Solar energy is currently the most readily available source of energy. Even though the sun doesn’t shine for 24 hours daily, it still provides consistent, renewable and environmentally-friendly energy. Due to the numerous advantages of this form of energy, most people have opted to go the green way. However, tapping into solar energy and converting it for our own use is not an easy task. Solar panel installation is a long process which requires precision. Solar power systems comes in two forms: solar thermal systems and solar photovoltaic systems. Solar photovoltaic systems convert sunlight into electricity.
Types of photovoltaic systems (PV systems)
There are two types of PV systems:
Grid-connected PV systems
This system can be found in areas that are well covered by the national power grid. This system is installed on buildings or on the ground. Here, the building (be it a residential or commercial building) receives power from two supplies – from the solar PV and the power grid so that on days where there is no sunlight to generate photovoltaic electricity at night, the power grid can kick in to supply electricity for the users in the building.
Off-grid solar PV systems
This type of solar PV system is applicable in areas with no power grid. There are no hefty costs involved in tapping into it. An off-grid solar PV system is often characterized by rechargeable batteries which function as backups when there is insufficient sunlight to generate electricity such as during the night.
Solar power installation costs
When planning to install a solar PV system, its costs are affected by many factors such as:
- Government incentives and support schemes – these play an important role in cost reduction. Government incentives may include Small-Scale Technology Certificates that reduce the upfront cost of installing a PV system.
- Removal of trees and other types of shades – solar panels cannot be installed in a shady place. Hence, surrounding trees may need to be removed and this would incur additional cost for the person installing a solar panel system.
- Type and number of panels – you can expect to pay more if there are many panels to be installed. Panels of better quality and which are more durable would be more expensive to install as well.
- Labor involved – professionals are needed throughout the installation process and that means an increase in cost. An off-grid installation is known to be more expensive as there are additional costs in buying back-up batteries.
- Contractor installation costs – the consumer is also expected to pay the contractor (either a company or an individual) for their services.
Before choosing a solar PV installer, consider the following factors:
Does the company have experience in installing PV systems?
A company with working experience in installing PV systems is the best option. That’s because it is experienced in managing potential issues and knows how to overcome them. The company may also offer a lot of advice on the best equipment to buy.
Does the company have a license or is it certified?
This means that the installer should have an electrical contractor’s license from the relevant electrical body. Installation by a non-licensed contractor does not offer guarantee for the customer in case of system failures.
A solar PV system warranty
The standard PV module warranty has 20-25 years of performance warranty. This warranty consists of a workmanship warranty that offers repair and refund in the event of system defects. It also has a limited power output warranty that offers solutions if the PV system’s output falls below certain levels.
Installing solar power requires a lot of capital so it is important to choose your system installing company carefully.
Installing solar panels
A solar PV system is not complete without solar panels. Solar panels perform the primary function of converting light into electricity. Before installing solar panels, you must have a sturdy roof to support the heavy panels. The roof should also be in a good condition. It is also imperative to know that solar panels cannot be installed in a surrounding full of trees and other obstructions of light as the output from the system would be low. Trees should be pruned to avoid casting shadows on the solar panels.
Solar panels should be positioned high enough and should be facing north to be exposed to as much sunlight as possible. Certified contractors with vast knowledge of installing solar panels are preferred as they understand their customer’s needs well. A combination of good quality solar panels and impeccable installation will increase the output of the system.