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How to Set Up a Solar Power System

Solar Power System

Solar power is becoming more and more popular as time passes. With the constant advancement in technology, these systems are becoming easily available to the common public. Many companies & even the government are providing subsidies and assistance, to promote as many people as possible to convert to solar. However, some people like doing things on their own. And they need the answer to the question, “How to Set Up a Solar Power System”?

So, let’s talk about just that.

Types of Solar Power Systems

To harness electricity from sunlight, users will have to employ a Photovoltaic Solar Panel system. These systems can be divided into two types – On-Grid, and Off-Grid. On Grid-Systems are connected to both the home appliances and the state’s electricity grid. In these systems, the users can consume electricity from both the solar system & the electric grid. In case of surplus energy generation by the system, users can send the surplus to the electric grid. In this scenario, the government will compensate the user by providing them with free electricity for the amount that they have given to the government.

In the case of off-grid systems, your facility will be completely disconnected from the electric grid. The only source of power generation in these systems is either the solar panels or a diesel/petrol generator. If you’re planning on setting up an off-grid system, you must also purchase either a sufficient enough battery pack or a generator.

Components Needed for a Solar Power System

Now that you know the basic types of solar power systems, let us discuss the components that you need to set up such a system.

(A). Photovoltaic Solar Panels

PV panels are made of small semi-conducting silicon cells that can generate electricity through the photovoltaic effect. When photons from the sunlight hit these cells, they knock off the electrons in them lose, creating a potential difference. This generates electricity. The panel then combines the electricity from all the cells and transports it to the system.

There are two types of solar panels available for our purpose, namely – monocrystalline, and polycrystalline.

(B). Solar Charge Controller (Optional)

The next component is a solar charge controller, however, unlike the panels, these are optional and you can make a system work without them. The purpose of a solar charge controller is to the voltage of electricity that goes into the system & the appliances. A Solar Panel will keep on creating electricity when under the sun, no matter the demand. So, an unchecked system can lead to overheating of appliances, damaged batteries, etc. 

There are three types of solar charge controllers, namely – 1 or 2 Stage Controllers, Pulse Width Modulation (PWM), and Maximum Power Point Tracking (MPPT).

(C). Battery Pack (Optional)

Solar systems can only generate electricity in the presence of adequate sunlight, hence the name. During other times, like night, cloudy weather, etc., users will need other sources of power like a generator, electric grid, or in this case, a battery pack. A sufficiently big enough battery pack can hold enough electricity, to provide you with energy during the downtime of the solar system.

(D). Gasoline Generator (Optional)

As opposed to a battery, users can also choose an electric generator for down times. Since batteries can be a very expensive investment. Most people rely on gasoline generators. These devices use an internal combustion engine connected to a dynamo, to generate electricity.

Step-By-Step Guide to Setting a Solar Power System

To set up a solar power system, you must follow these few simple steps.

(A). Calculate the Load Requirement

The first step is to calculate your facility’s/home’s total power requirement. There are several methods to do this. First, you can take the readings from your electric meters, regarding the daily electricity consumption. The best time would be during the summer months, as that’s when the electricity consumption is usually the highest. Another method is to note down the power input for all your electrical devices, these include – Lights, TV, Refrigerator, Air Conditioner, Fans, etc., these will be in Wh or KWh. Then note down how many hours each device is usually operated, and multiply the operating hours by the respective input. Then add all the numbers to get the estimated load that you require per day.

(B).  Select the Number & Type of Panels

Once you calculate the total load, you need to decide how many panels and what type of panels you need. As mentioned above, there are two types of panels available – monocrystalline & polycrystalline. They both have their pros and cons. Monocrystalline is far more efficient than polycrystalline panels. However, they are also significantly more expensive.

Another thing to keep in mind is the area where you need to mount these panels. Depending on the area available, you may need to choose the expensive option to fit panels that can satisfy your load requirements. Lastly, you must also remember that a panel will not generate peak electricity (power output mentioned in the specifications) output, throughout the day.

For example, a 500 Watt panel will only produce 500 Watt for 4 to 6 hours, around noon time. The rest of the time, it will produce a little less than that. And, on average, panels only produce any significant electricity for 7 to 9 hours a day, depending on the region you live in. Regions with clear weather and near the equator will have a longer electricity-generating window.

(C). Mount and Set the Wiring

The next step is to mount the PV Panels in a proper manner. Make sure to keep a proper distance between the panels, enough so you can move between them in case of maintenance or cleaning. Make sure there are no obstacles that may block sunlight during operations. There are many types of mounts for the panels, like wall mounts, floor mounts, etc. 

After doing that, you need to connect the panels with electric cables and a single connection that goes directly to the solar charge controller. The controller can then be connected to batteries and other appliances. The benefit of a controller is that it protects the batteries and appliances from overloading, in case of a power surge.

(D). Connect to Grid (Optional)

In case you wish to set up an On-Grid solar power system, you will also need to put a connection to the electric grid. This is done, so you can send the surplus electricity to the state’s grid.

Things to Keep in Mind & Precautions

If you’ve read this far, then you know the basics of setting up a solar power system. Now, let’s move to the precautionary sections. Though it may seem simple, working with electricity will always have its dangers. That is why, there are some things that you need to keep in mind while setting up a solar power system.

(A). Consult a Professional

As much as you may want to take on the responsibility for yourself, we recommend that you at least consult a solar expert. These people can help you decide the best component, and might even give you a discount on installation services. In addition, you will also need to contact your local state government office if you are going to set up an on-grid system.

(B). Protective Covers

The next thing to remember is to know how to keep your panels safe. Remember, PV panels cost a lot, an average 500-Watt panel can cost anywhere from ₹70,000 to ₹1,30,000. If you live in a debris-prone area, then it’s best to also purchase transparent PVC protective covers for your panels.

(C). Wear Protective Gear

A very important thing to remember is to always wear protective gear when working with electricity. Make sure to wear insulated shoes with rubber soles, and rubber gloves. Make sure to check your tools for properly insulated handles, the hospital bills will cost far more than outside installation if you get electrocuted.

(D). Keep Backup Funds

Whenever preparing for a big project you must prepare a budget that you can afford. However, what most people don’t understand, is that they need to always prepare for some contingencies. Many factors may increase the total cost of setting up such a system. So, in addition to your budget, always keep a little extra disposable funds aside.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. What is the disadvantage of an on-grid solar system?

There are a few disadvantages to an On-Grid Solar Power System, the biggest of them is its inability to sell surplus electricity during a blackout. As such, sending power to a damaged grid can cause more problems. Therefore, an On-Grid system without batteries will need to be disconnected from the grid or turned off during a blackout.

Q2. Why use an off-grid solar system?

An off-grid system offers users complete independence from the authorities when it comes to their power needs. Admittedly it is not perfect, but many people feel like the cost outweighs the benefits.

Q3. Can I install my solar system?

Yes, you can set up a solar power system by yourself. However, unless you have previous experience doing electric work, we would advise you to just hire professionals to do the installation. These components are expensive, and if you end up damaging something, you’d end up paying a lot more money than you’d save by DIY installation.

Disclaimer: The information presented here is for general information purposes only and true to best of our understanding. Users are requested to use any information as per their own understanding and knowledge. Before using any of the information, please refer to our Privacy Policy and Terms and Conditions.

  • Created on Jun 30, 2023

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