Solar photovoltaic (PV) panels generate electricity directly from sunlight which can then be used to help power your home. Solar photovoltaic can be an efficient energy system in the right application – there are no byproducts from converting the sun’s free renewable energy into electricity. After your solar system is installed, the electricity produced is virtually cost-free.
Semiconductors such as silicon are used to manufacture individual solar panels. Each panel has a positive and negative layer which creates an electric field similar to a battery. Many individual panels are wired together creating an solar PV array. The size and number of solar panels required for your home depends on how much electricity you use.
To be effective, PV solar requires direct sunlight. Although solar panels can produce small amounts of electricity in cloudy condition, direct access to strong sunlight is required for maximum production. Roof-top applications are the most common system, with ground-based arrays as an option in some applications. Most high quality PV panels will last for decades. They are designed to resist and withstand moisture, wind, hail, and wide temperature ranges. Whether a small 2 kW residential system, or a large 1 MW industrial system, the basic system solar PV components are the same.
In Kansas and Missouri, the average monthly electricity requirement is ≈ 945 kW. Installation of a 10 kW PV solar system would eliminate nearly your entire electric bill. Installing a 10 kW PV system provides the same yearly environmental effect as:
- Planting more than an acre of trees
- Driving your car 10,000 fewer miles
- Not burning 50 barrels of oil
- Not emitting 5 tons of CO2
- Not emitting 40 tons of sulfur dioxide
Types of Solar
- Photovoltaic (PV) solar converts sunlight into usable electricity. The technology of PV originated in 1839 when Edmond Becquerel discovered the photovoltaic effect. The first electric solar array was developed by Bell Laboratories in 1954. Since the “Bell System Solar Battery, solar panel efficiency and commercial application have exploded.
- Thermal solar provides domestic hot water (DHW) by converting the highest possible percentage of the suns radiation into heat that is delivered to a stream of fluid inside the solar panel. The first use of thermal solar for DHW was in 1892 when Clarence Kemp patented the Climax solar water heater. Later in 1938 the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) demonstrated the effectiveness of thermal solar with “MIT Solar House #1” which gathered 75% of its heating energy requirement from the sun. Modern thermal solar uses either flat panel or high efficient evacuated tube collectors.
- Passive solar heating is architectural design allowing the low winter sun to penetrate deep into a structure through windows and porticos, while also blocking the high summer sun with overhangs. Like radiant floors, passive solar flourished in ancient Greece. After eventually consuming all their available firewood the Greeks were forced to find alternatives in smart building architecture, quite possibly the first foray into “building science”. Modern building design and many architects use passive solar concepts in site selection and building layout.
Types of Connections
PV solar can be installed as grid-tie with the solar system connected and synchronized with the utility provider, or an off-grid aka stand-alone application for a remote cabin or location to bring utilities where otherwise impossible or cost-prohibitive.
Many people inquire about battery back-up systems. Although possible, we recommend battery back-up systems for short-term power loss (hours to one day), the integration of a whole home back-up generator powered either by natural gas or propane is much more affordable and provides more reliability.
When to Use Solar
Solar is best used in conjunction with energy conservation and energy efficiency measures such as excellent insulation, tight doors and windows, high efficiency heating and cooling system, and LED lighting.
The bottom line – the less energy your home needs because of a tight building envelope and efficient use of needed energy, the more effective PV solar is at eliminating your monthly bills and keeping the initial installation cost to a minimum.
Why Choose Home Performance Group:
- We maintain a Master Electrical License
- We are NABCEP Solar Associate Certified
- We have a PMI Project Management Professional on staff
Since inception HPG has designed, engineered, installed, and maintained high-performance geothermal heating and cooling systems, radiant heated floors, custom ultra-high-end epoxy floor systems, solar arrays, and spray foam insulation for low energy or net-zero homes and buildings. While HPG specializes in outfitting residential homes, we also service commercial buildings. Contact us today to help increase your comfort, reduce your utilities, or lower your environmental footprint.