The History of Solar Panels

Photovoltaic power was first discovered by a French scientist, Antoine Becquerel, in 1839. Many scientists that followed experimented with solar power and tried to build a device that would capture the sun’s energy and redirect it but they were not able to find a way to make a working PV cell.

The solar cell was first successfully made by the scientist, Charles Fritts, in 1882. Since they didn’t have the same types of materials that we have today the first working solar cell was made of thin sheets of Selenium, a mineral, that was then coated with gold.

Even though the use of solar panels for generating electricity and heat seems like a relatively new development it’s actually been widely used to generate power since the early 1900s.

Photos from that period show a series of a parabola shaped “sun catchers” that would harness the power of the sun and focus it on water tanks. Once the water was heated it made steam which was used to power farm machinery.

The solar-heated water created enough steam to power 55 horsepower machinery which was cutting edge at the time.

Then, in the middle of the Industrial Revolution, businesses found that they could use the sun’s energy to heat water which created steam to power the machines in the factories.

At that time solar energy was considered the wave of the future and a lot of companies began developing better ways to use the sun’s energy until after WWI when fossil fuels became more attractive to companies and farm owners to run their machinery.

The first working silicon solar cell didn’t come along until 1941 when an employee at a Bell laboratory, Russell Ohl, patented his design for a silicon-based PV cell. In 1954, Bell labs mass-produced the first crystal silicon solar cell.

The Bell PVcell converted 4% of the sun’s energy into electricity a rate that was considered the cutting edge in energy technology.

Scientists continued to reinvent and rework the design of the original silicon PV cell and were eventually able to produce a solar cell that was capable of putting out a 20% return electricity rate. In the 1980s solar cell technology was being used almost exclusively for space travel.

The use of solar power in space is natural given that spacecraft can’t burn fossil fuels in the vacuum of space and in space the rays of the sun are not reduced by the Earth’s atmosphere and clouds.

In the late 1990s as awareness grew in the science community about the effects of global warming and the need for renewable energy sources scientists continued to refine the silicon PV cell until early 2000 they were able to make a solar cell with 24% electricity return.

In just 7 years scientists were again able to increase the electricity return of the silicon solar cell using space-age materials.

By 2007, modern silicon PV solar cells were operating with a 28% electricity return. As scientists continue to make better solar cells it will become more common and more cost-effective for homeowners to use solar cells and solar panels to power their homes.

5 Tips for Safely Installing Your Own Solar Panels

If you’re a skilled home handyperson and want to tackle the installation of your solar panels yourself to save money you can probably install them without a lot of hassle but to make sure that you install your solar panels safely follow these tips:

1. Make sure you have enough mounts.

There is nothing worse than getting to the end of the project and realizing you don’t have enough equipment.

This is especially true when it comes to installing specialty equipment like solar panels. Most of the time additional mounts and racking equipment need to be special ordered to fit the brand and model you’re using so make sure before you start that you have all the mounting components that you need.

2. Get help with the electrical components.

If you are not a certified electrician hire one to help you install the electrical system of the solar panels that converts the sunlight to energy and directs that energy into your home.

You could seriously hurt yourself if you don’t know what you’re doing so it’s worth spending the extra money to get help from someone that does know what they’re doing when it comes to electricity.

3. Check and double-check the position of the solar panels.

The location and tilt of the panels have to be right or they won’t work. Be absolutely positive that the panels are facing due south and that they are positioned correctly before you complete the installation.

4. Use the buddy system.

When it comes to installing solar panels on a roof make sure that you use safety precautions and have a buddy standing by to help you if something goes wrong.

No matter how experienced you are working on a rooftop can be dangerous, and working with large, unwieldy solar panel arrays on a sloped roof can be tricky for anyone.

Having a friend or two around to help will make it easier for you to maneuver the large solar panels and will also make sure that if an accident were to happen you would have someone there to call for help.

5. Be thorough.

You won’t get a second chance to do this installation and you are working with at least $10,000 worth of solar panels most likely so take your time and make sure that you get it right the first time.

Do some research about how to safely install solar panels yourself and make sure that you feel comfortable working with the panels before you start. Remember that you are attaching something permanently to your house.

Solar energy panels can make a great money-saving addition to your home that will boost your resale value and cut your energy costs but only if they are installed correctly so that they can work efficiently.

Make sure that if you install the solar panels yourself you position them correctly and mount them correctly in order to get the maximum benefit from your investment.

10 Tips for Choosing A Solar Panel Installation Contractor

10 Tips for Choosing A Solar Panel Installation Contractor

If you decide to have your solar panels professionally installed don’t just pick a contractor out of the phonebook.

You are hiring someone to install some pretty pricey equipment so it’s in your best interest to make sure they know what they’re doing.

Do some research and then consider these 10 points for each contractor to help you choose the right solar panel installation contractor:

1. Where is the company located in relation to your property?

Is it a national chain company with franchises or is it a local company? All else being equal, a local company is better to deal with given that it is more accessible for you and knows your area.

The company should be local so that you can get a service technician to come out and service your panels if there is a problem and also to cut down on the cost of transporting the panels and the time to get an installation appointment.

2. Is the company certified?

This is a big one. In order to be qualified to install any type of PV solar energy system or solar panels a company should be certified by the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners, or NABCEP.

Ask if the company is certified and then go online to the NABCEP website to check and make sure the company is currently certified by NABCEP to do solar panel installation.

3. Does the company subcontract their work?

Sometimes it might be ok for a company to use a subcontractor but not when it comes to solar panel installation. Ask the company specifically if they use a subcontractor. If they do, you can either ask if the subcontractor is also certified by NABCEP or just choose another company.

4. What is there Customer Service like?

When you’re buying and installing solar panels you are going to be spending a lot of money, usually upwards of $20,000 for the panels and the installation. That should entitle you to some good old fashioned customer service.

If you contact a solar panel installation company and they don’t return your phone calls or try to get you to sign up for installation before they are willing to answer your questions then you should choose another company.

A reputable solar panel installation company will be happy to answer your questions and help you with your concerns about your solar energy installation without pressuring you to buy their services.

5. How much installation experience does the company have?

Ask how many solar panel installations they have done but also ask about the employees. Ask how long their employees have been with the company and how experienced each employee is.

If the company has done more than 50 solar panel installations but they put a brand new tech that’s never done a single installation, your installation project you could still end up with an incorrectly installed solar array so ask specific questions about the employees’ experience.

6. What is the company’s reputation?

Ask around town to see what people think of this particular company. Ask them for references that you can call, ideally from other people that they have done solar panel installations for.

Go online to the Better Business Bureau website to see if the company has had any complaints filed against it.

You will be giving the company that you choose a lot of money so check them out thoroughly and make sure they’re trustworthy.

7. What brands does the company have experience with?

Find out what brands and models of solar panels they are certified in or have experience in. Each company that makes solar panels make them a little differently and it’s important that the company you choose to do the solar panel installation has experience working with the particular brand name and model that you bought.

The company’s NABCEP license should also tell you what models and brands the company is certified to work on.

8. What kind of warranty does the company offer?

Every solar panel installation company should offer some type of warranty on their work. It’s important that you know the details of the warranty that the company offers because if anything goes wrong with the solar panels as a result of the installation you don’t want to have to pay to have it fixed.

9. What payment terms and payment plans does the company offer?

Always find out what payment terms the company accepts upfront. Some will want full payment before the work begins, some will want a deposit with the balance due at the completion of the work, some others may offer monthly payment plans to help alleviate the financial hit of the installation cost.

It’s important that you understand the payment terms going in so ask the company directly what their payment terms are before signing anything.

10. Will the company help you with rebates?

There are lots of rebates and other incentives that are available at the state level and the Federal level but often in order to get those rebates you need signed documentation sent in by both the company that you bought the solar panels from and the company that did the installation.

So ask if you’re not sure if the company is willing to provide the documentation and signatures you need in order to get those rebates.

Those are 10 tips that can help you to choose the right solar panel installation contractor, if you need to get with one point from this post, I would say do your research before you decide to hire a contractor.

Solar Energy – The Advantages and Disadvantages

Perhaps the greatest argument that could be leveled about having to use fossil and nuclear fuel is our dependence on it. Global warming, though a real serious threat, maybe something that we could only be very worried about.

Financial Considerations When Going Solar

Singly nothing much could be done about it as it will take serious political will if it is to be addressed effectively and for now, other countries are not cooperating. But the choice between traditional and alternative sources of energy, that is something most of us can choose to do.

First the advantages:

Solar energy is abundant and is free. We can count the sun to rise tomorrow and the day after that. Oil and natural gases, on the other hand, are non-renewable, once the source taps out, it is gone forever. Sure there are other areas that could still be tapped but sooner that could run out of oil as well.

Solar energy does not pollute the air. If ever, the heat coming from the sun cleans the environment and maintains the earth’s eco-balance. Not so with oil.

Oil, its derivatives and its byproducts are great pollutants. In fact, 22,000 pounds of carbon monoxide will need to be produced first for the oil to be processed and supply a home with electrical energy for a year.

Solar energy harnessing panels are silent operators. Except maybe for the mechanical contraptions that are built into the panels so it could track the sun, from the collection of the sun’s rays to its photovoltaic conversion, they give neither a peep nor a squeak.

It is a world of difference from the cacophony of giant drills and pumps that are used to extract oil from the ground.

The maintenance of the solar panels is very minimal. Except for the mechanical parts that are optional, almost no maintenance is needed.

Once it is installed nothing much will be the cause for worry. The energy that is derived is free. With oil, there is no telling what the next pump price would be and when.

Oil, being a commodity, heavily depend on its prices on market forces. Often with the right strategies, even market forces could be manipulated that could cause volatility in pricing.

The Disadvantages of Solar Energy

The cost. While solar energy is free, the cost of installation setbacks many households from installing it. Brand new solar energy generating systems are expensive.

Although it tends to pay off over time, initial cash-out could range into several thousands of dollars depending on the quality and volume of generated power a household or an establishment would require.

While solar energy technology has been around since the 1950’s it is only in recent years that its development was spurred.

While costs of the installation could also be subjective depending on the purchasing capacity of a customer, the benefits that could be derived out of it are enormous although mostly in unquantifiable terms.

For mass consumption, distribution lines are needed and this remains to be a big issue. Old antiquated distribution lines used to transfer electricity and other modes of fuel into the homes are clogged in many regions that to deliver solar energy power into the houses of consumers will require a different approach.

Be that as it may, the benefits from solar power far outweigh its disadvantages. It is an ideal source of energy that it may soon be the norm in power generation.

Solar Powered Cars for the Future

There is now a wide array of devices and structures powered by solar power. Solar-powered cars have also risen in prominence as people became more aware of the several benefits of the renewable resource.

You can save thousands of dollars in gas each month by choosing a solar-powered vehicle. You have to know the different available features and inclusions first. Here are some more details on how you can get the best type.

The Solar Vehicle

Solar Powered Cars for the Future

A solar vehicle is defined as an electric vehicle that is powered mainly by solar energy. The energy is acquired from solar panels on the surface or at the top of the vehicle.

PV or photovoltaic cells change the energy of the sun straight into electrical energy. Solar cars are not used as day-to-day transportation devices currently.

These are still used in engineering trials and demonstration practices, usually sponsored by private or government agencies.

Solar cars mix the technology in bicycle, aerospace, automotive and alternative energy industries. The design of the solar vehicle is limited by the energy amount placed in the car.

The majority of solar cars were made with the objective of solar car races. A few exceptions include solar-powered cars and utility vehicles.

Solar cars are usually fitted with gauges similar to conventional cars. The driver has to watch the gauges closely to see potential problems and keep the car running very smoothly.

Solar cars rely on PV cells to change sunlight into electricity. 51% of sunlight, in reality, enters the atmosphere of the earth.

Unlike solar thermal energy which transforms solar energy to heat for industrial or household reasons, PV cells can directly change sunlight into electricity.

The Solar Array

The solar array is made of hundreds of photovoltaic solar cells that transform sunlight into electricity. To build an array, the PV cells have to be packed together to form modules that are positioned together to create an array. The bigger arrays can create more than 2 kilowatts or 2.6 hp of power.

The solar array can be installed in various ways. Horizontal arrays can be installed in the form of a free canopy. Vertical arrays can be in the form of integrated sails or free standing to get the wind energy.

Adjustable solar arrays can be tilted around the travel axis to boost power when the sun is low and to the side. Integrated arrays cover the whole surface of the car with solar cells.

A remote array is done by mounting the solar array at a stationary region aside from the vehicle. The trailer array is done by retrofitting present vehicles with little stability.

Practical Use

The first commercial electro-solar hybrid car, called the Venturi Astrolab was introduced in 2006. Some companies in May 2007 also worked to change a Toyota Prius to utilize solar cells to create up to 240 watts of electrical power under the sun.

Golf carts are shown to have very practical uses if powered by solar energy. The Solartaxi was also recently introduced. This solar-powered car traveled around the globe, or 50000 km in just 18 months.

Solar Panels 101

Solar Panels 101

The solar panel is the most basic element of a solar power system. It primarily functions to gather sunlight during certain periods of the day to power different devices and structures.

Depending on the size, solar panels can power anything from RVs to huge plants. It is also important that you understand how the panels work and where you can apply these so that you can get the most benefits. Here are some more details and info about the material.

What are Solar Panels?

Solar energy starts with the sun. Solar panels are also known as photovoltaics and are primarily used to convert light from the sun.

These are made of energy particles called photons that are changed into electricity to power various electrical loads. Light from the sun is considered as a renewable energy resource that gives clean energy.

Solar panels can be used for different applications like remote power systems for cabins, remote sensing, telecommunications equipment and to produce electricity for commercial and residential panel systems.

The History

The development of solar energy began more than a century ago. During the early days, solar power was used mainly to produce steam for drive machinery.

Henri Becquerel discovered the photovoltaic effect that allowed the conversion of solar electric energy. Becquerel’s discovery triggered the invention of the first true solar cell by Charles Fritts in 1893, which was created by coating selenium sheets with a thin gold layer. The solar panel was then created afterward.

Russel Ohl is an American inventor who used to work for Bell Laboratories. He patented the first silicon solar cell in the world in 1941.

The first solar panel was produced by the same company in 1954 because of Ohl’s creation. The new solar panels were used first in space satellites. During the 1970s, more people saw the use of solar panels through the newly designed calculators that can run easily under light.

At present solar panels and full solar panel systems are used to power different applications and structures. Aside from calculators, solar panels are now used to give power to homes, commercial buildings and other huge structures.

Letting the Solar Panels Work

Solar panels can gather clean renewable energy in sunlight form that will be converted into electricity. The average home has adequate roof area to let solar panels gather enough sun to be converted into DC current or AC current. Solar panel arrays can be sized to meet big requirements.

The AC current can power loads in the house and other commercial buildings. It is important to consider the part of the house, as well as the right angle of the sun so that the solar panels can gather the most light over more hours of the day for optimum results.

You can choose to build your own solar panels or just order a pre-made one online. There are also a number of stores that offer solar panels, depending on the use you need.

You can hire some experts to help you determine the right part of the house or structure where you need it installed. You should also talk to other solar panel owners to help you maximize the benefits.

The Types of Solar Electric Systems

Solar electric systems have been created because of the rise of solar power as a reliable and cheap source of energy. There are now different techniques, methods, and systems that depend on solar power to run plants, houses, and offices effectively.

The Types of Solar Electric Systems

You should learn more about these systems to determine the best types that will provide you with the most benefits. You can choose to make your own or just purchase one from top manufacturers.

The Stand-Alone System

There are small stand-alone electric systems that are very good at giving economical electricity. These systems are mainly used to power RV, lighting, backup power systems, portable power systems, and cabins.

The size of the array of photovoltaics or the number of solar panels, as well as the battery, will rely on the individual power requirements.

The solar panels charge the battery during daylight periods and the battery will provide power to the inverter whenever required. The inverter transforms the 12-volt batteries DC power into 120 volt AC power.

This is the most useful kind of current for the majority of applications. The charge controller will terminate the charging once the battery reaches the full charge. The batteries will not gas out this way and battery longevity is enhanced.

Grid-Tie Solar System

The grid-tie solar system is very useful for homes that are already linked to the utility grid. The primary advantage of this kind of system is the cheap price of utility.

The system needs to be wired with an inverter that creates pure-sine-wave AC electricity, which is needed for linking to the utility grid. Another benefit of this electric system type is tax incentives. There are also rebates provided depending on the local agency and the state.

If you own a grid-tied system in California, you can make use of some programs that will minimize the total cost of the system. The majority of the system usually does not include the battery storage that lets power in once the utility does not work.

Grid-tie systems are installed using battery backup power to maintain critical loads even in the presence of a power failure.

The Full Stand-Alone

The complete or full stand-alone system is very useful for complete independence from electric utility companies and fossil fuels.

The benefit of the system is the capacity to provide power away from the utility, as well as creating a measure of self-independence.

The complete stand-alone home solar system will usually have a couple of inverters to supply the AC house current needed to power very big loads like air conditioners.

An available second inverter will help make sure that power is present if one of the inverters will need servicing.

Self-contained systems like these require an adequate battery keeping capacity to give electricity when solar power is not available because of prolonged adverse weather conditions.

The complete stand-alone system usually needs 20 solar panels for safe battery keeping and adequate charging. You may ask an expert to help you decide between systems so that you get the most out of your investment.

A Key Element In Solar Panels – Efficiency

A Key Element In Solar Panels - Efficiency

While solar energy is most often associated with the production of electricity, heating is also a major platform. While heating isn’t particularly difficult, efficiency in doing so is the key to saving wear and tear on your system.

A Key Element In Solar Panels – Efficiency

The sun produces a ton of energy, but solar panel systems have historically been very inefficient at converting it.

With improving technology, efficiency has improved to the point where most panel systems can easily produce enough energy to heat water for the home and pools. There are efficient and inefficient ways to go about this process.

To save wear and tear on your panels, you need to consider a flow control system. Older panel systems tend to take a long time to heat up fluid because water more or less randomly circulates through the system.

This is very inefficient because the panels are forced to heat up a much larger pool of water than you actually need. This results in wear and tear, not to mention lengthy waits for hot water.

A control flow system attacks the efficiency problem by reducing the amount of water that must be heated. Most are designed to work on temperature differential strategies. They work by using two sensors.

The first is located close to the panels being used to heat the water or liquid substitute. The second is located on or close to the liquid return valve into the panel system. Put in practical terms, one sensor measures the temperature of the liquid set to leave the panel while the other measures the temperature of liquid coming into the panel.

Flow systems work by waiting for the liquid to rise to a temperature determined by you. Once the liquid meets the temperature, the system turns on the circulation pump and moves the liquid to the desired location.

Once the return valve sensor notes the temperature of the returning water is within a particular range of the liquid in the panel system, the pump is shut off. This process allows for faster heating times, more efficiency and less wasted energy.

Solar solutions are coming to the front of the energy debate for many residential energy needs. Countries like Germany are making huge investments in solar platforms and technologies. Solar can be a cost-effective solution for you as well. Just keep in mind that flow systems are a must if you are pursuing solar water heating.

Tips To Help You Choose And Operate A Solar Energy System

You may not understand much in regard to the solar energy system. Most have little idea of what is possible, or how much it will cost. Educate yourself as soon as possible. Carry on reading this article for more information about solar energy.

How much power you generate is based on how many panels you have and how well those panels work. Therefore, it’s important that you calculate the number of solar panels you will need to power your home. It may make sense to buy a high-performance panel if that allows you to buy fewer of them.

To get the most from solar panels in your home or business, go for installations that use technology not directly reliant on the sun’s schedule. Contemporary panels do not rely on the sun on to stay effective. This ensures that you always have the power you need, even when it is nighttime or raining.

You must determine a storage plan for the energy generated by your solar power system. A battery can store this excess energy, or you could also sell the excess to a company that maintains a primary power grid.

When opting to lease a solar energy system, ensure that you can transfer the lease. If your home is sold, you will need to have this option handy. Transferring the lease give new homeowners a chance to use the solar energy while allowing you to break the contract.

You need a backup solution in case your solar panels are not functioning as they should. One good option is a generator, but you can still stay connected to the main power grid to get power whenever your panels are not working. If you opt for a generator, ensure that is properly working by doing maintenance at least once a month.

After you recoup your initial investment, you can save a lot of money using solar energy. Solar panels are expensive and long-term investment. Therefore, don’t invest in a solar energy system until you have settled down.

If you wish to get a solar power system, stay away from high-pressure salespeople. You need time to get all the information together in order to make a good choice. You might purchase the wrong items if you are pressured into it by a salesperson immediately.

You can make a solar system installation more affordable by looking into grants and rebates. Solar energy equipment can be an expensive investment but there are often rebates and other incentives from local, state or governmental agencies to help offset the initial cost.

Check into federal and state grants or rebates that reward renewable energy use. They can often make a huge difference. You may even be able to deduct some of your expenses on your taxes.

Many people don’t know how solar energy systems work. Now that you have read this article, you are better educated and what it is all about. You now know exactly how solar energy will benefit you. When you decide to move forward, remember everything you’ve read here.

Financial Considerations When Going Solar

Financial Considerations When Going Solar

There is no doubt that solar power is a smart way to reduce your carbon footprint. This will be an important decision though.

You need to make sure that solar energy is cost-effective for you. In this article, we will cover the basics of financial considerations when going solar.

You don’t have to go overboard when adding solar power set-ups. You can make small switches like putting in solar powered outside lights. These lights are connected to small solar panels that harvest power during the day and provide you with enough power to keep your home lit up during the night.

You will have to invest in a battery to store the energy you produce with your solar panels. A good battery can store a lot of energy for lengthy time periods.

Alternatively, you could sell your excess energy to your local utility. By staying connected to the power grid, you will be able to make use of the energy it provides in the unlikely event this becomes necessary.

The best solar systems have a way to reposition the panels depending on the season. In the event your panels are fixed in place, your energy production will vary with the seasons.

You need a backup solution in case your solar panels are not functioning as they should. Generators are okay, but being on the grid is even better. If you purchase a generator, be sure you regularly test it, and you may wish to have more than one unit.

There may be rebates or grants that can help you pay for your solar panel installation. Your solar energy system can cost quite a bit to get started with, but there is help available usually.

Many government departments will offer you money once your set-up is installed. They can bring down the cost considerably. There are many different incentives for changing over to green energy.

Do the math prior to making the decision to invest in solar panels. Where you’re located will determine whether or not it’s financially feasible. Always check to make sure that solar energy is a practical choice in your situation.

You could get a tax credit if you switch to solar power. You may receive upwards of thirty percent off the price of your system. Find out if you can get this where you live by looking on the Internet or speaking with a local representative.

Solar energy systems keep changing with time. They used to be very expensive but now are affordable. Regardless of your energy needs, you can find a good solar power system if you try.

You want to position your solar panels so they can get maximal sunlight. To figure out where to place your panels, you may need to keep an eye on the sun’s path each day and think about if this will change in a different season.

That is it, that is the basics of financial considerations when going solar, now you should now have a better idea of whether or not solar energy makes financial sense for you.

This is great in theory, but other energy sources may be better if you don’t get lots of sunlight. Everything you’ve learned should serve you well as you explore the costs and benefits of solar energy.