Solar panels convert the sun's energy into electricity that home appliances can use for power. Photovoltaic cells on the panels capture sunlight and turn it into electrons, which creates an electrical current. Solar power is a nature-friendly source of electricity since it uses a renewable resource in an unaltered state. It also lowers electricity bills, so consumers can feel good about their choice and their finances when they use solar power.
As exciting as the benefits of solar power are, achieving them requires some work. One should understand how solar panels work and follow a few important buying tips in order to purchase the right panels for the home. Knowledge of solar panels can help the consumer make a smart choice that can result in deep energy savings for years.
Understand How Solar Panels Work
Consumers should understand how solar panels work before going out to shop for them. Knowing the benefits of solar panels, the types of panels available, and the components that accompany solar panels helps consumers successfully set up efficient solar-power systems at home.
Benefits of Solar Panels
Solar panels provide clean, renewable energy, they last a long time, and they lower electricity bills. These panels do not emit harmful greenhouse gases, so using solar power is healthy for the environment. The sun is also a renewable energy source, so consumers need not worry about exhausting an energy source or altering the earth to produce electricity. Solar panels tend to be quite durable, lasting over two decades and therefore lowering maintenance costs over time. Furthermore, this provides free energy, which is not the case with electricity from the grid. The low cost of using solar panels for energy helps offset the initial cost of installing solar panels.
Types of Solar Panels
All solar panels use photovoltaic cells to absorb the sun's energy, but panels can feature different materials containing these cells. The table below lists the three types of solar panels.
Composed of numerous silicon crystals; produces less electricity; less expensive than monocrystalline; suitable for sunny areas
Composed of a single silicon crystal; more expensive than polycrystalline, but also more efficient
Also called thin-film panels; flexible material for easy transport; work well in less sunny areas; require more roof space than monocrystalline panels
Polycrystalline panels can work well in the sunnier parts of Australia and for consumers with lower electricity requirements. Those who want to produce more electricity per panel and per square metre of roof space should consider monocrystalline solar panels. Manufacturers specify the power output of their solar panels in watts. Installing solar panels on a north-facing aspect is recommended in order to absorb as much sunlight as possible.
Components in Solar Panels
In order to create usable electricity for a home, a solar panel must be connected directly or indirectly to a battery, an inverter, and a charge controller. These components are essential to a home's solar-power system.
Solar panels do not store electricity. Consumers therefore must connect solar panels to a battery that can hold electricity for later use. Deep cycle batteries can recharge many times over, making them ideal for use with solar panels. The more amp hours a battery has, the more electricity it can hold. Consumers can also wire a couple of batteries together to increase the amount of available electricity from solar panels.
Electricity flows from solar panels to a battery in a direct current. Since most appliances run on alternating current, an inverter is necessary to convert the direct current. Modified sine-wave inverters are less expensive but do not work well with some larger electrical devices. Pure sine-wave inverters work well with all appliances and devices commonly found in homes.
A charge controller regulates the flow of electricity into and out of the battery. The battery may overcharge and become damaged if connected directly to a solar panel, and the battery can also discharge at night even if no appliances are using it. A charge controller stops the flow of electricity to a battery once the battery is charged, and it shuts off the flow of electricity from the battery when not in use.
Tips for Buying Solar Panels for the Home
Buying the right solar panels requires more than just knowing about the different types of panels and the components that accompany them. In order to purchase the appropriate solar-power system, consumers should understand the costs of purchasing and installing solar panels, pay attention to key specifications, ensure that the mounting system for the panels is suitable, and look for certified solar panels that could qualify for government rebates.
Understand the Costs
A handful of factors influence the cost of installing solar panels at home. The primary factor is the amount of electricity the consumer needs. Larger systems require more panels, which drives up the installation costs. The more watts a consumer wants, the more the solar-power system is likely to cost. The material the roof is made from can also affect the cost of installation, and removal of trees increases costs. The cost of installation varies from contractor to contractor, so it is wise to consult different contractors and compare quotes. Consumers should also be aware of any tax credits the Australian government offers at the time of purchase of solar panels. They can consult the local branch of government for this information.
Pay Attention to Key Specifications
Consumers should pay attention to the key specifications when shopping for solar panels. Peak power indicates how much power the panel produces with sunlight hitting the panel at one kilowatt per square metre. Nominal voltage tells consumers how many volts the system should have. A 12-volt panel works with a 12-volt system, but it is also possible to rewire a panel to suit 24-volt or 6-volt systems. Manufacturers also indicate the temperature at which a solar panel produces maximum power. This specification refers to the temperature of the panel itself, which can run quite high. Most manufacturers indicate maximum power output at 25 degrees Celsius, but panels realistically run hotter and can reach 70 degrees Celsius.
Ensure Suitable Mounting
The mounting system seems like a good component to save money on, but the wrong mounting system can leave a solar system in ruins. Mounting systems are often weather-rated to indicate how well the system holds up under certain conditions, such as a cyclone. Consumers should make sure the mounting system for their solar panels is designed to withstand the extreme weather conditions to which their regions might be prone.
Look for Certified Solar Panels
Certified solar panels indicate that the panels have undergone independent testing to ensure that they meet specifications. This certification may be necessary to receive the tax credits that the government offers for using solar panels.
How to Buy Solar Panels for the Home on eBay
Solar panels are available from local and online sellers specialising in this type of product as well as from large home improvement retailers. eBay offers a broad selection of solar panels. You can search for them from any eBay page with the search bar, using "solar panel" as your search term. The panels themselves should be listed in the category related to solar panels. If you have a specification for how much power the panel should produce, you can add it to your search term. Your term may, for example, be "solar panel 120W". You can also purchase components for solar panels, such as inverters, charge controllers, and batteries, on eBay.
You may be able to find a discount on solar panels by checking the eBay Deals page for electronics.
In order to purchase the right solar panels for a home, consumers should be aware of the benefits of solar power, the different types of panels available, and the components that accompany solar panels. In addition to building their product knowledge, consumers should also understand the costs of installing solar panels, pay attention to key specifications, ensure that they have suitable mounting systems for their panels, and look for certified solar panels. Following these tips helps consumers save money on solar panels and purchase panels that remain problem-free for decades.
Consumers can visit eBay to find the solar panels they need to produce green energy. Knowing how to search the site helps consumers find the panels they are looking for, and searching for discounts on the site can further the energy-cost savings. Shopping on eBay should help consumers save money on solar panels as well as on electricity bills.
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