As the world continues to use more energy, the cost to produce it will continue to rise. In addition to this, the electricity from the power grid can stop flowing for several reasons such as tree limbs falling on to power lines and breaking them, transformers going bad, or in a worst case scenario, the power plant itself could break down and stop generating power.
If the electric grid ever goes down you have several options. If you have a backup generator you could use it to give you the power that you need. The problem with that is once you run out of fuel, you are back to having no power. If you want continuous power then you should consider using a solar energy system.
By using a solar energy system, you will have a reliable method of producing a constant supply of power that only needs the sun to generate power. As the prices of solar panels continue to go down in price, they are becoming a better option to help give you a reliable source of electricity.Credit: Amazon
A solar energy system is made from several components that can easily be upgraded and added to other similar components so that your system can expand and grow to the size and requirements that you need and can afford.
The main components of a solar energy system include the solar panel , a series of batteries, a charge controller, and an inverter.
The solar panel is the heart of the system and it is what produces the electricity. They come in a variety of different sizes and wattage. The smallest sizes start at around a few inches in size and are strong enough to charge a small battery, while the biggest ones can take up a good area of your roof and provide your house with enough power that you can live off of the grid.
There are three basic types of panels. The cheapest is called an amorphous panel that consists of a layer of silicon laid on top of a piece of glass. This type produces the least amount of watts. Next is the polycrystalline which is made from a bunch of smaller crystals that are sliced into tiny wafers. The best type that you can get is the monocrystalline panel which is one large crystal that is sliced into thin wafers. These single cells are then connected together to form a solar panel.
Next on the list is the battery that stores the electricity that the panels produce. It is not suggested that you use a car battery because they are designed to use a bunch of power at once to start a vehicle. Instead you need to use a deep cycle battery. A deep cycle battery is designed to have a constant load on it over a period of time instead of having a huge load all at once like a car battery.
There are several different types of deep cycle batteries that you can use with your solar energy system. The first type is the marine, or RV, battery. These are generally made for boats and campers. They are great for a smaller solar energy system; however they have a limited life span and can produce hydrogen when they are being charged.
Flooded types are the next variety of battery that solar energy systems use. They closely look like a car battery; however they are designed to be used with photovoltaic systems. Like car batteries they tend to release hydrogen as they are charged. This means that they need to be kept outdoors and away from anything that can produce a spark.Credit: Amazon
Gel batteries are a good choice for your home solar energy system if you want to keep the batteries in your house. Since they are sealed, they produce no gases. By keeping them in your house, they are not subject to extreme temperature fluctuations giving you better performance.
Perhaps the best battery that you can get is the AGM, or Absorbed Glass Mat, battery. Like the gel variety they don’t produce gases as they are being charged. They last longer, self discharge less, and can maintain voltage a lot better making them the high-end battery.
The next main component of a home solar power system is the charge controller. The charge controller regulates the charging voltage. During the middle of the day, when the sun is most intense, the charge controller protects the battery from being overcharged. The best charge controller is a three stage unit called a Multi-Stage Charge Controller. These come in two main varieties.
The Pulse Width Modulation, or PWM, and the Maximum Power Point Tracking, or MPPT, are the two most commonly used varieties for a home solar power system. The MPPT is the more efficient of the two because it sends more wattage to the battery when the solar panel is producing higher voltages than the battery is designed to handle.
As a general rule, you should take the rated wattage of the solar cell and divide that number by two. This will give you the number of amps that the charge controller should be rated at. For example, if the panel is rated at 80 watts, half of that number is 40, so the charge controller needs to be able to handle at least 40 amps of power. This will give you a buffer that will help protect your home solar power system.
The last piece of equipment is the power inverter. This unit changes low voltage DC into high voltage AC that most things in your house use. The cheapest and worst kind is the square wave power inverters. This type is hard on equipment and should be avoided at all costs.Credit: Amazon
Next on the list is the quasi-sine wave which is more of a middle of the road unit. It produces something that looks like a cross between a square wave and a sine wave. This is perhaps the most popular inverter since it can be used with most items without any problems. The best power inverter that you can get is the true sine wave inverter. These use a computer to produce a true sine wave and can power stuff that requires a true sine wave to work.
If you are building a solar power system to power your house then you should use the true sine wave inverter. If you are just powering a few items then you could use a quasi-sine wave inverter.
Today is a great time to look at going solar because the cost of solar panels are around half the price of what they were a year ago. Since a family solar power system can provide you with power throughout the year, it makes sense to invest in one.