SolarDesignTools provides free interactive online design tools for Electric Solar Power energy systems. This includes determining the required number of solar panels, how many batteries will be needed, calculating wire sizes, a solar radiation chart, example system pictorials, and more.
Try this example of an interactive electric Solar Power Simulator to see how Solar Energy systems work.

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Solar Panels

Solar Panels
Electric photovoltaic Solar Panels are the ultimate in green energy generation. They have no moving parts, require no maintenance, and have no emissions of any kind. And their useful life is excellent. The original solar panels purchased in the early 70's as a result of the research done for the space program are still working. That is over 40 years and counting (except of course for physical damage).
Solar Panels are made up of individual solar cells. The cells are photovoltaic and convert solar radiation directly into electricity. Each cell produces a small voltage and many cells are wired together in series to produce the desired voltage. This will usually be 12, 24, or 48 volts DC. Multiples of these series connected cells can be connected in parallel to increase the current capacity of the solar panel.

New, flexible solar cells are being developed for applications on non-flat surfaces as shown at right. These new cells will find a much wider range of applications.

A typical Solar Panel shown at the left is the generator of the electricity. Using the Solar Panel Sizing tool will allow you to determine how many you will need. One variable is how many watts of power an individual Solar Panel generates. This usually varies from 100 to 200 watts per Solar Panel. Also, you will need to determine how much power you need the Solar Panels to provide. The number of Solar Panels you will need can be calculated by the total watts of power you will need and the watts per Solar Panel. The System Sizing Tool allows you to do this.
Unfortunately solar panels are still relatively expensive, but prices are coming down. 10 years ago you could figure on paying $5.00 per watt. That would make a typical 100 watt solar panel about $500.00 (USD). And, you can still pay that much for a 12 Volt panel. However, you can find solar panels now that get the price down to about $2.30 per watt or less by purchasing larger (higher wattage) panels at higher operating voltages (usually 24 or 48 Volts).

A good way to increase the efficiency or solar panels is to maximize the Solar Radiation (sunshine) that they receive. The more sunshine that falls on the solar panels, the fewer panels you will need to buy.


Home / Overview Starting Guide System Sizing Tool Battery Designer Wire Size Calculator Tips & Strategies Terms & Definitions
Solar Panels Charge Controllers Storage Batteries Inverters/Generators Meters & Monitoring Solar Radiation Wiring Diagrams

DISCLAIMER : The information and suggestions on this website are generally proven and accepted standards and techniques. They are, however, not meant to supersede local zoning laws or the recommendations of a licensed electrician. Always read the instructions provided with your equipment and observe all safety precautions.