Considering Switching to Solar Power in Ibiza? This is what you need to know

Fortunately you don’t have know all the particulars regarding the functioning of a solar energy installation, Electro Solar has extensive experience with all the different kinds of solar installations, and can help you making the best choice.
What follows below is a short, and a little bit technical, introduction into the installation of residential solar energy, for those who have interest in it. If you don’t feel that you want to go into the all technicalities, just give us a call, and we’ll come to your house to make a step by step inventorisation of the possibilities in your situation. Free of any costs or obligations.

The Technical Stuff

When considering to go solar, there are a couple of different types of installations to choose from. Each have their advantages and  disadvantages, and that’s why it is important to be informed before you commit yourself to a certain type of installation. There are many factors to take in consideration that determine which choice is best for you. To mention a few: the location of your house, the size and architecture of it, your energy needs, your budget, etc.

In providing your house with solar energy there are, simply speaking, two main categories to choose from:
I. Off-grid systems, and
II. Grid-connected systems.
Both come in a couple of varieties, which we will discuss now. 

I. Off Grid Solar Installations

What is an off-grid system?

To put it simply, an off-grid solar system is… off the grid. It are systems that operate completely independent of the network of the electric utility companies (the grid), and are also called stand alone, or island systems. If you want to be fully self-sufficient in the energy production for your house, or when you live in a remote place where there is no grid connection available, such a system is the best solution. It can become incredibly expensive to try and connect to the electrical grid when you live away from electricity power lines. Therefore, many people decide to go off-grid with their solar energy system.

Another advantage is that when you’re grid-tied, if there is a power outage, there’s nothing you can do about it but to wait until the power is back on. If you have an off-grid solar power system, you won’t experience these blackouts. The energy is stored and ready for potential disasters so you’ll always have that added protection. When other’s experience these power outages, you’ll be fine.

Basically, these systems have the following setup:

solar energy self consumption ibiza -off grid
example of an off-grid solar energy installation

solar panels ibizaThe Solar Panels. Here the energy from the sunlight is absorbed and transformed into electricity. The panels are often also called the photovoltaic (PV) modules.They produce a direct current form of electricity (DC).

charge controller ibizaThe Charge Controller. It makes the DC that comes from the panels suitable for charging of the batteries, and it also limits the rate at which electric current is added to the batteries, to prevent overcharging. 

inverter solar installationThe Inverter. This is a type of electrical converter, which converts the direct current (DC) output of the batteries into alternating current (AC ), suitable for powering the appliances in your house. Multiple inverters can be installed to increase the power output. The inverter alo protects the batteries from overcharging and too deep discharging.

lithium battery solar powerDeep Cycle Batteries. They store the solar energy for later use. A deep-cycle battery is a battery designed to be regularly deeply discharged using most of its capacity. Traditionally this were lead-acid batteries. Modern systems make use of lithium-ion batteries.

utility symbolLoads. This are the appliances in your house, powered by solar energy.

generator solar ibizaGenerator. (not part of the image above).  A diesel generator that produces electricity is often installed as part of an off-grid system. It can serve as a back up for when there are longer periods of cloudy days on a row, and the solar panels can’t produce enough electricity for all the needs. In a system that is well designed and calculated, the generator will hardly make any hours. It is even possible to dimension the solar system in such a way that a generator is not needed. Additionally, on moments of excessive demands of electricity, a generator can provide sufficient high power output. When integrated in a off-grid systems a generator is controlled automatically, so that it starts up and stops automatically.

To summarize it: 
The energy that is harvested from the sunlight with the solar panels goes to the charge controller, from here it goes to the batteries, and from the batteries to the inverter, and from here the home appliances are powered.

An Alternative Setup

A variation of the basic setup explained above, is a system where a bi-directional inverter takes control of the battery charging and discharging. The charge controller is replaced by a PV inverter. In type of setup, the home appliances are directly powered by the electricity from the PV inverter, without entering first into the batteries. The essential system components can be installed in separate locations, which gives more flexibility.

II. Grid Connected Systems

What is an Grid Connected system?

These systems are also known as grid-tied systems. As the name already suggests, these systems have a connection to the utility grid of the electricity provider. These systems are first off all designed to lower the costs of electricity, by making use of the power from solar panels. Also here there are a few different possible setups, which we will explain.

Grid-tied solar often has fewer upfront costs than an off-grid system. For one, it can cost less to install a grid-tied system because it does not require batteries, as off-grid does. For another, it’s more flexible, as you don’t necessarily have to install the number of panels you will need to produce all your energy needs right away. Some people choose grid-tied systems when they know they could only afford a certain number of panels at a given time, so their goal is to lower their electricity bills—but not eliminate them entirely just yet. Over time, you can always add more panels as you find the financial resources to do so.

These systems have the following components:

solar power ibiza - grid tied
example of a grid connected solar energy installation

The Solar Panels. Here the energy from the sunlight is absorbed and transformed into electricity. The panels are often also called the photovoltaic (PV) modules.They produce a direct current form of electricity (DC).

solar power inverter The PV Inverter. In  a grid connected setup a PV inverter is used, this is type of inverter converts DC power from the solar panels to AC, suitable for home appliances. 

solar energy battery inverter The Battery Inverter. (optional) It converts the direct current (DC) output of the batteries into alternating current (AC ), suitable for powering the appliances in your house. Multiple inverters can be installed to increase the power output. The inverter alo protects the batteries from overcharging and too deep discharging. In grid tied systems the battery inverter is used to store the surplus of electricity, produced by the panels. 

solar battery Lithium Ion Batteries (optional).  In a grid tied system the battery is used to store the surplus of energy produced by the solar panels, for later use. The battery makes a grid tied system more efficient in reducing the energy bill, by extending the period in which the solar generated energy can be used.

utility ibiza solar powerLoads. This are the appliances in your house, powered by solar energy.

grid connection solar energy ibizaUtility Grid Connection. The connection of your house with the electricity grid.

To summarize it:
The energy that is harvested from the sunlight with the solar panels goes to the PV inverter. From here it goes directly to the home appliances. If a battery is installed, at moments that the panels produce more electricity than is being used by the appliances, this surplus passes the battery inverter, and is stored in the battery. When no battery is installed, this surplus can be fed back into the grid.

What is Self Consumption?
Solar self-consumption is the act of using your solar energy to run devices within your home  during the hours that your solar system is producing energy; the produced energy is directly consumed. Smart usage of appliances, which often can be automated, assists in making maximum profit of the produced energy.

For self consumption to function, the sun has to shine, otherwise electricity from the grid is used. To increase self consumption during cloudy periods, grid tied systems nowadays often include a battery for storage of surplus electricity.

 

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