Natural resources like coal, natural gas, oil are constantly been consumed every now and then as roughly 85% of the entire electric energy generated around the world today is provided using these resources. Not just its finite quantity that is worrisome but also the by-products (carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, CFCs etc) produced from their combustion during energy production has by far contributed greatly to the climate change "global warming". With these adverse effects on ground, coupled together with government subsidy and obligations, this has led to sourcing for an alternative energy other than energy derived from these fossils fuel with the requirements that these source must be must renewable (continuously replenished and inexhaustible) and environmental friendly.
There are several renewable energy source that has being discovered in the world today, ranging from sunlight, biomass, wind, earth internal heat, water and with more still yet to be discovered. But when it comes to choosing an alternative power system with almost no adverse effect and forever renewable, solar power system has always been one of the most preferred and fast growing system owing to its numerous benefits over other alternative. A typically solar power system make uses of Photovoltaic PV modules to convert light energy from the sun to electricity which can either be stored or directly used by feeding it into the grid line or combined with one or more generators or other renewable source like wind.
Image soure: @sunkanmi02
Even though solar energy turns out to be the most expensive renewable source for generating electricity amidst all other technology known today, the increase in its efficiency over the years and the lengthy life span of its components at a reduce production has made it competitive among other energy source plus its maintenance cost is very low and requires zero fuel usage of course.
Do you know why it's maintenance cost is very low?
To simply put, there exist no moving part within the system like turbines and motors, as it is well known that machines requires constant maintenance. So when talking about solar power system maintenance, the only component that requires maintaining is the solar module. Too much dirt on the surface of the solar panel reduces its efficiency and this can be taking care of with soapy water, a soft scrubbing brush with water for cleaning and a solar power monitor for confirming if actually the output power conforms with the desired output after cleaning.
Today, I am here to bring to your awareness some of the lapses between wanting to install a solar power system and actually installing one, how these err can be avoid or overcome and why you need to know this?
Simple, it saves you from unnecessary headache, waste of money and time that could stem out from a poor system design. I am very positive that anyone going through this article in a way or another, have heard about a solar power system, have come in contact with one before or better still, you already making use of the system in your various places.
A lot of people ignores the essence of installing the system in the first place once they have the slightest idea that it can supply their power need, they worry less and on the long run tends to spend more on it compared to the cost of paying the utility company or the cost of purchasing, fueling and maintaining an gasoline generator (as this is applicable to people in developing countries like Nigeria that experiences frequent power failure now and then).
I have also met with people who have unrealistic expectation when it comes to going solar. Imagine someone wanting to power his refrigerator, television set, five 60W bulbs, air conditioner and many more with just a 1kVA inverter power system, two 250W solar PV modules and a 200AH battery. It just unreasonable and ridiculous!
Funny thing here is that even some installer still tends to make some mistakes which on the long run has a severe effect on the cost of implementation. So what are some of the little mistakes people make when going solar? So, sit back relax on this one as you are exposed to some tips that will save you from spend more than you should on solar power system.
But before I venture into some of these tips, I like to lay emphasis on the two main reasons why people go solar from my own perspective; one is to go green (environmental friendly) and the other is to save cost of producing electricity at an efficient rate. With this reasons, you just need to be aware, conscious and be ready to embark on activities that will set your purpose on its right path since we are cognizant that solar power system is costly even though its becoming cheaper as the years pass by.
Not having a detailed understanding about solar
You just can't begin a journey if you don't know where you are going to or what motivates you to travel in the first place. I am certain, you have travelled to places you have never being to before. If asked why, am very sure it is for valid purpose or reason. So before you even think of going solar, if not much, you need to have a little, basic understanding of how the system operates.
Don't just get the system because your friend have solar or because people said it produces electricity. Making a detailed research at your free time, meet people who are expert in this field. Don't just rely on what people say, do you findings and its best to avoid listening to the wrong people; especially those interested in your pocket or those who themselves are confused about the entire system.
To ease your research, you can check this made easy, self explanatory article by @olajidekehinde.
Buying before defining your loads
This is one of the terrible mistake most people make when going solar. Here, I can relate going solar as cooking a meal. Imagine what happens when you prepare a delicious meal which can only satisfy four people for an entire household of ten. The same is the result if you go solar without defining your load. I had such experience with my first sets of installation which I corrected later on by carrying out load separation and further more provide room for future upgrade. One major fact you need to be aware of is that your loads is the key factor that determines the size and the cost of solar power system you ought to get.
How then do you define your load before buying?
Simple, add up the rated wattage of all the appliances you intend to power with the system and then obtain a system that can accommodate the total power consumed. This process at times can be inaccurate and complex because of the presence of different types of load and the calculations involved. A better option is to source for an energy audit which provides you with a precise power and energy data for you home and of course this can be done at an affordable price.
This in its entirety, can still be narrow down to knowing your wants, be patient, ask people who have done this before, do your research before considering buying.
Not making future plans
Many people live for the presence only as they are majorly concern with their currents needs, neglecting how these needs might change in the nearest future. But truth be told, you needs will always increase with time whether you like it or not. Probably when you got the system, it's just you and your wife and now you are having four kids and your brother's children now lives with you, you just got new refrigerator, or let say the number of TV set in the house has increased from one to four, you will definitely need an upgrade. And how do you go about that?
Easy! Ensure that you allow extra room for the expansion of your installation. Always leave extra space for more solar panel to be mounted on the roof and that you can easily change your charge controller and your inverter to a higher rating likewise your battery bank. One other thing you need to be cautious about is when increasing your battery bank. If you are making use of lead acid battery, pairing new ones with old ones can cause the new batteries to adopt the charging characteristics of the old ones which in turn make the new ones to age prematurely. In this case, the best thing you can do is to purchase new sets of batteries and dispose off the old ones. This of course as you know is not cost friendly looking at the cost of batteries in market today. Instead of that you can go for lithium batteries that are designed with internal circuit board to monitor and controls their charging parameter, so to say, the charging of each batteries is independent of the another unlike the lead acid battery.
Mistaking sun hours with daytime hours
Solar modules are designed to function efficiently at a period of the day when the sun is highest in the sky. This period is commonly known as peak sunlight hour, a period of the day when the intensity of the sun is highest for a specific region. Don't confuse this period with daytime hours.
image source: @sunkanmi02
Just because you are having 12 daylight hours, doesn't mean that your panels are receiving enough irradiation at all times. Here in Nigeria, we enjoy an average of 6 hours of sunlight and in some other country like US experience around 3 - 6 hours so when designing, you must be conscious of this fact, as this goes a long way to boost the efficient of your system. In order to get the best out of your solar modules, you must ensure that modules are install in a manner that they can easily maximize the sunlight hours available.
Poor solar module installation
This is comparable to not giving enough consideration and time to how you want to install your solar module and the factors that goes into it. Every great structural designs starts with planning, failure to do so could leads to a potential lose cause, waste of resources and time. A good solar installation comes down to ensure the safety of the modules and also to maximizing their output power efficiency.
What then actually do you need to do to ensure a perfect solar installation? You should know that you don't have to be an installer to have a basic ideas about this things as this will give an edge, should in case you hire an installer that is incompetent or unreliable.
To ensure a proper solar module installation, you need to have a strong and spacious roofing structure to accommodate your modules and also be conscious of the conditions in which you should subject your modules to for them to function as intended. The part of the roof in which you mount your solar panels depends on the side of the earth you are on. Like here in Nigeria, panels are mounted on the south side of the rooftop since we reside on the northern hemisphere and plus the tilt angle must be approximately equal to latitude of your location. And make sure that your module are properly spaced from the roofing sheet to prevent heating them up as analysis have shown that solar panels don't work effectly with heat
Avoid taking sweet deal that is too good to be true
Yea, a lot of people falls into this trap. Going for cheaper solar components will only land you in trouble because almost 95% of them are substandard and this causes you to spend more compared to what you would have initially spend on the genuine ones. And should in case you employ an installer to get these components for you, ensure that you have an idea of the kind of brand and the quality of components he wants to use and why, especially the battery bank. Because if not, this will come back to hunt you, frustrate you and cost you time and resources.
I hoped I have being able to enlighten us about the likely mistakes we need to avoid when going solar and how they can be overcomed if encountered, till next time, keep steemit!