Solar energy has been here with us since time immemorial. When it comes to solar panels, there are three major types that one will come across, namely: the grid solar panels, the off grid solar panels and the grid-inter tied that comes with battery backup. The three types function differently from each other and therefore each will require different modules in achieving the desirable results in energy supply. When someone mentions the term 'off-grid', it basically means absence of an electrical grid. This type is 100% dependent on the renewable solar energy.
Off grid solar panels - an overview
Our main concern is the off grid solar panel. This is the widely used option in rural areas. It differs from the grid solar system mainly in the way of storage of the electricity produced where by it stores this in the solar battery bank. The grid one on the other hand stores its energy on the electrical grid meters. In this way, it works mainly by reversing the meter reading, thereby saving on your power bills.
The layered design
Still when it comes to the off-grid systems, there are also many types as well, ranging from the small stand-alone systems to the hybrid systems. All these come already included in a PV (photovoltaic) array and an inverter. PV cells (about forty of them) make up a PV module (or a panel) which are then combined to form a PV array (or sometimes referred to as a panel grouping). Generally, each array is composed of about ten modules. Normally a PV panel would have four layers.
There is the top layer meant mainly for protective purposes. Two other layers are then attached to the top one with a collecting circulatory mechanism and these are usually made of silicon. The final layer is the backing one and is made of a polymer. The work of a PV is to convert the sun's rays into electricity. PV systems come in various categories and there are even some complex designs that will power the utility grid.
The top and the back layers are treated in such a way that they function oppositely to each other with the top one being electrically negative and the back one positive. The sun rays or rather photons serve to break loose the electrons from the silicon. These electrons will then move from the bottom to the top layer where they crowd up. Electricity is generated when the freed electrons from the top layer flow using an external current coming from the electrical contacts. Today, the PV cells use different materials other than silicon. The advantage that they possess over silicon is that they are less expensive, which in turn reduces the cost of setting up your off grid panel.
The installation basics
When installing your off-grid solar panel, the most important thing to consider is the duration for which it will receive maximum sunlight. The ideal time is usually between 9 am and 3 p.m. As such, it is therefore recommended to install it on a solar south-facing roof if you reside in the northern hemisphere. Also, your geographical location greatly determines the power output of your system and therefore, different areas might need different numbers of panels per homestead to achieve the same results.
Advantages of off-grid solar panels
The advantages of off-grid solar panels are many when compared with the grid one. One of the advantages that have actually made many people opt for it is the independence it has over the electricity meter bills. The only cost one incurs with this solar panel is the initial set up cost and after that, no monthly electricity bills are there to put a dent your pocket.
Once you have a battery and a charge regulator to store the electricity for night use, the sail becomes so smooth for your energy needs. The other advantage is that these are very effective sources of electricity for the remote areas that are not served by the electricity grid. They can be set up anywhere as long as there is enough sunlight.
Solar energy is a renewable form of energy, and off-grid solar panel systems are very environmental friendly. They can serve very well to reduce the current environmental degradation effects that we are witnessing due to harnessing of the non-renewable energy sources.