Simple use of Solar Panels as an alternate supply
Many people have a misconception of what solar panels are..
Actually there are two basic types. One is listed as a photo voltaic panel, this one produces electricity from the sun. while the basic solar panel is used to heat water by the sun. the electricity type is listed as a PV panel, or photo voltaic.
While the solar heating unit is used to heat water and store it in a vessel, this is commonly used in the Caribbean for showers as well as to heat local swimming pools by circulating the water from the pool, through the panels and back to the pool, this is a series of tubes, usually painted in a dark colour to absorb the sun’s heat.. while the PV panels are silicone wafers that uses the sun to produce electricity at the junction of each wafer…, unfortunately for us, the cost of a single panel of 100 watts is priced at approx. 200 dollars and up based on the number of watts required..



What can one panel do??? And can I get higher wattage and what is a watt???
A watt is a measurement of power, power is a measurement of energy, energy is a measurement of how much work it will take to do anything..
Lets look at the basic PV panel (shown on the right).. The PV panel consists of a number of crystal arrays  and connected in series to produce usually 12 volts,
Each crystal usually produces ½ volt to 1 volts depending on size and produce approx. 30 milliamp or .030 amp. A 3 inch by 6 inch cell may produce 1.8 watt. So if connected in series to get our voltage up to 12 or 17 volt ( to allow cloud), we may need approx. 36  cells to get approx. 17 volts and one cell may produce ¼ watt , a 6 inch by 6 inch cell can produce 4 watt so you see why the complete panel is so large and costly due to the fact that they are supposed to be water proof and sealed so that the heat from the sun will not bake the panel array causing them to pre-maturely destroy themselves.
Ok, now that I have you confused, lets look at a 100 watt panel that costs about 300 dollars, or you may have decided to go to ebay and purchase the cells by themselves to try your hand at creating your own panel, Like I did.


As you can see, I have 3 panels mounted on an a frame, each panel produces approx. 17 volts..
Since I live in Ontario, and the sun’s angle is larger than at the equator, I decided to add more cells to get the voltage higher during cloudy days… At the time I took these pictures, the temp is around 0C, January 8th 2016 and its overcast, so I did ok I think.. currently only once panel is contect to a regulator to limit the voltage to 13 volts to keep a car battery charged… the battery is connected to an internal panel in my basement away from the 120 volts as the battery is only 12 volts and did not want a fire, thus voiding my home insurance…

This is an electrical panel that has been gutted and modified with DC breakers and a safety switch… there is also a power relay internal that in the even of a power failure, the battery takes over and automatically turns on approx.. 4 wall lights running on 12 volt led strips separately run with marine grade wiring.



Calculated time of running my 4 wall 12 volt led lights is estimated at approx. 30 days. Or more..
If I were to run an inverter which is a device to convert 12 volt to 120 volt..


Here is where the misconception lies…
As your see on the inverter I copied from Walmart.ca’s website, its listed at 2000 watts at a cost of $200 Canadian… sound ok so far??? Can your run your microwave??? Well, lets see…  first take note that your house power is a full sine wave shown as the blue wave



The inverter unless stated so is a modified sine wave. Seen by the pink wave in the picture, this wave may work ok with transformers but can destroy other items that rely on the proper sine wave, as I found out, while using an inverter for my TV, the picture was approx. ½ the size on a 12 inch tv plus a lot of noise..
If a modified sine wave inverter cost 200 dollars for 2000 watt, then a true sine wave inverter will cost about 2000 dollars.. so be aware what you plug into your inverter…
Now the math…
Because an led strip uses so little power and only running at 12 volts, you can’t assume that a 120 device will be the same…, lets look at a household toaster, running at 1200 watt or higher, but for simplicity, lets stick with 1200 watt. This is based at a voltage level of 120 volt , doing the math, lets divide the 1200 watt by 120, giving us 10 ampere of current… Because our inverter is being fed from our battery or batteries, at 12 volt,  and power in is power out, then we still have to get 1200 watt to run our toaster plus whatever power our inverter will take to produce the desired effect… therefore, 1200 watt deviced by 12 volt, means that our inverter will grab 100 amps out of our battery, not including what the inverter needs to give it to you.. meaning that our battery may not quite last the full 4 minutes needed to toast our bread, that is 400 amp total current..
What I am trying to tell you is that if your going to run a solar panel at your home or cottage, pre prepared to only power the voltage that your panels will deliver…
Yes, you can connect more panels to get 120 volts, but its still going to be a DC voltage, this will have to be converted to AC to run any AC appliances.., A toaster is basically a heating element, so AC or DC does not matter, but if there is a display on your toaster, it will probably be destroyed…
If your planning to modify the wiring in your house to have a dual voltage system, AC and DC, then be aware of possible issues from your insurance unless you have this inspected and if the area allows this.. Most areas will allow a company to connect an array to the grid, thus giving you a reduction in your rates, but if your like me, and want to have a home grown system, then separate lighting runs will be necessary.
Just a note about Wind Generators, My neighbour purchased a unit and mounted it on his home, the resulting wrrrrr noice of the wind mill was very annoying, and during a high wind storm, one of the blades broke off and landed in the backyard sticking straight up out of the ground… the wind Generator did have braking, so it it went into overspin, it was suppose to lock the rotor, I suspect the instant locking was what caused the blade to fly off… and the voltage it put out was also 12 volt but about 30 amp or 360 watt.
Plan your project, be creative and try to reduce your power bill as it will be going up and up annually,  We can be creative with what we have to use a self-sustaining regenerative power supply like our sun even to create cooling in the summer just by harnessing the sun’s power and with a little knowledge? We can get it done.