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Alternative Energy Tutorials on Solar Power

Solar Irradiance

Solar Irradiance

Solar Irradiance describes the total amount of sunlight per square meter that is available at any particular location on the Earth’s surface and is a major part in estimating the solar irradiation at a particular point required to design a sustainable energy system using photovoltaic solar panels. The performance of a solar photovoltaic panel depends on many factors, but the amount of solar irradiance in peak sun-hours during the day that the solar panels receive during the day is of major importance

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Deep Cycle Batteries

deep cycle battery

Deep cycle batteries are used to store the electrical energy generated by solar photovoltaic panels, wind energy generators and other renewable energy generating systems. As well as solar power systems, flooded cell deep cycle batteries are used in recreation vehicles for powering camper vans, RV’s or boats, to powering vehicles, carts and fork trucks. As their name suggests, deep cycle batteries are designed to deliver an amount of charge expressed in Ampere-hours (Ah) for long periods of time to a specified depth of discharge.

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Solar Power Inverter

solar power inverter

Solar power inverters convert the continuous DC current generated by solar panels, dynamos and generators into an AC supply using electronic switching techniques. Solar power inverters are used in small single-phase residential photovoltaic (PV) systems up to large scale three-phase applications. Grid connected solar power inverters synchronise the electricity they produce with the local utility grids AC electricity, allowing the system to feed the solar made electricity directly into the grid without the need for storage batteries

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Grid Connected PV System

grid connected pv system

Grid connected photovoltaic systems deliver its solar energy directly to the permanently connected utility grid via single-phase or three-phase inverter. Grid connected PV systems are the most common type of installed solar power scheme compared to stand-alone photovoltaic systems, which require batteries for energy storage. Battery-less grid connected PV systems are therefore more cost effective, requiring less components and maintenance but require a higher quality inverter.

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Stand Alone PV System

stand alone pv system

Stand alone photovoltaic solar systems are completely disconnected from the utility grid so all the electrical energy required must be generated by solar, wind, hydro or some other type of renewable energy system. Generally, stand alone PV systems consist of a PV panel, DC generator, some form of energy storage (for example a battery), controllers, inverters and some types of AC or DC load elements. In stand alone PV systems its DC and AC loads all share the same battery bank for night time energy storage.

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Photovoltaic Array

photovoltaic array

Photovoltaic arrays consist of interconnected solar panels to provide the desired power output. Solar array configurations include series connected panels, parallel connected panels or a combination of both. While the electrical output power, measured in watts (W), of a photovoltaic array is given by multiplying the arrays output voltage with its current for different interconnection configurations, the actual output power of photovoltaic array varies with the variation in solar insolation and operating temperature.

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Solar Panel Orientation

solar panel orientation

Solar panel orientation ensures that a photovoltaic solar panel or a complete pv array is correctly orientated and positioned. A photovoltaic solar panel fixed to a roof or mounted directly onto a frame is a staionary object while the sun is constantly changing its position in the sky relative to the earth making the correct solar panel orientation difficult with regards to the direct sunlight coming from the sun at all times of the day. Tracking the position of the sun in order to expose a solar panel to maximum radiation at any given time of the day is the main purpose for orientating a pv panel.

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Photovoltaic Panels

photovoltaic panel

Photovoltaic panels are made up of individual solar cells connected together to produce the require panels output power. The power output of a photovoltaic solar cell is given in watts, and is equal to the product of voltage times the current with the average power output of a typical photovoltaic solar cell being around 2 watts, so to create a photovoltaic panel of 100 or 200 watts individual pv cells need to be connected together in a series and/or parallel combination to give any desired voltage, current and power output producing a photovoltaic panel.

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Photovoltaic Types

photovoltaic thin film

Photovoltaic solar cells come in many different forms with the three main types of photovoltaic cell being Monocrystalline silicon, Polycrystalline silicon and Thin Film silicon. Crystalline silicon is the most common technology used to produce photovoltaic cells representing about 90% of the market today. The conversion efficiency for a monocrystalline cell ranges between 15 to 20% with polycrystalline lower between 10 to 14%. Thin film photovoltaics are produced by printing or spraying a thin semiconductor layer of photovoltaic material onto a glass, metal or plastic foil substrate making them cheap to manufacture.

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Photovoltaic Solar Cells

Photovoltaic solar cells are silicon semiconductor devices which produce electricity by converting the solar energy generated from the sun in the form of visible light, ultra-violet, or infra-red radiation into a DC current by using the photovoltaic action of the cell without the use of any moving parts. The amount of electrical power, expressed in watts, generated by a photovoltaic solar cell depends on the amount of solar irradiance and other conditions such as temperature and cloud cover with the maximum or peak power a PV cell can deliver at full sun with the cell uncovered.

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