Sun is composed of small energy particles known as photons. A solar power system, or photovoltaic (PV) system, uses materials such as silicon to absorb these photons and transfer their energy to electrons. Known as the photovoltaic effect, this is the basic physical process by which PV cells convert sunlight to electricity.
PV is the abbreviation for photovoltaic. The word photovoltaic means the energy, or electricity, derived from sunlight. The first part of the word, photo, is derived from the Greek ‘phos’ meaning light. Volt is a unit of electrical measurement named for Alessandro Volta (1745-1827), a pioneer in the study of electricity.
Solar energy technologies fall into four main categories:
- Photovoltaic (PV) systems convert the sun’s energy directly to electricity through the photovoltaic effect.
- Concentrated solar power (CSP) use reflective devices such as mirror panels or parabolic mirrors to concentrate the sun’s energy thereby producing heat which is in turn used to generate electricity.
- Solar thermal or solar hot water systems heat water or a ‘working fluid’ by directly exposing it to the sun, usually by means of a solar thermal panel interlaced with tubing which contains the fluid to be heated.
- Transpired solar collectors, also known as solar walls, use the sun’s radiant energy to preheat the ventilation air in a building’s HVAC system.
A PV is made up of various components. These include:
- Panels, (groups of PV cells called modules)
- Inverter for a grid connected system or when AC current rather than DC current is desired
- Hardware including wiring and racking
- Batteries to store the energy collected (For battery backup systems only)
- Charge regulator or controller for a stand-alone system (For battery backup systems only)
For power systems that are connected to the grid the answer is simple. Like a bank savings account, you feed any excess solar power that you generate into the utility company’s grid system and pull out what you need when you need it. If you are off-grid then you will need a storage device such as batteries in which to store the excess energy for use later on. If you have a solar thermal water heating system then your hot water is stored in a hot water heater.
Photovoltaic cells normally have a solar conversion efficiency of between 15 and 27 per cent and the balance of the energy is converted to waste heat. Energy conversion technology captures that waste energy and returns it to heat the building through a heat pump. In hot weather, the heat can be stored in a ground thermal energy storage system, which can be used to heat the building during cold weather.
PV power systems are producing clean power in numerous ways around the world ranging from providing electricity for metropolitan skyscrapers to powering the wells of remote villages in developing countries. Virtually any sort of power needed can be handled with solar energy from a PV system: computers, appliances, pumps, manufacturing, even lighting. Lighting is one of the most important and immediately beneficial applications for solar energy. Uses range from small garden lights to street lights, lighting for recreational areas, remote highway signs and lighting for businesses and homes.
The driving force behind the growing use of solar power is public demand for clean energy. Oil and coal based energy is a major cause of environmental pollution which is responsible for climate changes and global warming. Nuclear energy creates toxic waste which can pose a threat to the surrounding environment if released into the atmosphere. When compared to oil or nuclear sourced energy one quickly sees that solar energy provides a safe and sensible alternative. In developing countries where conventional energy is unavailable for economic or logistical reasons, solar energy is being used extensively because it is less expensive than other options, and the environmental benefits from implementing and using this clean form of energy are significant.
That isn’t necessary, however you may want too. Alpenglow Solar can audit and make suggestions to help you reduce your energy footprint.
No. Your appliances will never know the difference.
For a growing number of users, particularly those who are environmentally aware, PV is the clear choice. PV provides sustainable energy, operates silently, produces no toxic emissions or greenhouse gases, and causes no hazardous waste. PV systems generate electricity using the sun’s free energy, so the ongoing costs are minimal. Moreover, advances is solar technology mean installation costs are gradually being reduced. Some people would rather invest capital on an energy-producing improvement to their property than continually send money to a power company. If you are interested in saving the environment, saving money or both, a solar electric system is the smart choice.
New state incentive programs and federal tax credits can reduce the cost of a solar electric system by as much as 40%-50%. Solar power is a renewable resource. Solar electricity is clean and non-polluting, producing no greenhouse gas emissions. Help clean up Utah’s air one rooftop at a time. Spin your electric meter backwards, reducing your monthly electric bills. A solar electric system may increase the real estate value of your home by $20 for every $1 in annual utility bill savings.
Solar energy technologies often have a higher initial cost outlay. This means that a person is likely to pay more money up front to purchase and install a solar system. Still, in nearly all cases, the initial cost is recovered through substantial fuel savings over the life of the product (15-30 years).
Alpenglow Solar will first check with your local city or county planning/building departments to ensure the zoning and building codes permit the solar installation you desire. We then obtain required permits. We also check with your (HOA) and/or review neighborhood covenants (CCNR) to determine if restrictions may exist that prohibit certain types of solar installations. If we find that there are restrictions, we can often work to get them changed. More and more HOAs are changing their rules to allow renewable energy. Alpenglow provides technical data, manuals, and engineering sheets to HOAs and municipal permitting offices as a service to all our clients.
Little if any modification needs to be done. Structural modifications are seldom needed because of the minimal weight of the solar panel components. Naturally, installation of wiring from the solar panels to the electrical panels will need to be done but electrical downtime is usually minimal.
Solar energy begins paying you back the moment you switch on the system. Even though the cost of standard types of energy continues to rise, your cost will always be offset by the energy produced by your solar electric system. One of the great aspects of solar power is that your property is attached to the utility company’s grid. The power that you over produce is fed back into the grid and you can use these future credits in winter months when days are shorter and electric use increases. A typical return on investment for a solar electric system is less than 10 years, with savings accumulating immediately with reduced monthly energy costs.
With today’s new solar power technology in and high output solar panels, a net zero result isn’t out of the question. However, selecting the right system for your specific situation will have an impact on the outcome. When the pros at Alpenglow Solar work with you we will focus on your location and how your property is situated, and design a system to best suit your needs. We can then determine with considerable accuracy the amount of power you can expect to produce from your new solar panel system.
As with other items you own, solar panel system longevity is directly affected by the level of care and maintenance it receives. Currently, a properly maintained system is expected to last between 25 to 35 years. At Alpenglow Solar our ongoing system inspections and annual servicing can help keep your solar power system running at its optimum for many years to come.
Net metering is the practice of producing as much power as you use in a given year. Solar electric systems produce more power during the summer months and that additional unused power is fed back into the electric company’s grid and stored as a ‘credit’ for future use. Generally speaking, your power production and consumption are averaged out over a one year period with higher production months ‘feeding’ leaner months.
In 2012, residential systems were running about 17% efficient and commercial grades were up to 27% efficient. An average 20% efficient PV system will generate up to 360 kilowatt-hours per square meter. A PV system rated at 1 kilowatt will produce up to 3600 kilowatt-hours a year. Allowing for a loss of efficiency of less than 1% per year, a PV system could generate close to 72,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity over 20 years and close to 108,000 kilowatt-hours over 30 years. This means that a 1Kw PV system generates more than$20,000 worth of electricity over 30 years.
There are several available at this point in time. Currently, Utah residents and businesses can take advantage of both Federal and State incentives:
- The Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 provides a 30% federal tax credit for solar electric systems installed on homes and businesses through December 31, 2019;
- The state of Utah provides a tax incentive that equals 25% of the system’s installed cost with a cap of $2,000 for residential systems and 10% of a system’s initial installed cost with a cap of $50,000 for commercial systems.
Alpenglow Solar is a professional solar installation company with years of experience in evaluating properties for solar installation. We can help you decide whether your home or business will be a good candidate for solar and how much you would benefit from a system installation.Location, building codes, clear sight lines and shading issues all factor into our evaluation.
Modern solar power systems are able to power all your home’s electrical systems, including lights, cooling systems, and appliances. Today’s systems are designed to blend easily into both contemporary and non-contemporary homes. Typically, installation calls for the panels to be mounted on a south-facing roof. Ground mount systems may be employed instead of the roof mount system in the event that roof exposure is not ideal.
Absolutely. Modern solar power systems can be designed to implement into a wide variety of commercial buildings. Additionally, you will notice solar being used to provide power for a range of outdoor applications including signage, bus shelters, parking areas and remote lighting needs. Architects and engineers can use building-integrated solar power to create environmentally responsive buildings that are both aesthetically pleasing, and generate their own power. In fact, building-integrated solar power reduces system costs by using the building as the mounting or support structure at the same time it is reducing utility bills through on-site power generation.
In inclement weather your solar power system will generate less electricity, however, you shouldn’t see any difference inside your home. Remember, grid-tied solar power systems never “run out” of electricity, they just fall back on the grid to provide the power you need. As you probably realized, solar panels can only generate maximum output in full, unobstructed sunlight; solar panels will still produce power on rainy or cloudy days – just less than normal. On days like this you would simply buy the additional power needed from the utility company. A well designed system, takes into account variations in weather as well as location thereby allowing for accurately planned monthly solar electric production.