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solar power has received a lot of attention as one of the answers to our energy crisis. The fact that solar panels provide energy from a clean and free source, the sun, makes it a viable option. But many homeowners are asking: what sort of system would work for me? Well of course that depends on your situation and what you are looking to get out of solar energy. Let’s talk about your options for small simple systems and the advantages and disadvantages of each option.

Integrated Solar

This is probably the smallest of all photovoltaic systems. These can be found where the solar panel is built right into the appliance that it is powering. For instance calculators, garden lights, fountains, flashlights, and many other small electronic devices are powered by the sun.

Advantages of Integrated solar power

* Portability. These units often can be moved easily and since they are powered by solar they don’t require power cords.
* Maintenance Free. Maintenance is virtually nonexistent and they do not require expensive fuels.
* Batteries. These units have an internal battery which lasts much longer than the common battery we’re used to.

Disadvantages of Integrated Solar Power

* Scalability. General these units are small and the power they require is minimal. For larger appliances that consume more energy having integrated solar panels is not practical.
* Part Replacement. Integrated products usually are hard to take apart and fix. For example, if the battery quits working you may just have to replace the entire unit.

Direct Solar

This is the simplest way to get power from the sun’s rays. Direct solar simply feeds the energy that is collected by a small array to an appliance or pump without a battery. The system usually consists of a small panel, a mounting mechanism, and the pump or appliance.

Advantages of Direct Solar Power

* Cost. These systems usually are fairly inexpensive since they don’t require batteries.
* Installation. Direct units are relatively easy to install as long as the area has ample sunshine. Since power cords are not required, almost anyone with a few tools can install them.
* Remote Capability. Homeowners and business owners love these systems for their water features and well pumps that can fill tanks or ponds during the day when the sun shines and then shut off as soon as the sun sets.
* Maintenance Free. Maintenance is virtually nonexistent and they do not require expensive fuels.

Disadvantages of Direct Solar Power

DC Power. Solar panels produce direct current (DC) power and many appliances require alternating current (AC) power.

* Storage. Since these systems don’t have batteries, they don’t run when it is cloudy or at night.

Solar-Battery-DC Systems

Many DC systems can be powered with small panels and battery storage systems. These systems will consist of a solar panel, mounting system, battery bank, charge controller and the connection to the electronic device. The charge controller ensures that PV units do not overcharge the batteries.

Advantages of Solar-Battery-DC Systems

* Storage. These systems can store the sun’s energy for use at night or on cloudy days.
* Remote Capability. These systems are great for lighted signs, fountains, out-buildings and pumps that need to work regardless of sunshine and where access to power is an issue.
* Lighting and Pumping. Since lighting and pumping are very popular tasks for photovoltaic systems, there are special high-efficiency pumps and lights made exactly for these applications.

Disadvantages of Solar-Battery-DC Systems

DC Power. Solar panels produce direct current (DC) power and many appliances require alternating current (AC) power.

* Cost. Batteries can add significant cost to the installation depending on how much storage you need.
* Maintenance. Batteries require regular maintenance and need to be replaced more often than solar panels.

If you are thinking about a PV power system for your needs, you should contact a solar professional. They can custom design a solar power solution for almost any application and location.

For more information on solar panels and power systems, please visit our website http://www.spheralsolar.com/

Author: Kriss Bergethon
Three Simple Solar Power Systems

 Three Simple Solar Power Systems

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