FACTS ABOUT SOLAR POWER

What is Solar Power

Solar energy uses the sun’s light and heat to generate renewable or ‘green’ power. The most common form of solar energy is harnessed by solar panels, or photovoltaic cells. In photovoltaic power stations, they’re arranged almost edge-to-edge to capture sunlight in large fields.

What are Solar Panels

Solar panels are the components which turn light into energy.   Solar panels are made up of a series of cells which generate the usable energy for your home or business.  Solar panels are the common name for a solar module.  Although technically module is the proper name, the term solar panel is still used frequently.

Solar Photovoltaic or (PV)

Photovoltaic devices turn light energy into usable electricity.  Solar panels are an example of a PV device.  Most solar panels are made from silicon, a material which is derived from sand.  Silicon is naturally photovoltaic, and is engineered to improve its capabilities.

Watts and Kilowatts

A Watt is a unit of power (1,000W = 1kW).  For example, most solar panels will have a capacity of 265W to 320W.  A Kilowatt or kWh is a unit of energy.  This is the unit which we see on our monthly electrical bill.  For example, one 60W light bulb running for 10 hours will use 0.60kWh of energy (600Wh).

What is an Inverter

Inverters are a device which converts the electricity from DC to AC.  Solar panels will produce direct current (DC) electricity, but homes and businesses run off alternating current (AC) electricity (typically 120/240V for homes or 120/208V for businesses).  The inverter plays a key role in the solar power system as it turns the electricity into a usable form for you.

What is Net Metering?

Net metering is a process which allows solar energy producers (homeowners, businesses and institutional customers) who generate their own electricity using on-grid solar energy systems to export their surplus energy back to the grid under buy-back or credit systems and draw from the grid when they need supplementary electricity.

How Does Solar Power Work?

  1. When sunlight hits a solar panel, an electric charge is created through the photovoltaic effect or PV effect.
  2. The solar panel feeds this electric charge into inverters, which change it from direct current (DC) into alternate current (AC) electricity.
  3. The AC electricity runs through your electrical panel and is distributed throughout your home — just like grid energy.
  4. Excess solar energy is stored in batteries or pushed onto the grid to power local systems (like your neighbor’s house!).

Through net metering, solar owners get credit for the excess energy they put on the grid to offset the grid energy they pull off the grid when their panels aren’t producing. With battery storage, solar owners can store excess production to power their homes at night.

Net Metering Diagram

As a net metering customer, your smart meter runs in two directions: inflow (electricity from the grid) and outflow (electricity to the grid.) Each month your net electricity usage is determined and you are credited if your energy production is higher than your energy usage.

Frequently Asked Questions

How many Solar Panels will I need for My Home?

The number of solar panels or size of system required is dependent on several factors, such as:

  • the average energy consumption of your residence
  • your current energy use in watts
  • the climate and amount of direct sunlight exposure for your area
  • the efficiency and size of the solar panel system being considered for installation.

Whether or not your solar power system will completely offset your electricity needs is primarily determined by how accurately you size your system. Blue Green Solar can calculate the number of solar panels required and help you determine the size of system needed for effective solar power generation.

Do I need a battery or a generator?

If your home and installation are Off-Grid. Then yes you will need a battery to store excess power and a generator during times when solar power is not enough like during the winter months.

For residential systems battery backup is not required in order to harness solar energy. Grid tied solar PV systems are designed to interact with large electrical distribution systems and provide electricity in real time as it is produced.

During times when solar power generation is low you can still pull electricity from the grid at any time on demand.

Does my solar panel system produce power when the sun isn't shining?

The purpose of a solar panel system is to absorb sunlight throughout the day and convert the direct current (DC) into alternating current (AC), which is the type of energy used to power your home. Although solar panel systems do not have the ability to produce electricity during dark hours, cloudy days won’t break your solar panel’s ability to function and although there is less power output on these days, the system will still work like it should.

What happens if there is snow on the solar panels?

While some snow will not inhibit your system from generating energy, roof mounted solar panels can be  problematic due to the heavier snow load in northern BC.  For this reason, Blue Green Solar Ltd. specializes in ground mount and wall mount arrays of solar panels. With a system professionally designed and installed, you can be sure your array is built to handle all seasonal weather conditions.

How much maintenance is needed ?

One of the benefits of solar panel systems is the minimal maintenance requirements. However, it’s recommended that all solar panel systems are cleaned and inspected every 4-5 years, to further ensure the efficiency of your system.

How long will my solar power system last ?

All solar panels are designed to last anywhere from 25-30 years upon initial installation. The pace at which solar panels lose efficiency over time is called the degradation rate and is a natural consequence of their exposure to the elements. According to a 2012 study by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, panels lose anywhere from 0.5 percent to 0.8 percent of their production capacity each year, a very small amount indeed.

All our solar panels come with a  25 year warranty.

What happens if there is a power outage?
For safety reasons Grid Tied solar systems do not feed power back to the grid during a power outage however systems with a battery backup will still operate during the outage.

custom designed solar fence

Some Articles about Solar Fences

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Dutch Solar Garden Fences

Solar panels are getting so cheap people have started using them as garden fences that double as electricity generators.

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Plug and Play PV System

German PV product supplier Green Akku says that its new PV system can be vertically attached to fences. It reportedly generates more solar power, even in winter.

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Vertical bifacial solar panels

A Colorado farmer has installed vertical bifacial solar, leveraging greenhouse albedo to increase output. The installation demonstrates promising generation during winter months, while maximizing limited land space.

A solar fence is an innovative new design for solar arrays featuring vertical placement and bifacial panels so that the system is able to collect solar energy on both sides. Mounting the panels vertically ensures that snow and winter weather will have less effect on power generation and the fence can also act as a barrier between properties if needed and takes up much less space than traditional setups.

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