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Solar panels, also known as photovoltaic (PV) panels are made of thin slivers of silicon coated in plastic and
sandwiched between layers of glass. When sunlight hits the panel, direct current (DC) electricity is produced. This DC current then passes through an inverter which converts it into conventional 240 volts AC to be used by your household appliances or fed back into the grid.
Solar power is available in grid connected and off grid (stand alone) systems. In urban areas, households and other buildings can remain connected to the electricity grid and don’t require any battery storage. On a cloudy day, at night or if you use more power than you generate, you automatlically draw power from the grid. If your system produces more electricity than you need, the surplus is fed into the grid for others to consume.
A solar panel system can be installed to most single and double story houses. All you need is roof space with a generally northerly aspect and full sun throughout the year.
Some buildings also require a frame to attach the panels at the most appropriate angle to capture sunlight. Once the system is established it usually requires little or no maintenance other than the occasional check and clearing of panels.
This depends on a number of factors including your energy usage, the amount of appropriate roof space available, how much you want to spend and what proportion of your
electricity you wish to generate.
Most households find that 1-2 kW system is appropriate and a solar company will be able to confirm your needs. Installing solar power is a great incentive to reduce your
energy consumption, which will therefore require a smaller system.
The technology does not provide all of the characteristics necessary for a consistent electricity supply. Primary limitations on complete residential solar supply include the ability to provide energy at all times; output can fall rapidly during cloudy weather and no electricity is provided during evening hours.
Employing a combination of energy efficiency and renewable energy such as solar can minimize the environmental impact of electricity use while maintaining reliability.
An average 1 kW system can save up to $215 from your annual energy bill and more if you are able to export back to the grid, but this is merely an average and not a guaranteed savings.
The energy source is free with minimal greehouse gases produced in making solar equipment.
Solar units can be placed on buildings leaving land free for other uses or for added green space and require little maintenance.
Solar technology assists those in remote locations that do not have grid access.
If solar panels are not a viable option in your current physical situation or financial circumstance, there are a range of other measures which can be implemented
immediately. These include installation of insulation, energy efficient lighting, adopting a “turn off when not in use” policy and energy efficient appliances.