About Solar Energy

The most economical way to lighten your homes is here. Solar Power is the Power of the FUTURE

Solar Energy Cycle

While there is daylight solar panels will generate Direct Current (DC) electricity. To enable storage in a battery bank, use in your home or business, the electricity needs to be converted into an Alternating Current (AC) format. The solar energy generated by the solar panels is then transported via the inverter to the desired destination.

Solar Gain

Solar panels are active as soon as they are exposed to sunlight. The electricity generated is directly proportional to the degree that sunlight has access to the cells. This means that solar panels which are fixed on a roof will only be at maximum output when the sun is directly shining upon them, and the overall hourly output will alter with the angle of the sun on the panels at that time of the day. It is for this reason that solar farms and stand alone systems, install tracking systems which will follow the sun morning until dusk and alter its inclination with the time of year.

The output of any solar power system is dependant on a number of factors such as:

  • Output of the solar panels
  • Inclination or angle of the solar panels toward the sun on the horizon
  • Roof angle
  • Shading or Cloud cover (if any)
  • Ambient temperature

Inverters

A sine wave, or sinusoid, is a mathematical (function) term that describes a smooth repetitive oscillation, or wave pattern, found naturally in ocean waves, sound waves and light waves. The electricity produced in solar PV cells does not have a wave form, but is rather in a direct line, hence its name, Direct Current (DC). A Grid Tied Inverter is a specialised sine wave inverter designed to convert the DC into a wave of Alternating Current (AC). This can be exported into the electric power distribution system by synchronising with the frequency of the grid.

They usually contain features for safety and maximum power conversion. There are three basic types of Inverters:

Solid State Inverters have no moving parts and are used in a wide range of applications, from small power supplies in computers, to large electric utility high-voltage direct current applications that transport bulk power.

Modified Sine Wave Inverters are a simple and low cost alternative to Solid State Inverters but at a cost of reduced efficiency. The sine wave produced by this type are graduated in steps and not smooth as in a pure sine wave. They are compatible with most basic electronic appliances, like toasters, kettles or any heating element, but not preferred for sensitive or specialised equipment, such as some laser printers, fluorescent lighting or audio equipment.

Pure Sine Wave Inverters are more complex in design, and cost more per unit of power produced. The sine wave produced by a pure sine wave inverter is smooth, making it more efficient for consumption and better for sensitive electrical appliances and devices. Only higher quality solar inverters produce true sine waves. Essentially it is the same as utility-supplied grid power and it is compatible with all AC electronic devices and preferred for use in Grid Tied Inverters.

Solar Panels

The photo-voltaic (PV) cells in a solar panel are made of semi-conductor layers of crystalline silicon or gallium arsenide. The semi-conductor layers are a combination of both positive and negative layers, and they are connected through a junction. The semi-conductor material absorbs the light, transferring the light’s energy to the PV cell, activating electrons. As the electrons move from one layer to the other, they produce a Direct Current (DC). The energy created is then either stored in a battery bank for later use or sent directly to the attached appliance, house or grid via an inverter, depending on the set up and type of system.

There are three main types of solar panel available in the market place, each with their own benefits.

Mono Crystalline panels are a proven technology that has been in use for over 50 years. Each solar cell is constructed from a single sheet of silica thereby having a greater conductivity. This type is commonly used where space is limited, or where there are high costs associated with installing large panels. They have a very slow degradation, generally losing 0.25 - 0.5% per year.

Poly Crystalline panels are similar to Mono Crystalline panels in appearance, but each cell is constructed from many smaller silica sheets (hence "poly"), which is cheaper and easier to make. The latest technology has rendered them nearly comparable to Mono Crystalline in performance and durability, however slightly more panels and space is required to produce the same amount of electricity.

Thin Film panels are typically nearly double the size than the other panel varieties. Research is continuing to improve the performance of Thin Film panels and to refine the manufacturing process. They respond well to slightly diffused light and their efficiency does not drop on hot days.