A solar panel is a collection of photovoltaic cells which use solar energy to generate electricity. The grid-like patterns uniformly arranged on the solar panel or plate are crystalline solar cells and possess high wear resistance. In this article, you will learn about the types of solar panels and the benefits of installing a solar system for the home.
What are Home Solar Panels?
‘Domestic solar panel’ refers to rooftop solar plates that utilise the sun’s energy to generate electricity. It is an excellent way of cutting down the cost of electricity bills. The power provided by the solar panel is enough to support domestic electrical appliances. These panels are very sturdy to sustain the high wear and tear of constant exposure to harsh climatic conditions. Their degradation rate is estimated to be very low. Once the solar cell panels are installed, people can quickly get their return on investment in renewable sources of energy that produce zero harmful gases.
How Does the Solar Panel Work?
A solar panel system consists of Photovoltaic or PV materials. They are responsible for converting sunlight into electricity. One PV device known as a cell is manufactured with various semiconducting materials. Each cell of the solar power panel typically produces 1 to 2 watts of electricity.
All the cells of the solar plates are connected through a chain to form panels or modules. These panels are either used individually or combined to create an array. These arrays are then interconnected to the electrical grid to complete the PV system correctly. The modular PV structure is suitable for any power requirements.
How Efficient are Residential Solar Panels?
Solar panel efficiency rate indicates how much sunlight that hits the panel’s surface is converted into usable electricity. Generally, a higher efficiency solar solution for homes means investing more money into solar products. According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) reports, today, most solar panels are manufactured with an efficiency between 16 to 22%.
Three main reasons affect the electricity generation from home solar panels:
- The intensity of sunlight: The sun’s intensity keeps changing throughout the day. When the sunlight is bright from 10 AM to 2PM, the panels collect more solar energy to produce electricity at noon. Whereas in the early morning and late evening, the generation is much lower.
- Heavy clouds: Clouds act as a barrier to sunlight. Therefore, with limited exposure to solar energy, the panel’s efficiency decreases.
- Heat buildup: In high temperatures in summer over 35 deg C, the conductivity of PV cells decreases resulting in a lower efficiency and hence lower generation.
Different Types of Solar Panels for Home
With the advancement in technology, people get the option to choose solar panels according to their needs. Today, primarily three types of solar panels are available in the market. They are –
1. Monocrystalline solar panels: These solar panels are manufactured with pure silicon crystal from a cylindrical silicon ingot. The silicon ingot is cut and shaped into a square with smooth edges. This process is costly and results in the wastage of silicon. These plates are black with a uniform shape. They are highly efficient and convert over 20% of the sunlight into useful electricity. With a high-efficiency rate, they produce more units of electric power. In addition to this, monocrystalline panels offer a long service life of nearly 25 years. However, the complex manufacturing process leads to a higher solar panel price.
2. Polycrystalline solar panels: They are manufactured by melting the silicon and giving it a square shape by pouring it into a mould. This process is highly economical and does not produce any silicon waste. These panels appear blueish as they are made by moulding pure silicon. The efficiency of these solar panels is less than monocrystalline panels. Generally, it gives an output of 17% and thus produces less usable electricity.
3. Bifacial solar panels: They produce electricity by absorbing sunlight from both sides. These panels are mounted so that the top side receives direct sunlight, and the bottom side gets sunlight reflected by light coloured stones or a white TPO roof. As a result, these panels produce the highest units of electricity.
Pros and Cons of Buying Solar Panels
It is a proven fact that solar energy is an abundant source of meeting the global power demand. If we efficiently collect and use solar energy, we can not only meet our power requirements but also contribute to the conservation of the environment. This leads to the discussion of why everyone is not using this excellent source of the power generator. The pros and cons of solar panels give a clear idea –
|It is a renewable energy source and reduces global warming.||Electricity generation is dependent on weather and exposure to sunlight.|
|It efficiently reduces the monthly electricity bill by 80%.||Investing in solar panels has a high upfront cost, but is recovered from electricity bill saving in 4 to 5 years.|
|It requires a minimal maintenance charge.||Installing solar panels covers your roof area, but it can be elevated to keep the area usable.|
|Electricity generation from solar produces zero carbon emissions, unlike conventional sources of electricity like coal and natural gas.||Storage of solar energy is expensive but is not required with a net-metering policy of electricity boards.|
Cost of Solar Panels for Home in India
Solar Panel rates depend on the type and model chosen by users. Knowing the home use solar panel price helps people make a smart buying decision.
- Monocrystalline solar panel cost per watt is around Rs. 43-63. For a 3kW solar plate system, you would need to invest about Rs. 2 to 2.5 lakhs. This 3 kW system gives a reduction of Rs. 2500 to 3000 in monthly electricity bill.
- 5kW polycrystalline solar panels cost between Rs. 2.5 to 3.5 lakhs. This gives a reduction of Rs. 5000 in monthly electricity bill.
Government Subsidies Offered on Solar Panel Price
To meet the set target of installing Indian solar panels, the government provides subsidies to people. The subsidy covers 40% of the solar panel price upto 3 kW and 20% for systems from 3kW to 10 kW. This solar price is covered according to the system capacity in the subsidy process. Although it helps customers by reducing the solar cost for the home by 25 to 30%, it comes with certain limitations. Only the solar panels with silicon cells manufactured in India are eligible for government subsidy. Hence one cannot install the latest technology moncrystalline panels under subsidy as these cells are not manufactured in India.
Maintenance Cost Incurred in Solar Power Panels
The annual PV solar panel maintenance charge is negligible. There is no requirement to replace any part of the system. Customers only need to pay for cleaning and minor corrective and preventive maintenance. Generally, for small PV solar panels, people need to invest just 1-2% of the initial solar cost.
There is no doubt that it requires a considerable investment to buy solar panels. However, the benefits offered are plentiful in the long run. Moreover, if people smartly take the advantages provided by the government, they can meet their power needs and contribute to saving the environment from the harmful effects of traditional power generation.
Q. How to decide if I need to install solar panels?
A. It depends on your lifestyle and power consumption behaviour. If you have an independent house with ownership of the roof or terrace and your monthly electricity bill is above Rs. 2000, you should definitely go for solar panel installation.
If you live in an apartment building or housing society, the society can install solar panels on the terrace to reduce or eliminate the common society electricity bill for lighting, lift, water pump, and other common utilities.
Q. Why shall I choose PV solar panels over diesel power generators?
A. With ever-increasing diesel prices, the cost of generation of 1 unit of electricity from a diesel generator is above Rs. 20. Whereas for solar panels there is a higher fixed cost but the cost of electricity is essentially zero rupees per unit for 25 years.
Q. What is the most common drawback of installing a solar power plant?
A. It is not practically possible to depend solely on solar power and become independent from normal electricity supply because this system is entirely dependent on the availability of sunlight. However, with the government’s net metering policy, we can export excess power from solar during the daytime to the electricity grid, and import power from the grid at night time. Thus we can get all the benefits of solar without requiring a battery installed for storing electricity generated from solar.