Thursday, September 11, 2008

How simple is it to use Solar Power?

Solar is really easy to start using, and is not as challenging as you may have thought. The biggest challenge is finding solar panels that are affordable and effecient to fit within your budget. To get started, using the power of the sun, follow the steps below!

Survey the site area that you want to mount your solar panels to.
Solar Electric requires direct sunlight for 6-8 hours per day to be effective and produce enough energy to store and use. If you want to mount the solar panels on your roof or on the side of your house, make sure that you get at lease 6-8 hours of shadeless light.

Determine your Power Requirement

Figure out the power draw that will be required of the area that you want to power with solar panels. Do you want to only run lights? So you want to run a computer, a TV, a fridge, and lights? If so, get the wattage rating for each of these items and add it all up to determine your power draw. For example, a 13 watt DC florescent energy saving bulb has a 13 watt draw, so you know that it requires exactly 13 watts of energy to run this bulb.

Determine the Amount of Time the Draw Requires Power
Say you need to have the light bulb on for about 5 hours a day. To determine the amount of draw required by the appliance or light, take the (hours of day) multiplied by the (watts). This will give you = the watt hours per day. So in this case the lightbulb watt hours per day is figured out like so: (5 hours per day) x(13 watts) = 65 watt hours per day

Figure out the Size of the Battery you need to store the power.
Once you know the watt hours per day that you need to run your system, lights, or appliances, you can find a battery that will support the amount of amp hours required per day. Read the spec on the battery label and find a deep cycle battery that can handle the load and amp hours required. You can connect batteries together to achieve a battery bank that will support larger systems.

Add a power converter to deliver the DC power from the solar panels and battery to AC power the lights and appliances can use.
Go to an auto store or an electric store and look at the different types of DC to AC power converters they have available. You need to convert the DC, or direct current, electricity that the Solar Panel is creating

Size the Solar Panel to produce the power needed
So now that you know how many watts and how many amp hours are needed to run your system, lights, or appliances using solar power, find a solar panel that will output the electricity demand you need. Start with a panel that produces at least 80-100 watts of power. These solar powers are also about the wattage to power 65 watt hours per day and maintain a 12 volt battery. You can always connect panels together in parallel to output more energy later, so do not worry about starting simply and adding on later. Solar power is expandable! Be sure to get a solar panel that has a one-way diode so that it does not drain your batteries at night.

Get some wire to connect it all up
Go to the auto store again and get some heavy guage battery wire to connect the solar panel to the batteries and the power converter to the batteries.

Expand your system later.
Solar Power is easy to add on to as your power needs increase. Larger power use needs more analysis, but you can always add on, and work your way up to supplying all energy with solar power to your home.


Jeff said...

I am thinking of making a small system to charge 12v batteries that will then power low voltage DC landscape lights. I want to know if there is a way to prevent the batteries from losing too much charge (i.e., I want to keep from draining the batteries all the way and ruining them).

Thanks for ideas!

Poulin Solar Pro said...

I really like the information provided in this article and I really like the way you have explained each and everything so well. Very well done with the article, hope that you will continue to do posting
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Harness Solar Power - Project Blog

Welcome to the Harness Solar Power Project Blog. I created this blog to help teach people about solar power, solar panels, solar electricity, and how easy solar power is to use. I set out to show you how you can start using solar power in your everyday lives. Take a look through the posts to start learning about solar power projects you can easily do around your home to start harnessing the sun's ability to create electricity.