Different Types of Solar Powered Electrical Systems
Solar power can supply electrical energy to RVs, homes, and commercial buildings. There are different types of solar power systems that are used. In some cases there is a choice to be made, but in some applications the decision is obvious.
Take for example a solar power system to be used for an RV, a portable power system or a remote vacation cabin. A small stand-alone system would be the best type to use. These systems are economical, as they have a smaller number of solar panels and batteries than a larger stand-alone system.
As with any stand-alone system, the batteries are used to store energy that the solar panels collect during the day. It takes an inverter to do the job of turning the 12-volt DC power of the batteries into the 120-volt AC power of most appliances.
Many people whose homes are already connected to the utility grid will opt for a grid-tie solar power system. This gives them the best of both worlds – the savings of the solar power and the reliability of the utility’s power. They may also get tax breaks or rebates as incentives to purchase such systems.
The grid-tie system must have a special inverter that changes the DC current into the purest sine-wave AC electricity so that it will mesh with the utility grid. Homeowners can count on the utility grid for electricity on cloudy days and at night. Therefore, they usually do not store up energy in batteries. However, batteries can be used just to be sure people are not without power if there is a power failure on the grid.
A complete stand-alone system is for those who want to be free of the utility grid altogether. Any stand-alone system is the most environmentally-friendly of the solar power systems. While most others use fossil fuels, either directly in a generator or indirectly from a utility company, this system uses none.
The complete stand-alone system is much more complicated than the small stand-alone system. The complete system will contain more inverters, typically two, so that there will be enough current to run large items like air conditioners. Another reason for the second inverter will become clear when one needs maintenance. One can supply basic needs while the other one is down.
The complete stand-alone system will usually be seen in locations where the utility grid does not reach. This is because it is expensive, with its numerous solar panels. Many batteries are also needed to store enough energy for any contingency.
Hybrid systems include the use of solar power with a generator of some kind as backup. The generator may be diesel, gasoline, or propane. Fewer solar panels are needed for hybrid systems than for complete stand-alone systems. This is because the generator can kick in when the solar panels fail to produce enough electricity.
With all the types of solar power systems, it should be easy to find one that works best for any application. It is all a matter of assessing needs and determining which system will do the trick.