A - Z about going solar at home!

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A—Z about going solar at home!

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modern  by Solarterrassen & Carportwerk GmbH, Modern
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Solar-powered lighting is becoming popular all over the world. In layman’s terms, solar power is the generation of electricity using solar energy. The conversion of sunlight into electricity using photovoltaic panels or using concentrated solar power. The photovoltaic cell is responsible for converting light into electric current using the photovoltaic effect. There are solar thermal power stations all over the world, which help in generating concentrated solar power with the ability to store thermal power efficiently and dispatch electricity. The photovoltaic systems do not use fuels and as the use of fuel is minimised the maintenance costs come down. The solar power plants convert solar energy to electricity in a cost effective and efficient way.

Types of solar powered lights

Solar street lights and solar powered LED lights are the most popular and common solar powered lights in use.  These lights are very convenient and do not need electrical grids. They either have an individual panel for each lamp or a large central solar panel and batteries to power multiple lamps. Solar outdoor lights are largely used in gardens and outdoor lighting. The quality of light is very good and is becoming very trendy to use these lights. These lights are also the most cost effective and easy method to preserve the environment.

LED lights are the most popular among solar lights. The greatest benefit in using LED lights is that they can be used longer than fluorescent lights. LED lights are beneficial in cold weather when the efficiency of the fluorescent bulbs begin to wane. The LED lights use less energy and so needs lower battery capacity. Lantern shaped hanging solar lights is another type of solar light and they come in a wide variety of colours. These lights are used to highlight specific areas and are affordable and stylish. Solar lights not only help in exploiting the sun’s energy but are also a reusable source of energy.

Does it make sense to buy solar powered lights?

A solar PV plan costs about a lakh along with installation without batteries and can last about 25 years. For those who do not have the know how, 1 kw of solar plant generates about 4 kwh electricity each day of the year and the inverter may be the only component that may need replacement. It makes sense to switch over to solar power only when a resident’s electricity tariff is INR 5.00 or more depending on the incentives that may lower the cost of the solar panel.

Solar plants generate power during the day and will be sized for daytime load rather than the nighttime load. A solar water heater is great choice for water heating than a solar plant. The size of the solar plant a residence needs depends on its electrical load and the number of kwh the household consumes. So depending on usage it will make sense to install a solar plant.

In order to install a solar plant the house has to have a shade-free rooftop. The panels are installed on the rooftop where it converts sunlight into DC power. Shadows falling on solar panels can reduce power generation and damage panels. The roof should also be able to support the weight of the panels and the structure they are mounted on. Inclined roofs will pose a challenge while concrete roofs can accommodate the panels easily.

Solar panels can also be installed on rooftops of apartment complexes but costs have to be evaluated depending on the size of the plant required.

Quality of light

The quality of the solar light depends on the brightness of the sun and amount of daylight it is exposed to. It also depends on the quality of the photovoltaic cells and the size of the LED bulb. The ultra-shining bulbs are also more expensive than the others. The quality of light is very good and soon these lights have started replacing kerosene lamps in rural areas. These solar lamps used in rural areas are also capable of providing supply of electricity to other devices, for example charging a cell phone. Solar lamps or lanterns as they are called are very useful and can change the life of the rural population for the better. 

Design options

There are several design options to use solar powered lights with. Whether it is to mark the border of a garden or brighten up a space of your choice, outside there are several different types of lights to illuminate in an eco-friendly manner. All these lights use solar panels, either integrated or placed separately to collect sunlight and charge batteries that power the light. Border lights come with an integrated solar panel depending on the number of bulbs that will be put to use. The cost for these lamps depends on the sleek design and the intensity of the light. The other lights include string lights and party lights. All these lights are easy to use and are of great quality.

The price factor

Despite their huge advantages, the main reason that inhibits people from going solar is the cost involved. Setting up domestic solar panels are a costly affair though it is being slowly embraced by the affluent urban population of India. The cost of going solar may be anything between Rs 40,000 to about 6-7 lakh, depending on your electricity requirement. Indiagoessolar.com offers a solar calculator which promises to tell you how much you can benefit by going solar, the total power generation you can afford every month and how much you save in the process. You can also use this calculation to figure out the approximate cost involved.

Find your approximate load (in watts) for a day. Divide it by 3 (which is the average number of hours of the sun). And then multiply the figure by Rs 110. There is no doubt, however, that going solar is a great investment. Despite their initial high costs, your electricity bills can be reduced by more than 50%.

Is it possible to save up with solar-powered lights?

Solar powered lights are highly cost effective and very efficient. Especially solar street lights are economically viable and have become popular. India is slowly waking up to the benefits of solar powered electricity and has started using CFL-based solar street lights and LED-based streetlights in a lot of states. These lamps use up only a fifth of the electric power and last at least 15 times longer. They radiate better power than their incandescent counterparts. So using solar power can definitely save money for the country. It would be a good idea to incorporate the concept of solar panels while designing the house like this one in the pictures, which has been done by Germany-based home builders Maisons Loginter.

Back to the benefits

There are quite a number of advantages in using solar powered lights. Firstly, they have a long life. Secondly, these lights do not depend on kerosene or special grids for power. They can be used for varied applications. Even during cloudy days, these lights have sufficient back-up power. The LED lamps have improved efficiency, even during the cold weather. People can save up on the use of kerosene. Last, but not the least, solar lights are environment-friendly, which is a huge issue today, given the rapid degradation of our planet’s environment. If you are convinced about going solar, here is another interesting article to read up before you go the whole way - All you need to know when planning to install a solar system!

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