Solar Panels in the Domestic Environment.
With today's prices of electricity the need for alternative sources of power is always being developed, one technology that is now becoming commercially viable and is popular, is that of home owners, now being able to generate his or her own electricity at home. The technological advances, have allowed Photovoltaic Panel Systems, to be brought and installed by competent contractors or even by the home owner. There is a now a competitive market of many companies that are now selling and installing these systems within the domestic market.
The advantage of these PV panels is that cells capture the sunlight and convert it into electricity, this electricity can then be used to supply domestic appliances. With PV cells, full sunshine is not needed to create a DC current, but the brighter the day the more electricity is produced, so even on a cloudy day electricity can still produced.
The Technology of the PV cell
The Photovoltaic Panels or PV panels, as they are commonly known as, can convert the Solar Radiation into Direct Current by using the technology of semiconductors to generate the DC current. One or two layers of a semi-conducting material, usually silicon based, with the different materials of monocrystalline silicon, polycrystalline silicon, amorphous silicon, cadium telluride and copper indium sulphide making up the bulk of the PV cells. The cells work by when light is applied to the material, photons of light are absorbed and electrons are released, hence a current is produced.
A number of these cells are connected together, fabricated into a frame and the PV panel is made and will produce electricity, the panels are mounted in an array, normally on a domestic roof and connected to the domestic appliances.
Installation of a PV System in the Domestic Environment
One of the existing drawbacks with installing a PV panel System in your home is that the cost is still relatively high, the average system payback time is 7 - 10 years. PV Systems can be installed in such a way that the system can be interconnected with the National Grid Supply Network and if the PV panels can not generate sufficient power, then power can be taken from the grid supply, hence a rise in cost. But if the interconnected system produces surplus power, this can then be sold back to the grid, in what is called a tariff in feed (TIF) a cost saving for the owner.
The PV system can also be a stand alone battery based system with no interconnectivity with the grid, so all surplus electricity is stored in the batteries for later use.
The configuration of the Solar PV system consists only of a few key components, the PV panels, an inverter, batteries, DC array disconnect wiring and the panel racks. The PV panels are best mounted on a south facing roof to get the maximum exposure to the sun. The PV array can be sized to suit the domestic needs of the household. PV panels produce a DC current so the Inverter to AC Current is important, as all domestic appliances are 240v AC. Installation is best carried out by a competent contractor.
Once installed in the home, the system, should achieve cost savings over a long period of time. The cost of installing an average PV system, that can generate 2.2kw, can be as high as £12,000, a 2.2kw system can generate up to 40% of the household requirements. If the PV system is interconnected with the grid, the feed in tariff, back to the grid, saving could be as much as £900 per year.
There a lot of incentives that the installers are offering, in the market, such as free Solar Panels, with the feed in tariff being credited to the installation company instead of the owner.
The Advantages of Solar PV Panels
Some of the advantages of this type of installation are, that it is pollution free, silent, no moving parts and can be installed in areaâ€™s where there is no supply network. With the amount of roof space in the UK and all new buildings fitted with solar panels, this could greatly assist our demands for electricity in the future.