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Solar Panel Arrays – Definition,Design and Cost Primer

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Solar Array Definition

A solar array can be defined as solar panels arranged in a group to capture the maximum amount of sunlight to convert it into usable electricity. The idea of the Solar Array came into being when it was conceived that the power produced by a solar panel singly was not sufficient for domestic or commercial purposes. Many such solar modules are linked together to form a Solar Array. Solar panels can be arranged differently to form different patterns to suit one’s purpose. Depending upon what the need is, different structures can be built. Generally, there are two traditional styles of solar energy panels used in residential and industrial areas -photovoltaic and photothermal energy. Most solar arrays to date have been a mixture of these two. Because it is relatively low-tech, solar arrays are a very cost-effective approach for people who believe in DIY technology.

Solar Array

How Solar Array Works

There are many ways to build or use a solar array, either commercially or buying the parts or doing it yourself. Most of the arrays use an inverter to convert the DC power produced by the modules into alternating current to produce power. The panels in a solar array are usually first connected in series to obtain the desired voltage; the individual strings are then connected in parallel to allow the system to produce more current.

Solar Array Design

The Design of a Solar Array is very important as a bad design can lead to huge losses over the lifetime of the solar array. Not even a partial shading of a solar panel in the solar array can degrade the performance of all the solar panels in the solar array leading to a huge shortfall in the desired electricity requirements. There are numerous cases of bad design which must be avoided. Choosing the right EPC or Solar Installer is of utmost importance and the Design of the Solar Array must be done with utmost care. Also in designing a Solar Array, the right technology must be chosen for example in a space-constrained environment, solar panels of higher efficiency must be used even if they cost more per watt. Here are some important points while designing a Solar Array.

  • Position – The solar array must be positioned in such a way that will capture maximum direct sunlight.
  • Solar Tracker – Solar trackers can become very useful tools for a longer duration during the daytime, to increase the efficiency of solar arrays.
  • Consumer Needs – Every solar array needs to comply with the needs of its consumers.
  • Shade – Any shade or light obstructions will decrease the solar arrays’ effectiveness.
  • Technology – Possible solar module combinations may include one or many photovoltaic, photothermal, photosynthetic, holographic photovoltaics, or PV-TV.

Solar Array Uses

  • Photosynthetic/ PV-TV arrays can be used as a covering over buildings These are quite powerful and help in cutting electricity bills to a great extent.
  • Some used as two-way mirrors can be doubly used as low-light billboards or theater screens.

Solar Panel Array Costs

A solar panel is generally 250 watts. The cost of 1 watt is around $0.204/watt these days, for a poly solar module used in residential and small commercial installations. Hence a 250 W solar panel costs around $70-$80 these days. Now one solar array contains about 6-20 solar panels, which means the cost of a solar array should be somewhere between $450-$1,500. Besides other factors that govern the price of a Solar Panel are its technology, power, brand and quality. The price of thin Film Panels is lesser compared to crystalline silicon panels. Higher Power Panels have a higher price since they generate more electricity. Chinese solar panels cost less than the good brand’s stuff.

Read more about

a) Efficiency of Solar Cells

b) Solar Panels

c) Solar Panel Manufacturers Guide


Abhishek Shah

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