• COUNCIL BLUFFS IOWA OFF-GRID 

    SOLAR PANEL SYSTEM COMPONENTS

    1

    Solar Panels

    • When sunlight strikes the silicon solar panels/photovoltaic cells, photons strike silicon electrons in the top portion of the cell and break them free.

    • This process known as the photovoltaic effect, creates direct current (DC) electricity that flows to the inverter in your Council Bluffs solar panel system.  

    • Each solar cell creates about 5 watts/hour of sunlight, and there are between 60-72 solar cells per solar panel.

    • Each solar panel can produce between 270-400 watts/hour of sunlight.

    2

    Charge Controller

    • The charge controller is located between the solar panels and the battery pack in your solar system, and it protects the battery and promotes its energy storage function.

    • First, the charge controller limits the amount and rate of charge that the solar battery receives during the day to prevent overcharging. It also stops the batteries from draining energy back to the solar panels at night.

    • Second, the charge controller has a low voltage disconnect which detects when the battery is near depletion, and the controller cuts off power to your appliances.  Once the battery recharges, the charge controller turn the appliances back on. This feature prevents damage to your batteries caused by over-drainage.

    3

    Battery

    • The solar battery is a key element to an off grid system because it is the only way to store excess electrical energy to power your home or business

    • Lead acid batteries have been the standard for solar power energy storage for decades now.  They are relatively inexpensive and reliable, but aren't massively efficient in in regards to how much electricity a single battery can store and release. To store a lot of power, you need a lot of batteries. 

    • Lead-acid batteries can only discharge 40% of their capacity or you risk damaging their ability to recharge in the future.

    •  Lead-acid batteries are great for off-grid solar system energy storage, but if you’re looking for high performance, you might want to consider a different type of battery.

    • Lithium-ion batteries are compact and powerful,  and are utilized in smart cars and many advanced solar panel systems. 

    • Besides being compact and powerful, lithium-ion batteries are often twice as expensive than lead-acid batteries .

    • The higher price of lithium-ion batteries is balanced by a longer battery life as well as their ability to more fully discharge stored energy as compared to lead acid batteries. 

    4

    Inverter

    • Solar panels generate direct current (DC) electricity which must be converted to alternating current (AC) electricity for use in homes and businesses. There are two types of inverters.

    • One is a "string inverter" system in which the solar panels are linked together in series, and the DC electricity flows from the solar panels to the separate inverter which converts the DC power to alternating current (AC) that is usable for your household or business electrical fixtures and appliances.

    • The other type of inverter is a "microinverter system" in which each panel has its own micro-inverter attached to the rear side of the panel. The panel still produces direct current (DC), but is converted directly into alternating current (AC) on the roof and is fed straight to the electrical switchboard.

    • Watch the video below to get a visual understanding of the energy usage and energy flow of an on-grid solar panel system

     

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8HPkpR1gl9E

  • COUNCIL BLUFFS IOWA OFF-GRID

    SOLAR PANEL SYSTEM PROS AND CONS

    PROS​

    • No bills from the power company ever because there is no connection to the grid
    • More energy conscious approach to power usage in that you understand exactly how much power you consume each day
    • Not contributing to the environmental footprint of the utility company
    • Possible to have backup power in the event of a power outage because of the energy stored in the solar batteries

     

    CONS

    • Highest initial cost and replacement cost of batteries (10 years or less lifespan)
    • Limited energy storage based on the amount of batteries purchased
    • Can literally run out of power, so you must be very energy efficient and energy conscious each and every day