Friday, January 13, 2012
Hello and welcome back to Ask Doug The Electrician! 2012 is here and back to work I go. I'm looking forward to installing the new technology and seeing how the systems are improving. I am very interested in the new installation techniques because I've got quite a few tips! After installing so many systems, you find ways to improve everything! Thanks to recent majore price reductions in solar panels and other materials, more people will now be able to install solar. Whether you connect your solar energy to the grid, off grid, or you want a system for camping or your motorhome, its a great time to just do it. One panel or sixty, its so easy to interconnect you owe it to yourself to investigate. Email me anytime if you have any questions! Hurry.... Here's some more cool Solar Energy Information to think about... California is the nation's renewable energy leader and with the latest large solar energy project, "the Sentinela solar power plant", should provide 275 MW of power, enough to power around 83,000 Californian homes. Once completed, these two new clean energy projects should provide 379 megawatts of power, enough to power more than 112,000 average American homes. They should also provide more than 500 construction jobs. Quick and interesting facts related to solar energy. One kilowatt equals 1,000 watts. One kilowatt-hour (kWh) equals the amount of electricity needed to burn a 100 watt light bulb for 10 hours. A sunny location (like Los Angeles, California, US) receives an average of 5.5 hours of sunlight per day each year. A cloudy location (like Hamburg, Germany) receives 2.5 hours per day of sunlight each year. A 1 kilowatt peak solar system generates around 1,600 kilowatt hours per year in a sunny climate and about 750 kilowatt hours per year in a cloudy climate. A solar energy system can provide electricity 24 hours a day when the solar electric modules are combined with batteries in one integrated energy system. Solar modules produce electricity even on cloudy days, usually around 10-20% of the amount produced on sunny days. The typical components of a solar home system include the solar module, an inverter, a battery, a charge controller (sometimes known as a regulator), conduit/circuitry, and support structure. A typical silicon cell solar module will have a life in excess of 20 years Monthly average residential consumption of electricity in the US in 2008 was 920 kilowatt hours. (Source: US DOE) Monthly average residential electricity bill in the US in 2008 was $103.67. (Source: US DOE) The module cost is around 30-35% of the total installed cost of a solar energy system. Three key elements in a solar cell form the basis of its manufacturing technology. The first is the semiconductor, which absorbs light and converts it into electron-hole pairs. The second is the semiconductor junction, which separates the photo-generated carriers (electrons and holes), and the third is the contacts on the front and back of the cell that allow the current to flow to the external circuit. Crystalline wafers are about 200 microns (a micron = one millionth of a meter) thick. In contrast, thin-film panels are made by vacuum depositing several layers of semi-conductor materials only a few microns thick. Silicon in its pure form (99.9999% pure for solar applications) is very expensive and makes up about 50% of the cost of crystalline panels vs. the semiconductor cost of about 2% in thin film panels. However, thin film panels are not as efficient as crystalline panels and therefore more thin film panels are required to generate the same amount of electricity. A thin film installation can take up to 40 percent more space (and land) to achieve the same total power output as a premium crystalline installation. Thank you for stopping by Ask Doug The Electrician! Happy New Year!