So, you’re thinking about going solar but need some basic information first before shopping around? We can help! Here’s a handy little guide on the basics of solar to get you started:
What are the benefits of solar?
Appropriate exposure to the sun is not only a good source of vitamin D, it also powers our homes and saves us money. With the right knowledge and solar power system, you can change how and when you use household appliances, giving you better control of your household finances.
With a solar energy source, you only have to draw electricity from the grid when you need it, and since you’re only paying for what you use from the grid, you’ll offset your bill with any extra energy that is fed back into the grid. This extra energy can also be used to charge your battery for you to use though the night or during the next power blackout!
What do the panels do, and what are they made of?
Solar panels live on your roof and receive the sun’s rays, turning them into energy. The panels are made up of photovoltaic cells produced using crystalline silicon, a light-absorbing semiconductor. There are two types of panels:
Mono crystalline panels
These are darker in colour with diamond shaped edges and manufactured from a single silicon crystal.
Advantages: Monocrystalline solar panels have the highest efficiency rates since they are made out of the highest-grade silicon; Monocrystalline silicon solar panels are space-efficient; Monocrystalline solar panels last the longest.
Disadvantages: Monocrystalline solar panels are the most expensive; If the solar panel is partially covered with shade, dirt or snow, the entire circuit can break down; A significant amount of the original silicon ends up as waste; Monocrystalline solar panels tend to be more efficient in warm weather.
Poly crystalline panels
These are lighter in colour, rectangular in shape and manufactured from many silicon crystals. Raw silicon is melted and poured into a square mould, which is cooled and then cut into square wafers.
Advantages: The process used to make polycrystalline silicon is simpler and cost less; Polycrystalline solar panels tend to have slightly lower heat tolerance than monocrystalline solar panels.
Disadvantages: The efficiency of polycrystalline-based solar panels is typically 13-16%; Lower space-efficiency; Not as aesthetically pleasing since they have a speckled blue colour compared with the more uniform look of mono crystalline.
What is an inverter?
This is the part of your solar power system that converts DC power (created by solar panels) to AC power, which is used in your home.
What does the meter do?
The meter records the movement of electricity into and/or out of a home or building. A solar meter is sometimes referred to as a “bi-directional” meter or “net” meter. It records electricity received from the grid and electricity exported to the grid. A smart meter is a digital meter that records electricity use in 30-minute intervals. They can also be programmed as bi-directional and are compatible with solar. Contact your electricity provider if you are not sure what type of meter you currently have.
How is kilowatt consumption measured?
A kilowatt (kW) is a unit of power equal to 1000 watts. A kilowatt hour (kWh) is the amount of energy you get from one kilowatt for one hour. Your electricity provider measures how much electricity you use in kilowatt hours. On average, a 4kW solar power system has a daily output of 14.4 to 20kWh of solar energy. If your system includes a fully charged storage device, it can even output 6.5 to 16.5kWh of energy, depending on the size of your battery.
Brands we recommend
We can help with panels and/or battery storage for your home, office or commercial building. The first step is to arrange a no-obligation consultation with Glow to discuss your energy needs. Once you have an idea of the size and type of system you need, you may find these brochures helpful: