Tag Archives for " solar panels "

How Big and Expensive Is a 6 kW Solar System?

6kW-solar-system

How big is a 6 kW solar system exactly and what does it cost?

Solar installations can be very small such as 2 kW (kilowatt) installations composed of just 8 panels, or they can be large 25 kW systems with over 100 panels! This large playing field for installation size might make a 6 kW solar system look fairly small, but in all actuality it’s very close to the size of a vast majority of residential solar installations.

So what does 6 kW mean and, just as importantly, how much does it cost? Read on to find out!Continue reading

Organic-Inorganic Hybrid Perovskite Solar Cell Could Quadruple Power Efficiency

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Could an organic-inorganic hybrid perovskite solar cell be the Holy Grail we’ve been looking for?

Reaching a high power conversion efficiency has always been the goal of solar energy.

Last year, the development of perovskite-silicon solar cells by the Hong Kong Polytechnic University showed great promise by reaching the world’s highest power conversion efficiency of 25.5 percent. This was accomplished by designing a transparent perovskite layer with an optimized thickness that allowed the absorption of light into the silicon part of the solar cell.

Then a few months later, a team from Eindhoven University of Technology showed that adding a few nanometers of a thin layer of aluminum oxide would protect a perovskite solar cell against humidity while increasing power efficiency by three percent.Continue reading

The History of Solar Energy

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In this post, we talk about the history of solar energy and how it developed throughout the ages.

For thousands of years, humans have harvested sunlight. It started simply – warming rooms with large windows or starting fires with mirrors – and led to today’s complex photovoltaic power plants with millions of solar panels each creating electricity.

Knowing the history of solar energy gives us a deeper appreciation for just how much work it took to get us to today’s modern solar technology. Below is just a brief overview of this story.Continue reading

What Do I Need to Know When Buying a House with Solar Panels?

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Buying a house with solar panels already installed is a relatively new phenomenon. Read on to find out if it’s really worth it.

When you’re shopping for a new home, you probably have a checklist of things to do. First, you walk through the home to see if it fits your lifestyle. Next, you have your real estate agent run comps to make sure it’s a good deal. Lastly, you hire an inspector to check out the house and make sure everything is working well.

Buying a house with solar panels is no different. You need to know if the installation fits your lifestyle (more on that later) and if it makes financial sense for you to purchase, both in the short and long-term.Continue reading

Does Solar Panel Cooling Boost Output? (+Video)

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Discover solar panel cooling methods that can help enhance your system’s performance.

Solar panels suffer from a somewhat ironic problem: You need more sun to generate more power, but the hotter the panels get, the less efficient the panels are. This inefficiency means that the sunniest months of the year might hold the most potential, but might not be the most productive months for your solar system. Solar enthusiasts have been searching for ways to get more power from their system for years, and solar panel cooling is a topic frequently discussed.

So, are you looking for ways to increase your solar panel output? Do you like to tinker and explore DIY projects to wring every ounce of performance from your rig? If so, then read on to explore why it is that solar panels have this problem in the first place, some ways in which technology is evolving to cope with the problem and find methods that many DIYers have used to tackle the problem on their own.

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What are the Primary Types of Solar Power?

types-of-solar-power

What do we mean when we talk about the different types of solar power?

After all, all solar power comes from the sun, what else is there?

When we discuss types of solar power, what we’re really talking about is the different methods of harvesting and using the sun’s energy. With solar power, we can warm a room so we’re nice and cozy, heat water for our showers and baths, create electricity or even cook food! Today we’re going to focus on ways to create or harvest energy using solar power.Continue reading

What are the Best Options for RV Solar Panels?

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Things to consider when looking for RV solar panels

For RV dwellers, it’s really a no-brainer to get solar panels as they become more affordable each year. But how do you go about choosing your RV solar panels? In this article, we’ll discuss the essential factors you’ll need to consider when shopping for the best solar panels for your RV.

As a home on wheels, RV’s are an especially interesting case. They typically have everything a ‘brick and mortar’ home would have: microwave, water heater, air conditioning, TV, laptops, phones and everything else we use on a day-to-day basis. In the past, RV’s relied on loud generators or a connection to shore power to turn on all these appliances and gadgets. In comparison, solar panels are cheap, reliable, quiet, and easy to transport.

There are many considerations to think of if you’re planning to get a solar panel for your RV. Price, size, and efficiency all play a part. In the end, one solar set-up doesn’t meet everyone’s criteria and the best solar panels are the ones that fit your needs the best.

Let’s look at what you need to contemplate in order to find the perfect solar panels for your roof:

#1 What’s Your Goal?

Before looking into the actual solar panels, it helps to ask yourself what your goal is.

Do you want a solar installation to power your leisure batteries so you can use all your electrical appliances whenever you feel like it? Maybe you want a small solar installation to cover your electricity needs when you’re boondocking without electrical hookups for a few days a year. Maybe you want to supplement your generator with a solar panel so that you don’t have to listen to it hum all the time.

Before moving forward, have a clear goal in mind. Write it down so you can always refer back to it. This will help you decide what RV solar panel set-up is best for you.

#2 Cost, Warranty, and Reviews of RV Solar Panels

Just like any investment, you need to do your homework regarding the brands you are looking considering. Manufacturers of smaller, RV-sized solar panels aren’t as well known as the big boys like Samsung, Hanwha, and SunPower that produce solar panels for residential and commercial installations.

To this end, don’t just look at cost (which of course is important), but also the warranty details and online reviews of their products. Larger panel manufacturers typically provide equipment warranties of about 12 years, and production warranties around 25 years (guaranteeing the panels will produce a certain amount of power after 25 years). If you can’t find any warranty information or if it only covers a very short time period, it might be worthwhile to look at other brands.

Solar panels are fairly simple – they don’t have any moving parts – so you shouldn’t really have any issues. However, as these solar panels are constantly outside on the roof, experiencing rain, snow, heat, and extreme temperature changes, it’s better to be safe than sorry!

Don’t just take the manufacturer’s word that they are the best RV solar panels. What do other customers say about them online? Check out reviews on Amazon, the Better Business Bureau, Facebook, and even Yelp to see what experiences other RV’ers have had.

#3 Portable or Roof-Mounted Solar Panels?

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For RV’s, there are two types of solar panel mounting: portable and roof-mounted. Which one you choose depends on your needs.

Portable Solar Panels

Portable solar panels are typically stored inside the vehicle and set up in a sunny area when parked. Unlike solar panels mounted on your roof, with portable panels you can park your RV in the shade on a hot day and place the panels in a nearby sunny area, allowing you to be more comfortable inside and use less electricity for your fan or air conditioning. The solar panels usually come with legs attached so you can angle the solar panels towards the sun, allowing you to maximize energy production! Portable solar panels often come as a kit, like Go Power’s 120-watt kit to make it as easy as possible. Simply take them out, plug them in, and set them in the sun!

The downside with portable solar panels is that you have to take them out and set them up each time you want to go somewhere. One or two solar panels is easy enough, but do you want to set up 5 panels each time you park? Probably not.

If you have leisure batteries to power your electric gadgets, portable solar panels can’t charge the batteries while you drive – what a waste of sunlight! Because of these downsides, portable solar panels really are only good for RV’s with very small electricity needs. If you have many electrical appliances, roof-mounted solar panels are probably your best bet.

Roof-Mounted Solar Panels

Most RV owners attach their solar panels permanently to the roof. You can install as many solar panels on your roof as space allows, which is great if you use a lot of electricity. With roof-mounted solar panels, you can charge your leisure batteries while driving and, when you finally park, it’s easy to use your panels – just turn on your gadgets and go!

Roof-mounted solar panels do have their downsides, though. First, if you want your solar panels to produce electricity, you have to park in full sun. If you don’t have a fan or air conditioner, this means it could get pretty stuffy inside. Also, since the solar panels are mounted flat to the roof, you can’t adjust the angle to maximize production, so your solar panels are never going to produce quite as much as they could if they were angled towards the sun.

However, even with these drawbacks, attaching solar panels directly to the roof is a good option since you can install as much as your roof allows and using them is quite easy. Once installed, you are good to go!

Your Roof Matters!

If you’re installing solar panels on your RV roof, you don’t have a large, open space like a stationary home. RVs have a small roof and fans, air conditioners, and luggage racks up top, so solar panels have to be placed anywhere there’s an open space. Looking at RV solar set-ups is a little like looking at a Tetris game – solar panels placed anywhere they’ll fit!

To this end, RV solar panels come in different shapes and sizes. The typical 260-watt solar panel installed on residential homes is about 3 feet by 5 feet and is a large rectangle – much too big and bulky for an RV roof. Instead of one large panel, RV owners usually install multiple smaller narrow 100-watt panels or 100-watt square-shaped panels, or smaller rectangle-shaped panels. Often finding the right solar panel is simply a matter of finding the solar panel that fits your roof the best.

Buy a Kit or DIY?

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If you’re looking for a set-up that’s quick and easy, you can opt to purchase a solar kit online that comes with the solar panels, wiring, charge controller, inverter, and even battery bank. Costs for these systems range from about $500 to $10,000 depending on the size of the installation, whether batteries are included (which typically doubles the cost at least), and the brand of the equipment.

These days you have a wide variety of kits to choose from. On the smaller end, the well-known solar manufacturer Renogy sells a 100-watt solar kit that includes the wires, mounting brackets, and charge controller for about $200. If you’re looking for something a little larger, Windy Nation puts out a 400-watt solar kit that includes the wiring and charge controller as well as the inverter, though this will set you back about $800. Neither of these kits comes with batteries, so you’ll have to budget for that as well.

You might also be interested in doing DIY solar panels. Piecing together your own RV solar installation takes time and planning, but you’re able to choose the equipment to suit your needs and shop around for the best deals. You’ll need solar panels, wires, a charge controller and inverter like the kits provide, as well as batteries to store the electricity you create. Read about the basics of solar panel installation if you want to have a better understanding of how each component works. If you’re wondering how many batteries you need, check out our article How to Make a DIY Battery Bank for Your Solar Panels.

No matter if you buy a kit or piece your installation together yourself, you’ll be pumping out your own free, clean energy while you’re cruising down the highway to your next destination!

Images under CC License:  1, 2, 3, 4

How Big and Expensive Is a 20 kW Solar System?

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First things first, a 20 kW solar installation is BIG!

The average home solar installation in the United States is 5.6 kW, so a 20 kW system is almost 4 times bigger!

If you’re interested in installing a 20 kW solar system, chances are this is a commercial installation or your electricity use is really high compared to the national average of about 900 kilowatt-hours per month. Maybe you live in an area that regularly sees summer temperatures over 100 degrees F and so you have to crank that air conditioning all summer to stay comfortable (AC is one of the biggest users of electricity in our homes!). Or maybe you live in a large house (read: mansion), so you have a lot of lighting and space to air condition. If this is the case, great! You are a prime candidate to go solar. The higher your electricity bill, generally the more you can save by installing a solar system.Continue reading

How Solar Panel Size Affects System Size

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How does solar panel size factor into the total size of your solar array?

Solar panel size is an important consideration when designing your solar installation. The size of your panels can affect the number of panels you can fit on your roof and therefore how much energy your roof-top installation can produce.

There are different ways to look at a solar panel’s size. In the most basic sense, you can look at its physical dimensions – its width and height. Or, you could look at the number of solar cells that panels are composed of. Most of the time however, when we discuss the size of a solar panel, we are referring to the panel’s wattage, also known as the panel’s capacity or output.

For residential panels, wattage is the only measurement that truly varies from one panel to the next – dimensions and cell count are fairly constant across the board.Continue reading

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