How does solar power work?

There are two main types of solar energy technologies namely solar photovoltaic and solar thermal. Solar photovoltaic panels contain a semiconductor material (typically silicon-based) which converts sunlight into direct-current (DC) electricity.  An on-site inverter converts the DC power to 120-volt AC power, which can then be connected to a home or building’s power supply or directly to the electricity grid. Solar thermal technologies absorb the sun’s thermal energy and use it to generate hot water.

What are the benefits of investing in solar energy?

  • Solar power makes you energy independent; you will have power even during power cuts
  • Solar energy helps you save money through reduced power bills
  • Solar energy reduces your carbon footprint
  • Solar energy increases power accessibility in remote areas
  • Solar energy is a clean alternative to conventional power plants.
How does solar power connect to the electrical grid?


The solar energy generated by PV panels is converted from DC to AC power by an inverter.  In grid connected systems, the AC electric current can then be routed directly into the home or business or routed to the electric grid via a two-way meter.  In “net metered” systems, the meter runs forward when the home or business is using more power than is generated by the solar panels.  It runs backwards when the solar panels are generating more power than is being consumed on-site.  The system owner receives a credit from the utility for the value of the excess electricity sent to the grid.  In other words, the solar system owner is charged only for the “net” electricity consumed.

How big a solar energy system do I need?

The size of solar system you need depends on several factors such as how much electricity or hot water or space heat you use, how, the size of your roof, and how much you're willing to invest. Also, do you want the system to supply your complete energy usage or to supplant a portion of your higher cost energy usage?

Can I use photovoltaics (PV) to power my home?

PV can be used to power your entire home's electrical systems, including lights, cooling systems, and appliances. PV systems today can be blended easily into both traditional and nontraditional homes. The most common practice is to mount modules onto a south-facing roof or wall. For an additional aesthetic appeal, some modules resemble traditional roof shingles

How long do photovoltaic (PV) systems last? How reliable is solar power?

Solar power is a mature and well proven technology that has been around for nearly 40 years. The core technology is extremely robust and with our high quality products. A PV system that is designed, installed, and maintained well will operate for more than 20 years. The basic PV module (interconnected, enclosed panel of PV cells) has no moving parts and can last more than 30 years. The best way to ensure and extend the life and effectiveness of your PV system is by having it installed and maintained properly. Experience has shown that most problems occur because of poor or sloppy system installation.

Will solar work on my house or business?

Yes, almost certainly. The two biggest factors in determining if a solar power system is feasible at your home or business are: 1) the amount of sunlight you get throughout the day and 2) the amount of roof and or ground space available to install the system. Your RISE Energy Solutions Technical Specialist will advise you on these factors.

Will I need to remodel my home or business to run on solar power?

No. A solar electric system is designed to fit seamlessly into your home or building's infrastructure. You do not need to replace or modify any existing electrical appliances, or change any of your electrical outlets; everything will work just the same as it did before installing solar power.

What will happen to my utility bill?

You will see an immediate and significant reduction - possibly a complete elimination of your electricity utility bill and even a regular credit from the utility company. The exact reduction will depend on the size of the system you decide to install. Your RISE Energy Solutions Technical Specialist will discuss different options for you to review.

Does the government really give incentives for going solar?

Yes. There are a wide range of incentives available which can significantly reduce the initial cost of installing your system and dramatically increase your return on investment. Your RISE Energy Solutions Technical Specialist will be able to advise you on what is currently available.

What size system do I need?

Every home and business is different, so every solar power system is custom designed to meet your specific requirements and budget. Typically a system will be around 500W, which is about 2 panels, although systems can be as large as 500kW. With one of our systems, you can start small and gradually increase the capacity of your system. Your RISE Energy Solutions Technical Specialist will discuss the best system for your specific requirements and circumstances and the flexibilities available.

How efficient is solar power today?

Photovoltaic technology, which describes the science behind the solar cell, has an energy conversion efficiency of about 5 to 20%, compared to conventional fossil fuel sources which have an efficiency of about 30%. Advances in technology have helped improve energy conversion over the years, and solar power is steadily becoming a cost-effective alternative source of electricity in many regions around the world.

Does solar make financial sense?

Yes. When the figures are analysed, installing a solar system is a smart financial investment. You can expect an annual return on your investment of up to 14% over the life of the system (+ 25 years). A solar power system will also increase the value of your home. Incentives such as rebates and tax credits can further increase your return on investment. Either way a solar system is a sound financial investment.

 

Will my solar system be expensive to maintain?

No. A well installed solar system requires virtually no maintenance. There are no moving parts to wear out and the core electricity producing silicon has a virtually indeterminate lifespan. Very occasionally the panels may require cleaning, but normally this is a natural process courtesy of the weather.

How long does it take to install?

A typical domestic system takes approximately 1 to 2 days to install from start to finish. We use only manufacturer trained and certified installers who are required to follow very strict system specifications and installation procedures. This ensures that your system installation will be of the highest quality. Your RISE Energy Solutions Technical Specialist will supervise your installation, keep you informed on the installation progress and answer any questions you may have.

When is the best time to buy?

There isn't one. A solar system can be supplied and fitted any time of year as long as the weather is agreeable to the necessary exterior work that is required to meet our exact standards. The sooner you install a system the sooner you will enjoy the financial benefits.

Will a survey/consultation cost me anything?

No. We take a consultative approach and there is absolutely no cost or obligations until you decide to proceed. Your RISE Energy Solutions Technical Specialist can answer all your questions and address any concerns, so you are able to make a clear and informed decision.

What is a photovoltaic (PV) system ?

Photovoltaic (PV) systems (or solar electric systems) use PV cells to convert sunlight into direct current (DC) electricity. PV cells are made from silicon and were originally developed to power spacecraft and space stations. The cells come wired together in panels that typically measure about 4 feet by 1 foot by 1.5 inches deep. A group of panels mounted on a frame is called a PV array.

To provide electricity reliably and safely, PV systems include several pieces of equipment in addition to the PV array. This balance of system components typically includes a charge controller, an inverter, wiring, and a form of electricity storage (typically batteries).

Most PV systems convert the DC electricity that is produced by the solar panels into the common household form of electricity—alternating current (AC)—by using an inverter. AC electricity can then be used to power your appliances directly, or feed back to an electric utility's grid. The DC electricity can also be stored directly in batteries for later use. In this case, to prevent overcharging or discharging of the batteries, a charge controller is used. Instead of an AC inverter, a DC converter can be used to convert AC electricity coming from the utility grid into DC electricity, which can then be stored in batteries for use during power outages. This type of configuration is often called a PV uninterruptible power supply (UPS).

How efficient is solar power today?

Photovoltaic technology, which describes the science behind the solar cell, has an energy conversion efficiency of about 5 to 20%, compared to conventional fossil fuel sources which have an efficiency of about 30%. Advances in technology have helped improve energy conversion over the years, and solar power is steadily becoming a cost-effective alternative source of electricity in many regions around the world, including Europe and Japan. 


Why is silicon used?

Silicon is the second-most abundant element on Earth, and is a key component of sand. It is also a good semiconductor. It is this property that allows it to convert light energy into electrical energy. 

Can a PV system be installed at a residence?

Yes. PV panels can be installed as modular systems on existing homes, or built into rooftop material for new homes.

Does a PV system replace an electric utility?

PV systems are typically used as either stand-alone systems or grid-connected systems. The role of photovoltaic’s in these two types of systems is very different, and the design decisions and performance requirements are very different as well.
Stand-alone PV systems generate all of the on-site electricity needs of a home. Therefore, they are not connected to any electric utility. Stand-alone systems can provide AC or DC electricity, and typically include batteries to store electricity for use when the sun is not shining. Stand-alone systems are often cost-effective when installed in remote areas where access by electric utilities is difficult and expensive.
Grid-connected PV systems are typically sized to meet 50% or more of a home's electrical load. These systems are not always sized to meet all of the electricity loads of a house because of the higher up-front costs associated with purchasing a larger system. A larger system will cost less per kilowatt-hour generated due to the economies of scale associated with manufacturing processes. Thus, a grid-connected system will generate all or part of the electricity required in a home, while the remaining electricity loads are met by the utility.

PV systems can be easily integrated with a utility's electrical grid providing clean, renewable electricity for homeowners, while still ensuring continuous power supply from your regular utility. 

What are the benefits of having a PV system?

1. Reduce your utility bill

it’s generally too expensive to create a PV system to power everything in a house. However, if used wisely, PV systems can significantly reduce your utility bill. Any energy produced for "free" by the sun and your PV system is energy that you don't have to purchase from your utility. This translates into direct savings on your monthly utility bill. 

In addition to the direct savings, the PV arrays also act as a sunshade for your roof, reflecting heat from the sun that would otherwise be absorbed by your house. A shaded roof area can reduce the air temperature of your house, reducing the energy required by your air-conditioner to keep a comfortable temperature in your home. 

2. Environmental responsibility

another important consideration in installing PV systems is environmental responsibility. By using a renewable power source, you're helping reduce the impact of energy use on the environment for generations to come. 

3. Improved power reliability

if you use a grid-connected system with battery banks, then you can be assured of a continuous power supply in case of a power outage. 

How much electricity can a PV system produce?


EXAMPLE:

Given a 2-kW rooftop PV system located in India, where the average number of full hours of sunshine per day is 5.5 hours, the amount of electricity that this system could potentially produce is: 
= 2 kW x average annual sunshine hours
= 2 kW x (5.1 hrs/day x 365 days/year)
= 4015 kWh annually 
Note: the rated output of PV modules is assessed using the full hours of sunshine per day where one (1) full sun hour is defined as being exposed to a solar intensity equal to 1000 watts per square meter. Full sun hours do not indicate the number of hours that the sun is shining in a day, but rather is an indication of the intensity of the sun. 
Also important to note is that not all of the sunshine that strikes a PV cell will be converted into electricity. For the above example, let's assume a derating factor of 0.75. This factor accounts for inverter efficiency and wire losses, but it does not include battery losses. Thus, the amount of electricity that a 2-kW system located in the India could potentially produce is:
= 4015 kWh x 0.80
= 3212 kWh 
If a system includes battery banks, then an additional derating factor must be considered in the above calculation.

What is the lifespan of a PV system?

Solar Electric systems last a long time depending on the amount of active use, or the amount of sunshine converted into electricity by the PV cells. Most systems are only in use for 6 to 8 hours per day. Manufacturers will usually provide 20+ year warranty, but PV modules will likely last longer than that. The balance of system components, however, will have a shorter life. 

What is involved in maintaining and operating a Solar Electric system?

Without any moving parts, maintaining a PV system is relatively simple. For grid-connected systems, minimal maintenance is required, including keeping the panels free of any debris such as fallen leaves, bird droppings, etc. 
For stand-alone systems, the batteries usually require the most maintenance. Contact your PV system retailer for more information on maintaining battery banks. 

PV system manufacturers will usually provide a 20+ year warranty on the PV modules, and a 10-year warranty on the balance of system components