Posts

Solar Efficiency in Cold Temperatures

Solar photovoltaic (PV) panels create energy from the sun’s radiation “sunrays” & not from the sun’s heat. A solar panel is made up of a layer of silicon cells and when light interacts with a silicon cell, it causes electrons to be set into motion, which initiates a flow of electric current.

When the sun is hitting a solar panel, the solar panel will generate electricity — no matter how cold it is. Most people don’t know that solar works more efficiently in colder temperatures. A sunny and cold environment in New England is the best condition for solar panels. Heat actually reduces solar efficiency (tests shown that panels start to lose efficiency above 77ºF).

Best example is the McMurdo Station, the primary hub for U.S. science operations on Antarctica, using solar as it’s critical source of power. Temperatures in outer space, where solar powers the International Space Station, experience the most extreme cold temperatures that are significantly colder than New England winters or even Antarctica’s tempatures!

In fact, the solar industry is thriving in cold-weather states like here in Massachusetts (our main office location), Rhode Island and Connecticut.

This isn’t to say that solar is better or produces more energy during the winter months. Shorter days in winter, snow cover, clouds and a lower angle of the sun can all reduce the amount of sunlight solar panels get.

Do you live in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, or Connecticut and thinking about going Solar? Call our office today to speak to one of our Solar experts to see how much solar can save you!

Benefits of going Solar:

  • Reduce or eliminate your Electric Bill
  • Earn a great return on your investment
  • Increase your property value
  • Protect against rising energy costs
  • Protect the environment

How Solar Works

Solar energy works by capturing the sun’s energy and turning it into electricity to your home or business.

Our sun is a natural nuclear reactor. It releases tiny packets of energy called photons. Every hour, enough photons impact our planet to generate enough solar energy to theoretically satisfy global energy needs for an entire year.

Solar technology is improving and the cost of going solar is affordable, so our ability to harness the sun’s abundance of energy is on the rise especially here in Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut.

A 2017 report from the International Energy Agency shows that solar has become the world’s fastest-growing source of power – marking the first time that solar energy’s growth has surpassed that of all other fuels. In the coming years, we will all be enjoying the benefits of solar-generated electricity in one way or another.

How Do Solar Panels Work?

When photons hit a solar cell, they knock electrons loose from their atoms. If conductors are attached to the positive and negative sides of a cell, it forms an electrical circuit. When electrons flow through such a circuit, they generate electricity. Multiple cells make up a solar panel, and multiple panels (modules) can be wired together to form a solar array. The more panels you can deploy, the more energy you can expect to generate.

What are Solar Panels Made of?
You’ll hear words like (PV) which stands for Photovoltaic solar panels which are made up of many solar cells. Solar cells are made of silicon, like semiconductors. They are constructed with a positive layer and a negative layer, which together create an electric field, just like in a battery.

How Do Solar Panels Generate Electricity?
PV solar panels generate direct current (DC) electricity. With DC electricity, electrons flow in one direction around a circuit.

With AC (alternating current) electricity, electrons are pushed and pulled, periodically reversing direction, much like the cylinder of a car’s engine. Generators create AC electricity when a coil of wire is spun next to a magnet. Many different energy sources can “turn the handle” of this generator, such as gas or diesel fuel, hydroelectricity, nuclear, coal, wind, or solar.

How Does a Solar Panel System Work?

Sunlight hits a solar panel on the roof, the panels convert the energy to DC current, which flows to an inverter. The inverter converts the electricity from DC to AC, which you can then use to power your home. It’s simple and clean, and it’s getting more efficient and affordable all the time.

A typical grid-tied PV system, during peak daylight hours, frequently produces more energy than one customer needs, so that excess energy is fed back into the grid for use elsewhere. The customer gets credit/paid for the excess energy produced, and can use that credit to draw from the conventional grid at night or on cloudy days.

Contact SGE Solar if you have any questions about Solar and how you can benefit on reducing or eliminating your electric bill with the power of the sun!

How Home Solar Batteries Work

Solar energy system generates electricity whenever the sun is shining, often making more than a home needs during peak seasons. That excess energy is sent to the grid, and the homeowner usually receives a credit from their utility that can offset the electricity used at night.

While the grid still plays a supporting role, more homeowners are requesting solar-plus-storage so they can have more control over their electricity use.

Solar storage batteries work by taking that excess electricity and storing it. The stored solar energy can be used to complement power from the grid at night or to power essential appliances1 during a power outage. (Check out this battery storage infographic from Sun Power Below.)

Lithium ion home storage batteries usually come in a rectangular white box that’s about 4- to 5-feet high, 6 inches to a foot deep and about 2 feet wide.  They are mounted in an out-of-the-way spot, such as a utility room or in the garage. The bigger the battery, the more power that can be stored. Any excess left over after the battery is charged flows back to the utility. See our Sonnen Battery Page for information or contact SGE to get a free no-obligation quote today!