Setting Expectations for Solar Electricity

Solar power is a useful way of generating reasonable amounts of electricity, so long as there is a good amount of sunlight available and your location is relatively free from obstacles such as trees and other buildings that will shade the solar panel(PV array) from the sun.

Solar can be used in various ways. For instance, you can use solar power as the only source of electricity. You need to ensure that your solar panels provide enough energy to handle all your requirements, and you will need batteries to store the energy in. Alternatively, you can use solar power to supplement your electricity supply, such as installing solar on the roof of your home, using solar power during the day, and your existing electric supply for power each night.

Solar as your only source of electricity

If you are looking to use solar as your only source of electricity, you need to take a good hard look at your consumption and see how you can keep demand to a minimum. In a home environment, it is quite tricky to do this without making big changes. As consumers, it is effortless to underestimate how much electricity we use. Solar power can become expensive if you simply want to match your typical energy consumption without looking to save.

Of course, it is possible to put in a cheap and simple solar energy system, which doesn’t cost a fortune and can give you decades of reliable service. Some examples include:

  • Installing a light or a power source somewhere where it is tricky to get a standard electricity supply, such as in the garden, shed, or remote garage.
  • Creating a reliable and continuous power source where the standard electricity supply is unreliable because of regular power cuts.
  • Building a mobile power source that you can take with you, such as a power source for use whilst camping, working on outdoor DIY projects, or working on a building site.

The amount of energy you need to generate has a direct bearing on a solar electric system’s size and cost. The more electricity you need, the more difficult and more expensive your system will become. If your requirements for solar electricity are to run a few lights, to run some relatively low-power electrical equipment such as a laptop computer, a small TV, a compact fridge, and a few other small bits and pieces, then if you have a suitable location, you can achieve what you want with solar. On the other hand, if you want to run high-power equipment such as fan heaters, washing machines, and power tools, you will likely find that the costs will be much higher.

It is not normally possible to power the average family home purely on solar electricity without making any cuts in your current electricity consumption. Most households and businesses are very inefficient with their electrical usage. Spending some time first identifying where electricity is wasted and eliminating this waste is an absolute necessity if you want to implement solar electricity cost-effectively. This is especially true if you live in cooler climates, such as Northern Europe or Canada, where the winter months produce much lower solar energy levels.

It is not normally possible to power the average family home purely on solar electricity without making any cuts in your current electricity consumption. Most households and businesses are very inefficient with their electrical usage. Spending some time first identifying where electricity is wasted and eliminating this waste is an absolute necessity if you want to implement solar electricity cost-effectively. This is especially true if you live in cooler climates, such as Northern Europe or Canada, where the winter months produce much lower solar energy levels.

Low-cost solar panels are also ideal for charging up batteries in caravans and recreational vehicles or on boats, ensuring that the batteries get a trickle charge between trips and keeping the batteries in tip-top condition while the caravan or boat is no in use.

Solar as a supplemental power source

Most solar installations in Europe and North America today are roof-top installations on homes. In these systems, the solar panels generate electricity used within the home during the day, with any excess energy being fed into the grid and used by other homes nearby. At night, these homes then use electricity from the utility grid. These systems are called “Grid-tied” PV systems.

There are a few variations on this theme. For example, you can now install a battery with a grid-tied system so that excess electricity being produced during the day can be stored in a battery for use overnight. This has the advantage of reducing your personal dependence on the grid but still assures that you will not run out of energy.

When configuring solar as a supplemental power source, your solar installation’s size is far less critical. Instead, you can choose the system’s size based on the amount of space available or by the amount of budget available for your project. There is a Feed-In-Tariff that pays you money for every kilowatt-hour of electricity you produce in many countries. This can mean that homeowners who install solar can generate sufficient income from their solar installation to offset their electricity bills.

Why choose a solar electric system?

There are many reasons to consider installing a solar electric system:

  • There is no other electrical power source or where the cost of installing conventional electrical power is too high.
  • Other sources of electrical power are not reliable, for example, when power cuts are an issue, and a solar system can act as a cost-effective contingency.
  • When a solar electric system is the most convenient and safest option. For example, installing low voltage solar lighting in a garden or providing courtesy lighting in a remote location.
  • When you can become entiredly self sufficient with your own electrical power.
  • When you want a mobile power source – such as in a caravan, travel trailer, recreational vehicle, or boat.
  • When there is sufficient financial incentive through a Feed-In-Tariff or savings in electricity being purchased from your electricity supplier to justify the investment.
  • Once installed, solar power provides virtually free power without damaging the environment.

In Conclusion

  • Solar electricity can be a great source of power where your power requirements are modest. There is no other source of electricity easily available, and you have a good amount of sunshine.
  • Solar panels absorb photons from sunlight to generate electricity. Direct sunlight generates the most electricity, but solar still generates power on dull days.
  • Solar electricity will not generate enough electricity to power the average family home unless major economies in the household power requirements are made.
  • Larger solar electric systems have a comparatively high capital cost, but the ongoing maintenance costs are meager.
  • A smaller solar electric system can be extremely cost-effective to buy and install, even when compared to a conventional electricity supply.
  • It can be much cheaper using solar electricity at a remote building rather than connecting it to a conventional grid electricity supply.
  • Both stand-alone and grid-tied solar energy systems can have a big environmental benfit.

Making and saving money with solar

Creating energy with solar is not only environmentally friendly, but it can also be good for your bank account too. Whether you want to offset your electricity bill in your home or business, or if you want to avoid the high cost of connection to the electricity grid for a new building, solar can often save you money.

Besides, subsidies, grants, or other financial incentives are available to make solar a more attractive purchase. In some cases, these incentives alone are sufficient to pay for your solar installation over a period of a few years.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Free 'Solar Power Your Home' E-book

Written by Rik DeGunther, providing you with an ample solar knowledge base and let you apply it through DIY projects
best Mono Solar Module Manufacturer Popup
Open chat
Need help?
Hello!
Can we help you?