According to Wade Architectural Systems (www.wadearch.com), solar panels are a great investment that can not only make your home more sustainable, they can also save money and energy over the long run. While solar technologies are often thought of as outside a typical family price range, competition between Asian and American solar manufacturers have cut prices nearly in half over the past few years, making it more affordable than ever to bring the advantages of solar technology to your home. Between available tax incentives as well as the possibility of putting money in your pocket by selling your power back to the local power authority, solar energy can become affordable and even profitable for your home.
How Home Solar Panel Systems Work
While there is a wide variety of different setups that can be used for solar paneling system, or PV- photovoltaic system, all of them operate on the same basic principles. The first part of the system to consider is the solar panel itself. Depending on the size, it is mounted so that it can “catch” sunlight. The solar cell within the panel converts the solar energy from the sunlight into DC current. From there, the energy current travels to an inverter. The inverter transforms it into AC current, at which point the energy is usable for electrical devices in your home.
Micro-Inverters or Central Inverters?
When most people think about solar, they think in terms of a single central inverter which converts the current to AC. Central inverters collect all of the energy from all of the solar cells available in a set-up, and then they transfer the AC downward. Recently, however, micro-inverters have become increasingly popular for a number of reasons, such as overall efficiency. If one solar cell is malfunctioning for some reason, then a central inverter will become slowed down with energy transmission overall. By contrast, micro-inverters are generally installed per solar panel, meaning if one malfunctions, it can be more easily fixed, and that overall drag on the energy system will be reduced. Because of solar energy being distributed through multiple converters as opposed to a single one, micro-inverters last longer and reduce the risk of safety threats. That said, because the energy is being split, more is lost by using multiple end points. The end result is that micro-inverters can be slightly more costly per kW than a central inverter, but in many cases, the benefits outweigh the slight uptick in energy cost.
Depending on whether you are using a central inverter system or have set up with micro-inverters, how you deal with energy output in your home can vary. Micro-inverters are most commonly used to connect a PV system to the electrical grid, which then transfers it back to the power company so that the customer can be reimbursed. By contrast, central inverter systems are more common when one wishes to draw energy directly off the panels (an off-grid setup) or both use their own power and sell off the excess (a mixed use setup). How you choose to handle that energy is something that should be decided after reviewing your local power company’s policies on solar-generated power. If it’s not cost-effective to sell that power to the company and you decide to keep that power yourself, a battery system should be in place to hold excess power. By figuring out which setup makes the most sense for your home, you can harness the power of the sun to make your home energy sustainable.
This article was contributed on behalf of Wade Architectural Systems. We specialize in Architectural design so you can focus on enjoying your home!