Solar panels with photovoltaic technology: A step-by-step guide
Photovoltaic solar panels are becoming more and more prevalent in our daily lives. The energy transition encourages the use of alternative energy sources that help reduce carbon emissions.
Photovoltaic solar panels also have a wide range of applications, both at home and in industry.
In this post, we’ll cover all you need to know about solar panels, with a particular emphasis on self-consumption modules.
What are solar panels and how do they work?
Solar panels may appear to be difficult to operate.
But is it really?
Solar panels are nothing more than photovoltaic cells with the sole purpose of converting solar energy into electrical energy.
The process is as follows: photovoltaic cells catch photons from the sun and convert them to electrons owing to the semiconductor material they are comprised of, silicon.
Because the current generated by the solar panels is continuous, it must be converted to alternating current using a solar inverter, as alternating current accounts for the majority of the energy utilized on a daily basis.
What are the components of a solar panel?
Solar panels are made up of the following components in addition to photovoltaic cells:
- The electrical link that connects cells.
- EVA – ethylene vinyl acetate – is commonly used as an encapsulant. Around the solar panels, this produces a sealing layer. It is crucial because it safeguards the photovoltaic cells.
- The solar cells are protected by tempered glass or glass, which is used in conjunction with the encapsulant.
- On the back of the solar panels, there is a PVC sticker.
- Fixing hole in an aluminum frame.
A photovoltaic system includes the framework where the modules are installed, the wiring, the inverter that converts direct current into alternating power, and, if necessary, solar panel batteries. as well as energy meters
What is the process of making solar panels?
A solar panel is made through a lengthy procedure that is carried out by professionals.
First and foremost, 98 percent pure silicon must be produced from bits of quartz stones extracted from a mineral vein. This product is 98 percent pure.
The purity of silicon is critical for solar panels to work well. Chemical processes such as washing and pickling are used to purify it.
Crystal development begins once the silicon is melted. Monomolecular layers are formed around a seed of crystallization or an initial crystallite.
The crystallization seed forms into a crystalline form, a monocrystal, or a polycrystal, depending on its size.
This technique is carried out at a temperature of over 1500 °C. We will obtain an ingot shape by treating the silicon in this manner.
The electrical conductors are added when the ingot is sliced into thin sheets.
Surface imperfections and cut flaws may occur after the wafers have been cut. The next step is to ensure that these flaws are corrected.
Finally, some metal strips embedded in the surface are connected to electrical contacts, which absorb and transmit electrical energy.
Types of photovoltaic solar panels
We discussed monocrystalline and polycrystalline cells in the preceding section. These factors have an impact on the type of solar panel used.
Photovoltaic solar panels are divided into three categories:
Monocrystalline photovoltaic solar panels are the finest grade of the three varieties of photovoltaic solar panels. These are made up of cells that are made up of a single silicon crystal, resulting in higher efficiency.
The amorphous ones, on the other hand, are the least recommended because the technology they use is outdated and the plates’ performance is poor.
We’ll go through the features of the two most common technologies, monocrystalline and polycrystalline.
Solar panels with monocrystalline crystals
Monocrystalline solar panels are ones in which the cells are made up of a single high-purity silicon crystal and solidified at a uniform temperature, allowing electrons to travel more quickly, resulting in higher efficiency and performance. Liberty.
Solar panels with polycrystalline crystals
Polycrystalline solar panels, on the other hand, are identified by their bluish tone and are made up of variously aligned crystals. Although its manufacturing process is less expensive, the composition of the product has a detrimental impact on its efficiency and performance.
What is the distinction between monocrystalline and polycrystalline materials?
Monocrystalline modules offer a higher efficiency (about 10% higher) and perform better with both direct and diffuse irradiation, giving them a distinct advantage on overcast days.
Although there is a noticeable difference at low temperatures, where monocrystalline panels perform far better than polycrystalline panels, their behavior at high temperatures is relatively similar.
Monocrystalline technology should always be chosen at the residential level because space is restricted and we can install more power with the same number of panels, and because monocrystalline cells are completely black and blend in better with the roofs. . Some well-known solar panel manufacturers
Solar panel producers may be found all around the world. Here are a few examples:
SunPower modules are known for their dependability and longevity.
The manufacturer offers two product lines:
The Maxeon 3 – 400.
These modules have the following characteristics:
- Minimum guaranteed power of 98.0 percent in the first year
- 0.25 percent maximum annual deterioration
- Minimum guaranteed power of 92.0 percent in the 25th year.
The P3-380-BLK model, on the other hand, is “all black,” that is, it has a black background and a black frame, and it can be more attractive.
These solar panels have the following characteristics:
- In the first year, a minimum of 98 percent power is assured.
- The maximum yearly deterioration is 0.45%.
- In the year, the minimum assured electricity was 87.2 percent.
SunPower also offers one of the most comprehensive solar panel warranties available, covering all of its modules:
- The product comes with a 25-year warranty.
- Power is covered by a 25-year warranty.
The Chinese company JA Solar is another maker of solar panels.
It has grown at a breakneck pace, with its PERC technology patent standing out. This entails putting a coating on the bottom of the solar cells that reflects light. The photons that pass through the panel can be utilized in this fashion, resulting in increased efficiency.
JA Solar has a large selection of photovoltaic modules.
The JAM60S20 model, a monocrystalline module with 60 cells (120, including the fact that they are divided into two halves – Half-Cell technology) with a 380W output, is our recommendation. It includes PERC and Half-Cell technologies, allowing for better solar production optimization.
A 12-year product guarantee and a 25-year production warranty are provided by JA Solar.
FuturaSun is another well-known brand that we like to suggest.
Solar panels, both monocrystalline and polycrystalline, of various powers, are available from the company.
We can use the following models in our residential solar installations:
- SILK PRO-FU 380M
- SILK PRO-FU 375M
- SILK PRO-FU 370M
The product is covered by a 15-year warranty, and the performance of the photovoltaic modules is covered by a 25-year warranty.
Last but not least, LONGiSolar is a component of our photovoltaic systems.
The versions we recommend offer 370W, 375W, and 380W of power.
This company gives a 12-year product warranty and a 25-year power warranty.
Manufacturers of other solar panels
In addition to the market’s manufacturers, the TIER 1 manufacturer brands are worth mentioning. The leading manufacturers, according to data for the years 2020-2021, are:
|1. Longi||13. Astronergy||25. Vietnam Sunergy|
|2. Jinko||14. ZNShine||26. Hendigan|
|3. JA Solar||15. Joywood||27. Ulicia|
|4. Canadian Solar||16. Sunpower||28. Recom|
|5. Rise||17. Jinergy||29. Hyundai|
|6. Q-Cells||18. Jethion||30. Leapton|
|7. Trinity||19. LG||31. S-Energy|
|8. FirstSolar||20. Waree||32. Solar Goldi|
|9. Talesun||21. Phono||33. Helene|
|10. Eging||22. Neo Solar||34. sharp|
|11. Seraphim||23. HT-SAAE||35. Sweet|
The installation of the modules
Now that you know what solar panels are and how they work, what they’re made of and how they’re made, the different sorts, and the most well-known brands around the world, it’s time to talk about solar panel installation.
The first and most significant point to make is that solar panel installation should only be done by certified installers.
Clover Energy has a large network of installers all throughout the United States. We are able to provide a quick, high-quality, and close-by service in this manner.
Straight to the point!
The following are the steps for installing photovoltaic panels:
- Assemble the support framework for the installation.
- The framework and panels are being fixed.
- Connect the power inverter to the outlet.
However, mounting the modules is only a minor part of the whole procedure of installing a self-consumption system in a home.
The following steps must be followed in order to have a working and legal solar installation:
- The certified installer should provide you with a technical report.
- Obtain all essential permissions, which we will go over later.
- Installation of the system.
- The same should be legalized.
Requirements that must be met by the cover
However, in order to install the modules, a number of prerequisites must be completed.
We’re mostly discussing two types of requirements for photovoltaic panel installation:
- They have something to do with the roof on which they will be installed.
- Requirements pertaining to the legal aspects of the installation procedure.
The cover that will be used to install the modules must be in good working order. If there is any damage, it is advised that it be repaired before the installation.
Deterioration of the cover during installation is possible if it is in bad condition. Furthermore, repairing it after installation would necessitate disassembling and reassembling the system, raising the expense of repeated repairs.
The slope and orientation of the roof are very important, as we will see because they impact the performance and profitability of the photovoltaic system. For the same reason, it’s crucial to keep any shadows on the modules to a minimum.
Legalization and permits
These aren’t the sole prerequisites for installing solar panels.
For the installation of solar panels, you’ll also need to get a number of licenses. We’re talking about permits both before and after the work to legalize it: design of the installation, access and connection permits, building license and taxes, prior administrative and construction authorization, environmental and utility authorization, and prior administrative and construction authorization. certificate of completion of work for the general public
Following completion of the work, the following procedures must be followed: initial and periodic inspections, registration of the self-consumption installation with Industry, access contract for the self-consumption installation, energy supply contract for auxiliary services, surplus compensation contract, and representation contract.
Procedures such as the surplus compensation contract are not required if the installation is isolated.
In addition, to be able to authorize the installation, you must have certified installers.
Clover Energy manages the necessary permissions and collaborates with a large network of approved installers to provide complete solar installations to our clients.
A photovoltaic system is made up of several components
When we talk about installing a solar panel system, we’re not only talking about the modules themselves; we’re also talking about other factors.
A solar panel system consists of the following components:
- Photovoltaic modules are solar panels that convert sunlight into electricity.
- The photovoltaic module structure.
- The investor.
- The wiring.
- Lithium-ion batteries (optional if you decide to disconnect from the power grid).
Let’s talk about the costs…
When it comes to making the decision to go self-sufficient, one factor that cannot be overlooked is the cost.
A monocrystalline solar module based on PERC technology, such as the ones we use, can cost up to 200 euros. It also varies according to the manufacturer.
However, when it comes to photovoltaic installations, our costs cover all essential components and labor.
The cost of our solar installations is determined by the province in which they are installed.
We are able to do this because we have a large network of installers who specialize in cost models.
Furthermore, our installer comparison system distributes projects to the best installer in the area, resulting in nationwide competitive pricing due to work efficiency. In no way does this jeopardize the quality of the installation; on the contrary, it enhances it.
Solar panels for self-consumption vary in price based on the quantity of modules required and the Constructions, Installations, and Works Tax, which is typically around 2-3 percent of the installation’s value.
We’ll take Dublin as an example because we have very competitive pricing models there.
The following are some examples of solar panel installation prices:
The integration of batteries is not included in this pricing. These raise the system’s final cost, but they also increase the amount of self-consumed energy, resulting in larger electricity bill savings.
Solar panels have the advantage of requiring little upkeep.
And what exactly does that imply?
Maintenance of solar panels entails:
- The modules are being cleaned.
- Defective parts are replaced.
Cleaning the plates is simple and does not necessitate the use of specialized equipment. It is more important than everything else to keep the cells’ surfaces clean so that they can absorb the maximum amount of solar light. Cleaning with the hose is typically sufficient.
If the dirt will not come off with mere water, you can use a mild scourer that will not scratch the plates’ surface.
If damaged parts are still covered by the manufacturer’s warranty, they will be replaced free of charge.
Guarantees and insurance
Aside from maintenance, insurance is another option to safeguard a solar panel system.
When it comes to solar panel insurance, it’s crucial to understand that the situation differs depending on whether we’re talking about self-consumption or businesses that specialize in photovoltaic energy generation.
Dedicated insurance can help energy businesses protect their systems. Theft and pillage are frequently covered, as are fires, explosions, and lightning, as well as damage to facilities and electrical appliances, as well as loss of profits, and mechanical breakdown.
In the case of self-consumption systems, house insurance is required to cover the plates.
However, you should check with your insurance company to see if the system is classified as a container or content.
If it’s classified as a container, all you have to do now is tell the firm that it’s been installed. When it comes to content, on the other hand, insurance for the home’s contents is required.
Module makers, on the other hand, provide warranties on damaged modules.
The guarantees provided by the manufacturers are listed below:
- JA Solar provides product guarantees of 12 years and performance warranties of 25 years.
- SunPower offers a 25-year warranty on both its products and their performance.
- FuturaSun provides a 15-year product warranty and a 25-year performance warranty.
- LONGiSolar, like JA Solar, provides a 12-year product warranty and a 25-year performance warranty.
- Trina offers 12- and 25-year guarantees, just like LONGiSolar and JA Solar.
This means that if the modules or their performance fails before these requirements are satisfied, the manufacturer’s technical service is obligated to correct the problem.
Tilt and orientation
As previously indicated, the direction and inclination of the solar panels are also crucial considerations. The photovoltaic production will be harmed if the orientation and inclination are not correct.
The south is the best position because it provides more hours of direct sunshine every day. Because they can’t be orientated to the south, they can be evaluated for a west or east orientation, adjusting the inclination.
Orienting the solar panels towards the north is not suggested under any circumstances since the amount of sun that strikes the surface of the modules will be reduced.
It is dependent on the region of the country in terms of its predisposition. If we take the average, we can say that Ireland has a 45º inclination. However, inclinations of 55º can be found in the north of the country, while 35º can be found in the south.
Because the sun’s rays fall perpendicularly on the planet, the closer the installation is to the equator, the fewer degrees of tilt will be required.
How to calculate the size of a solar panel installation
The correct dimensioning of a system, as well as its orientation and inclination, have a significant impact on its profitability.
We’ll go over how to size a solar panel system, but first, we’ll go over how big photovoltaic modules are.
The modules’ dimensions
The number of cells that make up a solar panel determines the size of the panel. In this regard, 60 cells, arranged in six rows of ten cells, are the most popular in residential use. The size of these solar panels is 164cm x 99cm.
However, larger variants are available, like the 455W Trina modules, which measure 2.12m × 1m and include 72 cells.
Those for industrial usage, on the other hand, have 72 photovoltaic cells and measure 2 meters by 1 meter.
How do you figure out how many solar panels you’ll need?
To figure out how many solar panels you’ll need, multiply your home’s electricity consumption by the solar panels’ power output.
If we run the calculation for a monthly bill of €100 and solar panels with a high output capacity, we get the following results:
One module can generate up to 500 watts. An average of 5,000W is generated by a monthly billing of around €100. As a result, if your monthly bill is roughly €100, the best size of your installation is most likely 10 photovoltaic modules.
This is still a very speculative guess. It is vital to examine your bill and size according to your real consumption for a good installation. If the installation becomes isolated, more plates will be required to create more energy, which will be stored in the solar batteries to provide a continuous supply.
Is it necessary to install more plates than are required?
The fundamental concept is to save using a photovoltaic self-consumption system, regardless of whether you are connected to the network or not. In the case of isolated installations, the solar panels must produce the same amount of electricity as the house consumes.
However, we must keep in mind that in a typical single-family home, energy usage is low for much of the day and that the solar panels will be producing energy that will be stored in the batteries at all times, even when the house is vacant.
If, on the other hand, the installation is connected to the network, it will not be compensated if the amount of excess energy produced exceeds the amount of network energy consumed in price, resulting in a loss of production that is injected into the electricity company’s grid without any compensation.
Because the initial cost was higher and the excess is less remunerated than self-consumption, amortizing the investment will take longer if the photovoltaic system is enormous and not all of the energy fed into the network is reimbursed.
Performance and power
Power and performance are two other essential factors that distinguish one solar module from another. The following factors influence the power and performance of photovoltaic solar panels:
- The cells’ kind.
- The total number of cells in the module.
- Solar radiation and the climate in the area where the system is installed are two factors to consider.
Although all of these factors influence the performance of a solar panel, photovoltaic cells are the most important in terms of electrical power.
Between 0.5 and 0.6 volts can be generated by a photovoltaic cell. To calculate the panel’s power, simply multiply the number of cells by the power of each one.
If each cell produces 0.6 volts on average, a 60-cell solar panel will produce 36 volts of electricity.
How to choose the right solar panels for your home
When choosing solar panels for your home, there are several factors to consider, not the least of which is their size.
We discuss the following topics:
- The type of solar panels and the quality of those panels
- The house’s total energy consumption
- The dimensions of the modules
Monocrystalline solar panels, as previously said, provide the best performance. These plates are recommended to ensure the highest generation of electrical energy and, as a result, a faster return on investment.
When it comes to size, solar panels with 60 cells are recommended for single-family home installations.
Finally, you must know the amount of food consumed in order to determine the number of plates required. As we’ve seen, a module can provide up to 500 watts. Depending on the amount of usage, one or more modules will be required.
The savings and the profitability generated
The price of the system, the amount of aid that may be acquired, and the amount of energy produced all influence the profitability of solar panels. The potential for electricity generation in a country like Ireland, which has between 1100 and 1600 hours of sunshine per year, is enormous.
In addition, the central government and several municipal governments around the territory are supporting photovoltaic self-consumption by providing financial assistance in the form of personal income tax reductions.
Even without these benefits, solar panels are profitable due to the fact that the energy is self-consumed. Companies or households that choose self-consumption may get a 50 percent reduction in their electricity price.
Self-consumption of energy during the day provides savings.
Compensation can also be earned for surpluses discharged into the network, although as previously said, this is not a company, but rather a tool to help amortize the investment.
In a nutshell, the annual profitability of a self-consumption system ranges from 10% to 15%.
The uses of Solar panels and applications
There are numerous benefits to installing solar panels on a home.
Modules are a highly adaptable energy source. Solar panels can be used for a variety of purposes, ranging from home lighting to public transportation.
Solar panels are primarily used for the following purposes:
- Appliances for the home
- Water that is extremely hot
- Aquatic center
- Luminescence (public or private)
- Caravans or electric automobiles
- Devices for recharging mobile phones or other related devices
- Textile manufacturing
The advantages of photovoltaic solar panels
Whether we’re talking about solar farms, industrial panels used in huge buildings, warehouses, factories, or solar self-consumption, the benefits of solar panels are numerous.
One of the most significant advantages of all methods of solar power generation is that they contribute to environmental protection. Solar panels generate energy that is completely clean. Climate change, today’s turning points, and the ecological transition that the times demand and governments want to encourage, all welcome this sort of energy to take a greater role in the energy mix.
Furthermore, it must be remembered that solar energy is a renewable resource, as the sun will never run out, at least not in the next million years.
Furthermore, we must not overlook the cost savings that these technologies provide. Solar panels will ensure a low electricity cost, taking into account the present energy market and its volatility.
Solar panels are an entire universe in and of themselves. They are a terrific alternative to old energy consumption because of all the applications they can be put to and all the benefits they can provide on a personal and global level.
Furthermore, they are getting more profitable by the day, as technological advancements boost their power-producing capability and the government encourages a shift to clean and renewable energy. Each of us is the catalyst for change.
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