frequently asked questions about solar energy - Clarke & Rush

17 Apr 2019

Frequently Asked Questions About Solar Energy

Frequently Asked Questions About Solar Energy

Q: How Can Electricity Be Generated from the Sun?

A: When you expose certain semiconductors, such as silicon, to sunlight, the materials discharge a tiny amount of electricity. This “photoelectric effect” explains how sunlight is converted into electricity.

It should be noted that sunlight is composed of photons or solar energy particles. When these photons are absorbed by the semiconductor, they transfer the energy they carry to an electron within the PV cell.

This added energy makes the PV cell electron to vibrate with energy and move from its original location. The PV system then harnesses this energy and channels it to a point where the energy is needed, such as in a light bulb.

Q: What are the Parts or Components of a PV System?

A: Experts at Clarke & Rush explain that any photovoltaic system has approximately six constituent parts. These are PV panels (PV modules), a battery (or array of batteries), a controller or charge regulator, an inverter, wiring and a frame or mounting hardware.

Sacramento solar installers say the exact components that you will require depend on what kind of installation you want. For example, someone who will connect the solar system to the utility grid will need an inverter while another person who wants to be off-grid will not need an inverter.

Q: How Durable are PV Systems?

A: Generally speaking, properly designed, installed and maintained PV systems can last for at least 20 years. The absence of moving parts in these systems means that it is common for them to last for even 30 years, as long as they are maintained well. It is very important that you hire experienced professionals, such as those at Clarke & Rush, to install the PV system so that you can enjoy the longevity of the investment.

Q: How Do PV Systems Differ from Other Solar Technologies?

A: Sacramento solar installation professionals explain that solar technologies fall into the following four major categories:

  1. PV or Photovoltaic systems that can convert sunlight/solar energy into electricity through the use of semiconductors.
  2. CSP (Concentrating Solar Power) systems that concentrate the energy from the sun by the use of reflective materials or surfaces, such as troughs in order to create heat from which electricity is generated.
  3. Solar water heating systems. These have a solar collector which heats water either directly or via a working medium that eventually heats water.
  4. Transpired solar collectors. These are also called solar walls. They preheat the air which is later circulated throughout a building by the HVAC system.

Q: Can a PV System Be Used to Power a Home?

A: Yes, PV systems can be configured to provide enough power for all your energy needs, including lighting, heating water, and powering the other appliances in your home. The modules or panels that trap the solar energy for your domestic needs are usually mounted onto the side of the roof that receives the greatest amount of sunlight. Modern modules also exist, including those that resemble roof shingles.

Q: Can Photovoltaics Power My Business?

A: PV systems can be designed and integrated to meet the power needs of any commercial building. For example, it is common to see PV systems powering the security lights of commercial buildings, while other systems are designed as shelters at public transport stops. The “shelter” also generates electricity!

Q: How Can I Tell That There’s Sufficient Sunlight for My PV System?

A: The experts at Clarke & Rush explain that you need to ask a solar installer in Sacramento to come and assess the suitability of your location for a PV system. For example, are there tall buildings nearby that cast a shadow on your roof? Is the roof surface area sufficient to accommodate the number of PV modules to generate the amount of solar electricity that you need? These and other factors will be assessed in order to determine whether there will be sufficient sunlight to provide solar energy for your needs.

Q: What PV System Is the Right Size for My Needs?

A: The size of the PV system that you can install depends on many factors, such as your budget, the space available to install the solar modules, the amount of energy you need in the home and whether you would like to use both solar and power from the utility company or solar power alone, among other considerations. Again, it is advisable for you to talk to a Sacramento solar expert so that the appropriate solar system can be designed for you.

Q: Why Should I Invest in a PV System?

A: Each person who decides to acquire a solar PV system has their reason for doing so. For example, one person may opt for a PV system for environmental purposes since solar energy is renewable and clean when compared to energy from fossil fuels. Another person may buy a PV system because it is more affordable for them to get the PV system rather than extending the utility line to their location. Some people also get a PV system to have energy stability in case the power supplied by the utility company is unreliable, or the cost fluctuates. So, you should think carefully about your reasons for wanting a solar PV system. Then get it once you are certain that it is right for you.

Q: Will a PV System Save Me Any Money?

A: The total cost of a PV system depends on various factors, such as the size and brand of system you purchase and the rebates you qualify for in your area. However, the solar experts at Clarke & Rush explain that you can save in several ways.

For example, solar energy is technically free, so all the energy that you use from this source is energy that you would have paid the utility company for. Additionally, your system can also be designed to send any excess energy generated to the utility company, and your utility bill will be reduced by the cost of the power your solar system sends to the grid. In short, once you recoup your initial investment in the PV system, all the solar energy you use will be free.

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