types of solar power systems

Types of Solar Power Systems

Malaysia is the perfect place for the generation of solar power. Malaysia’s location, which is near the equator, receives between 4,000 to 5,000 Wh per square meter per day.

With its unique advantage, the solar industry in Malaysia has grown in the last years, with the creation of solar farms and other solar power companies. Solar farms in Malaysia are considered one of the most resource-efficient in the world.

Some of these solar farms produce enough energy for 1,800 houses every day.

Are you aware that there are different kinds of solar power systems? In fact, the most common types of solar energy systems for homes are grid-connected, grid-connected with energy storage, off-grid, and DC systems.

The most common type among the four is the Grid-connected system, although grid connected with energy storage is becoming very popular despite the high cost of building it.

Let’s discuss more about the different types of solar power systems.

 

1. Grid-Connected System

This type of solar panel system is the most common one. It is connected to your local electric grid and your home. If your array generates more energy than what you use, it sends the excess back to the electric grid.

This way you are selling your extra solar power back to the utility company where it can be used by your neighbours or others.

This type of system requires a few panels, wiring boxes and disconnects and an inverter. Also, you have to make an interconnection agreement with the local utility company.

Advantages

  • Initial Cost: Purchasing a solar power system for your home can be very expensive. But grid-tied systems are much cheaper since they use less equipment than the other types of rooftop solar power.
  • Low Maintenance: The operating cost of grid-tied systems is very low. Solar panels have 20 to 25 years of warranty.
  • Reliability: Grid-tied system is simple and can have no downtime (without electricity).
  • Flexibility: You have the chance to design your system with an alternative energy source and a utility source. This way you can change the system to meet your needs in the future.

Disadvantages

  • The setback of this type of solar power system is that when the sun goes down, you are not able to use any of the energy that the solar panels produce. This can also happen if your electric grid is down; your solar panels will be shut off automatically, too, leaving you without energy.

 

2. Grid Connected Solar with Energy Storage

This type of solar power system is also known as hybrid solar. In the last couple of years, this energy system is becoming very popular, even though it’s more expensive.

It is similar to the grid-connected residential system, but comes with an energy storage system usually in the form of battery backup.

The hybrid system consists of a PV array, a charge controller, a battery bank and inverter and in some occasions a tertiary power source like a wind turbine or a gas generator.

Advantages

  • Energy Storage System: If your solar power system produces excess energy, it can be stored in the battery. So even if there is no sunlight, you can still power your home with solar power. If there is a power outage, your home will still have power for hours.
  • Save Money: The battery can provide additional opportunities to save money because your energy storage system can make sure you are using its power instead of the power of the grid.

Disadvantages

  • Cost: The system costs more because you need to change the batteries regularly. Although the cost of batteries has gone down in recent years, they still need to be replaced at some point.
  • High-Level Expertise: This solar power system is more complex so you may require a solar installer with a higher level of expertise to design and install. So make sure you find out from your solar power company if they install this type of system.

 

3. Off-Grid Residential Solar Panel System

The off-grid residential solar panel system is a lot like the hybrid system. It also uses solar panels and an energy storage system.

The off-grid system is installed in very rural, remote areas, where it is expensive to run a power line to a home.

The system is more expensive because it is bigger since it’s not connected to the electric grid. This requires more solar panels and batteries.

Advantages

  • Independence: One of the best things about this type of solar system is that you don’t depend on the utility company. You are not subject to the terms and policies of the utility company.
  • No Blackouts: Another benefit is that when everyone else has no electricity, your home will still have full power. This is very important with people with health conditions that require electronic devices or refrigerated medicines.
  • No Electricity Bills: Because you are producing your own electricity you will never again have to pay a bill to the utility company.

Disadvantages

  • Higher Initial Cost: If you don’t have a connection from the utility company, you will need a backup battery when there is no sun. Adding this source of backup will increase your solar costs.
  • Limited Solar Energy Storage: If the weather is cloudy for a few days and you don’t receive any sun, you may run out of stored electricity.
  • Energy Efficiency is a Must: You need to be very careful about your energy, or you may not have enough power for your home.

Should you go off-grid with solar power? Well, that depends on your main motivation.

If you want to produce your own energy, want an end to blackouts or eliminate your electricity bills, having this type of solar power may be right for you. It’s also highly suitable for those who don’t have any electricity connected to their home.

But if you just want to save some money, it can be more feasible to consider a grid-tied photovoltaic system instead.

4. DC Solar Systems

DC Solar System will power an RV or cabin, but this type of solar system doesn’t typically power a whole house. It differs from grid-connected solar power system because DC solar systems don’t use an inverter to convert DC electricity produced by the solar panels to the AC electricity used in most homes.

Instead, it provides electricity to DC appliances and/or a battery bank. This is the most basic type of solar power system, and it is intended to be used only when the sun shines. The system is very affordable and easy to install.

However, once the sun goes down, the power stops. It is perfect for remote locations that require low voltage. You can use this type of solar power system for certain things like:

  • Water Pumping applications
  • Venting Fans
  • Certain Electronics.

Advantages

  • High System Efficiency: Because there is only one conversion, DC Solar System is more efficient.
  • Simple Installation: A DC system can use only one inverter, which means simpler installation.
  • Easy to coordinate: Because DC system only has one inverter, it is easy to coordinate advanced functionalities that are required in some locations.
  • More energy to the battery: As the energy flow is not limited by the inverter capacity, the system is able to route more energy to the battery.

Disadvantages

  • High cost: You will need to spend a considerable amount to buy a DC solar system.
  • Solid sunlight required: DC system will only work when the sunshine is solid. You can use DC system when there is no sun, but the battery will need to be fully charged by the sun.

These are the four different types of solar panel systems that are available for homes.

To know which type to use for your house, review your requirements with a professional solar installer who will be more than happy to explain to you and offer you the available options.

 

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