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.

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

Tips & Strategies

Conservation
An important aspect of any Solar Power System is conservation. Because solar cells are typically only 15 percent efficient and solar panels are still relatively expensive, it is important not to waste power or use it unwisely. An example of waste is leaving the television running and the lights on with no one in the room for hours. An example of unwise use is a stove or clothes dryer for example, which is cheap to run on propane or natural gas, but uses enormous amounts of power if ran on electricity. Little things like letting your hair dry naturally as opposed to using a 1500 watt hair dryer all add up.
Solar Panel Location
The location of the Solar Panels must not allow shadows from buildings, trees, or other obstructions to fall on the panels. This is important because all the solar cells that make up the solar panels required voltage are in series. So if even a few cells stop generating voltage, the overall output falls dramatically. In the city, roof locations are generally good and often are the only choice available. The downside to this is that you cannot change the angle of the solar panels to allow for seasonal changes in the angle of the sun. If possible, a dedicated mounting array is best. Not only can it be tilted to match the sun's seasonal changes, but also tracking arrays become an option for following the sun across the sky during the day. Trackers are very expensive though, and for a small system, just buying a few more panels is a good choice if they are stationary.
Solar Panel Wires
When installing a Solar Power Energy system, planning is important. Deciding on a location for the solar panels that is as close as possible to the equipment allows a smaller gauge of wire to be used. Copper wire is very expensive these days and if a large enough wire is not used, the resulting voltage drop will cause a considerable loss of power transfer, heating of the wiring, and a possible fire hazard. Use our Wire Size Calculator to determine the correct wire size for your installation to avoid these problems.
System Voltage
Using a higher system voltage will provide more power (watts) with less Amperage. For example: a 48 Volt system will use 25% less Amperage than a 12 Volt system for the same amount of power. This allows a smaller gauge wire to be used between the solar panels and the charge controller saving money on copper wire (see above). Ohm's Law is simple. P=I x E. In other words, the power (P) in a circuit is equal to the current (I) time the voltage (E). So, for the same amount of power (watts), a 12 Volt system uses 4 times the Amperage of a 48 Volt system. And, its the Amperage that causes the heating in wires and therefore requires larger and more expensive wiring.

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.