1. Will solar panels generate electricity on a cloudy day?
Yes, because diffused light exists even on days that are not sunny, your solar panels will produce electricity. Production is simply not as high as it is on clear, sunny days but your panels will remain efficient in any daylight.
2. Are solar panels effective through the winter?
Solar panels require light, rather than heat, to be effective. So during winter they will work because the sun will still shine. The hours of harnessing its rays however will be reduced slightly because the sun rises later and sets earlier in the winter, giving us less hours of natural daylight.
3. What size panel should I fit onto my house?
By simply calculating the watt or amp hours you use over a period of time, this will give you an idea of the amount of sun which will be received by your panel every day. Your panel should ideally supply 20% more than you need, to allow for cloudy weather, etc.
The amp rating tells you the amperage available, when the battery is discharged over a period of time, evenly. In order to understand how many amps the battery is going to output over a period of time, you simply divide the amp hour rate with the number of hours that the load is going to use.
Do remember that these ratings are for guidance; as they are calculated during direct sunlight. Other conditions such as cloudy, hazy days and partial sunlight will naturally decrease the output slightly. You should also take into account daylight length (considering both summer and winter).
4. What exactly is a blocking diode?
A blocking diode is a component that connects inside the cable and prevents the panel discharging the battery (when the sunlight has gone).
5. What exactly is a charge controller?
This controls the battery charge, so that when this battery is fully charged, the controller will disconnect the panel from the battery.
6. Is a charge controller essential?
Charge controllers are recommended for solar panels of 15watt or above, to keep your solar installation safe and efficient.
7. What is an inverter?
This takes the direct current from the solar panel and converts it into an AC (also known as an alternating current). Our best advice is for you to buy a 12vdc inverter, as they tend to be power hungry.
8. Can I use equipment directly from my solar panels?
Yes you can do this. As long as the equipment load is not equal to the solar panel output, you can use fans and pumps etc. Remember that cloudy or overcast days will affect the output. You cannot use solar power to run televisions or radios (they require more stable voltage).
9. Do solar panels require maintenance?
Maintenance is simple and straightforward with solar panels. You should clean with a non-abrasive cleaner and occasionally check the sealing for cracks/leaks. You should also periodically check battery connections to make sure they are working properly.
10. What are the problems that might occur?
Water damage may be a problem and cause a solar panel to fail, or its connections. The sealant around the solar panel frame may also cause such a failure. The panel needs to be mounted correctly, otherwise it could cause problems later. By fixing it horizontally, water collection might occur, so try for a more vertical position. Solar panels also need sufficient air to pass beneath them, otherwise this could cause damage.
You should clean the panels occasionally, otherwise their output will be reduced and, in turn, their effectiveness.