Table of Contents
Solar Electric (PV) systems and Electric Solar Panel
Photovoltaic cells are made of semiconductor and produce electricity. Multiple cells are connected together to form electric solar panels, and panels are then connected together into arrays to produce even more power.
The number of panels included in the arrays is a function of the power requirements. As needs change, additional electric solar panels can be added to satisfy new requirements.
Electric solar panels are typically installed on a south-facing roof and require unobstructed sunlight year round, during most of the day.
Most solar PV system installations are tied to the power grid, meaning that the electricity provided by the electrical utility complement the power coming from electric solar panels.
A solar power house project to install the simplest PV installation would include electric solar panels connected to a power inverter and to lights, TVs, computers, appliances, etc., together with breakers and switches.
The power inverter converts the DC current produced by the electric solar panels to 110 volts AC current used in a home.
This system is usually tied to the power grid, using power from the grid when power requirements exceed the output from the electric solar panels. In most areas, excess power produced by the electric solar panels can be sold back to the electric utility (net metering).
Adding batteries to the above system will allow the storage of power for use when the electric solar panels don’t produce enough electricity. Whenever batteries are added, it is necessary to also add a battery charge controller to limit the charge of the batteries.
Some PV installations are used to provide power for remote locations not connected to the grid, and such installations may include a generator to charge the batteries when the power produced by the PV system is not sufficient to maintain the charge of the batteries.
When appropriate, a solar power house implementation with electric solar panels can include one or more wind turbines to supplement the electricity production.
Solar Hot Water Systems and Solar Heating Panels
Water heating is the third largest energy expense in a home, using about 14% of total energy. Installing a solar hot water system using solar heating panels is an ideal way to get started with your solar power house projects. Most solar hot water system installations are supplemental, meaning that they work in concert with the existing hot water system in the home. The purpose of the solar heating panels is to preheat the water and almost eliminate the energy used by the older conventional hot water system.
Solar Heating Panels
A solar hot water system is a simple system consisting of solar heating panels or collectors installed on a roof facing south.
The solar collectors look like skylights. Solar collectors absorb solar thermal energy and convert it into heat.
A liquid solution consisting of water on non-toxic anti-freeze is pumped through a closed loop including the solar collectors and a heat exchange that is part of a new water tank installed in the house.
As the water passes through the solar collectors, its temperature increases significantly, and the same happens for the water in the water tank.
This water tank can be the only source of hot water for the home, or it can supply pre-heated water to an existing hot water system and reduce energy expense as a result. In this case,
The “Hot water to house” pipe on the diagram would feed into the “cold water” input of the existing water heating system (not shown on the diagram), and greatly reduce energy expense for water heating.
A similar setup can be used to heat the water in a swimming pool. Solar pool heaters are different from solar hot water systems.
Water heater systems raise a small quantity of water to about 140 degrees F., while a pool heater system raises large quantities of water to abut 80 degrees F.
Solar heating panels or collectors for pools are simpler and cheaper, and the water from the pool is pumped through the solar collector to raise the temperature.
Building a solar power house
It is becoming easier every day to build a solar power house.
You can use solar power to produce electricity using solar panels made of semiconductor solar cells.
The electricity produced will be used for lighting and to power appliances, computers, TVs, etc. You will save money by reducing the need for buying as much electricity from the utility company.
If your grid-tied electrical system produces excess electricity, you can sell it back to the utility company (net metering).
A solar power house can also use solar energy to produce hot water or heat a house. Solar collectors absorb solar thermal energy and convert it into heat. A liquid solution consisting of water or antifreeze is pumped through a loop including solar collectors and a heat exchanger.
The temperature of the liquid is increased significantly as it flows through the solar collectors that are typically located on a roof.
The heat exchanger will transfer the heat into existing water heater or boiler systems, and save energy since the water has been pre-heated by the sun.
A similar setup can also be used to heat the water of a swimming pool, where the pool water is pumped directly through the solar collectors.
Prices for solar panels and other solar power house components are declining rapidly, and it is now possible to build a basic system for around $200.
The price of electricity and oil has increased rapidly and you can start saving money by reducing your electric and heating bills.
You will also help reduce pollution by replacing some of your use of fossil fuel with clean solar energy. Federal and state incentives are also available to help pay for this implementation.
Prior to building a solar power house, you should make sure that your home is energy efficient. Wherever possible, replace inefficient incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent light bulbs.
You should also review your appliances and consider replacing older items with more efficient models. You should also ensure that your home is well insulated, including windows and doors.
Wind Power Systems and Wind Power Turbines
The first windmill to generate electricity in the United States was built in Ohio, in 1888. During the 1930s, thousands of small windmills were in use to generate electricity for most of the nation’s farms that didn’t have any electric service.
Depending on the site location and general wind conditions, a wind power turbine may be a good solution to generate electricity.
When appropriate, a small wind power home project will include one or more wind power turbines supplying some or all the power needs.
In some cases, a wind turbine can be added to complement a solar PV project. To get better wind conditions, wind turbines should be installed at a height of around 100 feet.
The simplest wind power home project would include the wind power turbine(s) connected to an inverter and to lights, TVs, computers and/or appliances, together with breakers and switches.
The inverter converts the DC current produced by the wind turbine(s) to 110 volts AC required in a home. This system can be standalone (off-grid) or connected to the power grid, using power from the grid when power requirements exceed the output from the wind turbine(s).
Wind power systems can include electric solar panels to produce electricity where there is not enough wind. In most areas, excess power can be sold back to the electric utility (net metering).
Wind power turbine
Adding batteries to the above system will allow the storage of power for use when the wind power turbine doesn’t produce enough electricity.
Whenever batteries are added, it is necessary to also add a battery charge controller to limit the charge of the batteries.
Some wind turbine installations are used to provide power for remote locations not connected to the power grid, and such installations may include a generator to charge the batteries when the power produced by the wind power turbine system is not sufficient to maintain the charge of the batteries.