Selection of Solar Energy System Hardware

7 Apr

Solar Panels

Solar Panel

  • The choice of panel(s) depends on how much energy your appliance(s) will use over a given period of time. You have to make sure that the electricity generated by the panels (and stored in the battery), say during one day, is more than sufficient to power all connected appliances during that next.
  • The number of panels to buy. If you require 55 Watts of power, you could either use two 28W panels connected together, or one 60W panel. Generally speaking, it is easier and cheaper to go for the fewest number of large panels.
  • Space considerations may make smaller panels more practical.
  • Reputable solar panels will have warranty a period of 25 years. Warranty will only be honored for as long as the company operates. It’s another reason to select a well known brand of solar panel.

Battery.  Solar panels do not drive your appliances directly, but it is the battery, therefore, select a battery very carefully:-

Batteries

  • Choice of battery depends also on the appliances that are being used and therefore what storage capacity in the battery is required.
  • Cost-effective batteries to buy are 12-Volt lead-acid car batteries.

Charge Controller/ Voltage Regulator.  The basic functions of a controller are quite simple. Charge Controllersblock reverse current and prevent battery overcharge.

Charge Controller

Some controllers also prevent battery over discharge, protect from electrical overload, and/or display battery status and the flow of power. A voltage regulator/controller prevents your solar panel putting more energy into the battery than the battery can store – like an automatic shut-off once the batteries are fully-charged.

  • 12V regulators come in different current ratings, depending on the maximum amount of current your panels can provide. 8 Amp regulators are sufficient for most of our panels, but our 150 Watt panel will require a 12 Amp regulator.
  • To calculate the minimum current rating required, simply divide the total power rating of you panels, and divide this by 12 (volts). For example, if you have two 28 Watt panels (total=56Watts), the maximum current is (=56W/12V) 4.7 Amps.

Inverter.  An Inverteris used to step-up the output of your battery from 12V to mains 220V AC.

Solar Power Inverter

It is a device that transforms DC battery or solar panel voltage into mains type AC power. This is only necessary if you are using your system to power mains domestic appliances such as televisions etc.

  • Inverters consume power themselves which will lower the overall performance of your system.
  • Solid State Inverters boost efficiency to 90%
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