Solar Energy Explained – Information and Recommendations for the Educated Buyer

For decades I have been the ‘go to’ guy for any and everything technical. Yes, the ‘Nerd”. Let’s get Steve, he can build anything…

Since before the days of the Internet as we know it now, my ‘phone hacking’ buddies and I would be inventing new ways of beating the system and ‘taking’ things out of the air.

These things included radio and TV signals, and other things of that nature that I can’t get into right now.

However the most intriguing and thought-provoking entity to me was the Power Of The Sun.

During my high school and college days, almost all of my attention was creating different ways to harness the beautiful and elegant rays of this quiet monster.

In the early days of Alternative Energy, Solar Cells or ‘packs’ were tremendously large and heavy, and could only produce a fraction of the electrical energy that modern-day panels can produce.

And just to make things worse, the cost was absolutely outrageous, both for purchase and shipping the little darlings. Well at least my grandchildren could reap the benefits when the system was finally paid off…

In today’s technically advanced world, I am overwhelmed at the amount of Solar Powered Systems in operations, both residential and commercial. It’s a great thing when almost all home owners can now easily afford to take advantage of the Sun’s power for their electricity and heating needs.

And it is quite common now to see self-contained homes, cabins and RV’s. My dream has come true…

While at the same time that Solar Technology has been advancing at a fantastic pace, unfortunately so has the art of Sales and Marketing. With newer and well-funded campaigns are all around us, it’s easy to get fooled into buying a Solar Powered System (like anything else), that is either under equipped or way over-rated.

I have found after viewing and examining countless Solar Energy Systems, that over 70% of the recommended equipment for the home in question was either too small to handle the household electrical and heating load, or was so incredibly large that half of the family basement was sacrificed to use as a storage area for the batteries and controllers.

There is a definite need to plan for future expansion of the home, such as a new garage or ‘Grandma’ suite’. But please plan properly and have a trustworthy professional make viable choices for you when selecting your system.

And now we get to the heart of the Solar matter… and it’s not as complicated as you may think. Here is what many years of research and experience has taught me. (and now you)

In planning your Solar Powered System, the most important factor to consider… Can You See The Sun???

If you’re completely surrounded by trees, live under a waterfall, under a rock, in a cave, well you get the idea.

Your Solar Panels, which collect the sun’s rays and convert them into electricity or into heat, must ‘see’ the sun. The better the angle of the Solar Panels are aimed at the Sun, the better.

Solar water heating systems includes solar thermal collectors and heat transfer fluid to move heat from the collector to its point of usage. The solar hot water system may use electricity for pumping the fluid, and have a reservoir or tank for heat storage.

Some systems have equipment that actually turns the entire Solar Array of Panels to take full advantage of the Sun’s rays.

Not all applications require such a rotating system as there is still plenty of battery charging power during daylight hours, depending on your location.

There have been billions and trillions of webpages written on the theories and wonders of Solar Power already so I’m going to leave all of that extra reading to your discretion.

However we have come to the point where I’m about to tell you the basic equipment required for a Solar Power System and a Solar Powered Heating System.

There are a multitude of add-ons and supplemental units, tools and measuring equipment available to enhance any system and here are the basic requirements.

Solar Electrical System:

1) Solar Cells or Panels

2) Appropriate Batteries to store the power.

3) Battery Charger/Controller.

4) Voltage Inverter to change the battery power into usable AC power.

Solar Powered Heating system:

1) Solar Thermal Collectors.

2) Heat Transfer Fluid to get the heat to where you need it.

3) Water Pump to circulate the fluid.

4) Reservoir or Tank for Heat Storage.

As I mentioned, there is a LOT more equipment that can be purchased to make your system more efficient, but those are the basic requirements.

Feel free to Contact me with any Questions or Comments.

Good luck with your project and best wishes.

Donna J. Seymour