With prominent issues like global warming and the increase in the extinction of species, humanity is moving towards finding alternatives for power that don’t harm the environment. While there are multiple options, including wind and hydropower, solar energy has by far proven to be the fastest-growing alternative energy source.
That being said, more and more people are opting to install solar panels in their household. If you, too, are considering installing solar panels, this article will provide all the relevant information required to help you choose the perfect solution that suits your requirements.
What Is Solar Power?
Before we delve deeper into solar panels and their specifications, it is essential first to understand what is solar power, after all?
Solar power is the conversion of the energy harnessed from the sunlight into electricity. This electricity can be directly converted with the help of photovoltaic (P.V.), which converts sunlight into electricity using the photovoltaic effect. The conversion can also be done indirectly, with the help of concentrated solar power, in which lenses or mirrors along with tracking systems, are used to focus a large area of sunlight into a small beam. Sometimes, a combination of both options is used.
The Role of Solar Power in Existing Electricity Systems
Currently, solar power plays a huge role in powering electricity systems, especially in the United States of America. With India becoming the world’s cheapest solar producer, they have also set a target to generate 100 GW of renewable energy by 2022.
That being said, solar power generally uses either on-grid or off-grid systems. Both systems have their own advantages and disadvantages. Hence, choosing the right system can get confusing for a consumer who is opting to go solar for the first time. To make things easier, we have listed the key differences to keep in mind while considering off-grid or on-grid solar systems:
On-Grid Solar Systems
As the name suggests, on-grid solar systems are directly connected to the utility power grid, from where they generate power using a solar power system. With the help of these systems, excess electricity generated is feed into the utility grid, and consumers can benefit from the extra power being fed back. As these systems work in collaboration with the power grid, in cases when there isn’t sufficient sunlight, the system runs on the power supplied by the grid. It is best to invest in these types of systems when power consumption is high, and your goal is to reduce your electricity bill. On the other hand, the drawback of this system is that as it is connected to the primary grid, it will not function in cases of a power outage.
Uses of On-Grid Solar Systems
On-grid systems require consistent power. The on-grid solar systems allow the consumer to meet their daily requirements with the help of consistent power received from the grid. When the sunlight is in full swing, an on-grid solar system can harness enough solar energy that can power small and large appliances like lights, water heating, washing machine, etc.
The Benefits of Choosing On-Grid Systems
- The first and most obvious benefit is that on-grid systems are the cheapest solar system available and are also extremely easy to install as they require the least number of components for assembly.
- If a business decides to invest in on-grid solar systems for their offices, they can recoup the entire cost within 3-7 years, depending on the size of the system and location by merely offsetting their electricity bills.
- The user of the on-grid system can earn a passive income by utilizing the surplus energy generated from the system.
The contrary of the on-grid solar system, the off-grid system works independently, without needing the grid. Instead, it makes use of batteries that store the solar power generated by the system. The entire system comprises of components like solar panels, batteries, charge controllers, distribution box, inverter, mounting structure, and balance systems.
The best part about these systems is that they are self-sustaining. Hence, if required, the off-grid system can provide power for loads in areas where a power grid is not available, and thus the on-grid system cannot work. On the other hand, the drawbacks of an off-grid system are that it is expensive compared to on-grid.
Uses of Off-Grid Solar Systems
The off-grid solar system is mostly used to provide electricity to rural and remote areas. Other common uses of the off-grid system involve power back-ups in areas that frequently face power cuts. These places are in abundance in India due to frequent power transmission malfunctions.
The Benefits of Choosing Off-Grid Systems
- The first and more important benefit of off-grid systems is that it works independently, without having any need of the circuit box
- They can store a lot of power, which can then be used when the power grid isn’t working
- If the grid has a failure or unexpectedly shuts down, the power supply will not be affected
- These are ideal for remote areas where there is no power access from the grid
Things to Consider Before Choosing A Solar Panel
1. Solar Panel Efficiency
When it comes to analyzing the efficiency of the solar panel, you need to take into consideration the ratio of energy required from the sunlight that hits the panel surface to generate electric power. For example, in an ideal scenario, if a solar panel captures half of the sunlight’s energy, then the module’s efficiency should be 50%. However, in real-world conditions, the efficiency ratio of solar panels ranges from 12% to 21%. It is essential to choose a panel that provides a high-efficiency rate, as this will ensure that you get more watts of electricity per square meter of the group. However, the disadvantage of high-efficiency panels with 19% to 21% efficiency generally costs more. So, to keep the prices economical and still get sufficient power, we recommend a panel that has at least efficiency rates between18% to19%.
2. Quality and Warranty
It is not easy to determine the quality of a panel, inverters, and the installation service by just talking to the vendor. Instead, it is recommended to check the brand’s reputation and read reviews left by other users. This will give you an idea of how the panels are and how they would function after installation.
Another thing you can look at is the warranty provided by the vendor. The longer the warranty, the better the quality of the solar panels. It is recommended to get answers to vital questions like what should you do if you face any problems with the panels, or if the panels are compliant with the standards set by the law. For example, at ABS Renew Power, we provide operations and maintenance services, which includes preventive and corrective measures like inspecting, testing, cleaning, repairing, and replacing faulty parts. Moreover, to prevent system breakdown, we also offer regular inspection of the solar systems, wherein we provide annual maintenance contracts that keep the generation capacity stable. You can read more about our service here!
Moreover, as solar panels are a significant investment, it is essential to consider if the brand is reputable enough that it will be around in 10-20 years if something goes wrong.
3. Solar Panel Specifications
Similar to most technology-related products, solar panels to have various specifications, from which you need to choose the one that suits your needs the best. Some key parameters to consider include:
- Power tolerance: Are you opting for a 250W or 250W +/-10%?
- Voltage rating: It is recommended that panels should be rated to 100V D.C. minimum
- Coefficient of temperature: An excellent temperature coefficient panel indicated that the panel would perform well, even in higher temperatures
The Cost of Solar Panels
While the exact cost differs depending on the vendor, the average cost of a rooftop panel is roughly INR 60,000 per kWP, which includes the cost of installation. If you require an additional battery for backup, you might have to bear the cost of another INR 90,000 per kW. Moreover, the Income Tax Act also provides a 40% accelerated depreciation for rooftop solar systems.
Regardless if you’re a homeowner or a business owner, green energy is gaining popularity at a fast rate, and solar is one of the best eco-friendly options. So, jump the wagon and be part of the solar community!