News

How Has Solar Technology and Prices Evolved Over Time?

solar panel cost

The energy from the sun in the form of light and heat has so much effect on the earth we live in. The sun is believed to be the earth’s power and without the sun, the earth becomes uninhabitable. Plants use the sunlight for photosynthesis. Many other inhabitants of the earth also draw energy from the sun, not excluding man. The solar system has been in existence before man and as it is known of man to use the surrounding elements to his own advantage, the sun will not be spared. Man, since time immemorial, has found ways, no matter how crude, to tap energy from the sun. This energy is then used for different purposes. History has it that the energy from the sun was tapped by the humans many years ago in other to light fire. The magnifying glass is the instrument used to achieve this feat.

Also according to history, the Romans and the Greek were said to use energy from the sun to light touches for religious celebrations. They used mirrors to tap solar power. The Chinese were documented to use solar power for the same purpose. The concept of the sunroom in houses and buildings, which is still popular today, is an idea powered by tapping energy from the sun. The sunroom in a building uses huge windows to concentrate sunlight to an area in a house. The general idea behind tapping solar power in the early years revolves around the use of mirrors.

Regardless of the reasons solar power is interesting to us and what purpose we try to find in it, it is certain that solar power is useful to us. It is this usefulness that has triggered the desire to make research along this line. Today, solar power has a long list of uses, with a major focus on how it can generate electricity for us. This has drawn us away from the use of mirrors and massive glass to concentrate the power of the sun to the development of solar panels. The general idea behind the solar panel is to collect photons from the sunlight and then transform them into electrons to produce direct current. The direct current will then be inverted or converted into alternate current which is the electricity we use. The materials from which the panels are made are different. However, the general idea is usually the same.

New-age solar panel technology

Fifteen years ago, the idea of going solar was like a dreamer’s idea. This is because of the low level of development around the use of solar panels. First, the challenge was how to go from the use of mirrors to a component that will attract the solar energy and then give it out in the form of electricity. We scaled through that by the discovery of PV effect (Photovoltaic effects) which was of great influence and the first leap toward the development of a solar panel that generates electricity. From there, it was discovered that a material called selenium does generate electricity when it is been exposed to sunlight. This took us to a whole new level and served as the basis for the majority of the solar panels we have today as they are made from silicon. That was how the first challenge was solved. The use of silicon in making solar panels took effect and began to serve as a source of renewable energy about 10 years ago.

The bridge has been crossed and we now know how to tap solar energy to produce electricity. However, the first few years of this development were faced with two major challenges:

  • The efficiency of solar panels
  • The cost of solar panels

The efficiency of solar panels:

Solar panel efficiency refers to the fragment of sunlight energy that a photovoltaic panel can convert into electricity for consumption. The first generation of solar panels produced was not very efficient. The rate of conversion of solar light or photons absorbed to the electricity produced was very low. They had less than 1% conversion rates. This made the possibility of using solar energy unlikely. However, the relentless effort of researchers has brought about a great improvement in the efficiency of the panels. Today we have solar panels that are 30% efficient, and work is still been done to develop more panel efficiency.

Recent development claims to have gotten a 42% efficient solar panel. 1960 to early 2010 recorded a low efficiency of solar panels. It was in 2012 that things took a good turn when efficiency increased to about 17.8%. Late 2015 also gave the good news of 22% efficiency. In early 2016, NREL (National Renewable Energy Laboratory) and CSEM (Swiss Center for Electronics and Micro-technology) achieved a 29.8% efficiency rate. 2017 gave an increase in efficiency to above 40%. In 2019 there has been an integration of various mechanisms into the development of solar panels that has given a great increase in the efficiency rate and research still continues. The disadvantage of this great development is that these highly efficient panels are made from expensive materials and these materials are costly.

The cost of solar panels

The first generations of solar panels were not only low in efficiency they were also very expensive. This added to the constraint of making solar power commercial. However, in addition to the increase in efficiency rate, manufacturers have improved their production process and this has reduced the cost of solar panels to a bearable minimum. Solar manufacturers also put in some economic indices to minimize the cost of production. Today the concept of renewable energy has grown commercial levels.

Getting What You Pay For – What To Consider In Evaluating The Quality Of A Solar System Purchase

In order to generate electricity from sunlight, there is a need for solar panels. Solar panels serve as the medium by which sunlight is converted into electricity. Using sunlight as the source of electricity for our homes seemed like an impossible feat before now. However, after years of tireless research channeled toward this cause, came the solar panel. Today, solar panels have become a popular product. Many homes now make use of the system. Solar panels collect the ultraviolet rays of the sun particularly the photons that are present in the sunlight and then convert it into electrons. The electrons produce direct current which is a form of electricity, but not the kind that can light up a building.  They, therefore, need to be inverted with the use of a component called the solar inverter. When this is done, alternating current is produced which is the electricity that you need, the one that powers your home. The whole process begins with the solar panel.

Various brands of solar panels perform differently. This is referred to as solar panel efficiency. Solar panel efficiency is the ability of the panel to convert sunlight into electricity. Not all the sunlight that hits the solar panel will be converted. Some will be wasted, which is typical for all solar panels. However, some panels convert more solar rays than the others. It is imperative that you know the efficiency of the solar panels you are about to purchase.

Factors To Consider When Getting Solar Panels

solar panel factors

You need to know the indices that are to be considered when shopping for solar panels. These factors will determine if you will get value for your money. These factors include solar panel rating, power tolerance, solar cell efficiency, temperature coefficient.

Solar panel rating refers to the amount of power the panel can produce based on an industry standard test. The higher the power rating, the more it becomes effective at producing power or electricity. Every solar panel has a nameplate power rating. It is used to determine how much work or power a panel can generate. It is by nameplate rating that you can make a comparison with other solar panels.

Power tolerance: during the production of the solar panel, some variations take place which affect the total output of the panel. This represents how the power output of a panel can be slightly different from the nameplate rating of the panel. For example, a panel which according to nameplate rating should produce 250 watts could eventually produce about 237.55 watts. This difference is represented in percentages. You need to be on the lookout for panels with a narrow power tolerance because it offers more assurance. You, therefore, need to view the power tolerance alongside the solar panel rating.

Solar cell efficiency: this is the effectiveness of the solar panel to convert solar radiation into electricity. The highest solar panel efficiency rate available today is a little above 22%. Only a few solar panels can boast of this type of rating. High solar panel efficiency means that the panel can generate more electricity than a panel of the same size under the same condition. Size is not necessarily a guarantee that the solar panel will generate more electricity. It won’t if it has a low power efficiency rating, that is, its conversion rate is low. If you purchase such a product, you will spend more to buy multiple panels so as to make up for the quantity of electricity that you need. This is why it is important to consider the rating of a panel before purchasing in order to get adequate value for your money.

Temperature coefficient: it is believed that solar panels are able to withstand the heat of the sun. This is true but only to a certain extent. When the solar panel is subjected to too much sunlight heat at above 77ºF, it decreases the solar panel’s power capacity. For example, when the temperature is about 4ºF, some standard grade panels will produce about 1% less electricity than they normally produce. Panels that have a smaller temperature coefficient will perform better over time. You need to need to check the solar panel temperature coefficient before purchase especially if you reside in a region that experience high daily temperature.

The above listed are the factors that differentiate one panel from the other even if they look the same in size as others. When you find a panel that has the above quality, then you have found a panel that gives you value for your money. However, when you have a variety of such solar panels, which one should you go for? Let’s quickly take a look at some of the criteria for choosing the best among the best.

Solar panel quality: you need to be sure the panel has the certification of the International Standard Organization (ISO). A panel not having ISO certification is not an indication for poor quality, however, a panel with ISO certification is an indication that the panel has passed a certain test and its quality is certified.

Solar panel durability: this is the measure of how well a solar panel can withstand the pressure of the real world such as in snow, high-intensity wind and harsh weather conditions. Check out the reviews on the solar panel to know this.

Manufacturer assurance: this comes with respect to warranty. In case a problem occurs after installation, a strong warranty will cover for it. You need two major types of warranties:

  • Power production warranty: despite the fact that there is usually a decline in power production over the years, the manufacturer should be able to guarantee that the panel will maintain a certain percentage of its power production capacity over a period time of about 25 years which is the estimated lifespan of a typical solar panel.
  • Material warranty: this covers against failure as a result of manufacturing defects and environmental issues. The materials used for the panel need to be able to stand the test of time.

How To Maintain Your Solar Panel System

Do you own a solar energy generating panel? Are you worried about the maintenance and how to make them more durable? This article answers all the questions you might have and much more. The solar panel is actually very durable and does not require much maintenance. It can withstand extreme temperatures and weather changes without a hitch. Most manufacturers give over 20-year warranty on their solar panels that will cover the cost of replacement and sometimes maintenance by the company you purchased it from. Below are all the tips you need to know about solar panel maintenance. 

Take advantage of the manufacturer’s warranty:

In the unlikely event of damage to the solar panel, it is best for you to contact the manufacturer for replacement and repair. Be sure to read through and understand what the manufacturer warranty will cover before installation. Go for the best deal you can get. Solar inverters usually come with a 10-year warranty too.

Installation of your solar panel:

solar panel installation

The solar panel does not have any mountable parts except tracking mounts. Most of the issues that arise from your solar panels are related to electrical production which is why it is important that you track the energy production of your panels. Make sure to note any decrease in energy generation in order to address these issues as soon as they arise. Your panel should be installed at an angle of 15 degrees, and you need not to worry about cleaning the surface in event of snow, dust or rainfall.

In the event that your solar panel requires cleaning due to bird dropping or oil spilling on it, it will be best if you consult the user’s manual to know what kind of cleaning it needs to be done or you can call a local cleaning agency in your neighborhood.

Thinking About Investing In Solar Energy System? Here Are Some Factors to Consider

What is a solar system? We were taught in elementary science that the solar system consists of the sun and the planets that orbit around it. This is, however, not the solar system under discussion here. The solar system being discussed in this write up is the process of harnessing solar energy from the sun. The solar panels or Photovoltaic system are used to convert the electromagnetic radiation from sunlight into electricity for our consumption.

Know More About Using Solar Energy

Solar energy can be used to power household appliances and even cars, all thanks to innovative research and products.

solar energy uses
  1. Solar energy helps you to save money: imagine never having to pay electric bills again simply because you now generate your own electricity. This is a rare opportunity that solar energy affords you. It helps you save a few dollars monthly and reduces the financial burden placed on you.
  2. The solar energy system is not a new invention: The scientists working at Bells laboratory were the first to invent a photovoltaic system. This brilliant piece of the invention has been installed in millions of houses all over the world and in over a million buildings in America.
  3. Solar energy system panels are long-lasting and durable: solar panels are produced from tempered glass. This tempered glass is strong enough to withstand harsh and extreme weather conditions be it rain, wind or even snow. There is an added benefit of it protecting your roof too and helping to prevent leakage.
  4. Solar panel system installation guarantees you a good return on investment: The question at the back of your mind will be, “is solar panel installation a worthy investment?” Yes, it is a worthy investment. The time is right. The demand for solar panels is continuously increasing and the demand for it is high. Invest now when there is a lot of benefits to be accrued.
  5. A solar panel system does not require maintenance: Yes, you read that right. Your solar panels are extremely durable and do not need you to clean them. You do not have to worry about an extra charge of maintenance.
  6. Most locations in the U.S. have enough sunshine to power the solar system: theU.S is blessed with sufficient sunshine all year round to adequately charge solar panels and ensure continuous energy generation. Your current electricity cost should be compared to the cost of solar panel installation to help ease your decision.
  7. A solar panel system, once installed, can generate electricity for over 20 years: most solar panel the manufacturers give over 20-year power generation warranty on their product. You need not worry about the constant cost of changing the panels.
  8. Solar energy does not pollute the environment: Unlike some forms of energy generation, solar energy does not pollute the environment. Solar energy does not emit any gas or substances that can harm our universe as fossil fuel do.
  9. Solar energy is an inexhaustible form of renewable energy: day-in-day-out, all through the year, the sun rises and sets daily providing us with abundant sunshine to generate our energy from. Your solar panels will convert sunlight to electricity without noise or air pollution.
  10. The government is beginning to see the importance of renewable energy such as sunlight: The Australian government is offering financial incentives to the solar panel system installation companies through its Small Scale Renewable Energy Scheme. The residents of Queensland make extra money from the government by selling excess energy generated by their panel to the government.
  11. The solar energy system is always undergoing further research and development: Solar energy system technology is constantly advancing and improvements are being made to make them better in the future. Quantum energy and nanotechnology are concerned with improving energy generation.
  12. Solar energy can be put to diverse use: Solar energy can be put to diverse use. It can be converted to electricity for powering your gadgets, household appliances, and office equipment. It can be used to generate heat energy as well to power for your various needs.

The Top 10 Solar Panel Manufacturers in the World

The process of harnessing solar energy is not just as straightforward as we have sunlight. This is why a lot of research has gone into the development of this technology. Every penny spent in order to achieve this aim is worth it because, as it has been said, there is no need to spend on renewing the source. Once a system of harnessing the power has been gotten, it remains a fixed asset unto us and we need not spend to keep or maintain the source. It is this knowledge that has made those who spent endless to keep spending and funding the research work. Not until recently when it became clear how solar power can be a source of electricity and how it can be mass produced and consumed in mass. Our doubts have now been cleared. Ongoing projects now focus more on the improvement of solar panels and how solar panels can become more efficient and less costly, this is so that a majority can have and make use of it.  Since solar panels are the major component of the solar power system.

solar powered homes

It has been said that the amount of energy the sun produces in an hour is more than enough to supply the world with power for more than a year. If this is true, why not then harness it? Harnessing solar power is not a new concept. However, there has been a great development in recent years that has helped us put solar energy to more use. The solar system built around the generation of electricity is a recent development. It is an advancement in technology.

Solar panels are the major component of the solar power system. In the early stages of the development of solar panels, the cost of getting one was way over the financial capacity of many, making it almost impossible to fully gain commercial value. However, over the years and with consistent research and adequate funding, the cost of solar panels has drastically reduced. The use of solar panels has now become less costly when compared to a traditional electricity source. As a result, many homes have turned to the use of solar energy as a source of power. This in turn, has given rise to the birth of many companies that manufacture solar panels. East Asia has become the hub for the manufacturing of solar panels. Manufacturers build their production plants in a country like China even if raw materials are sourced from some other places.

Does it matter where solar panels are made?

Should the place where a solar panel is manufactured matter in any way? The answer to this question is simple. To someone who wants to go solar, creating a balance between the cost and quality of the solar panel should matter more than where the panel is produced. In other words, it should matter more to you as a homeowner to go solar with efficient, long-lasting and durable solar panels.

What if I am concerned about the country of solar manufacture?

The country of production is definitely important. We all have what we prefer. You may prefer to purchase products manufactured in your country for patriotic reasons or maybe because you trust products made in your country more and this is good. However, it should not be a compromise on quality and cost. Striking the balance between these two should be of more importance. Some solar companies have their headquarters in the States and their production facility is based in another country. This, however, does not change the company’s product quality. In summary, one thing is certain and remains undisputed: there is little or no interrelationship between a company’s country of manufacture and the company’s product quality, which should be the most important factor in your decision-making process.

Solar Home Power System: Tapping the Power of the Sun

The amount of solar energy the sun offers on an hourly basis is beyond what we can consume in a year. The energy that comes from the sun is important to us in many ways, including providing us with electricity. However, the sun will not automatically power our house. There needs to be a mechanism made available to tap this energy and convert it to electricity that will then power your home. Technology will grow over the years, and the majority of our appliances will be solar powered.

Homes will become independent by producing their own electricity. The exciting aspect is that it will not just stop there. Homes will soon become inter-dependent. This means that homes will begin to supply each other electrical power. The development in net-metering law allows a home to supply electricity to other homes and building if it produces more energy than it can use. This service to others will be rewarded in the form of a credit on your utility. This system gives you retail value for the power that you generate in excess.

Why you should go solar:

There are other benefits you stand to gain from the use of solar energy. Let’s take a look at these other benefits.

  • Going solar is better for the environment: this is one major reason solar energy has become popular. The fact that it is renewable energy which has no harm to society when it is been consumed makes it a welcomed idea. The traditional source of energy like coal and gas emit substances that are harmful to the environment. Solar energy is not in that league.
  • You will save some money on your utility: aside for the cost of purchasing the solar panel, you will not have to pay money for electricity anymore. Since the energy power is from the sun and the sun is a free gift of nature; nobody will charge you for tapping energy from the sun. You have the possibility of providing energy to others in retail value which is another benefit of going solar as explained above.

Now that you know some reasons to why you should go solar, let’s look into how solar energy generating systems work.

Solar power system:

A solar power system is a combination of several solar energy generating components. Components such as the photovoltaic (PV) panels, the DC to AC converter usually an inverter primarily make up a solar power system. There are others such as the energy storage battery, the voltage regulator and so other mini accessories. How all these work to provide you with electricity is that the PV panels, combined in multiples arrays, capture the photons that are generated by the sunlight. These photons are then converted into electrons which will generate the direct current (DC). The inverter receives it and converts it into an alternating current (AC), which powers your home.

pv system

When choosing your solar panel, you need to choose carefully since it’s a major component of the success of solar power generation. There are two major types of solar panels:  polycrystalline and monocrystalline. Polycrystalline panels are sold at lower prices, however, they are sensitive to high temperatures, have a shorter lifespan, and are less space efficient. Mono-crystalline panels are expensive to buy but they are highly efficient, suitable for commercial use, and have a longer lifespan.

Solar Efficiency

The features of solar panels you are to be concerned about are its solar efficiency, the cost, the warranty on it, and technology type. This brings us to the discussion about solar panel manufactures. The current top three solar panel manufacturers are JinkoSolar, Trina Solar and Canadian Solar. However, there have been changes in the last few years which have seen the introduction of some new entrants into the solar manufacturing industries. Also, old solar manufacturing companies are now gaining market. Because of the increase in demand for solar power, companies now can compete.

Solar Power Components

Let’s take a deeper look into the major and minor components that make up a proper solar power generating system.

  • Inverter: this is the system that helps convert the DC to AC which is needed by the homes.
  • Performance Monitoring Device: this device helps to check the health of the system. It will also indicate how much electricity is generated and indicated when there is a change.
  • Storage options: this is in the form of rechargeable batteries which can be installed to help store up energy for future use. In some places, your excess energy is sent to the grid in exchange for credit.
  • Solar panels: this is the most important component of the solar power generating system. It is this component that adsorbs power from the sun. Without it, there will be no solar power generation.

How to choose a Solar Panel

When choosing your solar panel, you need to choose carefully since it’s a major component of the success of solar power generation. There are two major types of solar panels:  polycrystalline and monocrystalline. Polycrystalline panels are sold at lower prices, however, they are sensitive to high temperatures, have a shorter lifespan, and are less space efficient. Mono-crystalline panels are expensive to buy but they are highly efficient, suitable for commercial use, and have a longer lifespan.

The features of solar panels you are to be concerned about are its solar efficiency, the cost, the warranty on it, and technology type. This brings us to the discussion about solar panel manufactures. The current top three solar panel manufacturers are JinkoSolar, Trina Solar and Canadian Solar. However, there have been changes in the last few years which have seen the introduction of some new entrants into the solar manufacturing industries. Also, old solar manufacturing companies are now gaining market. Because of the increase in demand for solar power, companies now can compete.

Choose the Best Solar Manufacturing Company

The question now is, is it a must that the solar company you buy your solar panel from must be one of the top manufacturing companies? It is important you know that the quantity of sales made is the major determining factor for ranking solar manufacturing companies and not necessarily the quality and cost-benefit the customers derive. Therefore, if you are choosing to go for one of the top manufacturing companies, be sure you are not just purchasing from them because they are a top company but also because they offer you quality in exchange for money. Your solar panel is supposed to be effective and last you at least two decades of use.

How Solar Panel Generate Electricity

    Have you ever wondered how solar panels made of glass placed on your roof generate electrical and heat energy from the rays of the sun? It’s a pretty long process that I will attempt to simplify in this write-up.

     Solar power is used all over the world for energy generation. Over one million homes have a solar system in the U.S. and many more millions all over the world use it, especially in countries where electric supply is still epileptic. Solar energy endeared itself to many environmentalists because it produces a safe, clean and renewable source of energy.

pv system

The Photovoltaic Effect

    A solar system consists of a silicon cell, a metal frame, a glass casing, and wires for current flow. The mechanism of power generation can be explained using the photovoltaic effect.

  1. The silicon cells are photovoltaic in nature; they absorb the radiation from the sun.
  2. The radiation from the sun sets off a series of chemical reactions in which electrons gain momentum and begin to move.
  3. The movement of the electrons leads to energy generation which is captured and transported by the wires in the panel.
  4. The electric current is supplied to the inverter as direct current (DC) and later converted to alternating current (AC) by the inverter.
  5. The electrical energy generated is fed into the electric grid.

    The solar panel comes with a gas casing which protects the silicon cells and gives durability. Under the glass casing is a protective sheet. This sheet increases the durability of the silicon cells and also protects it from humidity and heat which can greatly affect the productivity of the panel. Solar panels have an anti-reflective coating which prevents sun rays from being reflected. This helps to increase the day absorption of the panel.

    The silicon cell is either monocrystalline or polycrystalline. Monocrystalline allows for better electron mobility even though polycrystalline is much more expensive.

Solar panel system and the grid connection

    Your home has a utility meter which measures the amount of electricity consumed in your household. Your solar system can also be connected to this meter and, the energy generated from the solar panel system can be effectively measured by the utility meter. Some homes have a net metering system. This system transfers excess energy produced by your solar power system to the grid in exchange for electricity when your solar power is under producing due to little or no sunshine.

When shopping for your solar panel:
  1. Be sure to explore all of your options. Ask for quotes and cost estimates from as many companies as possible. Pick the most pocket-friendly one.
  2. Smaller companies mostly offer cheaper rates than a large conglomerate. Do not be fixated on patronizing the big names. The small companies may be able to offer quality products at a more affordable rate.

Shopping for your solar panel system can be a bit taxing. Take your time, consider your options, and ask for a solar quotation from different sources. You can also approach your neighbors or friends who have solar panel systems installed to ask for their opinion and reviews.