The incorporation of solar panelling for residential homes is not a new idea, having been adopted by many western countries as a supplementary source of electricity. Ironically, these countries experience four seasons, which does not permit that much amount of sunlight for conversion, unlike Malaysia that receives four to six hours of ample sunlight all year round.
Sadly, despite the ideal condition for generating solar energy, very few Malaysians have been taken by the idea. Some of the common reasons given were the lack of awareness and technical know-how to implement the technology. In truth, solar panels are not that sophisticated, although they come in various configurations, functions and types. Read on and get intimate with the technology.
Direct current solar panel system
This forms the most basic type of solar panel system and is designed to be used only when the sun is up. Since it converts solar energy solely into direct current (DC), its effectiveness is increased. The DC current is then supplied to DC household appliances, a battery bank, or both. As it uses only one power inverter, it is also easier to install, making it more DIY-friendly. The inverter does not restrict the energy flow, hence, more energy is directed into the battery. However, be prepared to cough up more funds as the system is not the cheapest.
Grid-connected solar with energy storage
Also known as hybrid solar, it is increasingly becoming one of the preferred energy systems. One reason why the grid-connected solar panel system is popular is because of the energy storage feature in the form of a battery. As long as solar energy is being stored within the battery, it will be used instead of the power from your home grid. Besides the advantage in cost-saving, the charged battery ensures that there is still power even after the sun has set. The main drawback is that you will need to change the battery often as it has a limited lifespan. Due to the complexity of the installation process, professional aid might be required, hence the added cost.
The most commonly used system, it supplies your household with energy, and if your energy consumption is less than what is produced, the surplus is fed back to the local grid. But unlike the grid-connected system with energy storage, the system functions only when the sun shines. The main benefit comes from the low cost as less equipment are needed compared to the other types of system. Maintenance is low as the solar panels and inverters do not have any moving parts. Besides, rain will usually keep the panels clean, so there will be little need for you to scale the roof to wash them.
Off-grid residential solar panel system
As stated in the name, this system is not connected to the local grid, hence its application in rural or hard-to-reach areas. The greatest benefit is that your source of electricity is completely independent, meaning that you do not need to pay anything to the utility company. Even so, the amount of electricity stored may be limited. As a result, you might need to plan your usage of electrical appliances and conserve them at the appropriate time. Additionally, the initial cost is hefty as you need to invest in the equipment.