You know the expression “it’s what is inside that counts”? Well, in the world of solar energy, what is “inside” that counts is how effectively and professionally the equipment and materials used for construction perform. To ensure that your solar power system operates at its optimum capacity, it is important to build and install the array using high-quality and durable equipment. Many homeowners and solar enthusiasts believe that solar lights and solar ovens are basic necessities for any household and that there are many affordable and reliable options available. However, it is also very important to make sure that the array is built and placed in the right location in order to maximize power generation.
Location, Location, Location
Of all the places where you can put a solar array, the location is arguably the most crucial factor. The general rule of thumb is that the closer the location of the array to the equator, the higher the power production per unit of area. Bear in mind, though, that the sun is not always at the perfect angle and height to produce the maximum amount of energy so it is advisable to position the array in such a way that it gets the maximum exposure to the sun throughout the year.
The bigger the array, the more power it generates. However, there is a limit to how big you can go before you hit diminishing returns. The practical limit is about ten acres but, for the sake of a comfortable living, fifteen to twenty acres are often preferred. If you live in a remote area and do not want to have the burden of powering your whole house, then having a small array is the way to go. It is also advisable to set aside a percentage of the array’s total capacity for redundancy in case something happens to the main circuit board or the equipment malfunctions.
An alternative and, in many cases, a more convenient way of storing and utilizing energy is by connecting to the grid. Depending on your local regulations, you may have to get a permit to connect to the grid but, once you do, you will be able to sell your excess energy to the utility company. This way, you will not only be able to generate your own energy but also purchase it at a discounted rate. If you decide to go this route, make sure that you contact your local power company so that they do not think that you are over-charging them by mistake. In many areas, they impose a surcharge on excess power usage which is generally acceptable whenever there is an uncertainty about whether or not the system will actually produce any power at all.
Another important aspect of building a solar array is making sure that it is well-insulated against the searing heat of the sun. As we’ve already discussed, the closer the location of the array to the equator, the higher the power production per unit area. However, this also means that the sun’s heat is going to be significantly magnified and, unless you take proper precautions, the array could become a serious threat to your health. One solution is to install the array on a concrete foundation insulated with polystyrene foam and with the outer layer protected by a metal roof. Additionally, it is also advisable to paint the outside of the array to reduce absorption of solar radiation by the earth.
When it comes to purchasing solar equipment and materials, you should always go for the highest quality that you can afford. It is not always the case, however, that higher quality implies higher performance. Sometimes, it just means that the product is more expensive but, in the long run, it is usually better to pay for quality.
Another important factor which relates to the quality of the array is how long it will last before you have to buy another one. In terms of solar ovens and solar water heaters, many high-quality brands offer a ten year warranty so you’re covered if the product should fail during that time. Similarly, consider buying equipment which is specifically designed for the purpose of building and maintaining a solar array because they are often higher quality and more durable than general-purpose alternatives. With proper care and maintenance, many of these products can extend their lifespan by several years.
Many high-quality products come with a one-year warranty which covers parts and labor for repairing or replacing broken or malfunctioning units. It would be advisable to invest in multiple backups for your solar power system in case something should happen to one of the individual components. Additionally, having redundant components such as a spare inverter or a back-up battery is also advisable in case the main electricity supply should fail for some reason. However, sometimes even the best-laid plans can go wrong and, in that case, you should have a plan B just in case plan A fails. Sometimes, this can mean repairing or replacing the entire system but, in most cases, it is much easier and less expensive to just install a back-up.
The most important consideration when constructing a solar array is how much it will cost to operate and maintain the system. Of course, the initial cost of purchasing the equipment is the first thing to consider but, after that, it’s all about how much you’ll have to spend on fuel, parts, and labor. If you want to generate your own energy but do not want to run up unnecessary expenses, then consider alternative means of power generation such as hydroelectricity or geothermal energy which are much more cost-effective than solar.
Ultimately, selecting the right location, sizing, and insulation are all important factors which help determine the cost-effectiveness of a solar array. By taking the time to do your research and learn as much as you can before you start building, you will be able to choose the best option for your needs and budget. It is also very important to make sure that you are purchasing high-quality and durable equipment and materials because this will determine how long you will be able to enjoy the benefits of your clean solar energy system without having to replace it too soon. By purchasing quality items, you will also save money in the long run because replacements will be much less frequent and simpler repairs will be less expensive in terms of labor and material.