Photovoltaic Solar Power

Our Solar PV System – Tony Clark Describes his Extensive Solar System

Written by Tony Clark

The Start

In 2000, my wife and I sold our home and purchased another, in a different suburb.  At our new home, my wife wanted to install a swimming pool; I wanted to install Solar panels and a Grid Connect Inverter.  We both ended up having what we wanted, although I ended up being the one to clean the pool.

We installed a 1500Wp system on the roof of the garage, which comprised 15 100Wp Shell solar panels and a Selectronic SEAG 1500 inverter.  The solar panels were installed on a frame, which allowed them to be elevated in winter, and lowered for summer, to maximize power generation during those seasons.

This was very reliable, even surviving a thunderstorm, which destroyed the power meter at our house.


Solar PV Energy Storage – Batteries

Written by Tony Clark

If you are not connected to Mains (Grid) power, or the Mains power is unreliable, you may need to store power from your solar panels Solar PV system to use when the Mains is not available, or at night.

My Solar Power system has 2 separate systems. We have a Grid Connect Inverter for a 1KWp solar PV array and we have a Stand Alone power system, which comprises a 3.6KWp solar array, a MPPT battery charger, a large battery bank and an inverter to power our 240V appliances. I will include photographs of our system at a later date.


Manufacturers of Photovoltaic Solar Panels and Components

Solar Industry Sectors

Silicon Manufacturing Companies. Make the silicon crystals from which the Solar Cells are made.

Solar Cell Manufacturers make the individual Photovoltaic Solar Cells.

Solar Module Manufacturers assemble the Solar Cells into Modules (Solar Panels), which are suitable for interconnection in a Solar System.

Inverter Manufacturers manufacture Inverters for Grid Connect or Stand Alone and/or Charger – Inverters for Grid Connect systems with Battery backup.

Solar System Retailers market the Solar Modules and Inverters and arrange installation of the “Solar System” for the customer (you and me).


Hybrid Solar Panels are More Efficient than Crystalline or Thin Film on Their Own

By combining Crystalline and Thin Film technologies, the overall efficiency of the solar panels can be increased.  This results in a more stable, highly efficient solar panel that performs much better than Crystalline Solar cells at higher (ambient) temperature operation, but with much higher efficiency than Thin Film Solar panels.


Power Output of PV Panels – Part 2

In my last article I discussed the power output of soar panels and the impact cell connections had on current and voltage of the panel, the measurement of panel power output and the impact the temperature of the cell has on the panel output.

In this article I will discuss how the following issues impact on the panel output power.

  • The amount of light falling on the solar panel (Irradiance);
  • The angle that the light strikes the panel;
  • How the load is connected to the solar panel.


Power Output of PV Panels – Part 1

Solar panels are available in many sizes, shapes, power ratings and voltages.

What determines the output power of a solar panel?

  • The area of each cell in the panel;
  • The number of cells in the panel;
  • The amount of light falling on the solar panel;
  • The angle that the light strikes the panel;
  • The temperature of the solar panel.


Lifespan of PV panels

Thin Film solar PV cells are relatively new, in rigid solar panels, they have not demonstrated long life when compared with crystalline silicon solar cells. Flexible thin film solar cells have an expected lifespan of 6 – 8 years.  A significant amount of research is being conducted with the aim of increasing the efficiency and lifespan of thin file solar cells.


Photovoltaic Solar Panel Types and Technologies

Most crystalline silicon technologies (Mono or Poly crystalline) yield similar results, with high durability and long life. Twenty-five-year warranties are common for crystalline silicon solar panels. Monocrystalline tends to be slightly smaller in size per watt of power output, and slightly more expensive than polycrystalline.

The construction of solar panels from crystalline silicon cells is generally the same, regardless of the technology. The most common construction is by laminating the cells between a tempered glass front and a plastic backing, using a clear adhesive. It is then framed with aluminium.

The silicon used to produce crystalline modules is derived from sand. It is the second most common element on earth, so why is it so expensive? The answer is that, in order to produce the photovoltaic effect, it must be purified to an extremely high degree. Such pure “semiconductor grade” silicon is very expensive to produce. It is also in high demand in the electronics industry because it is the base material for computer chips and other devices. Crystalline solar cells are about the thickness of a human fingernail. They use a relatively large amount of silicon.

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