Estimate Your Solar System Cost in Less Then 1 Minute
Heliene 365 Black Mono Solar PanelHeliene 365W, Black Frame Mono - 40mmSKU: 9434370$289.00
How It Works
1. We Design
With 10,000+ systems under our belt, we will design you a system that is guaranteed to work.
2. We Deliver
3. You Install
4. We Support
If you need help installing or troubleshooting, get free tech support for the life of your system.
Do It Your Way: Become a DIY solar expert.
Getting Started Guide
Solar Panel Guide
Learn the factors that influence solar panel pricing and pick the perfect panels for your system.
Is Solar Power Worth It?
Payback Period & Estimated Savings*
Why Work With Wholesale Solar?
Request a Free Consultation
Virtually unlimited power is available from our nearest star, the Sun. In just one hour, our planet receives more energy from the sun than the entire world uses during an entire year. Electricity-producing solar panels have only been around for the last 60 years, yet they have completely transformed how we harness solar energy
Revolutionary as they may have been, the selenium solar cells were not efficient enough to power electrical equipment. That ability occurred in 1953 when a Bell Laboratories employee Gerald Pearson had the bright idea of making a solar cell with silicon instead of selenium. The New York Times heralded the discovery as “The beginning of a new era, leading eventually to the realization of harnessing the almost limitless energy of the sun for the uses of civilization”.
Just in time for the space race, the first solar panels made their debut in the satellite industry. Vanguard I, the first solar-powered satellite celebrated its 53rd birthday this year, setting mileage records and holding the title of being the oldest artificial satellite still in orbit.
The first solar modules were only efficient enough for space applications, where the Sun’s radiation is much stronger. Eventually satellite research paved the way for Earth-based technology. The 1990’s were pivotal years for photovoltaic technology. Innovations in solar cells allowed for greater efficiency while lowering the cost of production. Germany and Japan led the way with long-term solar power incentive programs helping lower the cost to the public, and spurring the growth of a robust Photovoltaic industry in both countries.
In 2006, California made a major long-term commitment to solar power by passing the California Solar Initiative, a ten-year incentive program with the goal of installing 3,000 megawatts of solar panels on the equivalent of one million rooftops. California leads the nation in solar panel installations, as it currently has more photovoltaic systems installed than any other state. This incredible boom has taken place mostly due to California’s Renewable Portfolio Standard, which requires that 20 percent of the state’s electricity come from renewable resources by 2010. In 2008 the state decided that it was not moving fast enough in meeting these goals and enacted a feed-in tariff, requiring utility companies to buy back excess power produced by homeowner’s and private photovoltaic installations. In the same year, the state also raised the Renewable Portfolio Standard to 33 percent by 2020, greatly helping spur growth in the renewable energy industry.
Photovoltaic solar modules are composed of multiple, interconnected solar cells, which effectively trap photon energy between layers of silicon wafers. Negatively charged electrons are then knocked loose from their atoms, allowing them to flow freely through the semiconductors. Separate diodes, and P-N junctions prevent reverse currents and reduce loss of power on partially shaded panels.
Photovoltaic solar panels are the main building block in a solar power system. Since each solar module produces a limited amount of power, installations usually consist of multiple panels, called an array. The array produces DC (direct current), which can be stored in batteries or instantly converted into AC (alternating current) required by conventional appliances.
The greatest innovation in charge controllers would have to be the relatively new feature called maximum power point tracking (MPPT). This innovative method of charging batteries constantly monitors peak power voltage from the array and input voltage on the batteries adjusting amperage to compensate for the fluctuations. This provides the most efficient means to manage the power harvest. The function of MPPT charge controllers is analogous to the transmission of a car, keeping your charging system in the “right gear”. Other components of the solar system would include the wiring and mounting hardware, while some installations use a tracker that changes its tilt angle and direction throughout the day.
Solar panels are classified into three classes: mono-crystalline (single crystal), poly-crystalline (multiple crystals), or amorphous silicon. Mono-crystalline is indicative of the continuous and unbroken sample of silicon in which the cell is manufactured from. This method uses very pure silicon grown in a complex growth process, and then sliced into wafers that compose the individual cells. This was the first method used to manufacture solar cells, and are still highly regarded for their efficiency ratios.
Amorphous solar panels use the non-crystalline, allotropic form of silicon, in which a thin layer of this silicon substrate is applied to the back of a plate of glass. These panels are much cheaper and less energy efficient, yet they are more versatile in how they can be used. For example, amorphous solar panels can be manufactured into long sheets of roofing material. Thin Film solar panels also fall into the amorphous category. This type of cells can be mounted on a flexible backing, making them more suited for mobile applications.
Each of the solar panel types is estimated to last at least twenty-five years. Instead of stopping production completely, electricity production will decline a little, gradually, over decades. The longevity of a solar panel refers to the number of years before the unit starts producing only 80 percent of its original power rating. The industry standard for warranties is 20 to 25 years, although it is not uncommon for panels to produce adequate power for over 30 years.
Solar panels are used extensively in rural areas, where access to the grid is non-existent or inaccessible. These installations are called off grid (or independent, stand-alone) solar power systems, and require the use of batteries to store the energy for use at night or on long stretches of overcast weather. The energy stored in the batteries leaves the batteries as DC electricity which can power DC appliances (as in RV’s) or be converted to alternating current (AC) for use with conventional appliances. Much like running your own mini utility company, this method gives you full independence from the national grid.
Since solar panels produce DC, or direct current, they must be coupled with a solar inverter to convert the energy from DC to AC, or alternating current. In a grid tied system this can be done by a large central inverter, or each solar panel can be outfitted with its own micro inverter. Once the power is converted to alternating current and its phase is synchronized with that of the grid, it is then tied in to your main junction box, which is ultimately interconnected to the national grid.