Monday, 22 August 2011

Determining The Value Of A Solar Panel System

How much will you save with your solar panel system? Online solar calculators are useful to help determine the expected costs of a solar panel system in your region. PV Comparison is a revolutionary web app that enables people to compare their solar installation's power production to the power production of other nearby solar installations.

As a source of clean energy, solar power has many intangible and tangible benefits - a fact that leaves us to wonder why solar power is not more commonly used. Two major reasons why solar power is not more popular is misinformation about installation costs and the perceived unreliability of equipment.

Solar electric systems, also called photovoltaic or PV systems, are reliable and pollution-free. PV systems convert solar power directly into electricity. They work while the sun is out but perform best when sunlight is intense and strikes the PV modules directly. Multiple PV cells are connected to form a PV panel (or module), which range in power output from about 10 watts to 300 watts. Multiple panels wired together make up a string and multiple strings make up an array, or PV system.

A PV system tied to a utility grid has two main components:

• PV modules connected to an inverter

• Inverter that converts the system's direct-current (DC) electricity to alternating current (AC)

• Batteries are also required if the system stands alone and isn't connected to the grid.

Several states offer incentives to purchase solar power equipment. An excellent resource to find incentives available in your area is the National Database of State Incentives for Renewable Energy (DSIRE). DSIRE provides up-to-date information on financial and regulatory incentives that promote renewable energy technologies. Customers can benefit from net metering in more than 35 states. Through the system, customers attain the full rate for kilowatt-hours of excess PV-produced electricity sent to the utility power grid.

A key factor you must take into account while buying a PV system is its orientation - the compass direction that your system faces - as this affects performance. In the United States, the best location for a PV system is a south-facing roof, but roofs facing east or west are also acceptable. Apart from rooftops, PV system can also be fitted on mounted structures and window awnings.

As for the capacity of PV systems, you have to find out what electricity needs you would like your PV system to meet. For instance, if you expect to meet 50% of your energy needs with you PV system, you need to discuss it with your PV provider. They will help you determine the appropriate system size to achieve your goals.

Online solar calculators are useful to determine if installing a solar panel system in your area makes financial sense in your region. They help people understand the financial implications of going solar. To get started using a solar calculator simply enter your zip code, utility and annual energy consumption and it provides you the expected payback and return on investment. While calculating, basic assumption are made on variables such as tracking type, system size, orientation, tilt, installation date, annual consumption growth, discount rate, energy inflation, panel degradation and expected system life. Users are able to modify any of these variables on their own for more accurate results.

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