Solar Energy

Over the years, the ever-growing pollution has become a significant concern worldwide. In search of an eco-friendly alternative for the world, technology has discovered how we can use the radiation emitted from the sun known as solar energy to compensate for pollution. Other eco-friendly alternatives have been discovered, like wind, recycling waste products, and so on.
The most practical of all is solar energy. Why? Because solar energy is abundant and renewable. Its probability of accessibility is exceptionally high in most regions around the world. The advantages it has nourishes its increasing demand. It is now readily available for domestic use in the form of solar panel systems.

What kinds of solar energy systems are there?
There are two types of solar systems that are used worldwide.
1- Grid-connected AC system with no battery backup or generator backup.
2- Grid-connected AC system with battery backup.
The installation of these systems depends on the condition of the region (e.g., weather conditions, power outage, etc.). If you live in an area where there is an abundant amount of sunlight, you can opt for a solar system without battery backup. However, suppose you are in a region where it is mostly cloudy or receives less sunlight. In that case, you will need a battery backup to maintain the power supply. However, the only drawbacks of using a battery backup may be the complexity of the system, replacement expense, and maintenance charges, so it is more reliable and cheaper to use a configuration that does not include battery backup.

What is the future of solar energy?
There are only three renewable resources in the world that use heat as its source of power: biomass, geothermal, and solar. Out of these three, solar energy has the highest potential globally. In contrast, geothermal is heavily dependent on location, and the supply of biomass is not abundant in nature.
Several factors contribute to the intensity of solar energy, such as latitude, climate, geographic location, and variation. On estimate, the average amount of solar energy received by the Earth’s atmosphere is around 342 Wm-2, out of which 30% is reflected into space or scattered, and remaining is available for harvesting and encapsulation. Fortunately, the USA is among the category of having abundant solar resources. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory in the USA has given an astounding figure, stating that it can produce 400 zettawatt-hours of electricity per year. The concept of solar energy is simply to harvest and utilize light and heat generated by the sun and convert it into other forms like electricity. There are two takes on this, the passive technologies focus on using it in its current form, and the best example for this is for heating homes in winter.
In contrast, another approach of utilizing solar energy is using existing technologies to focus on converting it into another form, like electricity. The best example of this is using solar panels to replace traditional electricity supplies. These facts and figures justify that the use of solar energy is ever-increasing. Over the years, more and more people will be using it for corporate or domestic purposes. The most significant advantage of this resource is that it is very readily available all over the world, making it perfect and reliable for homes, industries, offices, and other settings.

Cost analysis of solar energy
Certain factors cause a fluctuation in the overall cost of the whole system, which ranges from the quality of components to the labor required for deploying it. The cost can be broken down into the following sections.
1- Components Cost: The component cost can vary due to the quality of the components. Firstly, the solar panel costs around $5 to $7 per watt. The cost of the inverter is on average less than $1 per watt. If you happen to have a battery, the overall cost of the system increases due to complexity and maintenance. As a result, the cost of material and labor also increases, so it is usually $2 per watt-hour.
2- Labor Cost: The cost of labor depends on the layout of the building and the type of roofing on which the system must be installed. On Average, for a 2Kw system without a battery, it will take two-four person-days. A system that has many solar panels requires less effort per watt than a small system. If you have to install a battery as well, then the price of the overall system can increase as much as 50% to 100% of the total cost.

How do you install a solar energy system?
The process of installation depends on the complexity of the system. The process starts with the evaluation of the site, legal documentation, ordering of components, installation, and approval.
1. Site Evaluation
Although sunlight is free and available in every region of the world. There are specific criteria that need to be met before you set up your photovoltaic system. Below mentioned are the standard criteria that need to be met.
• The solar system is usually installed on rooftops. Otherwise, it can be wall-mounted, ground-mounted, or pole-mounted. Still, the critical bit here is the availability of space. It is crucial to check the space because the high load requires more solar plates that you will need to power electrical equipment; hence the evaluation of space is significant.
• The solar system can be heavily affected by shading; even a branch of a leafless tree can cover a solar plate that can have a very negative effect on the system. The solar system needs to have an uninterrupted supply of sunlight from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm to work in its ideal state. The site where it needs to install should not be surrounded by too many trees or any other object like hangings, attic fans, roofs, and other obstructions that may hinder the process.
• Another essential point to consider is the age of the location. What that means is that the condition of the location should be in a well-enough state to sustain the system and power generation. An example of this would be if your roof needs to be replaced in a period of 5 to 10 years, you will need to replace it before installing the solar system. Otherwise, it can be hazardous and expensive and can add on the expense of removing and reinstalling solar panels if you need to replace the roof later on.
2. Legal Documentation
The installation of solar panels involves a lot of paperwork that is mostly dealt with by the installer. Regardless of this, it is crucial to know how legal documentation works. The most important thing is to apply for state and federal solar incentives like federal IT and financing incentives such as PACE (Property Assessed Clean Energy), SRECs (Solar Renewable Energy Certificates), and so on. Other than this, you need to fill out forms related to building permits. These permits are specific to your location. For example, in some areas of the USA, the roof has to have three feet of clear space surrounding the solar panels. In contrast, other areas can allow covering the whole roof with solar panels. The time to get this all done depends upon your installer and how quickly he or she submits the paperwork.
3. Ordering the Equipment
Once you get the approval from the authorities, now it is time to order the right equipment for the installation. As there are several varieties available in the components, you primarily need to focus on the solar panels and inverter. Your installer will find a reputable brand for each component. Still, you, as a consumer, must look at all possible options by researching. Look for top-rated solar panels and inverters and focus on customer reviews about the product. Remember: you are the consumer! You need to select the product that gives you max output and is reliable, so make your choice very carefully.
4. Installation
Once the components arrive, your installer will proceed with the installation by firstly prepping the roof and make sure the tiles are correctly attached. Then they install the electrical wiring to connect your panels and inverter. After wiring, the racks to support the panels will be installed, after which panels will be placed on racks. Finally, your inverter is connected to the panels to convert DC to AC. The time for installation ranges from one to three days for homes. However, it can increase due to the complexity of the system (installing a battery) and area.
5. Approval
Before you can turn on your system, a representative from your government or town comes for inspection and double-check all the legal requirements that were made before the ordering and installation of the system. He or she will check that the electrical wires are correctly installed, that the mounting was done safely, and all the standards of electrical and roof made by the government are met. Once all the inspection is cleared, and you get a green signal, you are good to go.

How much does it cost to install a solar panel system?
The installation of the solar energy panel system can cost $23,597 on an average. The homeowners are paying between $16,532 to $30,820. For the solar panel energy systems ranging from 3kW to 10kW, assume to pay $2.50 to $3.50 per watt. Having said that, you can cut 265 of the total installation costs with Federal ITC (Investment Tax Credit).

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