best system size to support your needs. The second method is to analyze the levelized cost of energy over time, which assesses the total costs of your solar energy system over one to two decades. After establishing the size of the solar energy system required for your property, we will calculate the price per watt, as well as the total costs of materials and labor fees. These metrics can be used to calculate your total annual savings as well as your Levelized Cost of Energy (LCOE). LCOE is commonly used to determine the savings of your solar power system over its 20-30 year lifetime.
About Christian Solar
Christian Solar has over two decades of experience installing solar power systems for residential and commercial properties of all sizes. We design solar energy solutions for residential homes, apartment buildings, HOAs, commercial warehouses, restaurants, public organizations, offices, and more. Our in-depth estimating and planning process ensures that you’ll enjoy the most efficient and cost-effective solar solution for your needs. Get in touch to schedule a complimentary consultation today.