With the advent of and prevalence of the internet, most people now prefer to do their own thing by themselves. If you fall into the category of people that love to do things by themselves, or you want to be guided, this article is for you. With the rate of power failure experienced in most parts of Africa, it has become imperative that people must look for alternative sources of generating power. Most people go for the regular petrol or diesel power generator. Today with the high cost of diesel and petrol, we are being forced to seek alternatives. Energy from the sun is free and so people now prefer to make use of solar power.
The advantages of solar power cannot be over emphasized.
- It is free energy from the sun,
- It gives you 24 hour power supply whenever you need it.
- It is efficient and safe, with no emission.
- It is noiseless and will power any low energy appliance.
To get started, you need;
- To always consider the total wattage or power of the load you wish to power with your solar power system.
- You must ensure that your appliances are energy efficient appliances. Your appliances must be low energy consuming appliances.
- You must consider the space available for the installation of the solar panels.
- How many hours of sunlight do you have per day.
- How many hours do you want your solar power system to power your load.
- You need to ensure that only your essential/basic loads will be powered by the solar power system.
- Another very important consideration is the amount of money you wish to invest on your solar power system.
- Always go for solar power equipment that can be easily serviced if the need arises like the JP2 solar hybrid inverter brand.
The individual components you need include;
- Solar panel: the solar panel traps sunlight. The energy gotten from the sun will be used either to power your desired appliances directly or will be stored in your battery. There are different types of solar panels, polycrystalline and monocrystalline. Solar panels are also rated according to power. Readily available are 65watt, 80watts, 100watt, 120watt, 130watt, 180watt, 200watt, 250watt, 300watt e.t.c.
- Deep cycle batteries: Deep cycle batteries store power for future use in every solar system setup. Deep cycle batteries come in different capacities. Deep cycle batteries are rated in amp hours. You will readily see 100ah, 150ah, 180ah, 200ah.Deep cycle batteries also come in different voltages like 2volts, 6volts, 12volts. It is important to note that the lower the voltage, the higher the amp hour.
If you do not have batteries connected to your solar system setup, you will not be able to use your solar power system in the night. It is the energy stored in the battery during the day that your inverter will invert and use in the night when there is no sun light. The more the batteries you have, the more power you have all things being equal. You can connect batteries in series or in parallel, depending on what you want to achieve or the voltage of your inverter and solar system. If your inverter is rated 12v, it implies that you can use a minimum of 1 unit of 12v batteries and if you wish to use more than 1 battery, you will need to connect the batteries in parallel. This means connecting the positive terminal of one battery to the positive terminal of the second battery and also connecting the negative terminal of one battery to the negative terminal of the second battery. If on the other hand your inverter or solar system is 24v, it implies that your inverter uses a minimum of 2 units of 12v batteries connected in series. That is connecting the positive terminal of 1 battery to the negative terminal of the 2nd battery. For a 36v system, 48v system, 96v system or even a 180v system, we will need to connect all the batteries in series. That is connecting positive terminal of battery 1 to negative terminal of battery 2 and continue that way till the last battery.
- Solar charge controller: the solar charge controller helps in regulating the amount of charge that enters your batteries at any point in time from the solar panel array. Once your batteries are fully charged, the solar charge controller will automatically cut off charging of the batteries. There are 2 major broad categories; pulse width modulation-PWM, and maximum power point tracking-MPPT. Solar charge controllers come in different amprage- 5a, 10a, 20a, 30a, 40a, 50a, 60a, 80a, e.t.c. Solar charge controllers also come in different voltages- 12v, 24v, 36v, 48v, 96v, 120v, e.t.c. The voltage of the inverter you wish to use, the capacity of batteries you want to use and also the capacity of your solar panels will determine that capacity of solar charge controller you will use.Please note that MPPT solar charge controllers are much better and we advise you to use the MPPT solar charge controller instead of the PWM model. We usually advise our clients to make use of solar hybrid inverters. Our observation shows that very good solar hybrid inverters like the JP2 solar hybrid inverters charge batteries better and are more efficient and economical too.
- Power Inverter: The power inverter converts charges in the battery to usable electricity. Power inverters come in different capacities and voltage. The load you wish to power will determine the capacity of the power inverter you will go for. The capacity of inverter you will see easily in the market include; 800va, 1kva, 1.2kva, 2kva, 3kva, 3.5kva, 5kva, 7.5kva, 10kva, 15kva, 20kva, e.t.c. The power inverter voltage is also important. Inverters are configured with unique voltage like the JP2 solar hybrid inverter 1.2kva is a 12volts inverter, the JP2 solar hybrid inverter 2kva is a 24volts inverter, JP2 solar hybrid inverter 3kva is also 24volts inverter, while the JP2 solar hybrid inverter 5kva is a 48volts inverter. All brands have their unique voltage configuration for all their inverter models. Also worthy of note when making your choice of inverter is the actual wattage of the inverters. Some brands have 2kva, 1200watt and come as a 24volts inverter while another brand may have 2kva, 1400watt and comes as a 24volts inverter. Another brand may also have a 2kva, 1600watt, 24volts. Always check the actual wattage. It matters a lot and determines the amount of load your inverter will power with ease. Also important is the fact that different inverter models come with different battery charging capacity (charging current). Charging current ranges from 5a, 8a, 10a, 15a, 20a, 30a, 40a, 50a, e.t.c. note that the inverter with a higher charging current will charge batteries faster than one with lower charging current. I usually advise my client to always chose a very good hybrid inverter that has good inbuilt MPPT solar charge controller, very efficient charging system with good charging current. The JP2 solar hybrid inverter brand comes with these features and is highly recommended.
- Solar panel Rack: you need the solar panel rack. The rack will be used for mounting the solar panels on your roof or on the floor. The type of rack you will go for (roof rack or ground mounting rack) will depend on where you wish to mount the solar panels exactly. Your installer will be able to guide you correctly on the type of rack that will best suit your location.
- Solar cable: the solar cable will be used for linking your solar panels to your solar charge controller or solar hybrid inverter. Always go for good quality cables. You will see cables with 4mm, 6mm, 8mm, 10mm, e.t.c. The MPPT solar charge controller is a very superior controller and if you are using the MPPT solar charge controller, you do not need to use very big cables like the 10mm or 16mm. a 4mm or 6mm cable will work very well on a good MPPT solar charge controller.
- Battery and inverter stand: the stand is simple for stacking your batteries and inverter. Go for strong and very good quality stand that fits into the available space in your location.
- Battery equalizer (optional): you will not need an equalizer if you have a 12volts solar system setup. On the other hand it is a very important part of any 24volts or 48volts solar system setup. The major function of the battery equalizer is to main equal voltage across all the batteries connected in series in your solar system setup. It is important to always install a battery equalizer if your inverter is 24volts or 48volts and above. The battery equalizer helps bring out the best performance from your batteries. Usually every battery comes with a unique voltage. Tests have shown that when you install two batteries in series, one of the batteries may read 12volts while the other one may read 13volts. The implication is that during charging, once your inverter senses that the battery with higher voltage is full, charging will automatically stop. Meanwhile the battery with lower voltage is not yet full. Furthermore, during usage, as the batteries discharge, once the inverter senses that the battery with lower voltage has reached minimum voltage, the inverter will start beeping. The work of the battery equalizer is to ensure that all batteries get charged properly. During charging the equalizer ensures that when the battery with higher voltage is full, charge will be transferred to the battery with lower voltage. Also, during discharge the equalizer makes sure batteries discharge properly.
- Battery de-sulphator (optional): This is also an optional component. The de-sulphator helps remove sulphur from the wall of the battery plates. This will help bring out the best performance from your battery. Solar systems and inverters really work well. All you need to do is do the right thing and you will get the appropriate results. Make use of trusted consultants, get a good brand like the JP2 solar hybrid inverter brand, and install properly. If you follow the instructions given, you will get very good result.
Written by Chukwuemeka Onwuka.