Solar power is the conversion of energy from the sun to usable electricity. The most common source of solar power utilizes photovoltaic cells to convert sunlight into electricity. Photovoltaics utilize a semi-conductor to absorb the radiation from the sun. When the semi-conductor absorbs this radiation, it emits electrons, which are harnessed as electricity.
Advantages of Solar
Solar energy is a resource that is not only sustainable for energy consumption, it is indefinitely renewable (at least until the sun runs out in billions of years). Solar power can be used to generate electricity, it is also used in relatively simple technology to heat water (solar water heaters). Solar panels also require little maintenance. After installation and optimization they are very reliable, due to the fact that they actively create electricity in just a few millimeters and do not require any type of mechanical parts that can fail. Solar panels are also a silent producer of energy, a necessity if dealing with picky neighbors.
Disadvantages of Solar
The primary disadvantage of solar power is that it obviously cannot be created during the night. The power generated is also reduced during times of cloud cover (although energy is still produced on a cloudy day). Solar panel energy output is maximized when the panel is directly facing the sun. This means that panels in a fixed location will see a reduced energy production when the sun is not at an optimal angle. Many large-scale solar "farms" combat this problem by having the panels on towers (above left) that can track the sun to keep the panel at optimal angles throughout the day. Even today's most efficient solar cells only convert just over 20% of the suns rays to electricity. With increased advances in solar cell technology this number is likely to increase. Besides their low conversion efficiency, solar panels can be a substantial initial investment. However, the cost of solar panels incurred is only the initial cost, after buying and installation they create free energy for use.
There is a lot of misinformation about Solar Energy
- “Solar doesn’t work in cloudy areas.” Then why does Germany have 6,000% more solar energy than the United States? Did you know that solar panels are actually less efficient in really hot weather like temperatures found in summer in the Southwest of the United States?
- “The problem with solar is that we haven’t invented the right technology yet.” Did you know that we’ve been using roughly the same panel design for 10 years and panel pricing dropped 30% in the last year? Those new super-cheap high-efficiency panels may work in the lab, but scaling to production levels is a reality-based enterprise.
- “Solar energy decreases our reliance on fossil fuels.” No, not really. Electricity in your home comes from a combination of coal, natural gas, nuclear, and some renewable energy sources. Home solar mostly decreases the use of non-renewable coal.
Part of the challenge facing the solar industry is the mass-education of consumers to correct misinformation and grow the market.
Choosing the best solar panels
The cost of solar panels has greatly reduced in recent years. It’s very important when selecting the best solar panels to use for your solar power system installation to bear in mind a few crucial factors aside from the price tag; after all, your purchase decision is one you’ll be living with for a very long time.
Don’t base a buying decision on solar panel cost alone – the following are a few tips for choosing the best modules for your installation situation:
- Consider how the module is manufactured and the materials used.
- Research how the panels perform in real world situations – including positive tolerance, temperature co-efficient rating, PID and LID resistance and efficiency.
- Compare the warranty details of the solar panels you are considering buying.
- Learn more about the company that manufactures the modules.
You can contact our team of friendly experts for free. INOVIA will provide for you no-obligation advice on the best solar panels and full systems for your circumstances. You can also ask for a quick solar quote or inquire about our current system specials.