How Should a Solar Photovoltaic System Be Designed and Installed?

July 20, 2023

More and more people and businesses realize the importance of using clean and affordable energy. Solar power has become popular because it helps reduce environmental harm and lets us rely less on traditional energy sources. Solar panels, known as solar photovoltaic systems, capture energy from the sun and play a big role in our efforts to use cleaner energy.

view of solar panel systems

Source: prospectsolar

This article discusses how we design and set up these solar photovoltaic systems. We’ll review important things to consider, like where to put them, how much energy we need, and what technology to use. Looking into these sections will help you understand how to use solar power well, which helps make our environment healthier and our energy future stronger.


Popular Myths About Solar Panels Busted 5

Site Assessment

Before embarking on a solar photovoltaic project, a thorough site assessment is paramount to ensure the system’s efficiency and longevity. The success of a solar PV installation hinges on understanding and optimizing various factors inherent to the specific location.

view of solar panels on the roof of the house

Source: sunwatts

Sunlight availability plays a crucial role in effectively harnessing solar energy. A comprehensive assessment of the site’s geographical location is vital, considering variations in solar irradiance based on latitude and climatic conditions. Consider these factors:

  • The amount of sunlight a location receives directly influences the energy output of the PV system.
  • Shading analysis plays a pivotal role in site evaluation.
  • Potential obstructions such as trees, buildings, or geographical features can cast shadows that significantly impact energy production.
  • Utilize advanced tools like solar pathfinders and modern smartphone and tablet applications like PV Master to identify these obstructions.

This technology aids in determining optimal panel placement, minimizing shading effects, and maximizing sunlight exposure throughout the day.

Roof orientation is another critical factor in site assessment. The system, implemented across an area of 8 square meters, can generate an annual net exergy of 2195.81 kWh, operating at an efficiency of 11.8%. The angle and direction of the roof influence the system’s overall performance. Solar panels should face true south to capture the maximum sunlight throughout the day. Additionally, assessing the roof’s structural integrity is essential to ensure it can support the weight of the solar panels and withstand environmental factors.

Solar resource mapping tools are employed to enhance accuracy in feasibility studies. This solar resource map summarizes the estimated solar energy available for power generation. It represents the average totals of global horizontal irradiation where indicators with the lowest radiation are marked in green and those with the highest are marked in red.

solar resource map

Source: wikipedia

These tools provide detailed insights into the solar potential of a specific location, helping designers make informed decisions. By incorporating cutting-edge technology and a meticulous site assessment, the foundation is laid for a robust and efficient solar PV system design, setting the stage for a sustainable energy future.

System Design

When designing a solar system, it is essential to tailor it to align with the property’s energy requirements. The solar system design process involves carefully studying how much energy is used, including peak times, seasonal changes, and expected growth.

view of solar system layouts

Source: fiverr.com

When we look at solar photovoltaic energy, we measure the data in two ways:

  1. Kilowatt-hours per square meter per day (KWh/m2/day): This tells us how much energy, measured in kilowatt-hours, falls on one square meter daily.
  2. Daily peak sun hours (PSH): This is the number of hours in a day when sunlight averages 1000 W/m2.

The size of a standalone PV system relies on the energy needed to power various devices. Appliances have different power ratings and operating times, so calculating energy demand requires careful consideration. To determine energy consumption, multiply the power rating by the hours of operation, expressed as watt-hours, as shown in the formula:

Energy demand (Wh)=Power rating (W)×Duration of operation (hours)

Adding up the individual load demands of each appliance per day gives the daily total energy demand in Watt-hours:

Total energy demand (Wh)=∑(Power rating (W)×Duration of operation (hours))

Other important parts of designing the system are depicted in the table below:

Solar Panels Solar Inverters Solar Batteries
There are various types available, each with different efficiency levels and characteristics. Checking if these panels work well with the site’s conditions, like how much sunlight it gets and space available, ensures they work at their best. They change the power generated by the panels (direct current or DC) into the power used in homes or the grid (alternating current or AC). Choosing the right inverters affects how well the whole system works. These are added to the design to make the system even more reliable and deal with times when the sun isn’t shining. Batteries save extra energy when the sun is bright and use it when it isn’t as strong, ensuring there’s always power. This makes the system more efficient and gives a steady power source, especially in places without a reliable grid.

So, designing a solar system is like finding the perfect balance between energy needs, how well the panels and inverters work, and adding storage. This way, the solar system is made just right for today’s needs and ready for whatever energy needs arise.

Solar Panel Selection

Picking the right solar panels is a big part of setting up a solar system. You decide based on how well they work, how long they last, and how much money you have. There are three common types:

  • monocrystalline
  • polycrystalline
  • thin-film panels.

Monocrystalline panels are super efficient and made from a single silicon crystal. Polycrystalline panels are less efficient but cost less and work well in different places. Thin-film panels are bendy and light, but you might need more space for the same amount of power.

view of photovoltaic solar panels

Source: re-captha-version

It’s not just about the type; you also need to consider the warranty, how fast they might wear out over time, and whether they work well with the other parts of the system. Checking all these things ensures the panels you pick will keep working well for a long time.

Knowing about monocrystalline, polycrystalline, and thin-film panels helps make a smart choice that fits the special needs and design basics for the solar system.

Inverter Technology

Choosing the right inverter technology is key to designing and installing a PV solar system. Inverters play a vital role in converting the direct current electricity produced by solar panels into alternating current power, suitable for use in homes or feeding into the grid.

view of types of inverters

Source: winaico.com

There are several types of inverters, each with its own set of advantages. String inverters, microinverters, and power optimizers are common options

  1. String inverters are cost-effective and suitable for larger systems.
  2. Microinverters, installed on each solar panel, optimize energy production even in shaded conditions, though they may be a bit more expensive.
  3. Power optimizers, a compromise between string and microinverters, enhance energy harvest while minimizing costs.

The selection of inverter technology depends on various factors, including the size of the system, shading conditions at the installation site, and budget considerations. Assessing these factors carefully ensures the chosen inverter technology aligns with the specific requirements and constraints of the solar PV system, contributing to its overall efficiency and performance.

Solar Batteries

Incorporating solar batteries into your PV solar system significantly improves efficiency and reliability. These batteries’ voltages can be 12V, 24V, or 48V and store excess electricity generated during sunny periods, ensuring a stable power supply during cloudy or high-demand times.

Excess energy is stored in the batteries during peak production, ensuring a consistent power supply even when the sun isn’t shining. This is particularly valuable for off-grid installations or areas with unreliable grid connectivity.

Beyond reliability, solar batteries contribute to increased energy independence. Homes and businesses with solar batteries can function off-grid, relying on stored energy during power outages or emergencies. This provides peace of mind and reduces dependence on traditional utility grids.

view of comparison of solar batteries

Source: linkedin

The choice of solar batteries depends on factors such as storage capacity, cycle life, and cost. Lithium-ion batteries are popular for their high energy density, longer cycle life, and faster charging capabilities, while lead-acid batteries are characterized by long charging times and cost-effectiveness.

In essence, solar batteries play a pivotal role in optimizing the performance of a solar PV system, ensuring it delivers a steady and reliable power supply while offering greater flexibility and resilience in the face of varying energy demands and external factors.

Mounting and Racking Systems

The mounting and racking system ensures the solar panel size is sturdily affixed to the roof or the ground. When selecting the appropriate mounting system, factors like wind loads, snow loads, and roof material must be carefully considered.

The design of the mounting and racking system is tailored to withstand various environmental conditions. When setting up a solar energy system, it’s crucial to think about how the wind and snow might affect it. Wind loads, which measure the force of the wind pushing against the solar panels, and snow loads, which show the weight of piled-up snow, are important factors to ensure the system lasts a long time and can withstand different weather conditions.

view of the design of the mounting the solar panel

Source: thecleanieawards

Different mounting systems, such as roof, ground, and tracking mounts, offer flexibility in accommodating diverse installation scenarios. Roof material also influences the selection of appropriate mounting mechanisms to ensure a secure and weather-resistant installation.

In essence, the mounting and racking system is the backbone of a solar PV system, providing the necessary structural support to maximize the panels’ exposure to sunlight while withstanding environmental challenges. Careful consideration of these factors during the design phase contributes to the overall effectiveness and reliability of the solar energy system.

Summary

Creating a solar photovoltaic system demands a thorough grasp of technical, environmental, and regulatory elements. This holistic approach ensures a seamless integration of solar energy solutions for individuals and businesses. Delving into critical aspects like site assessment, solar panel selection, inverter technology, energy storage, and maintenance allows stakeholders to fully exploit the potential types of solar energy.

A well-designed and correctly installed solar PV system holds significance beyond immediate benefits, presenting a sustainable energy solution that aids in building a greener future. This system taps into the sun’s power to generate clean electricity and stands as a smart, long-term investment, promising substantial cost savings.

Jed Hilton
Jed Hilton

Jed Hilton, our Founder and CEO, has over a decade of experience in the solar industry. His innovative leadership and expertise in solar technologies guide our company's vision and strategy.

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