Things You Should Consider Before Installing Solar Panels at Home

Solar panels are being installed in homes in just about every corner of the globe. The only costs associated with installation are mostly one-time, unlike traditional solutions. There are different types of solar panels which are available due to the continuous development in the market. As the world becomes more environmental conscious, the need for solar panels will only increase.

There are certain things which need to be considered before installing solar panels for your home. Here the most important factors which must be taken into account.

  1. Type of Property

Now, when we talk about the type of property, we are talking about whether it is of permanent nature or not. Obviously, you will be spending a great deal on the solar panels in terms of money and time. If you are considering buying solar panels for your home, then you definitely want to take benefit of it for a certain period of time such as 10 to 15 years. Therefore, make sure to consider this.

  1. Structure of the Roof

Next, you need to consider the structure of the roof. The type of roof structure will be considered when investing in a solar panel. Even though, it is easy to install solar panels for just about every type of roof structure, it is still important to keep it mind as there are different costs for different roof structures.

  1. Safety Hazards

It is common for there to be safety hazards no matter where you live. However, the type and frequency of hazards depends on where you live. This is why you need to have mechanisms in place which deal which such issues as in the case of lightning or an earthquake.

There are many precautionary steps which can be taken to protect solar panels such as in the case of lightning. One can purchase lightning reflectors or other equipment which will handle the lightning strikes.

  1. Location of the Home

Solar panels are designed to provide you with maximum efficiency no matter where you might live. However, you need to consider the location of your home and the amount of sunlight that it receives throughout the day. It will help you invest in solar panels which are perfect for the location of your home.

  1. Buy or Lease

You will also need to consider whether you want to buy or lease the solar panels. There are many financing options that are offered these days. Therefore, make sure to go through both of the options to make the right decision. Make sure to choose a trustworthy company. Read online reviews to get an idea of which company you should choose.

  1. Consider the Timeline

Finally, you need to consider the installation timeline of the solar panels. Solar panels need plenty of wiring and equipment to work. Therefore, ask the company about how long it should take and book a period, weeks in advance. Before signing a contact, you need to go through the entire timeline.

The Advantages and Disadvantages of Solar Street Lights

There has been a recent increase in solar powered street lights in recent years due to technological advancements. These solar powered street lights use photovoltaic (PV) panels. The panels have to be mounted onto the structure or either be connected to the pole in order to work. The PV panels are provided power by a rechargeable battery at night.

The solar panels will automatically with the help of light sense the outdoor light. When there is low sun energy or isn’t even available for some days, the solar panels will still be able to give off light. There is a reason why people switch to solar street light these days.

Advantages of Solar Street Lights

The main advantage of solar street light is that they are entirely independent of the energy sector which helps reduce their operational cost. What this means is the fact that the lights are wireless and aren’t connected to an electricity company.

The solar street lights depend on heat energy which is provided by sunlight and the energy is converted and stored through the entire day. Furthermore, maintenance costs are significantly less as compared to conventional street lights for solar street lights. There is also a lower chance of the lights being overheated.

The risk of accidents is reduced as well due to the solar wires not using any external wires. Conventional street lights normally lead to accidents such as electrocution or strangulation, whereas, for solar street lights, it’s uncommon for such an occurrence.

Another reason why people should use solar street lights is due to the fact that they are environment-friendly and use sunlight for power which eliminates the carbon footprint. The solar lighting system can also be carried easily to other locations which makes is efficient and a reliable lighting solution.

Now, even though solar street lights have many advantages, they do have some disadvantages which you should know about. It is worthwhile to know about both the advantages and disadvantages of solar street lights.

Disadvantages of Solar Street Lights

The main disadvantage of solar street lights is that it requires a high level of initial investment as compared to conventional street lighting. It is the main reason behind why people do not consider switching to solar street lighting. Most people overlook the fact that the investment is only short-term and there are long-term benefits of solar street lights such as reduced operational costs and a much longer life cycle.

One of the disadvantages is that the solar street lights are non-wired which makes is easy for the wires to be stolen and the risk of theft is much higher as the wires have a much higher value when compared to the conventional street lights.

On horizontal PV panels, it is likely for dust or snow, and even moisture to accumulate. Therefore, it is required for solar street lights to be checked more regularly, especially if you place them in areas that experience severe weather. Furthermore, such weather will also shorten the life span of the lights or damage it. The batteries need to be replaced throughout the life of the light. It all adds up to increased maintenance costs.

Conclusion

Solar street lights have more advantages than disadvantages. It is always a good idea to consider installing solar street lights.

PWM controller or MPPT controller for solar street lights, which one is better

There are 2 main solar charge controllers for solar street lights. These are the PWM and MPPT. The technologies of both are normally used for off-grid solar power. Both of them are a good option when we talk about charging the battery efficiently.

Now, in order to understand which social charge controller is better, one needs to know which type of work the controller is well-suited for.

Power Curve

If you want to choose between the two controllers, you need to understand the power curve of PV panels. It is vital due to the fact that it shows you the power generation which can be expected based on the combined current and voltage generated by your PV panel. The ratio which should be ideal is one which produces the most power and is known as the Maximum Power Point or MPPT for short. The changes greatly depend on the irradiation situation throughout the day.

PWM (Pulse-Width Modulation)

The Pulse-Width Modulation or PWM for short is important when we talk about the battery bank and when it is full. As the battery charges, the solar charge controller allows as much current as can be generated by the PV panel so as to achieve the target voltage for the charge stage.

Once the battery achieves its target voltage, the controller would automatically switch from the battery banks to the panel array; hence the battery bank would be disconnected. This helps regulate the voltage of the battery and allows it to be constant.

The swift change method is what is called the PWM. It allows the battery bank to be charged while at the same time ensuring that the battery does not get overcharged during the process. The thing with the PWM controller is that it would normally operate a little over the maximum power point.

MPPT (Maximum Power Point Tracking)

The Maximum Power Point Track or MPPT for short helps provide an indirect connection for the PV array and the battery bank. The indirect connection includes DC voltage converter which would take the extra PV voltage and transform it into additional current when there is a lower voltage without losing power.

The reason why the MPPT is able to do this is due to the fact that it has an adaptive algorithm which follows the PV array and then simply adjusts the increase in voltage to ensure that the most efficient level of power is maintained for the system. Thus, the controller is highly efficient.

Which One is better?

If you want to choose a controller between the two, you need to keep a few factors in mind such as the size of the array, site conditions, load, cost of the solar power system and the system components. Each of these factors plays a huge role in determining which controller is the best fit for you. Understand the factors beforehand in order to make the right decision when choosing a controller.

How to Size the Cable for a Solar System?

Having a solar system means that you should be able to know how to size a cable. We all can agree that a solar system which does not have cable could be easily compared to a highly efficient machine that takes up space and is of no use. The cables are a critical part of the solar systems as they are used for the deployment of electrical energy which is converted from the sun by the controller and is processed to provide energy.

The size of the cable determines whether the solar system runs efficiently or becomes a security hazard.

Calculate the Right Cable Diameter/ Thickness/ Size for the Solar System

Let’s assume that the solar system would power an LED bulb street light. For example the street light is just 36 ft (11m) away from the controller, it would mean that the longest cable running to and from the controller would need to be 72.3 ft (22m) or twice the height of the street light in simple words.

However, for accurate results, the formula below will be useful.

CT = (V ÷ 20) ÷ (Lx I x 0.04)

Understand the terms in the formula

CT = Cross-sectional area of the cable in mm²

V = System voltage

L = Cable length in meters

I = Current in amps

For calculating the needed cable thickness, we would use 12 V as an example.

Calculation of the Needed Cable Thickness at 12 V

20.65mm² = (12V ÷ 20) ÷ (22m x 14.08A x 0.04)

At 12 V, the thickness which is needed for the cable would be too great and it would not allow the system to run effectively.

Which Size is Ideal?

Normally, if one is looking for the ideal size of the cable, then it would either be 48 V or 24 V. Cable wires are expensive and thick, but are a critical part of the solar system without which it wouldn’t be possible for the system to work properly.

Tips on Sizing the Cable for a Solar System

If you want to effectively size the cable, then there are certain things which you need to keep in mind. They will help you size the cable as per the required thickness of the solar system.

The formula mentioned above will help you get an idea about the size of the cable. However, the sizing part is something which requires great care. As the cable is expensive, you need to be sure that you have calculated the value correctly. For better assurance, make sure to calculate the value once more and see if it is the same as before.

Once, you are sure that the value is correct; you can set the cable at a proper surface so as to ensure that it is sized properly. You do not want to make a mistake and start all over. There are many equipment tools which can be used to size the cable of a solar system.

How to Protect Solar Street Lights against Lightning?

The use of solar street lights is continuing to increase throughout the world. More and more people as well as corporations have realized the importance of the lights and ensuring that they purchase the latest lights. The best thing about solar street lights is the fact that they are easy to install, flexible, durable and stable.

A typical solar street light consists of an inverter, solar panel, led street light, junction box, control system and the battery. Most of the devices are well-integrated in the limited space. Solar street lights can be prone to natural disasters such as lightning which is why it is important to effectively protect them.

This guide will help you understand how it is possible to protect solar street lights from lightning. The lights are an expensive investment and that is why it is important to protect them. In order for you to ensure protection as per the requirements of IEC62305 for the solar DC system, the below protection zones need to be considered and installed accordingly.

  1. Surge Protection Zone
  2. Relative SPD Test
  3. Voltage Protection Level
  4. Open Circuit Voltage
  5. Harmonic Wave Interference

Solution 1: Ensure that the Lightning Strike is Directed

The majority of solar street lights operate in harsh locations which makes them susceptible to damages such as from the weather. If the solar street light experiences lightning damage, it would be attributed to have an inadequate direct strike lightning protection in place.

It could be due to insufficient grounding, bonding or not having a proper transient protection. In order to prevent the solar street light from being damaged by lightning, it is recommended to use a professional grounding or lightning rod.

Single Needle Lightning Rod

A single needle lighting rod can also be used for lightning protection as it will receive lightning and lead it down to the earth. It will help ensure that the antenna tower is protected and does not experience electrification. The lighting would be released into the earth by the rod. The low impedance of the metal inner conductor would make it possible to do so. While, the attenuator will reduce the direct lightning shock, upon immediate contact with it, and will prevent any damage.

Features

  • Easy to Install
  • Affordable
  • Good Conductive Performance
  • Corrosion Resistant

Solution 2: Induction Protection

Besides, the direct lightning protection, high-energy over-voltage and over-current transients that induce indirect lightning strikes cause great damage if the solar street light isn’t protected. Use a power surge protector box to provide protection for the supply lines.

The power surge protector will react with low impedance when the power supply transmission line is invaded. It will limit the overvoltage as well which is caused by the lightning,

Conclusion

Lightning is common and that is why it is important to protect the solar street lights beforehand so as to ensure that there are no damages or that the damages remain minimal. Use both of the solutions to provide maximum protection.

How to Prolong Solar Battery Lifespan

Solar battery lifespan is one of the most important factors which manufacturers have to take into account to ensure that the solar batteries that they provide are robust. The solar batteries are deigned to resist cold and heat cycles.

Now, it is not possible for the solar batteries to be perfect and they will age. Due to this reason, owners should have sufficient knowledge about solar batteries so as to ensure that they can the right steps in order to prolong the lifespan of the batteries. One of the things that owners need to know is the type of battery in use. Lithium batteries have various advantages which consumers might not even know.

First, it important for people to what impacts the solar battery lifespan so as to ensure the lifespan is prolonged.

So What Impacts the Lifespan of Solar Batteries?

You must have wondered why there are some solar batteries which last longer as compared to others, even though the source of power is the same. Here are the 3 factors that you need to know about which impact the lifespan of solar batteries.

  1. Depth of Discharge

The DOD or depth of discharge is one of the most important things which solar battery owners should know about. It is the extent to which the solar battery would be used relative to the overall capacity that it has. It is normal for the batteries to degrade as they discharge and charge. The process decreases the capacity that they have for storing energy slowly.

  1. Cyclic Life

Next, another factor which owners need to know is the cycle life. The solar battery lifespan is determined primarily on the cycles that it can use. During normal use, a battery that is flooded would last for a minimum of 300 cycles and a maximum of 700 cycles.

  1. Temperature of the Depth of Discharge

The third thing which impacts the solar battery lifespan is the temperature of the depth of discharge. When batteries are stored in high temperatures, the chemical activity would be much higher. This leads to the capacity of the solar battery to decrease when the room temperature is too low. But, the lifecycle of the battery decrease with higher temperatures.

How to Prolong the Lifespan of Solar Batteries?

It doesn’t matter how good the design of the solar battery is, without proper maintenance, it would not last long. Follow the below steps to prolong the lifespan of the solar battery.

The Number of Batteries Needs to Be Controlled

Make sure to minimize the number of batteries that one uses in the bank. When more batteries are used, it would increase the resistance and connection that would only lead to uneven charging in the batteries.

Make Sure that Solar Batteries Do Not Remain Uncharged for a Long Period

The solar batteries are prone to damage when you do not charge them for a long period.

Equalize the Solar Batteries

The easiest way to prolong the lifespan of the solar battery is by equalizing it. It is the process in which the solar batteries are charged in a controlled way. It prevents uneven charging between batteries.

Use Solar Batteries of the Correct Type

Finally, it has already been recommended that lithium batteries should be used as they last for up to eight years.  Replace the batteries on a timely basis. The lithium battery needs to be a rated voltage of 25.6 V or 12.8 V.

How to Maintain an Off-Grid Solar System

Maintaining an off-grid solar system is not easy, but is important. The off-grid solar system isn’t connected to an electric company and that is why, one needs to keep it maintained for maximum efficiency and use. It uses the photovoltaic panels to store energy in the battery bank.

If you want to maintain an off-grid solar system, you must start with taking excellent care of its battery bank. It would help extend the life of the batteries as well as reduce long-term cost associated with the maintenance of the solar system. The below tips will help one maintain an off-grid solar system.

  1. Start by Checking the Charge Level

The first thing which one needs to do is check the charge level of the solar system. The DOD (Depth of Discharge) is the amount of battery which is discharged. Whereas, the SOC (State of Charge) is the opposite of that, for example, if the SOC is eighty percent then the DOD would be twenty percent.

Now, if the battery discharges by an amount greater than fifty percent regularly, it could reduce the lifespan of the battery. Therefore, make sure that it does not exceed this amount. One can easily check the specific voltage and gravity of the battery to find out the DOD and SOC. A hydrometer can also be used to check these.

  1. Equalize the Batteries

There are several cells in multiple batteries that are inside the battery bank. When the battery is charging, the cells might experience different gravity. In order to keep all of the cells completely charged, equalization is used. Normally, it is recommended for the batteries to be equalized every six months. You can also program the charge controller to perform equalization periodically.

A specific voltage can also be selected for the equalization process. Once, again the hydrometer can be used to check the specific gravity of the cells and equalized as needed.

  1. Monitor the Fluid Fuel

The FLA (Flooded Lead-Acid) batteries contain water and sulfuric acid. When the battery supplies or charges power, the water evaporates, this shouldn’t be problem for sealed batteries. However, for the non-sealed batteries, distilled water would need to be added. You can use a hydro cap to prevent the water from escaping too quickly.

  1. Have the Batteries Cleaned Regularly

Condensation may form on top of the battery, when the water escapes through the cap. The fluid is acidic and electrically conductive, hence would create small area between the battery posts. It would lead to more load being used. Therefore, it is vital to have the batteries cleaned regularly. Mix the baking soda with distilled water and use a special brush to apply onto the battery terminals for a through clean. Finally, have the terminals rinsed with water and ensure that all of the connections are tight.

  1. Avoid Mixing Batteries

Lastly, in order to maintain an off-grid solar system and ensure that it continues to work effectively, avoid mixing batteries. Therefore, the best thing which one can do when changing batteries, is replacing the entire batch of batteries altogether.Avoid Mixing Batteries

How to Install Solar Street Light

Solar street lights are relatively easy to install. One only needs the common handy tools to assemble them. However, when working on bigger projects, technical assistance or onsite training would be required. These need multiple installations to be completed. For such a situation, it is recommended to hire technicians who have expertise in installation of solar street lights.

Things that You Need for the Installation of Solar Street Lights

Before moving onto the installation process, let’s look at the vital tools that are needed to get the job done.

  • Inner Hexagon and Monkey Wrench
  • 20 M Start-up Hoist

Steps to Follow

  1. Ensure that the construction site is surrounded by guard lines. Only the technicians should be allowed to enter the construction site.
  2. Familiarize yourself with the installation procedure by reading the manual. Understand all the safety measures and how the circuit diagrams work.
  3. Check to ensure that you have all of the important parts.
  • Solar Panel, Light Fixture, Lamp Pole
  • Solar Bracket (Kickstand), Access Panel, Battery and the Battery Box
  • Basis Cage, Flange, Controller

Installation Procedure

Start by Installing the Foundation

The first thing which one needs to do is install the foundation. In order to do so, you would need to choose a flat ground that does not have any inclination. Secure and screw the Basis Cage to the flat ground using 4 of the screws. The Basis Cage needs to have one of its side parallel towards the edge of the road. Use concrete to secure it as it will act as the foundation.

Install the Battery and Battery Box

Next, you need to place the batter right beside the Basis Cage at about 550 mm underground. Use the electrical circuit diagram to find out how the battery will be placed.

Setup the Solar Street Light

This part of procedures involves various subsections.

  • Have the lamp pole lifted off the ground to about a meter, by using the supporting bench to help.
  • The Solar Bracket needs to be secured and installed right at the top part of the pole. Have the Solar Panel placed onto the Solar Bracket and get it secured using bolts. You need to be careful when handling Solar Panels. Once again, it is advised to follow the electrical circuit diagram.
  • Next, the light fixture needs to be installed onto the lamp pole. There are red buttons on both of the sides of the Light Fixture and they need to be pressed to turn it around. Finally, screw the lamp holder.
  • Ensure that both the connection and installation are in perfect place. Check the components and wires to make sure that are well-connected.
  • Have the lamp pole erected using a crane. The lamp pole needs to be upright.
  • Lastly, have the controller placed inside of the lamp pole using the correct wires. Now, all you need to do is check if the solar street light is working perfectly or not.

How to Decide the Right Battery Size for Solar Street Lights

When deciding the right battery size for solar street lights, there are certain things which one needs to consider before reaching the appropriate decision. It can be difficult to select the accurate size of the batter, but this guide will make it much easier for you.

Normally, if the batter is undersized, the street light would not be able to work in case of three or more rainy days. Whereas, if the battery is oversized, then you would have to face sulfating, so follow this guide to choose the battery size as per your needs.

Deep Cycle Batteries

The battery type that is used for an off-grid solar streetlight is a deep cycle battery. The thing is that not every type of battery would be suitable for off-grid solar street lights and the deep cycle batteries have been designed for it. The off-grid solar street light requires permanent power supply from batteries and not from an electric company; hence, the battery should be strong enough to provide deep discharges.

Essential Terms That You Must Know About

Battery Capacity and Power

The amount of energy which is supplied by a battery at a time is the power rating and it is measured in Watts. The battery capacity is the aggregate amount of energy which can be stored in a battery.

Amp-Hour

It is another word for battery capacity. For example, if the nominal voltage of a battery is 12V, then, it would continue to release about 2 Amps currents for a period of 10 hours.

Depth of Discharge

It refers to the amount of energy which is available and can be used in a battery when it has reached a completely charged state to a completely discharged one. It is a very important factor in deciding the right batter size for solar street lights.

Battery Working Temperature

This is the ideal environmental temperature for the battery. Normally, it is 27 degrees centigrade or 80 Fahrenheit since the internal reaction of the battery is optimal at the temperature. As the temperature lowers, the efficiency would decrease. As a rule of thumb, higher temperatures improve the efficiency. However, only if the temperature is a little over the optimal temperature and it would only be so for a short time.

Step by Step Guide

For the first step, you need to prepare the required data such as the rated working voltage of the LED, rated LED power, the days of autonomy, LED brightness settings, and battery type.

Next, you need to calculate the daily energy consumption and keep the 3 days autonomy in mind. Finally, consider the depth of discharge. It is quite simple to calculate the right size for solar street lights once you understand the steps and the meaning of essential terms.

Always remember to keep the temperature in mind as you do not want the battery to be sulfating as it would only lead to increased costs over the long run.

How to Choose Solar Landscape Lights

Solar landscape lights are the best way to redesign and reorganize your garden. Choose a solar light solution as it will help reduce long-term costs and does have any environmental impact. The world in which we live in is rapidly changing and if you want to take care of the environment, then buying solar landscape lights is a great place to start.

There are many advantages of solar landscape light. However, since the starting of the decade, more and more companies have started to provide various solar powered lights, due to which it can be difficult to choose the ones which are best for you. This guide aims to help you choose the best solar landscape lights by providing you with tips that will make it easier to find the perfect lights, keeping in view of your needs.

  1. Type of Solar Landscape Lights

The first thing which you need to do is indentify the type of solar landscape lights that you are looking for. There are different types of solar landscape lights such as decorative, path or task lighting. Decorative lights are the ones which help create a pleasant environment by illuminating in the dark. Path lighting includes solar LED lawn lights which are efficient and perfect for your garden and other areas. Whereas, task lighting help illuminate certain areas without creating any light pollution such as in the case of solar powered street lights.

It is important that you identify which type of solar landscape lights you would need.

  1. The Amount of Sunlight

Next, you need to estimate the amount of sunlight for the location in which the solar landscape lights would be placed. Since sunlight does not have the same duration or intensity everywhere, you have to estimate it for the location. There are even some solar light batteries that are able to recharge with just partial sunlight, or in cloudy days or under shadows. That is why you need to keep this in mind as well so as to choose the right solar landscape lights.

  1. Running Time

Obviously, the solar landscape lights would not be running for the entire day and night, due to which you need to calculate the operating time as it will help you decide the correct battery. There are various batteries that are available these days, some of which do not need be charged on a daily basis and can even last for several days at a time.

  1. Light Bulb Type

A solar landscape light would need a light bulb in order to work which is why you also need to consider the type of light bulb which would be needed. Different light bulbs have different power consumption and costs. The most popular type are LED lights as they are highly efficient, customizable and do not need a lot of electricity to run at full capacity.

  1. Other Features

Normally, there will also be other features which you would need to consider. For example, an automatic controller could be installed to maximize the efficiency. There are also motion sensors which could be installed. These take up money and time. Therefore, make sure to account for these.

  1. Style and Design

Do not forget to choose solar landscape light which match with the layout of the area. Select designs or colors which complement the landscape.