Friday, May 6, 2011

Solar Energy Facts - Deciding on a Solar Energy System

Solar Energy Facts - Choosing the Right Sources of Renewable Electricity for Your Location

Here is an article from The Alternative Energy Store which discusses the process of choosing the proper renewable energy system for your home or business. This section will deal mostly with solar energy facts.

"Without taking into account financial incentives available by state and national governments, solar air heating, solar water heating and micro hydro electric systems have the best financial payback periods.

However, in part due to rebates and people's familiarity with solar electric and wind power systems, they are the most popular with homeowners and businesses.

Selecting what type of renewable energy to use to power your home or business is not always about what you would prefer to have but what is best available and economically most feasible.

Here we will discuss reviewing your site for its potential in generating electricity from solar power, wind power and hydro (water) power.

We won't be covering solar air heating and solar water heating systems in this article which are exceptionally cost effective for most home owners (please see our article on solar heating technologies). Ignoring for the moment any rebates or tax incentives offered by your local or national governments and assuming that you site had plenty of resources to provide solar, wind or hydro power, the most cost effective systems for generating electricity are (going from least to most expensive):

microhydro electric systems, wind electric systems and solar electric systems.Ironically, the types of systems that are most frequently used go in exactly the opposite order: many solar electric systems, some wind electric systems and few microhydro electric systems.

The reason for this reversal is due in part to the actual availability of these energy resources, rebates and incentives, zoning laws at particular a location among other things. Solar Energy Facts Regarding Location

Most locations can make use of solar power as long as where you would install the solar panels would have a clear shot of the sun for most of the day (e.g. 9AM through 3PM).

Most solar electric panels rapidly decrease in performance with just a little bit of shading. Literally the shadow of a twig upon a solar panel could cause it to decrease it's output by 30% or more.

The amount of energy you can get from solar electricity at your site, depends on your location in the world and the time of the year.

Obviously, sites closer to the equator will tend to receive more solar power throughout the year than one's far north or south of the equator.

Generally sites north of the equator receive more sunlight between the months of April through September, and sites south of the equator receive more during the opposite time of the year (October through March).

As you can imagine, sunlight is also affected by the weather. Sites that frequently have long lasting fog or are overcast during large parts of the year will have less available solar power

Solar Energy Facts on Insolation

The measurement for the strength of the sunlight striking the earth at your location is defined as solar insolation.

Using this value, you can determine how much energy you can generate through out the year for your site. Solar insolation data for all over the world and at different times of the year has been investigated and recorded.

The peak, average and lowest annual solar insolation values for several different USA cities and countries across the world can be found in the reference area of the How To section If you live in the USA, choose the city closest to you in the table and that will give you a good estimate of the amount of solar insolation for your location.

To determine the average daily amount of energy you would produce at your location, you would multiply the average annual solar insolation value times the total wattage of your solar panel array.

As an example, let's say that you had a single 100 watt solar panel and you lived in Columbus, Ohio, which has an average annual solar insolation value of 4.15 sun-hours.

Solar Energy Facts on daily energy output.

To determine your average daily energy output out of that 100 watt panel you would multiply 100 watts times 4.15 sun-hours (100 x 4.15), which is 415 watt-hours (or 0.415 kilowatt-hours). This amount of energy would be about enough to power a color TV for a couple of hours every day.

View the original article here

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