Things to Consider when Building a Photovoltaic Power System or Hybrid System in BC
*Winter usually has a lot less sunny days and the sun is lower so your solar panel kit will produce less. It is important when choosing a home solar power kit to keep this in mind. The solar power home kit should be sized for winter conditions or worst case scenarios.
*Solar Power in BC comes with its own conditions that need to be considered. In BC winter storms can leave solar panels in the dark for days. Stormy days may not charge the batteries enough to run the home all night. A hybrid solar power system can solve this issue. Hybrid systems will run on either utility power or a backup generator when conditions are not ideal to fully charge the batteries. There is also a wind/Solar hybrid system that will be able to charge batteries enough to get through the night.
* Snow build up can render the solar panels useless. Nobody wants to go up on a roof to clean them off every time it snows. In order to solve this problem a heat trace cable will need to be installed to keep the snow from building up on the panels.
*Solar panel placement. The efficiency of solar panels is determined by the amount of sun hitting the solar panel directly. Having south facing solar panels will increase the output of the panels. If the Solar panels stay in a fixed position they will only produce maximum output during a certain time of the day. This is due to the suns angle in relation to the panels. During Winter the sun will be lower in the sky so if the panels are laying flat they wont absorb the suns rays properly and be less efficient.
* Sun trackers. In order to increase the efficiency of the solar panels a sun tracker should be incorporated in the system. Sun trackers are motorized solar panel support platforms that track the sun and ensures optimum solar panel efficiency throughout the day.
*Angle of the solar panels. During summer months the sun is higher in the sky. This allows the panels to be laid flatter to absorb the high sun.
*Solar panels are typically only 10-20% efficient in optimal conditions.
* The efficiency of solar panels plays a role in the space there is to work it. If there is limited roof space available, a higher efficiency smaller sized panels would be ideal. If size does not matter then panels with less efficiency will cost less.
* When designing a solar power system it is most important to choose good quality batteries with a high amp-hour rating (Ah)
* Home solar power systems will charge the batteries during the day. When the sun goes down the home electrical devices will draw power from the batteries.
How solar power systems work
*Photovoltaic cells collect sunlight in the form of DC voltage.
* Solar panels are made up of many photovoltaic cells.
*The photovoltaic cells are connected to each other in a series to produce a higher voltage.
Ex. If each cell produces 1V and there are 6 cells connected together the output would be 6V
*Solar panels are then connected into a combiner that creates a unified voltage. This voltage will connect to a voltage regulator and battery charger.
* The power from the batteries will be inverted from 12v dc to 120v Ac to run the appliances and lighting in the home.
Advantages of Solar Power
*Solar power will typically pay itself off within 5-10 years.
*Electrical Utility company’s rates keep increasing.
*Never be left in the dark if the power goes out.
*Utility companies will buy your extra power for the same price they sell it for. This will help pay the initial investment off faster and lead to an extra income.
* Saving the environment. With more people doing their part and switching to renewable energy. The less dams will have to be built to serve the ever growing housing in BC.
Getting Started with Solar Power Systems or Renewable Energy Hybrid Systems
*Stop Paying more and more every year for Electricity!
*Increase the value of your home!
*Don't be left in the dark when power is out!
*Get paid for excess power generated!
*No PST taxes on purchase of Solar panels