Have you been considering installing a solar power system and you are not sure if it is worth it ?
Are you looking for a free and efficient energy that is environmentally friendly?
Residing in an area where there is no electric connection or where electricity shortage keeps happening?
If you answered ‘yes’ in all or in any of the above questions then I highly recommend that you read on to learn more about why solar power energy is the best energy investment in 2022 for you as a residential user.
PV solar panels are quite affordable and many homes can now install them. However, their prices are determined by their size and demand. Under the new ECO4, solar panel grants are available to households across the UK in 2023. Read the Warma UK guide to know how to qualify for a solar panel grant.
What is solar power ?
It is the absorbing and conversion of sun heat and radiant light using various technologies such as photovoltaic and solar thermal energy into electricity.
It is a renewable source of energy that is environmentally friendly.
How does solar power work?
Solar power technologies like photovoltaic (PV) cells in the solar panel absorb sunlight energy, a solar inverter then turns direct current DC electricity produced by solar cells to alternating current AC electricity which is either stored in thermal storage or in batteries. This electricity energy is ready to be used in your residence .
Types of solar power energy technologies
Different types of solar energy can be used for different circumstances. Therefore,follow up to find out the one that best suits your needs.
1. photovoltaic PV solar technology
PV solar is one of the most popular solar energy systems that is available in the market today. It was first built in the US by the bell laboratories in 1954. Its name is derived from how it converts sunlight (photons) to alternating electricity (voltage) hence the name photovoltaic and this process is known as photovoltaic effect.
One PV unit is called a cell,a PV is made of several solar cells which makes a solar panel. Therefore,it is good to note that any electric desire can be met because the pv can always be assembled together to generate the electricity required.
It is basically installed at the rooftops to allow easy access to sunlight,when the sunlight shines on the PV panel the direct current electricity is converted into alternating current electricity which is usable at homes. There are PV power systems for every household because they range from small, medium to large size.
Due to the need for environmentally friendly energy, growth of PV systems, government rebates and incentives, PV solar panels are quite affordable and many homes can now install them. However, their prices are determined by their size and demand.
Advantages of PV solar system
The main advantage of PV systems is that they produce energy that is environmentally friendly which means they do not produce any harmful gasses to the environment.
They do not produce any noise therefore, they are perfect for residential areas and you do not have to worry about interference on your quiet time.
PV solar system installation is easy and does not require complex qualifications as they come assembled, you only need some simple wiring connections and to place the panel on the rooftop or any other place where it can easily absorb sunlight.
PV solar systems require minimal maintenance in comparison to other renewable energy sources.
Because of the government rebates and incentives the PV solar is very affordable and a good investment for residential users.
A PV solar system is versatile and is not limited to where you can use it as long as there is sunlight. It can be used in semi-permanent residence, when camping or when traveling for long trips.
They are long lasting as most of them have a warranty period of 25 years which means in a lifetime you will only need 3 to 4 solar panels.
PV solar systems are not affected by utilities such as power shortage as they solely depend on sunlight which is freely available.
Disadvantages of PV solar system
High initial cost of installation as you will need to buy the PV and all the components required.
Changes in the climate affect the electric energy output.
PV systems require storage units such as batteries.
Requires a large space for mounting hence why many residents opt for rooftop.
As much as PV solar systems require little or no maintenance they can easily get damaged hence it is advisable to insure your PV especially if it is the large size which is costly .
2. concentrated solar power
Concentrated solar power (CSP) is a modern system that generates electricity by Concentrating radiant heat and light from the sun onto a receiver using lenses or mirrors.Electricity is generated when the reflected sunlight is turned into heat also known as thermal energy.
Unlike PV which needs batteries for energy storage , concentrated solar power with the help of thermal energy storage (TES) technologies stores solar power in the form of either latent heat or sensible heat.
There are four types of csp technologies namely:
Power tower system
Large flat mirrors controlled by a computer called heliostats absorb the sun and direct it to a receiver mounted on to a tower at the center of the heliostats. Inside the receiver molten salt is heated to produce steam which powers the turbine generator to generate electricity.
Parabolic trough system
The term trough is derived from the way the Parabolic (U-shaped) mirrors are arranged from end to end.The Parabolic trough mirrors reflect the sunlight onto a receiver tube,the tube contains thermal oil which can withstand high temperatures. The tube is heated in heat by an exchanger which contains water, the water then turns into steam which drives the turbine engine to generate electricity.
Compact Linear Fresnel system
The sunlight is absorbed by flat laid mirrors which reflects the sunlight onto a receiver tube filled with water u like other csp technologies that require thermal oil. The water is heated by the reflected sunlight I to high pressure steam which drives the turbine engine to generate electricity.
Parabolic dish system
Parabolic dish system consists of large dishes(that resemble satellite dishes) with tracking units that follow the sunlight and reflect it onto a receiver. The receiver contains a transfer fluid which is heated to power an engine that generates electricity.
Advantages of CSP
Just like PV solar csp is environmentally friendly since the sun is a renewable source of energy and does not emit harmful gasses to the environment when generating power .
It has the ability to store energy with the help of thermal energy storage.
The cost of operating is quite low.
It provides a continuous source of electricity power since it can store energy for later use.
Disadvantages of csp
They are not suitable for residential areas since they require a large space for the mirrors to collect sunlight.
Like all solar power systems csp also is dependent on sunlight.
Upfront cost of installation is high.
Requires a lot of water to cool because of its reliance on heat energy.
CSP is complex and not very popular which means not many people are familiar with its operations.
3. water heating solar technology system.
This is a system in which water is heated and stored in a hot water storage using energy from the sun. Residential users require hot water on a daily basis for bathing, washing the dishes or doing laundry. Basically this is just the most convenient and economical way to get hot water because sunlight is free hence bill free hot water.
The following are the types of water heating solar technology systems:
The Thermosiphon System is most suitable in places where there are high temperatures throughout the years as the amount of heat transferred is dependent to the temperature available.water or antifreeze liquid is heated such that it rises to the storage tank through a natural convection process.
During the day when the receivers are most likely to absorb a lot of sunlight the water is pumped from the storage tanks onto the collectors. The water keeps being circulated through the collectors to maintain the hot water temperature hence the system works well in places where freezing temperatures rarely occur.
These systems circulate water via a closed loop and heat is transferred through a heat exchanger to potable water. When the temperature is low the collector tank drains water to avoid freezing and convection loops where stored water can get cold.
Indirect Water-Heating Systems
These systems are suitable for areas that frequently experience freezing temperatures because it circulates a non-freezing fluid through the collector. The water is then heated through a heat exchanger with an efficiency rate of upto 90%.
This is an indirect system in which the air is heated by the collector and moved by a fan to a heat exchanger in the storage tank. The efficiency of this system is 50% and it is thus good for residential purposes and not industrial or commercial use.
In addition, it is good to note that Thermosiphon, Direct-Circulation and drain down systems are suitable for places with high climatic temperatures. Indirect water-heating systems are the perfect deal for places that are prone to freezing temperatures and air systems though not as efficient as the other water heating systems can be considered where maintenance is a major concern since burst or leak.
Advantages of water heating solar systems
It is environmentally friendly since it uses renewable energy from the sun.
You get to have hot water throughout the year even when it is freezing,like with indirect water heating systems.
You get to save on energy bills because energy from the sun is freely available.
Water-Heating solar systems require minimal maintenance.
They require less space hence suitable for residential users.
They are highly efficient with upto 90% heat radiant turned into heat energy for residential hot water purposes.
They are very long lasting with a warranty period of 25 years.
Disadvantages of water heating solar systems
Thermosiphon and direct circulation depends on the climate condition, that is the climate temperature will determine the water temperatures.
The upfront cost of installation is high.
Unlike PV and csp systems which can help with all the power energy needs of a resident, water heating solar systems can only heat water.
As much as they require minimal maintenance if they are not maintained properly in a year’s time they can easily break down.
Factors to consider when investing in residential solar power.
You do not want to do things blindly,before investing on solar power energy just like any other product there are certain things that you should consider:
Solar power systems require mounting space like in a rooftop or a land that is not in use. Therefore, the space available should guide you on the size of the solar system you should invest in.
There are different types of solar power systems in the market today and all with different prices. However,due to high competition in the market, government rebates and incentives the solar systems are very affordable for residential users.
General solar power systems are dependent on sunlight. They are best suitable in areas with high climate temperatures. Places that frequently experience freezing temperatures can also use indirect water-heating systems so it is advisable to always install solar power without forgetting the temperatures of your location.
The solar power installation is quite complex and requires the skills of a professional,always asking for previous works of the provider and how long they have been in the market.
They require minimal maintenance, however once in a while they need to be serviced. When purchasing a solar you should enquire with the provider if they offer maintenance service and their charges.
Most of the solar systems have a warranty period of 20-25 years. However, with different companies in the market you should never assume because every solar is different from the other which means different warranty period. You should buy a system that gives you value for your money.
Solar system should be positioned in the right direction, that is where it will face the sun directly for the most part of the day. Solar power system should be in a place with no constant interference as it can easily get damaged .
Type of solar power energy technology
You don’t want to purchase a water-heating system while your needs are those of PV or csp technologies,it is good to always consult with a professional for guidance and advice.
Size of the solar power
In solar power systems size really matters because a resident with few people with few power needs requires a smaller size of solar system. Solar power systems come in small, medium and large sizes and go for the size that suits your needs.
Solar power provider reputation
If it walks like a duck then it is a duck. You should listen to recommendations from friends and family members because not all solar systems work as they say.Most ensure to ask those I. Your neighborhood as you share the same climate temperatures.Some solar power are faulty with short lifespans while others are durable,before buying enquiry from people who are already using the system.
Why should you invest on a residential solar power energy
Saves you money
Solar power saves you money in the long term because the solar energy which is the sun is available freely,you do not have to worry about monthly bills.
Solar systems are safe to the environment, it does not produce harmful gasses and uses renewable energy from the sun.
Government rebates and incentives
You get to save on money because of government rebates and incentives. Some companies and individuals in society also give solar systems at a lower rate. You should look out for such offers.
Solar power systems require minimal maintenance and if you are keen enough they are always services you can do without the need of a professional such as cleaning the PV solar panels.
Creates local employment
By installing solar power you generate wealth to your country and create employment because you need manpower for installation. The solar power system producers are also able to increase and improve their productivity.
All year round you do not have to worry about power shortages or not having hot water in your residence.
They give you time to focus on other projects since most solar systems have a lifespan of 25 years and even then they continue working without breaking down, high quality solar systems usually have longer warranty periods.
Just like any other product out there in the market today, the solar power system has its advantages and disadvantages. However the advantages are very many and given a chance it will get even better in future as it is still a work in progress.
The world is looking to go green and reduce environmental pollution. There is no better way than to begin by investing in a solar power system for your residence as it uses renewable energy from the sun and does not emit harmful gasses. Join the rest of the world for a better environment and a better future.