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Category: Solar Energy

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A Simple Guide to GRID-TIED SOLAR ENERGY SYSTEMS

A Simple Guide to GRID-TIED SOLAR ENERGY SYSTEMS

The world is techno-driven, we cannot even imagine a few hours without electricity, but this grid dependency is just raising our electricity bills, especially in summers.

The rising electricity bill is the most common concern of home and business owners. But do you know, you can reduce your electricity bill by more than 50%?
Yes! you can avail of this deal by just making a switch from a conventional grid connection to a solar grid connection without compromising your comfort but contributing towards a greener environment.

In this article, we’ve defined an on-grid solar energy system in detail. By the end of this article, we hope to give you a detailed understanding of a grid-connected photovoltaic system.

What is a Grid-connected solar energy system?

A grid-tied solar energy system is connected to the local utility grid, allowing consumers to gain profit from both solar energy as well as grid connection. 

 

In this, the flow of electricity is bidirectional, i.e. one can import and export the energy to and from the grid. This makes people with grid-connected systems PROSUMERS – they are both producers and consumers.

You might wonder how with a grid-connected solar energy one can consume and sell energy?

 To answer this let us understand what  components are used in the on-grid solar energy systems:

The Grid-connected solar energy system consists of three main components:

  1. Solar Panel: The solar panel is considered as the heart of the solar energy system. It helps in converting the solar radiation incident on the panel into useful direct current(DC).
  2. Inverter: Inverter is the most important when it comes to supplying power to all the household devices. The energy produced from solar panels is DC whereas our house operates on AC (Alternate current), the solar inverter is connected to the grid and house for converting the DC to AC. The solar inverter is basically of three types:

    String inverter

    Central Inverter

    Micro- inverter

  3. Net Meter:  The net meter is a device that is linked between the inverter and the grid connection. It aids in keeping track of the energy that is imported and exported to the grid connected, and the appropriate charges are made for invoicing.

How does a grid-tied solar system work?

When solar radiation is incident on the solar panels, with the help of the photovoltaic principle it generates direct current (DC). The generated DC energy is converted into AC energy using the grid-tied inverter and is further supplied to various electrical loads through the wiring. 

During daytime, the sun shines bright and the solar energy system operates at its optimum level. This is the peak operating time where the generated energy is greater than the energy required at our location. 

This surplus generated energy is sent to the grid connected and measured using a bidirectional net meter. 

Net metering is used to calculate the amount of energy supplied and imported from the grid and generates the monthly bills accordingly.

Solar panels cannot provide the necessary amount of electricity in cloudy or dark conditions; as a result, the necessary power needs to be imported from the utility grid at a cost.

Why go for a grid-connected solar energy?

Advantages:

  1. Easy installation
  2. Reduced electricity bills by almost 90%
  3. Less costly compared to off-grid and hybrid solar energy systems as it saves the cost incurred in battery installation.
  4. You will get the credit for the surplus energy produced by the utility grid.
  5. No limitations on the number of loads to be connected.
  6. Consumers can avail of government subsidies and incentives for on-grid solar panel installation.

Disadvantages:

 As the system is connected to the utility grid, during power cuts the solar energy system stops working.

FAQs

One always gets confused between these two, string inverters are the popular choice for rooftop/residential consumers or most captive solar projects. When it comes to very large solar power plant projects of a few MW, a central inverter proves to be a good alternative.

Before purchasing a grid-tied inverter make sure it is national standards council certified. This ensures that all the safety guidelines are followed by the manufacturer.

Well, you don’t need to go and check, a back and forth meter also known as a net meter which is installed between the distribution panel and the grid will help in analyzing the difference between the amount of power generated and used. It moves in the forward direction when the energy generated is less than the energy used and reverse direction when the condition is opposite.

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Top 5 Things You Should Consider Before Opting for Solar

Top 5 Things You Should Consider Before Opting for Solar

5 factors you should know before installing solar panels at your place:

Using solar energy is the most eco-friendly and sustainable way to reduce your ever-increasing energy bill.
But many consumers come across this prominent question “What to consider while buying solar panels?” or “What are the things to consider before installing solar panels at your location?”

Here in this article, we have tried to answer this question. 

Choosing a solar panel that will match your requirements and support your roof’s durability is an important decision since solar panels are going to be on your roof for 25 to 30 years.

  1. Types of solar energy systems-

    When it comes to the thinking of installing solar panels  the energy requirement and location become crucial tasks. 
    In key urban cities where there are minimal power cuts, an on-grid solar energy system is most suited which is connected to the power grid system and is the most common type used in residential applications.

    If the location is a tier 2 city where power cuts are common, a hybrid solar energy system (combination of on-grid and off-grid) would be a good option to opt for, thus ensuring a reduction in electricity bills and also catering for energy during power cuts as well.

    If the location is an isolated one with no grid connection, then an off-grid system is the best option. In an off-grid system, energy is stored in the battery during the daytime when the solar panel generates electricity, and the battery supplies power during nighttime (or cloudy weather).

  2. Rooftop feasibility-  To get maximum sunlight on the panels, the rooftop needs to be free from shadows. Trees, tank towers, and headrooms cast shadows over your solar panels which will hamper their performance. Hence, keep the solar panels clean from dirt and leaves to ensure maximum efficiency and keep nearby plants trimmed. Do not make any alterations to your roof which will cast shadows on the solar panels or damage the electrical connections or physically affect the solar panels. If the rooftop is used occasionally, opt for a high-rise elevated design structure which will provide more space.

  3. Modular technology- When going for solar installation, choosing the right type of solar panel is a crucial task to ensure the long life of the solar plant. Solar panels are responsible for converting solar radiation into the required electrical energy.
    Solar photovoltaic panels are generally available as full/half-cut monocrystalline and polycrystalline solar panels.
    For residential users, monocrystalline solar panels are the most preferred ones. 

    It’s a wise decision to go for the pro variant (half-cut mono/poly solar panel), as it offers higher efficiency compared to the conventional solar panel in the same size and area.
    In the market, one can find different types and brands of solar panels, and choosing the right type and brand of solar panels is a vital task.

    (Tip: Don’t just go by the brand name or buy the panel which your neighbor might have brought as the type of solar panel varies with the individual energy and space requirement)

  4. Manufacturer & Installer Solar panel typically is a long-term investment, with a lifespan of a minimum of 25 years. Servicing and maintenance will be done for the panels to ensure optimum performance and efficiency. Hence, it is essential to choose a well-established installer, who provides long-term customer service and a warranty.
  5. CertificationQuality certification and standards for Solar PV systems are essential for safe, high-performing, and long-lasting systems. It is also imperative to put in place an efficient and rigorous monitoring mechanism, and adherence to these standards. Hence, all components of a Solar PV system/ plant must conform to the relevant standards and certifications.

Once you’ve carefully paid attention to these factors, you can make an informed decision to approach the solar installer of your choice. 

With SunEdison, you can get this installed in 6 Simple Steps!

For more information on our products and services, please visit our SunEdison website.

More information on solar energy and its benefits can be found on SunEdison’s blog section.

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Why do we need a shadow-free area for solar installation?

Why do we need a shadow-free area for solar installation?

You must have read this line before: “A shadow-free area is required to install the solar panels at your location.”

Before installing the solar panel at your place, the installer might have checked for the shadow-free area at your location. Also, the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) reported that for a one kWp solar plant, an area of about 10 square meters shadow-free area is required.

But, as a consumer, you might wonder, “why this shadow-free area plays such an important role in solar panel installation?”

To answer this in simple terms the output of the solar plants gets deteriorated when a shadow falls on the panel.

The solar radiation incident on the solar panel is converted into useful electrical energy using the photovoltaic principle. What this means is that the output of a solar plant depends on the solar radiation intensity. So, even a slight shadow on one string can affect the entire solar plant’s output efficiency.

In this article, you will learn how shadows affect your solar power plant and some lesser-known tips to avoid shadows.

How Does Shadow Impact A Solar Power Plant?

Lower Output Energy

The primary impact of shadows on a solar power plant is the reduction in its output energy. The drop in energy output increases with the increase in the size of the shadow.

The output of the solar panels gets considerably reduced when a shadow from a nearby object falls on it. In terms of shadowing, one can look at the solar panels as pieces of pipes and the water flowing as solar output, while shading can be viewed as stone or any other obstruction to water flow, as shown in the below figure. A stone clogged in a pipe will block the flow of water, in the same way, a shadow on a panel will prevent the solar radiation from reaching the panel.

The strings in the solar panels are arranged in a series or parallel fashion. In the case of series connections, partial shading reduces output by 50%, while in parallel connections, the output is reduced by 90%. This can be prevented by carefully installing the solar panels in a shadow-free area where the nearby objects do not cast shadows on the solar panels.

04

If the hotspot stays for a longer duration crossing its threshold limit, the particular string may cause the solder joints in the module to melt, thus destroying the busbar and eventually the solar cell. 

Approval of Net Metering Bills

Solar net metering consents consumers to produce, borrow and sell electricity to the connected utility grid.

So far, 19 Indian states have approved the net metering policy. The policy gives consumers the right to receive compensation for the extra solar power they generate and send to the grid. This way, they can offset their electricity bill or even earn revenue from their rooftop solar panels.

The cast of shadows on the solar panel will not only affect its output and lifespan but can also impede the approval of net metering.

Warranty Issues

Manufacturers recommend that modules only be installed in shadow-free areas to guarantee their warranty. Therefore, modules installed in shadows cannot be claimed by the supplier.

Best Tips to Avoid Casting of Shadows on Solar Panels

Check Your Surroundings Before Installation

Make sure to check the surroundings of your house or commercial building before installing solar panels. Look out for trees, buildings, high-voltage grids and other objects that may cast a shadow on your solar panels during certain times of the day.

You should check the shadows cast by these objects at different times of the year to get an estimate of how much they will impact your solar panels’ output.

To further future proof your installation, do your due diligence on upcoming buildings in your locality and figure out how and why they would affect your solar panels.

Go for an Elevated Design Structure

In the rooftops of houses, the solar panels are usually installed at a height of around 1.5 to 2 meters. However, you can increase this height to 4 meters or more to avoid casting shadows on your solar panels.

This will also protect your solar panels from animals, birds and other objects that may fall on them and cause damage.

Frequently Clean the Solar Panels

Frequently cleaning your solar panels is important to maintain their efficiency. However, you should also regularly check the condition of your solar panels and look out for any signs of damage. If you notice that a shadow is starting to fall on one of your solar panels, you can quickly adjust its position to avoid any decrease in output.

Ensure Sufficient Distance Between Solar Panels to Avoid Overlapping

You can also increase the distance between your solar panels to reduce the chances of one panel casting a shadow on another. This will maximize the amount of sunlight that each panel receives and help you get the most out of your solar installation.

Install Modules at an Angle

Installing your solar panels at an angle will help you avoid casting shadows on them. This is because the sun’s rays will hit the panels directly, and the shadows will be cast behind the panels.You can use special brackets to angle your them.

What If You Can't Avoid Shadows On Your Solar Panels?

In this situation one can take the below-mentioned steps to optimize the solar output:
  1. If one cannot remove the objects placed on the roof, one can wisely place the components as placement of components can reduce the impact of shadow on the panels at least during peak sun hours.
  2. One can get rid of the partial shadow impact by using a microinverter (these inverters come with a maximum power point tracker). As each microinverter has an MPPT, and as they are connected in parallel, each solar panel will operate at its optimum point even during partial shading conditions without impacting other panels.
  3. Another option is to use a power optimizer to improve the solar panel efficiency when one cannot prevent shadows from falling on the panel.  

But it is advisable to choose a location where no neighboring objects cast a shadow on the panel to ensure the long run of the solar panel with an optimum ROI.  

Our design team identifies the best location with an appropriate design structure in order to maximize the return on the installed plant. For any info contact us. Our technical team will be happy to assist you with the best possible solution.

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