Solar energy is one of the most promising and rapidly developing alternative sources of electricity. This is a limitless resource that can be used anywhere on the planet without polluting the environment. Agree, it would be nice to get your own alternative source of electricity.
It turns out that now solar energy can be converted into electricity right at home. Instead of bulky and fragile frame panels, flexible solar panels are now increasingly being used. But how to implement it in practice?
We will help to deal with the device of flexible solar panels and the principle of their work. Useful recommendations on the selection and installation of structures are set forth in our article. And for ease of perception of information material contains thematic photos and videos.
The content of the article:
What is solar panels?
- Structure and principles of operation of flexible panels
- Advantages of flexible solar cells
- Disadvantages of flexible solar panels
Where and how is solar energy used?
- Scope of solar cells
- Features of the use of flexible amorphous panels
Installation instructions for solar panels on the roof
- Step 1. Calculate the number of panels
- Step # 2. Installation rules
- Step # 3. System care after installation
- Conclusions and useful video on the topic
What is solar panels?
In order to understand whether flexible panels are suitable for generating electricity, you need to understand the theory. What is a solar battery, how does the structure of flexible models differ from the rest? And also, it is very important to determine the advantages and disadvantages of this particular type of solar cells before purchasing.
Structure and principles of operation of flexible panels
The principle of operation of the solar battery is built on such a concept as photovoltaics. Light, as it is known, can be considered both as a wave and as a stream of particles - photons. The ability to convert photon energy into electricity is photovoltaic.
The first prototypes of modern solar cells were invented back in the 50s. Since then, they have changed significantly both externally and on the basis of work. Photoelectric effect is made possible by the use of semiconductors.
A semiconductor is a material that has a special structure of the atom. An n-type semiconductor has extra electrons, and p-type semiconductor atoms lack them. To assemble the photocell, combine 2 types of materials, forming a two-layer structure.
Separate photo cells are combined into panels. Panels can be tough, in a solid metal frame. Now there is a tendency to simplify the design of photo panels. Popularity gain flexible and lightweight solar cells.
The principle of operation of the solar battery can be described as:
- Sunlight hits the surface of the photocell from the side of the n-layer.
- Photons collide with semiconductor atoms, “knocking out” extra electrons.
- Free electrons move towards the p-layer and enter atoms with a lack of particles.
- As a result, the top layer acts as a cathode, and the bottom layer acts as an anode.
- Produced direct current, which can easily charge the battery.
Silicon, selenium and many more expensive materials are used as a semiconductor.
The direct current received from the solar panel must be converted to alternating, since most electrical appliances work on it
Polymeric sputtering with aluminum conductors is also used for flexible film solar cells. Such a structure makes the panels surprisingly thin and light.
This technology is just beginning to develop, but the fact that it has great prospects is beyond doubt. But we will consider flexible panels in the broad sense of the definition.
In more detail about the principles of operation of solar batteries it is possible to read having passed on reference.
Advantages of flexible solar cells
The advantages of flexible solar panels make this method of generating electricity one of the most promising:
- the size;
- environmental friendliness;
- ease of operation.
Geometric and physical parameters of the panels, such as size and weight, are of great importance, since to provide electricity to the entire residential building a large number is required; when using heavy models, it may be necessary to reinforce the building’s structure, which will significantly increase the cost of installation.
Lightweight and compact flexible elements will not significantly affect the distribution of the load on the building frame. They do not carry any danger for roof covering.
The performance of silicon batteries is quite high. It is difficult to estimate the efficiency in this case, panels of semiconductors are able to convert light into electricity by 20% on average.
That is, if the power of solar radiation is 200 W, about 40 W of electricity will be received.
Flexible amorphous solar panels are much more tolerant of cloudy weather than conventional rigid silicon-based structures.
For comparison, a standard solar battery can work only at 10% of its capacity in cloudy weather, while a flexible panel provides about 50% of its nominal values.
The flexibility of the solar battery allows it to equip the roof with a rough surface, tile roofs, coatings of complex shape. However, they are quite versatile, suitable for installation on the roof or facade of a building
Sunlight is a free and unlimited resource. This is its undoubted plus, in which the absolute efficiency of solar panels is expressed.
In addition, this method of energy production is completely environmentally friendly, does not affect the state of the environment and does not harm it.
Moreover, by abandoning the popular alternative to solar energy - thermal power plants, humanity reduces the level of air pollution.
Disadvantages of flexible solar panels
Disadvantages of flexible solar panels are also missing. Firstly, this technology is only developing and has not yet reached the peak of its capabilities. By performance, flexible amorphous batteries are inferior to rigid poly- or single-crystal.
The structure and principle of operation of flexible panels is rather complicated, but everyone can use them. It is enough to properly install and connect equipment
Secondly, thin foil and the minimum layer of sputtering relatively quickly fail. The warranty period for such panels is about 3 years.
After this, the photovoltaic cells begin to gradually break down and require replacement.
I am glad that this industry is developing rapidly and more durable and powerful copies of amorphous silicon-based flexible solar panels are already emerging.
Other disadvantages are inherent in all types of solar cells:
- payback time;
- high price;
- a large number of expensive equipment, in addition to the batteries themselves;
- weather dependency.
A flexible panel with a power of about 150 watts costs about 40 thousand. rub. or more, depending on the manufacturer. 20 batteries, a set of batteries and additional equipment will cost a round sum. Taking into account the cost of 1 kWh of electricity to pay for the system you will have more than one year.
Where and how is solar energy used?
Flexible panels are used in different areas. Before you make a project of energy supply at home using these solar panels, find out where they are used and what are the features of their use in our climate.
Scope of solar cells
The use of flexible solar cells is very wide. They are successfully used in electronics, electrification of buildings, car and aircraft industry, on space objects.
In construction, such panels are used to provide residential and industrial buildings with electricity.
Solar energy may be the only source of electricity, and may duplicate the traditional scheme. power supply so that in case of insufficient efficiency in a certain period the house does not remain de-energized
Portable solar-powered chargers are available to everyone and are sold everywhere.
Large flexible travel panels for mining electricity anywhere in the world are very popular among travelers.
A very unusual, but practical idea is to use a roadbed as the basis for flexible batteries. Special elements are protected from impacts and are not afraid of heavy loads.
Flexible batteries are good because they can be used in almost any situation. They can easily be placed on the roof of the car or the hull of the yacht
This idea has already been implemented. The “sunny” road provides energy to the surrounding villages, while not occupying a single extra meter of land.
Features of the use of flexible amorphous panels
Those who plan to start using flexible solar panels as a source of electricity for their home should know the features of their operation.
First of all, users are concerned about the question of what to do in winter, when daylight hours are short and there is not enough electricity to operate all the devices?
Yes, in conditions of cloudy weather and short daylight, the performance of the panels decreases. Well, when there is an alternative in the form of the possibility of switching to centralized power supply. If not, you need to stock up batteries and charge them on days when the weather is favorable.
An interesting feature of solar cells is that when the photocell is heated, its efficiency is significantly reduced.
In the summer heat panels get hot, but they work worse. In winter, on a sunny day, photocells are able to capture more light and convert it into energy.
The number of clear days per year depends on the region. Of course, in the south it is more rational to use flexible batteries, since the sun shines there longer and more often.
Since during the day the Earth changes its position relative to the Sun, it is better to have panels universally - that is, from the south side at an angle of about 35-40 degrees. This situation will be relevant in the morning and evening hours, and at noon.
Installation instructions for solar panels on the roof
If you decide that amorphous silicon-based flexible solar panels are what you need to provide electricity to a private home, start planning work.
Pick the right equipment and estimate the approximate number of panels. Then read the rules of installation and subsequent maintenance of solar cells.
But remember that the use of traditional silicon poly-and single-crystal analogs is still much more productive.
Step 1. Calculate the number of panels
Any work begins with the project. For the design you need to make the necessary calculations, namely:
- daily electricity consumption;
- total required photovoltaic power;
- battery capacity;
- number of panels.
The simplest is to calculate the power consumption. To do this, take into account absolutely all, without exception, electrical appliances that you use or can theoretically use.
A simple example:
- refrigerator - 200 W;
- computer - 300 watts;
- TV - 150 watts;
- Economical bulbs - 5 pieces of 20 watts.
The power of each device must be indicated in its documentation or on the case. After adding all the data we get 750 watts. Based on this value is selected inverter - a device that converts direct current into alternating current with the desired frequency.
Be sure to make a small margin and select an inverter 0.5 kW more powerful than the calculated value. That is, for a total power of 0.75 kW, the device will fit no weaker than 1.25 kW
To properly connect the solar batteries connected to the batteries through the controller. Do not confuse contacts - plus to pluses, minus to minus. From the battery, the current is sent to the inverter, and then to the electrical appliances.
After you need to pick up the batteries. The battery capacity (for example, 200 A ∙ h) indicates the current of what power will be delivered at a given voltage for one hour.
You can calculate the required capacity by dividing the total power of consumers by the output voltage of the solar battery. In our example, we use 12 volt batteries. 750/12 = 62.5 Ah ∙ h.
But this formula is not entirely correct, since most batteries cannot be discharged to 0. There is a certain limit, for example 40%. If the charge level falls below, this significantly affects the service life and quality of the battery.
This indicator also needs to be added to the formula:
750 W / (12 Vх0,4) = 156.25 A ∙ h.
To achieve such a capacity, a group of 2 batteries of 100 Ah each each can be combined into a system.
The number of panels is calculated based on the power of the selected model and the region in which they will be installed. The value of the region is difficult to overestimate.
Ideally, you need to find the values of the daily level of solar radiation for your area. For reliability, the minimum value for the year is taken, approximately at the end of December.
Schematically, the level of insolation in different regions can be represented as follows. Numeric values can be found in specialized directories or on the Internet.
Multiplying this figure by the number of calendar days of the month, we get the number of kilowatts, which accounts for 1 m2 of flexible solar panels in December. For example, in Moscow it is 0.33x31 = 10.23 kW / m2, and for Sochi - 1.25x31 = 38.75 kW / m2. This indicator is called the number of points.
Then, from the conventional maximum 0.75 kW consumed by all devices at the same time, we calculate the average monthly consumption — about 25 kW. For a month, our flexible batteries should produce at least 25,000 watts, and it is better to make a small margin and round up to 30 kW.
Therefore, at 1 point in Moscow, it should be 30 / 10.23 = 2.93 kW. If the selected panels have a capacity of 150 W, then counting their number is not difficult: 2.93 / 0.15 = 20 pieces.
After such simple calculations, you can choose a suitable inverter, controller, the battery and the flexible photovoltaic panels themselves in the right quantity.
Step # 2. Installation rules
Installation of flexible solar cells can be carried out by you.
To do this, it is necessary to determine exactly where you will place your panels:
- on the roof of the building;
- on the facade of the house;
- on a stand-alone structure;
- combined scheme.
The most popular option is on the roof. If the shape or configuration of the roof does not allow this, it is better to build an additional frame on which to place the batteries. It is more expensive, but if the roof is shaded or difficult to access, this option becomes rational.
The location on the facade is used when there is not enough space on the roof. Panels can be part of a design idea and play the role of home decoration.
Flexible solar photovoltaic cells on the bottom side have a sticky resinous layer.
It is enough to remove the protective film and glue the panel in the chosen place. Of course, the surface must be cleaned and cleaned before installation.
No specialized installation tools are needed. The main thing is to take care of their safety while working on the roof. It is also very important to follow the wiring diagram of the equipment and not to disturb the sequence
On the one hand, the solar module has 2 derived cables. Each panel is positioned so that these wires can later be united by one bus for serial connection.
We also recommend reading our other material, where the installation schemes and methods for connecting solar batteries are described in detail. Read more - here.
Step # 3. System care after installation
After installing flexible solar cells, they will need to be constantly looked after and monitored, otherwise their efficiency may drop dramatically. The main thing is to keep the panels clean.
Dust, dirt, bird droppings - all of these factors reduce the performance of the system, since they limit the absorption of sunlight by photocells.
Solar panels need to be cleaned when contaminated. That is why it is not recommended to place them in remote places on a complex roof.
If your system cannot be serviced by you, you can always find an artist with the appropriate equipment and facilities. Of course, it will be worth more.
Wash solar cells based on amorphous silicon, as well as hard counterparts, can be an ordinary wet sponge or microfiber cloth. The panel is not afraid of water (after all, this equipment is installed on the street), if you wash them regularly, they will last longer
Another problem that is relevant for our regions is snow. In winter, batteries fall asleep with snow and cease to function. Precipitation must be constantly cleared, but not too rough, otherwise the equipment itself may be damaged.
Conclusions and useful video on the topic
Videos and reviews that look at flexible panels from popular manufacturers will help you make the right choice. You will be able to see how your house will look after the installation of equipment, experts will help you choose the right amount of batteries and consider the installation rules.
How are flexible solar panels and what they are made of:
It is also possible to install a flexible battery in an apartment on the facade of a high-rise building, why not:
A little more about the production and advantages of flexible elements:
Solar panels make it possible to become non-volatile, not to monitor the price of gasoline and utilities. If you invest a certain amount once, you can consume unlimited energy to use household appliances, home heating and recharging the electric vehicle battery. More and more people are switching to alternative energy, because behind it is the future.
If you have the necessary knowledge or experience on the topic of our article, please share it with our readers. Or maybe you had to install the solar panels yourself? Tell us how you did it. Your comments can add photos.