Solar Power- The Benefits

Dec 19
2011

 

What we really want to know is how solar power benefits me? Ok I promise we’ll get to that but you should at least read how solar energy works to benefit us all (including good ole Mother Earth) by reducing yours, mine and our carbon footprints. Carbon footprint is defined as "the total amount of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions caused by an organization, event, product or person". This is more commonly expressed as an amount of carbon dioxide, since this is a gas known to the average person, and people can understand and relate to it better. Thus the term carbon footprint actually refers to GHG, carbon dioxide and other similar harmful gases. Unfortunately much of out daily activity releases carbon dioxide and increases our carbon footprint.

In a normal year consuming energy, the average American citizen has a carbon footprint of roughly 36,000 pounds, or 18 tons. Contrarily, solar power has a carbon footprint of exactly zero so this is a prime solar power benefit and one of the main advantages of solar power. Let’s take a look at some advantages and disadvantages of solar power , and examine the solar power pros and cons to see if this is a viable option to replace our current energy providers.

I know what you are thinking. "Great, solar power will help our environment, health and wealth, but it is super difficult and expensive to set up!" Actually, that is one of the mythical solar energy disadvantages supported by energy companies and those who profit from traditional energy sources. They would have you believe that solar energy costs outweigh the solar power benefits of savings that you’d get. And when you add the fact that solar power is unlimited (one of the main advantages of solar energy ), there really is no reason to ignore harnessing solar energy to power our energy-hungry lifestyles.

On a clear, sunny day, 1 kWh (kilowatt hour) is broadcast onto a 1 square meter surface at sea level per hour. On a typical sun-filled day, approximately 6 kWh of total solar energy can be captured from this relatively small area. That works out to a total of 180 kWh every month, and just 5 square meters is enough to replace the average American's electricity consumption each month. It easy to see that one of the main benefits of solar power is that it’s inexhaustible.

However, there are many advantages anddisadvantages of solar power to take into account before you start building your personal solar power station. A little known fact about solar power concerns its source. Did you realize that you are legally entitled to sunlight? Yep, it is against the law for anyone to build a structure that blocks your "solar exposure" thus encroaching upon your solar power benefits.

This means that our government is fully aware of the benefits of solar energy and its amazing powers. This also applies to trees and natural impediments on your neighbor's property. You are within your legal right to have trees trimmed and hills reduced if they block the sun’s life-giving rays.

If the legalities of solar power are not enough to consider, how about looking at our foreign energy dependency? Let’s be real here! The phrase “energy independence” has been bandied about for the past 30 years. Isn’t it time we did something about it? We all have a personal and quite possibly physical investment in this wonderful resource.

Reducing and even eliminating our overseas oil providers far outweighs any and all solar energy costs of production. Every single kWh that we harness is done so right here in the good old USA, and means we cut off the greedy hands of OPEC overnight, putting more money back in our pockets. To me this is truly one of the main benefits of solar power.

But what about electricity you say? Electricity might be the single most important aspect of our everyday lives, and we continue to use more every year. It powers so many things in our daily routine, and every year sees more technology that hungrily devours this energy source. But did you know that most electricity is harnessed from burning coal? We would immediately enjoy the solar power benefits of eliminating this carbon dioxide producing, massive carbon footprint.

How about electric vehicles? You see them touted everywhere as environmentally friendly. Sure, they help us cut the demand for overseas oil, but they still need the above-mentioned coal to produce the electricity that powers them. That means just moving from one environmentally poor energy source to another.

Once again, you only have to look skyward for the answer. There are certainly many solar energy pros and cons, but the pros far outweigh the cons, and this is just another instance where solar energy disadvantages simply can’t be found. Some municipalities even offer special energy rebates for those people that charge their electric cars with solar power. Hopefully, that trend will continue and spread in the coming years.

Solar power is also strongest in the afternoon, when the energy draw is the heaviest. This means that solar power would drastically reduce, if not totally eliminate, blackouts. A battery backup could be set up to guarantee no energy reduction. So we can see that there are many ways how solar energy can be used in our daily lives.

But no discussion of the advantages and disadvantages of solar power would be complete without looking at the costs of solar energy. Before gaining any solar power benefits you need to know that most of the cost of harnessing solar power is upfront. And there is no guarantee from one year to the next how much our sun will help us in our efforts.

There are also building codes, seasonal trends and local subsidies to take into account. But harnessing solar power does not have to be an end-all do-all. We can always fall back on other energy providers as a backup plan.

Unscrupulous contractors, upfront costs, and annual upkeep are all solar energy costs you need to be aware of. You are going to be in charge of repairing your own solar panels, and they sometimes freeze in winter. So start small, and become knowledgeable about all aspects of solar power.

Just begin with a small photovoltaic cell on your roof, monitor energy costs, and expand slowly, and before you know it you will reduce your carbon footprint and put major money back in your pockets. The advantages of solar energy far outweigh solar energy disadvantages, so if you want to enjoy the solar power benefits that will help both you and the plane get started today.

The Backbone To Your System – The Solar Panel

Dec 18
2011

 

The solar energy panel is the backbone of any solar energy project. Without it, the solar charge controller, solar inverter, control panel and appliance and devices hooked to the solar grid are useless.

Obviously, with different solar panel output needs and requirements, many different size solar panels have emerged. It's worth noting that Sharp's solar panels are among the most popular selling. Let's take a quick look at some typical solar energy panel sizes, applications and specs.

A 5w solar panel ($30 - $50 and available from "NOWER" on Amazon.com) will produce 17 volts of peak voltage at .3 amps. This size solar energy panel is ideal for trickle charging your batteries or other devices requiring a small amount of solar power.

Typical measurements for a 5w solar panel are about 11 x 7 inches and 7 or 8 inches of depth for the angled stand. Typical applications satisfied customers have reported using are - gate opener running on 12v battery (in parallel), 2 ventilation fans in a crawl space, small boat battery and home weather station. Most 5w solar panels can be hooked in parallel, but double-check with the manufacturer first.

Many 15 watt solar panel ($60 - $100) manufacturers include a plug that fits your vehicle's 12-volt lighter socket, since this is the perfect size to power a car battery. Available from solar retailer "SunForce" on Amazon.com, a solar charge controller is recommended so as not to overcharge your battery, and a typical size for this panel is around 42 x 12 x 3 inches for the stand.

Perfect for all 12 volt battery applications, the versatile 15 watt solar panel can find many uses on the farm and around the house. Max solar panel output is 15 watts, but peak surge is usually around 1 amp at 15 to 20 volts. This solar energy panel can be hooked in parallel, allowing you to add power as needed.

At around $200 to $250 and available from "TOP" and "AZM" on Amazon.com, a 45 watt solar panel kit varies in price due to the number of components you desire. Some kits come as complete solar panels, charge indicators, power inverter and wiring, while others carry just the panels. Generally three 15 w solar energy panel components are wired in parallel, many kits contain 3, 6, 9 and 12 volt dc adapters and extras such as battery clamps amps and 12 volt sockets.

Roughly one meter square, and a foot deep with the stand opened, the max solar panel output of most 45 watt solar panel kits is roughly 2.5 amps at about 20 volts. Perfect for TVs, lights, computers and similar sized items, this is a good mid-sized panel kit, when used with a solar charge controller, can also trickle charge a 12 v battery. Some kits are made to be self-supporting, and can not run in parallel, check your specs to verify.

A 150 watt solar panel is perfect for many commercial and roof mount uses. Max peak power on this solar energy panel runs around 35 volts at 4 - 5 amps, and is perfect for a small cabin or RV. Max current is most commonly around 4 to 5 amps at 30 to 35 volts. A 150 watt solar panel can be run in parallel with other panels, but the power that it puts out is usually sufficient to operate on its own. Most units are 5 or 6 feet by 3 feet, and require a large area angled toward the sun. You can expect to pay between $400 and $700 for this size solar energy panel, and these are available from "SolarTorrent" on Amazon.com.

A 300 watt solar panel can power a small house, and in late 2009 one-piece 300 watt solar panels were first unveiled. Most large size solar energy "panels" are usually grids of many interconnected smaller panels. You can expect to pay from $600 to $1200 for the panel alone, and more for a kit.

Many mountain homes are resorting to these massive panels as power backup, and they help trim your monthly bill by quite a bit. There is no standard size or weight 300 watt solar panel, and peak power is all over the map. Check with your manufacturer before buying. These panels are not practical in parallel, and are offered by "SunPower" as well as many other manufacturers.

A 6v solar panel is super portable, runs around $20 to $40, and is used anywhere a 6 volt battery needs continual charging. One common job for this size solar energy panel is to power Game Feeder and Digital Game Trail batteries. The 6v solar panel is also a great size for class projects, and getting children and teens involved by showing them small practical applications of harnessing solar energy.

Peak power is negligible, and these small panels are generally about one square foot and weigh about a pound. This smaller device really does not have enough solar panel output to make parallel connections sensible. Most at this size come pre-wired with battery clamps or alligator clips. These tiny guys are available in most online electronics outlets, and are offered by "Moultrie" on Amazon.com.

A typical 24v solar panel application would be commercial or residential roof-systems and ground-mounted arrays. This size solar energy panel will crank out about 30 to 35 volts at about 8 amps, supplying a generous 220 to 250 watts of max solar panel output.

Very powerful alone, they are not often seen run in parallel and price will vary from $500 to $800 depending on accessories, specs and features. They are available from "SunPower". "SunPower" was rated the top Solar Energy Panel manufacturer in the U.S. and "KACO" makes the best solar inverters, according to a recent poll of directors of photovoltaic installation companies in 45 different countries.

There are some general tips that apply to most solar energy panel manufacturers and applications. For instance, always ask if the solar panel in question was manufactured for winter or summer sun. Summer sun can generate up to 3 times more power, and can overcharge and kill a battery unless you have a charge controller hooked up. A handy feature on any solar energy panel is a built-in charge indicator. And always check peak surge power, accessories, size and parallel-capability. Manufacturers and accessories vary, so make sure you know what you are getting.