Posted by Simon Caddy Electrical
on 5 June 2017
Solar energy is, simply, energy provided and produced by the sun. This energy is in the form of solar radiation, which makes the production of solar electricity possible.
The production of electricity thanks to photovoltaic, PV, cells. Photovoltaic literally means "light" and "electric".
Solar cells are made from materials which have a "photovoltaic effect", simply put, when sunshine hits the PV cell, the photons of light excite the electrons in the cell and cause them to flow, generating electricity!
Solar energy produces electricity when it is in demand, typically during the day, particularly sunny days and when air-conditioners drive up electricity demand. Solar panels work more efficiently when kept cool which can be clearly seen with PV arrays set up in Antarctica as an example
Solar energy produces no emissions other than those used to build them so that means it's good for the environment and helps play a part in reducing green-house gas emissions.
Energy from the sun is classified as a renewable energy source a very hot topic (pardon the pun) right now and there is a lot of debate on this topic and not just in Australia.
So if we can have "free" electricity from the sun and help the environment at the same time, why don't we all switch over to solar?
Well, as with everything in life, there are pros and cons for going solar. Anyone looking to convert to solar will need to consider these pros and cons to make sure it makes sense for them to do so.
There are 3 major types of panels 1. Monocrystaline 2. Polycrystaline 3. Laminate. These have been listed in order of most expensive to least expensive and have slightly different preferences on conditions and therefore 1 does not suit all installations. Though monocrystalline the most expensive of them is a pretty good all-rounder.
What are the pros and cons of going solar?
Pros of going solar:
Probably the biggest benefit of solar panels, as mentioned above, is that solar energy is a truly renewable energy source. It can be harnessed in all areas of the world and is available every day. We cannot run out of solar energy, unlike some of the other sources of energy. As long the sun is around, solar energy will be around.
As you will be using solar energy to meet some of your electricity needs, your energy bills will drop. Now, how much you save on your bill will be dependent on the size of the solar system and of course, your electricity or heat usage. In addition, if you generate more electricity than you use, the surplus will be fed back to the grid and you will receive bonus payments for that amount (assuming that your solar panel system is connected to the grid). The ROI (return on investment) should be taken into consideration when choosing whether to go down this path.
Solar energy systems generally don't require a lot of maintenance. Keeping the solar panels themselves clean is really the maintenance needed and that's only a couple of times per year. Typically solar panel manufacturers give 20-25 years warranty. Also, as there are no moving parts, there is no wear and tear. The inverter is usually the only part that may need to be replaced after 5-10 years since it is continuously working to convert solar energy into electricity.
Cons of going solar:
The initial cost of purchasing a solar system is relatively high. Even though there are Solar Credits [this will be linked to http://www.energymatters.com.au/rebates-incentives/solar-credits-australia/] that can help offset some of the costs of grid power, you still have to cover the upfront costs. This includes paying for solar panels, the inverter, batteries, wiring and the installation itself.
Although solar energy can still be collected during cloudy and rainy days, the efficiency of the solar system drops. Solar panels are dependent on sunlight to produce solar energy and a few cloudy, rainy days can have a noticeable effect on the energy system. You will need to make sure your location, house/roof orientation and surrounding environment will be suitable for a solar installation.
Solar energy has to be used as it's produced, or it can be stored in large batteries. These batteries, particularly used in off-the-grid solar systems, can be charged during the day so that electricity is available for use at night. While this sounds like an ideal solution for all day solar generated power, it is also quite an expensive solution. In most cases, it's more economical to just use solar energy during the day and take energy from the grid during the night.
So, while solar is continually being developed with more efficient PV cells and the price of storage batteries coming down, take the time to think about your needs and do your homework to make sure solar is indeed the right solution for you.
Simon Caddy Electrical. Contact, Request a quote or call 0400 110081.