How to install solar panels

Photovoltaic solar panels

Solar Panels

Solaer Panels

Photovoltaic solar panels consist of groups of photovoltaic solar cells connected in series and/or in parallel.

They can be installed on fixed systems or on mobile systems that track the sun (these systems are called trackers). When trackers are used, the electrical output usually increases by about 30% compared to a fixed installation. Besides solar power plants, fixed installations are mainly done on the roofs of homes or buildings, they are either integrated to the roof or superimposed on the roof.

In some cases, vertical panels are installed on the front walls of the buildings, but this inclination is not optimal for the production of electricity, but because these panels are replacing the front covering, the saving on the surface costs compensates for a less optimized production of electricity.

So basically, a photovoltaic solar module (or solar PV) is an electric generator of direct current made of a set of photovoltaic cells connected together electrically, which serves as a basic module for photovoltaic installations including solar photovoltaic power plants.

For those of you who want to do it yourselves, you can find detailed instructions on how to install solar panels here.

World production

World production of solar panels is mainly divided between China, Germany and the United States. It is mostly assembly work (encapsulation / implementation / frame box…) because 80% of the world production of photovoltaic cells comes from China. Today major international brands are producing their modules in Asia and sometimes perform a processing step on the product. Other large companies simply outsource their production.

Environmental Aspects

Like many industrial processes, manufacturing solar panels presents risks to the environment, particularly on global warming.

This production (plus shipping, installation, etc.) also requires energy. Measured by number of years of panel production in 2004, the U.S. Department of Energy estimated this duration to 4 years maximum. Manufacturers seek to minimize costs and necessary material (including silicon), which incidentally has the effect of reducing energy consumption over the life cycle of the panel, reducing the repayment period of the energy invested in the production.

From the perspective of carbon dioxide use on a lifecycle of 20 years, the CO2 emission per kWh electricity produced by a photovoltaic panel represents, all depending of  the type used, between 7 to 37% of emissions per kWh if the energy was produced by a conventional thermal power plant.

Features of photovoltaic panels

The panels are generally thin rigid rectangular parallelepipeds (a few inches thick), whose length and width are approximately of 3 ft. and have a mass of the order of 20-25 pounds. Various elements (electrical connections, fixtures, any framework to ensure a seal) are included.

There are also modules in the form of flexible and resistant membranes and some concentrated panels, more complex but making a better use the most expensive part of the panel, the photovoltaic cell.

Their performance is somewhat lower than that of the cells that constitute them, because of electrical losses and internal surfaces that are not covered, but remains at about 10 to 15%. The peak power of a solar panel is about 100 to 200 watts per square yard (3 ft x 3 ft); a yield of 10 to 20%, with manufacturers announcing a yield of about 15% for their top panels, which gives a peak power of 50 to 250 watts per panel, depending on its characteristics, including its size. That power comes in the form of direct current, which is perfect for a connection to a battery and for many applications, but implies a transformation into alternating current by an inverter if it is injected into a distribution network. Output voltage depends on the type of panels and cell connections. It is usually between 10 to 100 volts.

In addition to its power and its surface, a panel has three important characteristics:

  • the deviation from the nominal power of approximately + / – 5%
  • the power variation with temperature
  • stability over time of performance (manufacturers generally guarantee at least 80% off power after 20 to 25)

The energy actually received by a module depends on the surface and the power of the panel but also the sun, which varies with latitude, season, time of day, weather, masking suffered, etc.

A photovoltaic module generates no waste in operation, the cost of decommissioning is very low and operating costs are virtually zero. Waterproof, it can serve as a cover for a roof, subject to master the flow of water to the edges with a suitable mount. The lifetime of such a module is more than 20 years.

How to install solar panels


How to install solar panels

How to install solar panels

A basic solar panel installation from a retailer can take many years to pay back (20 to 30 years) and cost you well over $20,000! However, if you do it yourself, the savings can and will be substantial. And you don’t have to be a construction worker to do it.

You can find complete plans, videos, instructions, and a step-by-step guide on how to install solar panels here.

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