Types Of Solar Panels

So you have your heart set on solar energy, but what kind of solar is best for you? When you first start investigating Solar and how it works and what you need for an effective system you will very quickly read about the various types of solar panels available. How can you make a good decision? Below you can find some top benefits and information regarding the four most popular types of solar panels available in the New Zealand market:

PV (Photovoltaic) Solar Panels

  • PV solar panels generate no harmful greenhouse gas emissions therefore solar PV panels are environmentally friendly.
  • PV solar panels do not interfere with your lifestyle and can be installed easily on rooftops or on the ground.
  • PV solar panels have very low, almost negligible, operating and maintenance costs compared to other renewable energy systems
  • PV solar panels have far less breakages or require less maintenance than other renewable energy systems due to have minimal or no mechanically moving parts.
  • PV solar panels produce no noise and so they are a perfect solution for suburban areas.

Solar PV electricity will allow you to reduce your carbon footprint as well as your annual electricity bills. You will minimise the impact of ever increasing energy costs and generate a tax free income for at least the next 20 years.

What is more, Solar PV systems are environmentally friendly as they draw on sunlight to produce zero carbon electricity. Solar PV electricity systems don’t release any harmful carbon dioxide (CO2) or other pollutants and the majority of Solar PV panels are made using silicon which comes from sand – one of the earths’ most plentiful natural resources.

Once installed, a typical PV system will produce around 50% of the electricity your household will use in a year. This means your energy costs will be greatly reduced.

Another reason to install PV Solar panels is if you are attracted to reducing your carbon footprint and would like to become carbon, you can choose to store excess electricity in batteries for use when you need it.

Evacuated Tube

  • Evacuated tube Solar panels are a great option if your climate is subject to freezing conditions. They contain no water are not affected by -0c temperatures.
  • Evacuated tube Solar panels have a curved tube shape. This allows thermal absorption from a greater range of sun angles. This also means that they absorb sunlight for a greater portion of the day
  • Evacuated tube Solar panels have a high heat retention ability. This means that during overcast days and through the night the heat collected through high sun hours can be used.
  • Evacuated tube Solar panels have their tubes fitted independently into the header pipe. This means that repairs and replacements can be made to individual tubes without having to decommission the entire system
  • Evacuated tube Solar panels are ideal for high temperature applications such as boiling water and steam production and because they have a large bore header-pipe, they are reliable if you are in a hard water (high calcium hardness) area.

Compared to some of the other solar panels available in the market, evacuated tubes have only been available since the 1970’s. Like the other types of Solar panels, there are more than one variety of evacuated tubes, however the most commonly used type employs the use of a heat pipe surrounded by a glass tube that is under a vacuum. The tubes consist of two walls of glass. In between the two walls, all the air is removed, resulting in a vacuum. This vacuum is a way of insulating and it gives the evacuated tubes a much better heat retention than just air space.

The heat pipe in the middle of the glass tubes is also pressurized. This allows the liquid inside, usually water, to boil very rapidly at a very low temperature (usually between 23C and 26C). As the water boils, the heat that is generated is carried to the top of the collector, where the heat is then collected by water or heat transfer liquid that flows around the top of the heat pipe, and then transferred to a storage tank or elsewhere in the system.

Flat Plate

  • Flat Plate Solar panels have a greater surface area than other Solar panels and so capture sunlight better.
  • Flat Plate Solar panels are more efficient in transferring heat than other Solar panel options.
  • Flat Plate Solar panels although work most efficiently in high temperatures are also effective in sub-zero temperatures
  • Flat Plate Solar panels are known for their durability and, like Evacuated Tube panels, if a tube should be broken, it can be easily and cheaply replaced.
  • Flat Pate Solar panels provide excellent performance in overcast conditions

Flat Plate Solar panels have been in production since the early 1900s. As one of the earliest forms of solar energy producers they are now time-tested, shown to be reliable, and currently dominate the market.

The principal component of a Flat Plate Solar panel is the absorber plate, which consists of an assembly of a copper sheet and copper tubing.

The top surface of the absorber plate is coated with either a dark coloured material or with a selective absorbent coating that is designed to extract as much as 15% more heat for the same active area.  The solar radiation that strikes this surface is converted to thermal energy that’s used to heat the fluid flowing through the tubes.

 Flat Plate Solar panels are a popular choice for homes that house large families or in situations where hot water demand is excessive. Flat Plate Solar panels are often installed in commercial premises like laundromats, car washes, and restaurants.

Poly Ethylene

  • PolyEthylene Panels are single polymer panels that are leak resistant due to having the riser tubes connected to the manifold header in a unique injection process.
  • PolyEthylene Panels are extremely stable mechanically due to having an individual tube design.
  • PolyEthylene Panels have spacer bars to prevent warping over time, this increases the lifespan of your panels.
  • PolyEthylene Panels are able to be installed over any type of roof due to the easy modular structure and easy connection ability between panels.
  • PolyEthylene Panels have no sharp edges or angles and all parts are rounded.

Solar panels that are made of polyethylene (a type of plastic) are the most robust on the market. Because they are super strong, you are not stuck with placing them only on your roof space. They can be positioned anywhere – horizontally or vertically.

Polyethylene as a material is relatively cheap to buy and easy to work with. When it is used in solar panelling, this means that adding more piping is inexpensive. Because of the flexibility of use, it means that if you have Polyethylene solar panels and you need to change or modify the size of panelling it is easy to modify the panels to any size or length required.

To make a solar panel, polyethylene pipes are enclosed in an anodized aluminium box and protected with a polycarbonate cover. Polycarbonate is hail resistant so your solar panels do not get affected by bad winter weather.

 

How Sustainable Is Sustainable Energy?

If something is to be called “sustainable” it conveys an understanding that it is able to be maintained at a certain rate or level. As fast as it is used, it is replaced. When we talk about sustainable energy it can make many people feel quite excited that they won’t be contributing to the detriment of earth’s natural resources. But, really, how sustainable is sustainable energy?

First, we must agree on what types of energy are commonly understood to be “sustainable”. The common types of energy that are referred to as being sustainable are:

  • Biomass
  • Solar
  • Wind
  • Hydro
  • Tidal
  • GeoThermal

Sustainable energy has an opposite. The opposite of sustainable energy is called Fossil Fuel. Fossil fuels are a natural fuel such as coal or gas, which has been formed in the geological past from the remains of living organisms. Fossil fuels are slow to develop and time, lots of time, is required in order to have reserves for humans to use.

Whereas in the past life seemed to move at a slower pace, slow and life rarely go hand in hand now. Time is always of the essence and when people want things they want them now, there is no time to wait for geologists to find the next reserve to tap into.

This is where sustainable energy is advantageous. Where fossil fuels have served mankind for centuries, the worry we currently have is how far these fossil fuels can be used considering the fact that they are fast being depleted. Often case when fossil fuels are used, they cause some serious environmental problems which have been shown to contribute to global warming and climate change.

In order for an energy source to be considered “sustainable” it needs to fit within three parameters – environmental, social and economic sustainability. This means that the energy source needs to be able to:

  • Be naturally replenished.
  • Increase its’ efficiency by way of technology
  • Be available long term

Let’s look at the various types of energy that have been identified as “sustainable” and see just how sustainable they are:

Solar Energy
This form of energy almost always comes out on top when looking at sustainable options. Solar energy provides power in two ways: light and heat. Not only can we harness its energy for our day to day lives but solar energy can also be used for plant generation and to help us grow food. Because of this, solar energy systems generate confidence and ensure that how we live does not cause any further harm to our environment.

Wind Energy
Wind turbines can produce vast amounts of power by harnessing our natural resource of wind. Although a relatively new form of sustainable energy, many large companies have started to invest into wind turbines in order to tap into this energy source. In the future, wind power will be able to be on sold to people to power their homes and possibly even industry will be able to be powered. Wind power will allow fossil fuel exploration to stop.

Geothermal Energy
New Zealand is a great country for geothermal activity. The amount of power lying beneath our tectonic plates is undetermined but when you look at places like Rotorua, it is obvious that this is an energy source that we could draw from more so than we currently do. Geothermal energy is captured by installing geothermal power stations that use the heat coming out from inside earth and use it to generate electricity. There is a limitation to Geothermal energy in that it can only be harnessed in areas that have high seismic activity, however they are environment friendly and can produce energy throughout the day.

Tidal Energy
With around 14,000 kms of coastline, New Zealand is literally surrounded by water. On top of this, around 70% of the earth is covered with water. When tidal energy is harnessed correctly, it can be used to power millions of homes. The power of the waves can be used by oceanic thermal plants to convert the kinetic energy in the waves into mechanical energy. Once this has happened the mechanical energy can then be converted into electrical energy for use in homes and industry.

Biomass Energy
Biomass is produced by burning waste. It’s a form of recycling. Biomass energy can be created by burning wood, timber, landfill and agricultural waste. As humans continue to create waste, biomass energy is completely renewable. There is technically no production of carbon dioxide when biomass is made. Yes, burning items causes carbon dioxide but this is compensated for when the plant creating the biomass energy reuse the carbon dioxide created and produce oxygen. The creation of biomass energy also helps reduce the amount of rubbish that ends up in landfills.

Hydro Energy
Hydro Energy, or hydroelectric power, is very common. It is used to generate power in most parts of the world. The energy found in rivers and waterfalls is captured by directing the flow through turbines which generate power. This power is then on-fed through power lines throughout the country to power homes and industry.

Really, any form of “sustainable” energy is our best form of energy to use. Unless the sun stops shining, the moon stops influencing tides, humans stop creating waste to be used for biomass, the geothermal fields dry up and the rivers stop running, sustainable energy is sustainable for the next generation and for millennia.

Today’s Realistic Available Sustainable Energy Options

In a world where the cost of living seems to take massive leaps year to year instead of steady increases, finding ways to make your life simpler and more efficient is high on most people’s priority lists.

The costs associated with running a home, business or recreational enterprise can be crippling. A wise person looks at ways to reduce these costs, therefore allowing hard earned funds to be put to better or different uses.
The market for sustainable energy options has grown and improved substantially of late. But what is available for you and what are your realistic available sustainable energy options?

Largely, it depends on where you are located. However, New Zealand is blessed with options. Wind, Hydro, Solar, Bio, and Marine energy options are plentiful. New Zealand has the added option of geo-thermal power – something that sets us apart from other countries.
Renewable energy comes from sources that are naturally replenished in a relatively short timeframe. Currently, New Zealand sources around 40-45% of its energy from renewable sources.

When looking at your sustainable energy options, make sure you look at each one in depth. Talk to providers. Talk to installers. Talk to people who already have the options you are interested in working for them.

Why look at Solar energy?

Solar is a great option that you can use to complement your traditional power source – the electricity grid. Solar offers long term electricity price stability – this means that when every one panics about power increases you can switch your load to solar and carry on. We can harness the sun’s energy in several ways. Passive solar design is the use of solar radiation to heat our buildings. Buildings that have passive solar design make best use of the sun’s free warmth. Solar panels, also known as photovoltaic (PV) panels, generate electricity directly from sunlight.

Why look at wind energy?

New Zealand has one of the best wind resources in the world due to the windswept nature of our land. Wind energy is renewable, requires no fuel, and cheaper than any other form of new energy generation.
Because wind turbines generate electricity and are easy to remove, and they don’t produce greenhouse gas emissions, this makes wind power is one of the most environmentally friendly forms of electricity generation. Wind energy infrastructure is also fast to build.

Why look at Hydro energy?

The advantages of hydro power are huge. Unlike solar and wind, hydro is stable and continuous – which means you will always get the same input no matter what.

Water stored in dams can be turned into electricity in minutes – a process that gives off no greenhouse gases. Where enough water can be stored, hydroelectricity is reliable and consistent.

More than ever, having access to sustainable energy is a realistic option for many people. Instead of abusing the environment, sustainable (also called renewable) energy allows us to have the comforts we have grown accustomed to in our homes without the ongoing costs. One major advantage with the use of renewable energy is that as it is renewable, it will never run out. Even more importantly, renewable energy produces little or no waste products such as carbon dioxide or other chemical pollutants, so has minimal impact on the environment.

A Testimonial From Health@132

We recently did a solar installation for Health@132. We received this testimonial from them:

To Whom it may Concern,

In early 2015 Solar Electric Technology installed a 50kWp grid connected solar system on our building.

We were extremely happy with the service given by Solar Technology. They were thoroughly reliable and professional. It seemed as if they were as enthusiastic about our project as we were. We have found that the system is performing around 7% better than projected by Solar Electric, which is fantastic.

I am happy to recommend Solar Technology for any project similar to the one we undertook in Health@132. I am also happy to talk to anyone about our experience.

Sincerely,

Sharon Brinsdon

Building Manager for Nelson Medical Partnership.

A Testimonial From A Customer In Nelson

We recently had the misfortune to have 2 of our 4 solar panels fail (they were pretty old – approximately 30yrs). This was evidenced by the failure of our batteries to be able to hold a decent charge and sought the help of Solar Electric Technology’s technician Lance Double to advice on what to do next.

Lance promptly checked the whole system and while the news wasn’t particularly good it was clear and correct.

We needed to replace our ageing panels, our batteries and as it turned out our regulator too.

Through this process Lance helped by providing prompt information, options and quotes by email and being on the phone when needed.

Once agreed he fitted our installation work into other work, reducing our travel costs and sent an update including pictures of completed work (it was at our bach not our home).

We took the opportunity to get some LED lights installed and this all worked out as above.

I am happy to recommend Lance to anyone fitting or re-fitting solar electric systems.

 

Richard Wells

Nelson

Another Testimonial Received From Mike

Mr Lance Double has been known to us for some years. He was initially with another solar technology company, Ecogise, when we first consulted him re planning our off-grid house. That company merged with another provider and we carried on our relationship with Mr Double and utilised his technical advice in planning our  installation.

In 2011 Mr Double personally installed our system (a 10 panel/battery/inverter/back up generator, assembly). On his advice we added extra 180-watt panels that has proven to be a wise move. There were some initial issues with back up generator sequencing but Mr Double spent considerable time and effort rectifying the program that has worked without fault since. We have found Mr Double to be open to discussion and willing to address our concerns in a timely manner.

In an industry that has more than its share of untrained opportunists we believe Mr Double and his company have proven to be a technically competent and reliable service. The fact that he remained in the market and has grown his business confirms our original confidence in his expertise.

With the caveat that one must always check the options, we have no hesitation in recommending Mr Double to anyone considering going solar. We continue to utilise his services to maintain our installation. We may be contacted by phone if required.

G.M Waring.

A Happy Customer In Motueka

We received this lovely review from a customer we did a residential solar installation for. It reads:

“In December 2016 we finally took the plunge and made a significant investment decision to install a substantial residential PV system on our property.

This decision was not taken lightly as there were a number of difficulties in achieving our goal.

Lance and the team at Solar Electric were extremely helpful,patient and professional in the design of our system and we are so far delighted with the installation and it’s performance.

Our Micro Inverter system is ‘Enphase’ based with power supplied from Jinko Solar Poly Crystalline Panel Modules and although I am no expert in the field both appear to be of superior construction with a good warranty profile.

I have no hesitation in recommending Solar Electric Technology and would be only too pleased to talk to / communicate with any serious prospective client of theirs about our system and albeit early days yet their support

So far has been outstanding.

Dan Oakeley
Brooklyn, Motueka 7198”

Summer is here, make the most of free energy.

Summer is here! The days have suddenly turned from grey, overcast and wet, wet, wet to blazing days of glorious sunshine. Long may it last! Wouldn’t it be great to do more than just enjoy the sunshine though? Now that Summer is here, it is time to make the most of the free energy the sun provides us.

Have you ever imagined the possibility of using the sun as a source of energy to power your home? Yes? No? If you’re reading this blog, then you more than likely have more than a passing interest in doing this.  Solar cells have been commercially available since the 1950`s but the basic working principles were first discovered more than 160 years ago.

Harnessing solar energy is becoming more popular as costs decrease and the potential for homeowners to save money on bills and earn income from exported energy increases. On top of this, with the introduction of backup battery storage it is possible to use energy from the sun even at night.

What better way to cool, heat and otherwise run your home than by harnessing free energy from the sun. Of course, although this can be done all year round – Summer provides the most hours of sunlight.

First, it is important to understand how solar energy is harnessed. Photovoltaic (PV) cells, or solar cells, come in many different shapes and sizes and are made of electricity-producing materials. When sunlight shines on a PV cell, the absorbed light generates electricity. Because PV technologies use both direct and scattered sunlight to create electricity, the solar resource across the United States is ample for home solar electric systems. A PV system generates clean, cost-effective power anywhere the sun shines and in New Zealand, unless you’re under a rock during summer, the sun will shine where you are.

Another way to tap solar energy is by collecting the sun’s heat. Solar thermal power plants use heat from the sun to create steam, which can then be used to make electricity. On a smaller scale, solar panels that harness thermal energy can be used for heating water in homes, other buildings, and swimming pools.

Have you ever noticed how sunlight streaming through a window can make your home feel warmer, even on a cold day? If so, you’ve seen passive solar heating in action! People can design or remodel buildings to take advantage of heat from the sun during the winter. It helps to have large windows that face south (the side that gets the most sunlight everywhere north of the Equator) and are not shaded by other buildings or trees. A good design often includes overhangs, movable awnings, or blinds that block the sun during the summer when people need to cool their homes instead of heating them.

The electricity generated by solar panels is 100 percent renewable, predictable, and reliable. Solar energy production can be very accurately predicted—meaning you know how much you can expect your system to produce before you even install it.

Every home owner should consider installing a Solar powered electrical systems as a feature. The benefits are fantastic, particularly the cost savings and impact on the environment. However, there are certain factors that can make homes ideal (or not) for installing a solar power system. Consider these factors when deciding whether or not you should have a solar power system installed in your home:

  • You own your home
  • Your roof has a face without too much shade
  • Your roof is in good condition
  • You have significant energy bills

In addition to major environmental and energy cost benefits, solar energy offers several unique features that make it an extremely attractive option for many home owners, especially those concerned with energy security and independence. Unique benefits of solar power include:

  • Low maintenance: Once your solar panels are installed, there is only basic yearly maintenance and cleaning to keep them in good working order.
  • Consistent and constant power source: We know that every day the sun will rise and set — and we even know when it will happen.
  • Energy security: The sun answers to no one and it’s available with no limits, offering superior energy security to those who harness its power.
  • Silent operation: Unlike noisy generators and power plants, solar panels make no noise as they create energy from the sun.
  • Low space requirements: Solar panels do not require much space, and they can be mounted almost anywhere.
  • Roof protection: It’s important that your roof is in good condition when your solar panels are installed, but keep in mind that your solar panels may offer a level of protection.
  • Off grid living options: In some remote areas, it is extremely expensive (and potentially cost prohibitive) to tap into the electrical power grid.
  • Solar panels are built to last: Most solar panels should last for about 25 years.
  • Solar energy system inverters often last 10 years or more: While solar inverters don’t last as long as the panels themselves, they typically have a usable life span of about 10 years or more.

Really, there are more benefits to going solar in the Summer than in any other time of the year. Not only will installing solar save you your money but it will also increase the value of your home.

Contact esolar.co.nz on 0508 449 274 to get help in harnessing the natural energy from the kiwi summer sun and switch on to a new solar energy system for your home!

Micro Hydro Green Engergy

Green energy, is fast becoming the must have, especially in New Zealand where we love our clean green image.  Micro Hydro, renewable energy is one way New Zealanders are using to get that effect.  Micro Hydro as the name suggests uses water to produce power.  This is ideal for people who live near a water source. 

micro_hydro_vs_solar

It is also used in third world countries as a way to get energy.  It is used normally in conjunction with a normal energy company but the company generally “subsidises” the output from the micro hydro.  Maintenance is minimal and easily done.  There are many options to go along with micro hydro, you can store the excess energy, you can invert the energy or even in some cases sell the energy back to the company grid.

How does a micro hydro generally work? First water is diverted from the source along a channel and dropped into a cross flow turbine, the rotating mechanical power is converted into electricity.  Power is then fed into the electrical grid and the water directed back to the source.  Micro hydro is an electricity generator which uses a turbine and generator to convert waters kinetic energy to electricity.  Water needs to flow from a specific height with enough quantity to drive a turbine.  This turbine produces kinetic energy. Which produces power.

Many people are starting to want to live “off the grid” or have their power bills reduced and Micro-Hydro is a very popular choice since New Zealand is an island and water sources common.  There are generally three sizes of micro-hydro, up to 5kW, between 5kW and 20kW and 20kW and 10MW.  For a domestic one expect to pay between $10,000 to $15,000.  There is some maintenance involved in keeping the system running, the water way needs to be free of leaf litter and other debris and the equipment also needs maintenance.  You need to check if you will need a consent to build one, this is especially if you need to build a dam or the like.

So as we have seen New Zealand is an ideal country for the option of a micro-hydro system so why not check out if it is possible for you.

Is Solar Heating Sustainable Energy?

What does it matter? Of course solar heating is sustainable… isn’t it? First of all, we need to understand what Sustainable Energy means. What sets sustainable energy apart from other energy sources is that it can only be naturally replenished, and it causes no harm to the environment. The endeavour is to use energy sources that allow Earth to sustain balanced, healthy ecosystems and human life. 

Sustainable energy can also be achieved through energy conservation and efficiency. The worry is that if we do not start investing in sustainable energy sources, the sources of energy most commonly used will run out. If this happens, our future generations will then be forced to do what we are already doing—finding new ways to generate energy.

grid_connected_solar

The sun is one of the most important sources of renewable energy available.
Scientists and engineers have studied in depth the process of photosynthesis and have observed how plants absorb sunlight and convert it into stored energy for development and growth. Viewing this incredible process, and recognising the benefits that could be found if humans copied this, scientists and engineers have created a sustainable energy formula and can now convert sunlight into useful heat or electricity. This is otherwise known as Solar Energy.

So when it comes to using solar energy for heating, what sustainable options are available? There are two main types of solar energy heating systems: photovoltaics, and thermal systems.

Photovoltaic

What a name. As previously mentioned in our blog “WHAT DOES PV OR PHOTOVOLTAIC MEAN?”

Photovoltaic (PV) essentially means electricity from the energy of the sun and is derived from the words “photo” with the Greek meaning light and “voltaic” meaning voltage. The term “photovoltaic” is used to describe a process known as the “photovoltaic effect” the process by which a material such as silicon converts sunlight into electricity.

These systems can be built as small as to fit on a hand held device, you can have a building-integrated system with capacities from a few to several tens of kilowatts, or they can run large utility-scale power stations creating and using hundreds of megawatts. Most PV systems are grid-connected, while off-grid or stand-alone (hybrid) systems only account for a small portion of the market. PV systems are one of the most flexible systems available.

A photovoltaic (PV) solar system requires solar panels, racks for putting the panels on your roof, electrical wiring, and an inverter. These systems are silent and have no moving parts. Best of all there are no environmental emissions.

A photovoltaic system is especially valuable for remote rural applications where it would be incredibly expensive to connect electricity from the main grid.

With these systems, you can choose to be “On-Grid” or “Off-Grid”

On-grid means that you tie your solar to your local power provider’s system. Most homes will use an On-grid connection because you are then covered if your system under or over-produces energy. Being on-grid means that you don’t have the added outlay in purchasing a battery back-up system to store any excess energy which can be very expensive. An On-Grid Photovoltaic system are the simplest systems and the most cost effective to install.  These systems will pay for themselves by offsetting power bills in 3-8 yrs. These systems however do not provide power during a grid outage.

Off-grid means you are not connected in any way to an external power system or utility company. This can be appealing because you are 100% self-sustaining your energy use. If the power network goes down or, if you have chosen not to be on the grid – these systems allow you to store your solar power in batteries for use.   Off-Grid systems however require a lot more specialized equipment to function and with that comes high costs and more complexities when it comes to installation.

Thermal systems

Solar Thermal Systems seek to store heat from the sun. They differ from Photovoltaic systems. Photovoltaic systems create electricity – Thermal systems heat water. You still have solar panels installed say on a roof, or other location to absorb sunlight. There are active systems like a solar water heater and passive systems like greenhouses. They both collect solar energy on sunny days and utilize it later for warmth.

Solar heating is appropriate for nearly every household. Access to good sunlight is mandatory but in New Zealand most people have enough of it. Solar heating is clean, it can operate independently or in conjunction with traditional power sources, and it is remarkably renewable.  Besides having to manufacture the equipment needed to capture the sun’s heat, there is no environmental impact from making solar energy at your home. Heating your water with solar energy can be a rewarding venture. Solar heating is indeed sustainable energy and a great option for you to consider.