Solar Energy Equipment
If you’re considering installing a solar panel system, you’ve probably spent some time researching financing, tax breaks, and solar installers. However, you should also educate yourself about the solar energy equipment your system needs to get up and running. While the components of a PV system are simple, the different product options and brands can make the equipment selection process fairly complex. We’ll break down all things solar power equipment in order to best prepare you to select your solar hardware. In order to go solar, you’re going to need the following equipment:• Solar panels
• Performance monitoring
• Storage option (battery or grid connection)
Solar panels are the components that harness and store the energy from the sunlight. Photovoltaic solar panels (PV) are composed of silicon semiconductors, which capture energy from the sun’s rays. This process is named the photovoltaic effect. When exposed to the sun, PV solar panels produce energy in the form of a direct current charge, which can be measured in units of watts.
Solar panels can range in their energy output from roughly 75 watts to 350 watts, with an average output of about 250 watts. When solar panels are grouped together, they form a solar panel system. The energy potential of the system is calculated by the number of panels multiplied by their power output. Common in Rwanda households are the 5 kWh solar systems, which are composed of 20 panels, each with a 250-watt power output. Based on these numbers, an annual solar production can be estimated of 6,500 watts per year. This is more than enough to sustain an average-sized household in Rwanda with all of its necessities.
Solar panels produce a direct current charge, which needs to be converted to alternating current in order to supply power to appliances. This is done with the help of inverters, which regulate and adapt the energy produced by solar panels to levels necessary for energy usage. The inverters are compatible with single-phase applications (found in most households) and three-phase applications. Solar inverters connect the solar panel system to the existing electrical meter. There are two main types of inverters for solar energy systems, central inverters and micro inverters.
Central inverters are less expensive than its counterpart and are commonly used for solar systems which have a large solar access. They can convert the power produced by all the solar panels linked together. The size of central inverters is similar to the solar panel size and is installed indoors typically on a wall. This inverter is most effective when all the solar panels connected to it have the same specifications and work under similar conditions, thus putting out the same amount of power.
Micro Inverters are used when a part of the solar panel system is temporarily shaded from the sunlight. They are assigned to each individual solar panel, allowing technicians to monitor and analyse each solar module’s energy production. This leads to a higher price for these components, but also to a higher level of information access. Micro inverters are beneficial in situations where a central inverter is not compatible with the system.