Solar - learn more
Sunny South Africa has 2500 hours of Sun per year! There's no better place to harvest all that abundant clean energy and save our beautiful planet. Solar panels used to be expensive, but in recent years prices has dropped tremendously making it affordable for households to install, save money on electricity AND even make a return on the long run. The first thing you have to consider is whether you CAN install solar panels on your roof or not. If you live in a complex, you may not necessarily be allowed to install them due to body corporate rules. If your place has too much shade, it may also affect the performance of your panels. The quality, size and technology involved in the production of Solar panels affects performance and its price. Here are the most important terms related to this topic:
- PV Array - Photovoltaic array. There are two different types of solar energy, thermal and photovoltaic. With thermal solar, the solar panels act more as mirrors to direct sunlight to a specific location to generate heat. The more common type of solar energy is Photovoltaic (or PV), the process of converting sunlight into electricity to power homes or charge batteries. This is the type of solar panels you see on rooftops.
- Monocrystalline or Polycrystalline silicone. Silicone is a highly durable chemical element that converts the energy from the Sun into electricity. Although both types of silicon solar panels are used to produce power, there are pros and cons to both.
- Half-cut cells - Half-cell modules have solar cells that are halved. The resistive losses are lowered and the cells can produce a little more power. Smaller cells experience reduced mechanical stresses and there is a decreased opportunity for cracking. This essentially means higher output ratings and improved performance and durability.
- W (Watts) - Unit for output power. This will be the maximum power that the panel can possibly produce under optimal conditions (clear sunny day, no shade, angle to the sun, cool temperature).
- A (Amps) - the maximum current (Amp) that the panel can produce.
- V (Volts) - the maximum volts that the panel can produce.
When it comes to solar panels, it is absolutely imperative to understand the difference between a parallel vs. a serial connection and how they affect the A (Amps) and V (Volts). Get this wrong and it will be an expensive mistake damaging your inverter.
- Serial connection - This is when you connect the positive (+) of the first panel to the negative (-) of the second panel. Then you continue to connect the positive (+) of the second panel to the negative (-) of the third panel... and so on. In this case, You increase the volts but the amps stays the same. Example, you bought 6 solar 400W panels (40 Volt, 10 Amps); on a serial connection, that will be 240 Volts (40 Volts x 6 panels), 10 Amps.
- Parallel connection - This is when you connect all the positives (+) together and separately all the negatives (-) together. You increase the amps but the voltage stays the same. Example, you bought 6 solar 400W panels (40 Volt, 10 Amps); on a parallel connection, that will be 40 Volts, 60 Amps (10 Amps x 6 panels).