Solar energy guide for home owners

There are numerous companies all over the world that are involved with the production and manufacturing of solar panels. Most home owners are not aware of exactly which type of solar panel is ideal for their home. Here are some guide points that you can use to purchase, install, and maintain your solar panels:

How can solar energy generate electricity?

Generation of inexpensive and environmentally friendly electricity for your home requires the installation of solar panels composed of photo voltaic cells. Solar energy is the radiant energy of the sun which is utilized by Photovoltaic or solar panels and converted into current electricity. Solar panels and solar modules, both are able to convert solar energy in to current electricity. The question is, is there a difference between these two? Technically and in terms of manufacturing, there may be a slight difference amongst the two, but a solar panel may also be called a solar module, as both are more or less the same in terms of functionality.

What are solar collectors?

The basic and most important difference between solar panels and solar collectors is the fact that solar panels are used for the generation of electricity, and solar collectors produce heat energy and can be used to heat fluids like water for your home. Solar panels are made of solar cells.

How do solar panels work?

Solar panels work by converting the energy stored in the radiation of the sun into current electricity. Since the panels are made of numerous photovoltaic cells, this process is also termed as the photovoltaic effect. One solar panel comprises of a frame in which cells are arranged, according to the size and requirement of the panel. These panels can vary in size according to need, but one solar cell alone can generate one to two watts of electrical power. Depending upon your requirement, numerous cells can be arranged within the frame to allow the panel to generate more electricity.

Benefits of using solar panels:

One of the greatest advantages of using solar panels is the fact that more and more solar cells can be joined together to produce more and more electricity. This effect or ability is known as modularity and means that in order to produce more electricity; the only requirement is the addition of more solar cells to the panel. The same rule applies for entire solar panels as well, which can be combined together for the generation of a greater amount of electricity according to the requirement. The combination of several solar panels together is called a solar array.

The greatest benefit of modularity is the fact that it allows you to expand the solar power potential of your house. This means that if you wish to start off on a small scale within a restricted budget, you can easily start off small and stay within your budget as well. When you get the hang of powering multiple appliances with solar panels, then you can keep adding panels and cells gradually in order to produce more solar power for your house, and hence save a lot more money in electricity bills as well.

Types of Solar Panels

There are three main kinds of solar photovoltaic panels which can be used domestically and industrially. These are:

  • Monocrystalline modules,
  • Polycrystalline modules and
  • Thin film modules.

Monocrystalline modules:

The kinds of cells that are manufactured using one crystal rod of silicon are known as the monocrystalline solar cells. Solar cells are formed when the silicon rod is divided into fine wafer like pieces.

Polycrystalline modules:

When multiple crystals of silicon are used in the manufacture of solar cells, the end products are called polycrystalline solar cells. The manufacturing method differs from the former in the sense that in this case, molten silicon, when poured into a mould is used to create the solar cells. The ingot that is formed as a result of molding the molten silicon is then divided into fine wafer like pieces and hence, polycrystalline solar cells are formed.

Thin film modules:

The last variety, known as the thin film solar cells are generally manufactured using amorphous silicon alloys. These are placed in the form of fine layers on metal/glass based substrate. Thin film solar cells differ from mono and polycrystalline solar cells in the respect that there is a great degree of flexibility and hence a wider range of application and usage.

Where should you install your solar panels?

Solar panels should ideally be installed in the part of your home that receives the maximum amount of sunlight, for example the roof or the terrace. Solar panels don’t really require lot of maintenance but ideally you should try to place your panels where they can be safe from environmental hazards like strong winds, rain, hail, and snow. Solar panels can even store electricity that they have created though solar energy for a few hours, so even on a cloudy day, you can still have a few hours of electricity generated by your solar panels.