Due to the age long electricity crisis present in Nigeria, and people having lost hope on the government for constant power supply most have adopted alternative renewable energy generator. These alternative power supplies are mostly wind power, hydro (water) power and the most commonly used solar energy.
Solar energy as an alternative renewable power supply in Nigeria came as a relief for most Nigerians who were able to afford it at the time of its first introduction to Nigeria. It became more prominent in the year 2007 though most people were skeptic about its ability to generate a long lasting electricity supply. But it began to gain more popularity and adopted for power supply. Today it is used for homes, industries, for pumping water, for street lights, so much more you can think of to supply electric power to.
Solar energy is mainly collecting sunlight to generate power energy. The current that comes in through this sunlight energy is called Direct current (D.C) according to Wikipedia; D.C is the unidirectional flow of electric charge. A battery is a very good example of a DC power supply. Usually a complete solar system consists of the solar panel, charge controllers and the batteries. This will be considered as a complete solar energy system if all the loads (i.e. appliances) that are connected to the system are all D.C loads. But in Nigeria mostly used are Alternating current devices and appliances which do not operate as a D.C does and usually need a large amount of electricity supply source to power it, examples of these loads that requires large electric power supply are, refrigerator, air condition, electric fans etc. therefore will always be a a need to convert the energy gotten from the sun from D.C to A.C so as to be able to power these devices. In this case, there will be a need to introduce a converter and that is where the inverter comes in. so rather than it been in the arrangement solar panel, charge controller and solar batteries, it will come as solar panel, charge controller, inverter and solar batteries.
Many these days confuse the name inverter with solar and use them interchangeably. solar is different from an inverter, where solar can be used to power D.C loads A.C is needed so as to convert these D.C into A.C currents so as to be able to power them. These days we have dc bulbs, dc fans, dc televisions, dc lamps etc when you have all these as loads there will be no need for an inverter and it will be powered directly from the solar system basically the solar panels, charge controllers and the batteries with no need for an inverter. But in the case where you would want to power large energy consuming appliances, then the inverter will have to come into the solar system.
Components that makes up the Solar system
As stated before, the main components you will see in the solar system are, the solar panel, the charge controller, the solar battery and the inverter.
The Solar Panels – the solar panels are what collect the sunshine energy from direct exposure to the sun. They come in generations which are 1st, 2nd and 3rd generations of the solar panels.
The first generation – as the name implies the first generation were the first set of panels that came into the market and there were two of them namely the monocrystalline solar panel and the polycrystalline solar panel. Though both do the same work of getting renewable energy from the sun, but the monocrystalline solar panel has more advantageous than the polycrystalline solar panel. Also monocrystallines have larger and higher outputs; they take less space and have a longer lasting duration than its counterpart the polycrystalline. Though monocrystalline are more expensive but they give the best efficiency rate. The monocrystalline can easily be recognized by their uniform dark look with a square shape that are rounded by the sides with diamond shapes on each lines of the panels, where the polycrystalline come in a lighter shade and are in long straight lines with small square shapes on each panel. Polycrystalline are cheaper to use but has a lower efficiency level leading to a shorter lifespan.
Monocrystalline Solar Panel
Polycrystalline Solar panel
The second generation – these come as the second generation of solar panels invented. Examples of these are thin-film solar cells, amorphous, silicon solar cells.
The third generation solar panel – these solar panels came after the second generation and are more advanced and used mainly for greater power generation. Examples of these are Biohybrid solar cell, cadmium telluride solar cells (CDTe) and concentrated PV cell (CVP and TCVP)
A charge controller, charge regulator or battery regulator – this is a device that determines the amount of electric current that enter or goes out of the solar batteries. According to Wikipedia, it limits the rate at which electric current is added to or drawn from electric batteries. It is used for preventing overcharging and may also protect against overvoltage, which may result to reduced battery performance or lifespan, and can pose a safety risk. It also can prevent the complete draining (“deep battery discharging”) of a battery, or perform controlled discharges, depending on the battery technology, to protect battery life. The charge controller or charge regulator may refer to either a stand-alone device, or to control circuitry integrated within a battery pack an example of this is the MTN solar pack, battery-powered device, or battery charger.
The solar battery – the battery is that which stores the electric charge, which has been collected from the solar panels. The usually come in different voltages the most common is the 12v, 24v and the 48v batteries. It is also known as the rechargeable battery and unlike the usual primary cell battery that we know which is supplied fully charged and discarded after use after use, the solar battery is a type of battery which can be charged, discharged into a load, and recharged many times.
The inverter – As stated at the beginning of this article, an inverter is a device that converts a D.C current to an A.C current giving the solar system to charge any device that requires a large amount of energy to power it.
In Abuja, it can be seen that solar energy has been utilized in most homes, the city street lights and companies, for homes most of the times the hybrid method of charging the batteries are used, this means that the batteries can be charged by the current gotten from the solar panels and also will be charged from the direct grid source which is the electricity power service providers while in the case of the street light the solar system, it uses an off grid mode of charging that is to say it charges solely on the solar energy and the charge controller comes with an inbuilt timer which allows the system to be timed at specific hours when the solar bulbs will come on and go off in a day without been controlled by any personnel.
For your solar installation and advice on how to take care of your solar system for it to last longer for years without having issues of the batteries dying off within months it been installed contact us at Microchips for you bookings and to get the help you need.