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Solar Panels

Solar Panels

Everything You Need to Know about Solar Panels

Are you concerned about the integrity of the environment or perhaps looking for new ways at benefiting from the energy the environment has to offer? Do you already own a specific energy system, and would like to lower your carbon emissions?

With the growing effects of global warming and carbon pollution, environmental conservation has become a priority. In addition, the rising costs of energy products is on the rise, thus switching to greener forms of energy that still allow you to meet the energy requirements for your home or business is an important step towards protecting our environment from further threats.

Have you considered switching to solar panels? As they can provide you with an effective energy source to meet your energy needs at an affordable price.

Here you will find answers to the vital questions you might have about solar panels.

  • What are solar panels?
  • How do solar panels work?
  • Types of solar panel systems
  • Components used 
  • Choosing the right sized solar system
  • Solar batteries
off-grid solar panels solar power systems image

What are solar panels?

Solar panels convert sunlight into an electric current or heat used to provide electricity for home or building. Solar panels are constructed as a collection of lots of small solar cells that are spread over a large area to provide enough power.  The larger the concentration of light hits the cell the more electricity or heat is produced.

How do solar panels work?

Solar panels work by converting light photons into electricity through the solar photovoltaic (PV) effect. This allows for direct conversion of sunlight into solar power, or electricity. Solar panels use layers of semi-conducting material, most commonly silicon. PV’s are measured by kilowatts peak (KWp).

This measures the rate solar panels generate energy at their peak performance with direct sunlight in the summer. Solar panel cells can either be mounted on rooftops or on the ground, alternatively you could have solar tiles fitted instead, thus completely replacing the already existing rooftop.

What types of solar panel systems are there?

There are different types of solar systems depending on different situations and needs. The differences lie in the area of main power grid connections and battery storage.

Grid-connected systems

Solar panels connected to the main power grid.

Grid-connected systems are connected to the main power grid. The electricity generated by the solar panels is first used for your home and the electricity that is not used by hour home is exported onto the main power grid. 

Grid-connected systems will only supply electricity during the day when there is sunlight. When there is no sunlight, your home will use electricity taken from the main power grid. Most grid-connected systems work without the use of battery storage, however this is very much possible with our expandable and modular inverters. With batteries, you will also use your self-generated electricity at times without sunlight. 

solar power systems grid connected solar system
off grid solar system solar power systems 2

Off-grid systems

Not connected to the main power grid and with the use of battery banks.

Off-grid systems are not connected to the main power grid and will have to generate enough electricity to power your home at all times. They are a perfect and often the only solution for homes without a power grid?Ibedrola connection. During the day, the solar panels will generate electricity and supply your home with power. Besides supplying your home with power, they will also charge a battery bank. When the sun goes down, and the solar panels stop generating electricity, your home will use the electricity stored inside the batteries. 

Off-grid systems must be designed properly so that it will generate enough electricity to meet your home’s requirements. This includes supplying the house with electricity during multiple days with little sunlight. All of our off-grid systems are designed with 3 days of autonomy. This means that your home will have enough electricity stored inside it’s batteries, to power the house for at least 3 days without sunlight. 

Hybrid systems

Connected to the main power grid, but also with the use of battery banks.

Hybrid systems are a mix between grid-connected and off-grid systems. Hybrid systems are connected to the main power grid, but also make use of battery storage.

A hybrid system will supply the house with electricity during the day, and will also charge a battery bank. When the sun goes down, the house will start using the electricity stored inside the batteries. When the electricity in the batteries is depleted, electricity will be taken from the main power grid. With hybrid systems it is also possible to charge the batteries at night using electricity taken from the main power grid. Because this happens at night, this electricity will only cost you the night tariff, in stead of the more expensive day tariff.

hybrid solar system solar power systems
Components used in solar systems

Solar Panels

The solar panels will catch the incoming sunlight and convert it into electricity.

Inverter

Used in all systems

This device converts direct current (DC) to alternating current (AC).

Charger

Used in off-grid and hybrid systems

This device controls the charging current that goes into the batteries.

Electricity meter

Used in grid-connected and hybrid systems

The electricity meter measures how much electricity is taken and exported onto the main power grid.

Optimizer/maximizer

Optionally used in all systems

When shade falls onto part of the solar panels, the optimizer will make sure the other panels are not affected.

Power grid connection

Grid-connected and hybrid systems

Electricity from the power grid can be used when there is no sunlight, when the batteries are depleted or when the batteries need to be charged.

Batteries

Used in off-grid and hybrid systems, optionally used in grid connected systems

The batteries are used to store excess electricity and will supply the house with electricity when there is no sunlight. The batteries can also be charged by the power grid when they are almost depleted. This is done at night, so it will only cost you the night tariff.

Back-up generator

Optionally used in off-grid systems

A back-up generator can be used in order to supply solar batteries with power, when there has been little sunlight more more than three days.

Energy monitoring device

Used in all systems

Energy monitoring devices are used to send data about the solar system to devices like smartphones, tablets, laptops and pc’s.

Choosing the right sized system

In order to choose the right size of your solar system, we must first find out what your average electricity use is. To do this, you can check your energy bill. When the energy bill is not clear or does not show your average use properly, we can install a temporary electricity meter. This device will measure the electricity used in order to give a clear indication of your average use.

Average use

The average use of a Spanish home without swimming pool is about 8 kWh per day (24 hours). A swimming pool filter-pump is not calculated in this example. We always advice to let this filter-pump run at night during the night tariff, or we advise a separate solar pool filter pump.

An example

To give you an idea of how much electricity is used by an average home per 24 hours, we give you a small example of what 4 kWh entails. 4 kWh is about half of what the average Spanish home uses per 24 hours.

4 kWh (4.000W)

10 Light bulbs 5-12W – 3 hours per day – 215Wh

42-inch TV – 4 hours per day – 480Wh

Cold washing machine – 0.5 hours per day – 250Wh

Refrigerator A++ – 24 hours – 720Wh

Microwave oven – 0.2 hours per day – 140Wh

Oven – 0.5 hours per day – 900Wh

Washer dryer – 0.5 hours per day – 900Wh

Laptop – 2 hours per day – 150Wh

 

Solar Batteries

Lead and Lithium

At Solar Power Systems we use two types of batteries. Lead based batteries and Lithium based batteries. Lead based batteries have been the norm, but lithium-based batteries are the future.

Value for money

Since 1994, Solar Power Systems has been testing and using many different brands of batteries. Because of this, we know exactly what the best batteries are best and which batteries offer the best value for money.

Cost

At this moment, lead-based batteries are the cheaper option. However, Lead based-batteries come with rules that will have to be followed, in order to extend their lifetime. Lithium based batteries are more expensive, but do not need maintenance, and have no rules to follow.