We finally did it!  On 31 March 2011 we placed 20 solar panels (225 watts each) on our South Facing roof and an array of electronic on the side, which includes 3 Invertors (SPR 3000). This will cover our home 100% of normal usage based on the average of a 12 month period. In June of 2010 we installed the Solar Water system. This saves us over $40 a month in electric. Can't wait to see the Electric bill. It should be the minimum $18.50 from the electric company. That would save us about $150 a month. The Solar water should pay for itself in 3 years and the photovoltaic should pay for itself in about 7 years. The way oil prices are going it maybe around 5 years with current rates.  Got our first bill which covered 33 days. All 33 days were with Solar, the total bill was $16.00!

This is a cool charger

How Solar Energy Works

We have to consider that the sun is one of the most plentiful forms of power that we could utilize, but only a handful of people are relying on it.

Since the sun touches the entire planet in cycles of 12 hours, energy could be easily derived to support many of our every day functions. It is such a waste of money since people have disregarded this as a regular, renewable source of power and electricity.

Sun shinning on solar modules produces DIRECT CURRENT electrict, or DC, the only kind of power stored in batteries. This is often the 12 Volt DC we use in our cars or trucks. This DC Power is stored in DEEP CYCLE LEAD-ACID BATTERIES, which when we need it we can get the power back even when no power is being prodcued.

Here are some of the significant scientific processes involved in solar energy conversion and utilization:

- Solar energy contains a number of molecules including electrons and protons which are essential in the life cycles found in plants, animals, weather and biological processes. In the case of utilizing solar power as an energy source, electrons are the ones which are used for electricity.

- Electrons can be gathered and manipulated with the use of materials which can be purchased at any utilities store. Basically, sunlight can be quickly transformed to electricity due to the fact that the molecule it contains is full of energy.

- Electrons move at a very fast rate, which is an advantage. It can be isolated easily due to its fast movement.

- The solar plates coupled with a photovoltaic cell can isolate the electrons so they can be utilized as an energy source.

- The first stage is the absorption of the molecules through the solar plates. The solar plates have the ability to assemble concentrated electrons and channel them to the semiconductor plates.

- Once the electrons have been gathered, their transport to the battery is the next stage. The electrons go through a series of filters known as the converter and semiconductor wires and plates.

- This is to assure that the electricity produced is composed of pure electrons. Having protons mixed in the procedure would only cause power interruption. The protons are absorbed and disposed through an alternate exhaust, which excretes the molecules away from the battery connection.

- The final process to utilize electricity is the storage in the batteries. Usually, a set of 10 batteries are used to allow a large amount of electricity to be stored. At this point, what are left are pure electrons, which are considered the source for electrical power that is used by electrical gadgets and appliances.

The process of converting sun light into electrical energy is a very innovative process, which could save people a lot of money. Power plants and fossil fuels require a lot of resources to process and cause massive pollution. This is very harmful in the long-term consideration of the condition of the planet.

Experts are continually formulating new scientific strategies on how to utilize the sun as an energy source. Scientific institutions regarding energy manipulation have a lot of guidelines regarding the question how does solar energy work.

Solar Thermal and Photovoltaic Methods

The solar thermal method uses the sun’s energy to directly generate heat. This process works by using solar panels to collect the heat from the sun. This heat is captured and then transferred to water tanks for heating and distribution through the rest of the house. This means that production maximizes absorption of the heat generated by sun throughout the day, so energy is available for night time use as well. 

The photovoltaic method directly transfers the sun’s power into electricity. This process uses solar cells, or photovoltaic cells to trap the sun’s heat.

THE PROCESS


Sun shining on solar modules produces DIRECT CURRENT electricity, or DC, the only kind of power stored in batteries. Often this is 12 volt DC, the standard used in cars and RVs. Larger systems may be designed for 24 volt DC, or sometimes 48 volt DC. This just means combining the same solar modules in pairs for 24 volt, or groups of four to get 48 volt. 

This DC power is stored in DEEP CYCLE LEAD-ACID BATTERIES, which give back the electricity as needed, even when no power is being produced. Like a bank account, power put into batteries over a period of time can be taken out more quickly if a lot is needed. Like a bank account you cannot take out more than you put in, or the account will be depleted. Moreover, lead-acid batteries need to be frequently 100% fully charged to remain in good condition. They should never be drawn completely down to empty. 

Try to charge things DC to DC. If you have an AC to  DC convertor then  you are losing more energy. It is more efficent to go from DC batteries straight to your item without the inverter.

Parts of the System:

INVERTER

The INVERTER is a major component that converts the 12, 24, or 48 volt DC current from the battery into 120 volt AC current, the same as utility power for standard household lights, outlets, and appliances. Most solar homes use primarily 120 volt AC produced by the inverter. A few DC circuits are usually added where using DC can save a lot of energy. Sometimes a small solar electric RV, boat, or cabin may have no inverter, and use only DC wiring and appliances.

If there are a number of consecutive days without sunshine, the owner, being aware of the weather, checks his batteries. If the charge level is low, an engine driven generator may be started to recharge the batteries in order to keep the whole system working. A battery charger plugs into 120 volt AC from the generator producing low voltage DC to charge the battery. The generator is shut down after the batteries have been recharged.  (Battery chargers in Recreational Vehicles are called converters).

SOLAR MODULES

SOLAR MODULES are installed in groups of 1 to 12 modules on a solar mount, which in turn attaches to a building, to the roof of an RV, or atop a metal post in the yard. Together this is called a solar array. Each solar module is wired to the other modules in that array by sunlight tolerant solar interconnect wiring. Several arrays may be wired to a solar combiner box where they are all connected to heavier underground wires taking the power to the battery and equipment room. Always price the solar panels by price per watt. Depending on size, expect to pay between $4.00 and $5.00 per watt. A typical 100 watt solar panel will cost about $400 to $450. The good new is they are quite durable & you can expect 25 years or more of service.

CHARGE CONTROLLER

A CHARGE CONTROLLER, sometimes called a charge regulator, is a small wall mounted unit receiving the power from the solar modules and controlling the flow of power to the battery. To prevent battery damage from overcharging, the charge control automatically cuts back or stops the charge when batteries become full. A charge control may have manual control switches and may have meters or lights to show the status of the charging process. I recently priced a controller for 200 watts and it was 105.00 dollars. It was just a small electronic device, fit in the palm of my hand, and nothing fancy.

BATTERIES

BATTERIES receive and store DC electrical energy, and can instantly supply large surges of stored electricity as needed to start or run heavy power appliances that the solar panels alone could not power. This large power capability can be a fire hazard just like utility company power, so fuses and circuit breakers on every circuit connected to a battery are essential. Battery size is chosen for both surge power requirements and for the amount of reserve power needed. Typically, 2 to 12 square feet of batteries weighing 200 to 1000 pounds are enclosed in a battery box with a vent pipe to outside. This component contains both acid and a great deal of stored energy, therefore requires care and knowledge to safely install. Batteries are expensive. But you pay for what you get. I priced batteries today for 299.00 for my system that would allow me to keep a 800 watt day fully charged. Two batteries would be 600 dollars for my needs.

INVERTER

The INVERTER is the major electronic component of a power system. It converts DC power stored in batteries to 120 volt AC, standard household power. Short, heavy cables with a large fuse or circuit breaker carry battery power to the inverter. After conversion to AC, power from the inverter connects into the circuit breaker box of the house in place of utility lines. The house breaker box routes power to lights, appliances, and outlets of the house. Inverters for home power come in ratings from 50 to 5500 watts.

AAA, AA, BATTERIES

AAA, AA, C, or D Batteries for all those little things you use on a daily or weekly basis. The better battery on the market today are the Nickel-Metal Hydride (NiMH) Batteries. Get the Low Self-Discharge (LDS) type. They are very reliable rechargeable batteries.
 
Don't overcharge your batteries, get a smart charger so it will not overcharge your batteries.  A good charger is a AccuManager 20 battery charger. Do a search and you will find many hits for this charger.