What is the best portable solar phone charger?

What is the best portable solar phone charger?
What is the best portable solar phone charger? Today there are a lot of solar phone chargers available in the market. However, what makes a good solar phone charger depends on the user who might rate different solar chargers based on affordability, durability, user-friendliness, availability, compatibility, and the solar charger features provided in the solar charger such as wireless charging, multiple charging ports, LED flashlights, etc. In this article, we will capture three aspects of a solar phone charger that can assist anyone to make a quick decision regarding what is the best portable solar phone charger available in the market today.
1. Capacity

What is the best portable solar phone charger?

The capacity needed for your solar phone charger really depends on the usage of your solar battery bank or how often you do not have access to an AC power outlet. For instance, if you are into outdoor activities such as fishing, hiking, camping trips, etc. you probably need a bigger solar battery bank capacity. Battery capacity is rated in milliampere-hours (mAh) and the higher the rating the higher the power stored for later use. The typical size or capacity of a solar phone charger range from the smallest available 2500mAh to the largest one available about 50,000mAh. The smallest chargers are typically cheap because they are good for one charge while the bigger ones are good for outdoor activities such as camping or when away from a power outlet for a few days since they can hold power for days.

One good example of a solar charger with a bigger capacity of about 50,000mAh is available on Amazon: the Solar Power Bank Portable Charger 50000mah Battery Pack 2 LED 2 USB Camping Solar Panels Waterproof Car Travel Outdoor External Backup Flashlight for All Cell Phones and Tablets Black & Orange. This solar power bank has a built-in 50000 mAh high-capacity polymer lithium core battery bank equipped with a compact solar panel, which could recharge the battery itself under sunshine.

2. Affordability

The cost of a solar phone charger is cheaper compared to a conventional phone charger because of the zero cost of utilizing clean, natural energy with no external electricity required as well as almost zero maintenance. In addition, it is inexpensive depending on what specifications or features are selected during purchase time. The price of a solar phone charger can range from anywhere between $30 to above $100.

3. What is the best portable solar phone charger? –Specifications or features of a solar phone charger.

Specifications of features of a solar phone will include various aspects the for instance the type of solar phone charger manufactured, capacity, use of wireless charging, use of multiple charging ports, etc. All these features or specifications will determine the price of your solar phone charger. For instance, there are two types of solar phone chargers including direct solar chargers and battery bank solar chargers. As the name suggests, in a direct solar phone charger, solar panels are connected directly to the battery of the phone while in a battery bank solar charger, solar panels are connected to a battery bank for charging and that power is stored for later use for your cellphone.

What is the best portable solar phone charger?

Other interesting specifications or features for a solar phone charger that will be considered to determine what is the best portable solar phone charger included but not limited to:

  • High charging time
  • Wireless charging
  • Multiple charging ports are good to enable you to charge multiple phones at the same time.
  • LED flashlight is good for outdoor activities such as camping etc
  • The solar charge should be waterproof, dustproof, shockproof for durability purposes.
  • Includes a carabiner for portability.
  • Make sure your solar charger is compatible with your USB devices.

When it comes to charging time is very crucial because it will determine how fast you can recharge your cellphones when they go low on charge. Charging time is dependent on the size and the specifications of the solar charger as well as the nature of the cell phone being charged, for instance, what are the energy requirements of your cellphone.

How does the solar energy work?

Solar energy technology work by converting sunlight into electricity. Sunlight is needed to excite electrons in a photovoltaic(PV) material, also called a solar cell. Solar cells or photovoltaic (PV) cells work using the photoelectric effect principle where electrons in a semiconductor material are excited giving rise to free electrons that move in one direction through a PN junction. Semiconductor materials are used in solar cells because they exhibit the characteristics of producing free electrons that flow in one direction in a PN junction. A semiconductor material can be defined as a material that has an electrical conductivity value below that of a conductor (such as copper or aluminum) and an insulator such as glass.  

How does the solar energy work?

How does the solar energy work
To understand how the solar energy work, it is good to capture the requirements of a solar energy system as shown in the diagram above. 

  • First, solar cells or solar photovoltaic material is needed to capture sunlight and convert it into useful solar energy through the photoelectric effect as mentioned above. 
  • In most cases, if you are connected to the grid, your solar energy system will be connected to an inverter and a bi-directional meter (as shown above). The meter moves forward or backward depending on the electricity demand needed in your household or business. During the day because your solar energy system is generating solar power, your bi-directional meter will tend to move backward and thus helping to lower your utility bill. As such, it will move backward because your electricity demand is low when your lights are off, or you probably at work if you are not working from home, etc. 
  • On the other hand, there is sunlight during the day, and in most cases depending on what time of the day, your solar energy system is producing excess solar power that will move your power meter in the opposite direction, and as a result, any excess solar power will be fed to the grid. At night, since there is no sunlight to generate solar energy, the meter will move forward because your electricity demand is high 
  • Solar houses or businesses connected to the grid use net-metering to provide for this type of arrangement where you get credit for solar power produced and fed to the grid through your solar energy system.  For households or businesses not connected to the grid, excess solar energy can be stored in batteries to be later used when is needed, perhaps at night. A net-metering system allows for excess solar energy to feed into the grid by use of a bi-directional meter provided through a power utility. 
  • The inverter as shown in the picture is connected to your solar energy system to convert the direct current (DC) produced by the moving electrons into alternating current (AC) which can be used in your household or business. 

how the solar energy work

In addition, the solar energy technology is being applied in very many other applications not just in powering homes and businesses, but also in off-grid solar applications such as RVs, cabins, boats, etc. Also, people that are hiking, camping, walking around, etc can use the free energy of the sun, for instance, a solar phone charger uses the same technology as regular solar panels but on a much smaller scale. 

The sun hits a small solar panel which in turn either charges a battery bank or the solar electricity produced is directly used into your cellphone. Although, since the power produced for cellphones is very small compared to what a household uses, it is measured in Amp-hours instead of kilowatt-hours. Amp-hour is the consumption of the amount of current in a single hour. For instance, solar phone batteries use amp-hour units to describe the amount of solar energy that a battery can store. For instance, the battery of a typical smartphone has a capacity of 3 Amp-hours or 3,000 milli-Amp-hours. 1 Ampere is equal to 1000 milliamperes.  

A lot of solar-powered battery chargers can be tremendously useful even when they are small. Solar panels that are only capable of producing as little as 4 watts of power are still valuable. They can charge batteries with no load, including smartphone and cell phone batteries. Learn more about other solar applications or how does the solar energy work by visiting this blog

What is the best solar panel efficiency?

What is the best solar panel efficiency?

The ability of a solar cell or photovoltaic (PV) material to convert a percentage of the solar energy shining on it into usable electricity is known as solar panel efficiency. One of the technological breakthroughs of photovoltaics or solar cells will depend on how to increase solar panel efficiency with reduced material costs. 

So far, this technological breakthrough has been achieved partially only with regards to high solar efficiencies as researchers have managed to reach solar efficiencies of above 40%, but what remains the challenge is the high costs associated with material costs, to make these solar cells commercially available. The other challenge is utilizing materials that are sustainable i.e. environmentally friendly. 
In the last decade, the solar industry has experienced a lot of technological breakthroughs such as increased solar efficiency. The first-ever made useful solar panels were invented by Bell Labs with an efficiency of about six (6) percent.

More and more solar panels manufacturers continue to do research and development (R&D) to increase the efficiency of solar panels using different materials ranging from first-generation solar cells (wafer-based cells) made of crystalline silicon to second-generation solar cells (thin-film solar cells), that include amorphous silicon, CdTe and CIGS cells and finally the third generation of solar cells which are the emerging photovoltaics mostly made of organic materials, often organometallic compounds as well as inorganic substance.

What is the best solar panel efficiency?

However, most the solar panel especially sold for residential or commercial places have the efficiency of a solar cell ranging between 15% to 25% solar efficiency. Although with the increase in R&D efforts in the future we expect to see a lot of technological breakthroughs where solar panel efficiency will be ranging between 30% to even above 40%. For instance, researchers have managed to achieve 46% efficiency as noted by EnergySage. Although, the main concern with these high solar efficiencies is the cost.
We can say the general trend of solar panel efficiency for solar panels that are commercially available ranges between 15% to 25%. This range of solar efficiencies represents what is currently the best solar panel efficiency at affordable costs.

Looking into the future, we will see the cost of these high-efficiency solar panels declining as researchers are looking into the material design with respect to environmentally or sustainable materials that are not harmful to the environment while reducing the cost of materials as possible. For instance, researchers are still looking for ways to use alternatives other than lead for the Lead halide perovskite PVs (LHP-PV) which emerged in the last decade as a viable thin-film PV technology due to its high efficiency and its low manufacturing costs. Lead is well-known as a toxic chemical to human health and potential negative impacts on the environment.
In addition, currently, many solar researchers are involved to assist in the development of solar cells with increased efficiencies while looking for ways to reduce the costs. For instance, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) maintains a chart (shown below) of the highest confirmed conversion efficiencies for research cells for a range of photovoltaic technologies, plotted from 1976 to the present.
What is the best solar panel efficiency?
This plot is courtesy of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Golden, CO for solar cell efficiency of solar cells under R&D as confirmed by independent recognized test labs such as NREL, AIST, JRC-ESTI, and Fraunhofer-ISE—and are reported on a standardized basis. Cell efficiency results are provided within families of semiconductors: Multijunction cells, single-junction gallium arsenide cells, Crystalline silicon cells, Thin-film technologies, and Emerging photovoltaics. Interested in going solar? Learn more here about the steps for installing a solar PV system for your home or business.

What is solar energy information?

We take this opportunity to wish you a happy new year – 2021. We would like to start the new year by sharing our new going solar options’ app which is a one-stop place app for solar information concerning solar energy options’ available as well as online solar tools such as solar calculators for helping with your decision to go solar.
Our new solar app will help you help access solar information easily and faster using your cellphone. The solar app is called “Going solar options’” and will help to promote solar energy and sustainability. The solar app comes in handy when you want to know your solar potential and provides a one-stop place of information for solar PV applications such as solar panels, solar generators, and solar gadgets.

What is solar energy information? It is the type of information anyone interested in going solar will be looking for to understand the pros and cons of solar energy before making the decision to go solar. It is a go-to app for both solar consumers and businesses interested in strategies for going green or implementing sustainability or CSR solar-related activities. Please feel free to download here the app which is currently on Google Play App’s store. An iPhone version of the app will be available soon in Apple’s apple store.

About the Going solar options’ app

Going solar options’ app is the condensed version of the reneenergy.com website to help our online users access solar energy information easily and faster on their cellphone gadgets. As such, online solar tools such as online solar calculators, online solar marketplaces, and solar reviews of different solar panels, solar generators, and solar phone chargers. An online solar platform of information about solar energy options’, online solar applications, and sustainability. Find online solar calculators, solar apps, and information about solar PV solutions for different uses.

Find solar reviews of different solar providers, including solar chargers, solar panels, solar generators, solar inverters, and solar batteries. Also, find solar energy calculators to determine how much you can save with solar or how many solar panels you may need to go solar.

With regard to going green, it is about adopting eco-products or eco-practices that eliminate or reduce environmental burdens. Going green for businesses or individuals is profitable in the long-term depending on what strategies are taken by a specific brand to make it socially responsible both in the short and long-term. As such, going green is a concept that revolves many sectors in energy, transportation, manufacturing, food, health, and many other industries that help to build the economy.

As a result, since all these sectors involve the end-user or consumers, many innovations both eco-products and eco-practices have been developed in each of these sectors to target consumers that are environmentally conscious about their carbon footprint or environmental impact. Going solar is one strategy individuals and businesses can adopt as an option for going green.  The aim of this solar app is to share solar energy facts information for solar consumers to make informed solar decisions. What is solar energy information? 

What is solar energy information? 

Solar energy information empowers the end-user to make informed decisions when it comes to going solar. A solar energy consumer needs to know solar energy facts information to distinguish between the different applications of solar energy. As a result, the going solar options app comes in handy in this regard. Here we capture the different applications of solar energy and their applications. 

The abbreviation ‘PV’ stands for photovoltaic. Photovoltaic cells are composed of semiconductor materials. When they make contact with sunlight, the light excites electrons, which leads to the generation of electricity.

A photovoltaic solar panel is made up of integrated components called solar cells, which fall into the categories of first, second, and third-generation solar cells. When people go solar, they will often get these solar panels added to their homes.

1. First-generation solar cells are the traditional and widely commercially used photovoltaic cells. Also, known as wafer-based cells which are composed of crystalline silicon, including polysilicon and monocrystalline silicon.

2. Thin-film solar cells fall into the second-generation category, and they include amorphous silicon, CdTe, and CIGS cells. Less used in residential solar panels. For the most part, thin-film solar cells are in building utility-scale PV solar power stations. Thin-film solar cells are integrated PV systems or more minor stand-alone solar power systems.

3. Third-generation PV solar cells are not yet commercially available for public use. Most of them are still under R&D. The goal of the research is to decrease PV costs while maximizing the efficiency of solar cells. Researchers and engineers are trying to incorporate organic materials, including organometallic compounds, in addition to inorganic materials. The goal is to reach higher efficiency and lowered PV costs. As a result of this research, solar generators might become more effective in the future. As such, solar PV has several applications and therefore it has a multitude of different forms, such as

  • Solar phone charger
  • Solar-powered battery charger
  • RV solar panels
  • Solar panels
  • Solar generators
  • Solar Lighting
  • Solar Powered Water Pump

Please access our new solar app here. We would appreciate it if you could review the app and rate it on the Google Play App store for our android users. Very soon our iPhone users will also have access to this particular app.

Thank you and we look forward to receiving your comments and reviews regarding the going solar options’ app.

Renogy solar systems applications

Renogy solar systems

Renogy solar systems have a wider range of applications including cabin, boating, RV solar as well as solar for other outdoor activities such as camping and fishing. On the other hand, Renogy solar have broader applications for commercial solutions such as in agriculture, logistics, and information technology. Renogy is a well-known brand focused on designing solar panels, solar kits, charge controllers, inverters, deep cycle batteries, battery chargers, accessories, and wiring. Solar panels or solar kits from Renogy as well as its components develop Renogy solar power. 

    1. Solar home systems 

    Renogy solar power systems are used as power back systems during power outages. They can also be used for cottages or small remote areas and semi-permanent installations that need power on an occasional basis. Renogy solar  are also used to support sustainable living using solar energy. Examples of Renogy solar power for powering homes include: Package 1: Tiny House, (1200 Watts), Package 2: Cottage (2500 Watts) & Package 3: Villa (4800 Watts).

    2. Agriculture:

      Renogy solar power are used for irrigation purposes to power solar water pumps especially for remote areas not connected to the grid. Renogy solar power generators, lighting, water pumps etc. thus powering agriculture with sustainable energy. Learn more about Renogy solar  for agriculture.

      3. Logistics and solar for RV vehicles

        solar panelsRenogy solar power are used in freight trucks providing off-grid power to power liftgates, HVAC systems, entertainment etc. For instance the Renogy 400W Monocrystalline Solar RV Kit with 30A Charger Controller is designed for off-grid solar panel system, Caravan, RV, boat, Green house Solar panel system.

        4. Street lighting and Information Technology (IT)

          Renogy solar power are used to power street lighting and security cameras. In IT, Renogy solar are used to power data centers helping businesses to run greener and smarter at the same time. Renogy solar power the Internet of Things (IoT) networks helping businesses to stay connected with real-time analytics. Learn more about Renogy solar systems for street lighting and information technology(IT).

          5. Outdoor activities

            Renogy solar power have portable solar solutions for powering your outdoor activities, including camping, fishing, boating helping to support sustainable living. For instance, the Renogy Phoenix 246.24Wh/150W Portable Generator is an all-in-one portable solar power system specifically designed for mobile, off-grid applications, and is ideal for emergencies.

            Renogy solar panels kits – four types

            Renogy is well-known for its four (4) types of Renogy solar panels kits, including starter kits, premium kits, RV van solar kits and bundle solar kits. Renogy is an American solar brand that was started as a small project by students at Louisiana State University. Today, Renogy is a well-known international company that has specialized in the solar photovoltaics technology with applications ranging from solar PV for recreational vehicles, boating, camping as well as solar applications for isolated areas and remote homes.Renogy solar kits

            1) Starter Renogy solar kits

              Renogy starter kits are designed for solar customers that are new to solar. These Renogy starter solar panels kits are great for mainly off-grid solar PV applications, including but not limited to RVs, trailers, boats, sheds, and cabins. Specifically, the main purpose of Renogy starter kits are used to recharge and monitor a 12-volt battery bank and the Starter Kits come with basic, easy to install components which are available in 50W-400W. You can check out these PV systems on Amazon.

              • 50 Watt 12V Monocrystalline Starter Kit.
              • 100 Watt 12 Volt Solar Expansion Kit.
              • 100W 12V Monocrystalline Solar Starter Kit w/Wanderer 10A Charge Controller. See it at Amazon.
              • 100 Watt 12 Volt Solar Starter Kit.
              • 200 Watt 12 Volt Solar Starter Kit.
              • 400 Watt 12 Volt Solar Starter Kit

              2)Premium Renogy solar panels kits

                Premium Renogy solar kits offer higher solar efficiency, safety and reliability. Unlike Starter Kits, Premium Kits include additional features such as higher efficiency panels, a Bluetooth module and a MPPT charge controller which increases charging efficiency and performance. These solar kits have a wider application in farms, remote areas away from the grid, boats etc. Renogy Premium solar kits have wattage of between 100W to 800W. You can check out these renogy solar kits on Amazon.

                • 100 Watt 12 Volt Solar Premium Kit.
                • 200 Watt 12 Volt Solar Premium Kit
                • 300 Watt 12 Volt Solar Premium Kit
                • 400 Watt 12 Volt Solar Premium Kit
                • 600 Watt 24 Volt Solar Premium Kit
                • 600W 12V Monocrystalline Solar Premium Kit w/Rover 60A Charger Controller
                • New 800 Watt 24 Volt Solar Premium Kit
                • 800W 12V Monocrystalline Solar Premium Kit w/Rover 60A Charger Controller

                3) RV van Renogy solar kits

                RV van Renogy solar kits are designed for off-grid solar panel system, Caravan, any recreational vehicle (RV), boat, motorhome or a mobile application. Because, these are mobile solar applications they are equipped with additional components such as flush mount charge controller and a cable entry housing unit. Solar kit wattage range between 100W to 320W. You can check these PV systems on Amazon.

                • 100 Watt 12 Volt Monocrystalline Foldable Solar Suitcase w/o Controller
                • 100 Watt 12 Volt Monocrystalline Foldable Solar Suitcase with Voyager
                • 100 Watt Eclipse Solar Suitcase w/o Controller
                • 100 Watt 12 Volt Solar RV Kit
                • 100 Watt Eclipse Monocrystalline Solar Suitcase
                • 200 Watt 12 Volt Monocrystalline Foldable Solar Suitcase
                • 200 Watt 12 Volt Solar RV Kit
                • 200 Watt Eclipse Monocrystalline Solar Suitcase w/o Controller
                • 200 Watt Eclipse Monocrystalline Solar Suitcase
                • 300 Watt 12 Volt Solar RV Kit
                • 400 Watt 12 Volt Solar RV Kit

                4) Bundle Renogy solar panels kits

                  Bundle Renogy solar kits are designed for off-grid solar systems and have 100 watts or 200 watts or 300 watts monocrystalline solar panels. They also come with solar components needed to expand on a system already existing system or just solar components needed to complete the system already in place. Bundle Renogy solar kits include the following as shown on Amazon.

                  • Renogy 12V 100W Monocrystalline Bundle Kit solar panel, Black
                  • Renogy 12V Monocrystalline Bundle 100W Solar Panel,30A Charge Controller 9in Adaptor Kit,A Pair of Branch Connectors, w PWM
                  • Renogy 200W 12V Monocrystalline Bundle 100W Solar Panel,30A Charge Controller 9in Adaptor Kit,A Pair of Branch Connectors
                  • Renogy Panel Monocrystalline Solar Bundle Kit, 300 Watt

                  Steps to going solar

                  An online solar panel calculator is one of the most common tools nowadays for consumers looking to go solar. Online solar tools have become mainstream in countries like the USA, Australia, UK, etc. enabling many online users to make online decisions to go solar. For instance, EnergySage has one of the most popular online solar calculators in the States, and millions of people use this platform each year to research and shop for solar through their network of pre-screened, local installers.

                  However, not all consumers have access to online tools to help them make online solar decisions because such tools require a lot of investment to create them. For instance, most of these tools have been developed or informed from solar mapping research conducted using Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) technology. These tools can determine the specific solar potential for rooftop solar for both residential and commercial places. The cost for LIDAR remains high and it will perhaps take time before it can be reduced.

                  Many solar consumers in countries without site-specific solar data can still determine their solar potential manually by performing a few calculations although it can be time-consuming and tedious. As such, this blog attempts to capture the process or steps for how to determine whether solar is right for your house or business, manually without the use of online solar tools which we promote here.

                  1. Determine the electrical load for your household or business
                  A very straight forward way to determine the electrical load for your household or business is from your monthly utility bills. You can pick out the number of kilowatt-hours of electricity consumed in your household on a yearly basis and then get the average by dividing by 12 to get the monthly electricity consumption and then divide that figure by 30 to get the daily kWh usage.

                  To be more specific, you can list all your heavy electrical appliances such as your refrigerator, washing machine, etc. Determine their wattage and how many hours are used by them to determine the number of watt-hours.

                  Once you complete this step, this will give you a general estimate of your energy consumption. At this point, you can decide whether you need to do something with regards to lowering your energy consumption by implementing energy efficiency measures. For instance, one of the low hanging fruits can be changing all your incandescent bulbs to LEDs. LED bulbs use more than 75% less energy than incandescent lighting which means you can save a huge significant of energy by just switching to LEDs if you are currently using incandescent bulbs.

                  2. Solar Insolation
                  Solar insolation is the incident solar radiation onto some object or specifically the measure of the solar energy that is incident on a specified area over a set period. Solar insolation
                  can be expressed in two ways, that is:

                  • Kilowatt-hours per square meter (kWh/m2) per day which represents the average amount of energy hitting an area each day.
                  • Watts per square meter (W/m2) which represents the average amount of power hitting an area over an entire year.

                  The importance of knowing the values of solar insolation at certain positions on the Earth is to help determine the size and output of your Solar PV system. As such, based on the solar insolation of your location, these values will help to determine the expected output for your solar panels and determine whether your specific location will be good for solar power. There are other factors such as obstructions to your rooftop like trees or building design that will affect solar insolation for your PV system.

                  There are various ways to determine solar insolation for your building ranging from weather databases in your area. As early mentioned on this blog, today there are various tools that use the LIDAR technology that has simplified this process. However, these tools are country-specific, but some tools like Google Project Sunroof are aiming to have global coverage to have online users just plug their address into the tool to determine solar potential. Google Project Sunroof in addition to providing with your solar insolation calculates how much money a user can expect to save yearly by making use of solar power

                  Until, we have a resource that can provide online users with specific rooftop solar insolation like the Google Project Sunroof, online users without this specific information can use for instance the Global Solar Atlas
                  which was developed by the World Bank and the International Finance Corporation (IFC) to support the scale-up of solar power around the world. The primary aim of this Global solar Atlas is to provide quick and easy access to solar resource and photovoltaic power potential data globally, at a click of a mouse.

                  The methodology for the Global Solar Atlas is location-specific that involves three main different models i.e. solar radiation model, air temperature model, and PV power simulation model. Solar radiation and air temperature modeling result in a series of pre-calculated data layers that can be retrieved at (almost) any location on the map. Additional information about a possible PV system type and configuration are used for the PV power simulation, which is calculated on-demand using Solargis internal algorithms and databases. For more information, see the details of the methodology of the Global Solar Atlas.

                  However, like every online tool, the Global Solar Atlas can only provide solar estimates and the figures you get are preliminary to provide you with an estimation about your solar potential. It is always advisable to obtain the final word of a licensed and experienced solar installer to make an actual assessment for your solar PV system. Online materials suggested on this platform only provide estimates. For instance, the objective of the Global Solar Atlas is to provide reliable introductory-level data to help policymakers, researchers, and commercial solar companies take better decisions. For project-specific analysis of large -power plants, the data available via the Global Solar Atlas is suitable only for preliminary analysis.

                  The Global Solar Atlas provides an opportunity to do site prospection and pre-evaluation of the potential of solar energy in different countries and areas. For instance, in our context, you can check the solar energy potential for a specific site for instance for your home or business. In this case, you can determine how much electricity will be generated and in what time. Also, analysis of the averaged solar radiation components for specific locations helps with planning and pre-evaluation of opportunities for solar energy projects.

                  3. Determine capacity of solar panels or how many solar panels you need
                  Once you have determined the solar insolation which is sometimes referred to as “peak sun hours” measured in kWh/m2 per day, it is easy to estimate the capacity of solar panels or how many solar panels are needed. The term “peak sun hours” refers to the solar insolation which a particular location would receive if the sun were shining at its maximum value for a certain number of hours. Each peak sun hour is defined as one hour when the intensity of sunlight (solar irradiance) reaches an average of 1,000 watts of energy per square meter (roughly 10.5 feet). Since the peak solar radiation is 1 kW/m2, the number of peak sun hours is numerically identical to the average daily solar insolation. For example, a location that receives 8 kWh/m2 per day can be said to have received 8 hours of sun per day at 1 kW/m2. Being able to calculate the peak sun hours is useful because PV modules are often rated at an input rating of 1kW/m2.

                  Also, there are various solar panels out there of different sizes ranging from 500-watt solar panels, 300-watt solar panels, 250-watt solar panels to 1watt solar panels, and so on. However, it is good to know what size of solar panels to pick depending on the size of your rooftop or anywhere that you want to place them to harvest solar energy.

                  Once you have estimated your average kWh used monthly in step one (1) above, it is easy to estimate the capacity of solar panels needed in your building. Let us say that you use an average of 1000kWh per month, to get the daily kWh usage divide 1000kWh by 30 to get about 34 kWh daily usage. Assuming you want to off-set the 34 kWh daily electricity usage with solar panels at 100%, using a 250-watt solar panel and your site location is getting 4 hours of sunlight per day that means 250W multiplied by 4 hours which is 1000 watt-hours per day or 1kWh a day.

                  Since you are consuming 34kWh daily, then you need 34 solar panels each with a 250-watt power rating. This is just a rough estimate and a lot of other factors such as cloud cover, system design, etc. will affect the sizing of your system. However, to help you make the decision to contact a solar installer in your local area, doing a preliminary feasibility study will help you to make a good decision on whether to pursue solar for your home or business. Other factors such as solar panel efficiency and whether your solar panels come with warranties are important while conducting your research.

                  Remember, the above example assumes you are going solar 100% however, considering you have a net-metering arrangement in your area, you can decide to off-set your current usage at 75%, 50%, 30%, and so on. For instance, if you decide to off-set your current electricity usage at 50%, this means 34kwh/day multiplied by 0.50 which is equal to 17kWh/day which means you will only need 17 solar panels each with a 250-watt power rating.  

                  Depending on the amount of electricity usage you want to offset using solar panels, you will probably need to invest in some additional equipment often referred to as balance-of-system
                  to condition the electricity, safely transmit the electricity to the load that will use it, and or store the electricity for future use. For off-grid systems or those not connected to the grid, you will need batteries and a charge controller to store excess power produced during the day and use it at night when there is no sunshine. Grid-connected PV systems you will need power conditioning equipment such as solar inverters to convert your DC generated power to AC to comply with your power provider’s grid connection requirements.

                  This article just provides the initial steps that can help you figure out how to go solar. To get specific information about solar panels and balance of system, please contact a solar installer in the local area. If you are in the USA, this solar calculator can help you locate a solar panel cost calculator and obtain multiple solar quotes from your local area. Learn more here.

                  Lithium-ion batteries for your solar PV system

                  Lithium-ion batteries are now widely used in very many applications and hence are becoming an everyday part of our lives. These applications include but not limited to laptops, electric vehicles to stationary and building-sized applications. This rapid change has been enabled by the reducing price of lithium-ion batteries which has dropped more than 70% between 2010 and 2016. 

                  Battery electricity storage (BES) using lithium-ion batteries seem to have a similar story of price reduction just like solar photovoltaics (PV) which dropped in price with over 60% in the last decade. As a result, solar + storage is now a common product sold to businesses and homes by solar companies such as Tesla that are able to provide the Tesla power wall and solar panels. Other quality solar battery power systems offering reasonable prices are the Enphase AC Battery and SonnenBatterie Eco.

                  The lithium-ion batteries are the new generation of battery energy storage advancing from the traditional lead-acid based deep cycle battery technology. Lead-acid batteries are widely used in many sectors because they cost less upfront, but they have a shorter lifespan and require regular maintenance to keep them running properly unlike lithium-ion batteries which are more expensive up front, but maintenance-free and have a longer lifespan. According to EnergySage, a lead-acid battery system cost a few hundred or thousands less than a similarly sized lithium-ion setup. Lithium-ion batteries for solar power systems can cost anywhere from $5000 to $15000 including installation and this is dependent on the size of the PV system.

                  Based on chemistry there are various types of lithium-ion for battery electricity storage that are produced by different battery manufacturers such as Discover, SimpliPhi, etc. The term “lithium-ion” refers not to a single electrochemical couple but to a wide array of different chemistries, all of which are characterized by the transfer of lithium ions between the electrodes during the charge and discharge reactions. Li-ion cells do not contain metallic lithium; rather, the ions are inserted into the structure of other materials, such as lithiated metal oxides or phosphates in the positive electrode (cathode) and carbon (typically graphite) or lithium titanate in the negative (anode). Lithium-ion chemistry combinations include Lithium Ferro Phosphate (LFP); nickel manganese cobalt oxide (NMC);lithium manganese oxide (LMO ), nickel cobalt aluminum oxide (NCA) and lithium titanate (LTO). Generally, the various material combinations or chemistry of lithium-ion batteries yield unique performance cost and safety characteristics.

                  The different chemistries allow for battery energy storage optimization to meet various performance and operational objectives (IRENA, 2017). As such, different electrode or electrolyte selections may be used to design for different applications where reduced costs or high power or high density is required. For instance, lithium titanate (LTO) batteries have very good thermal stability, long cycle life-time, high rate discharge capability and has no solid electrolyte interphase issues (IRENA, 2017). However, LTO batteries will be cost-prohibitive because of the high cost of titanium and will have reduced cell voltage and low energy density compared to lithium nickel manganese cobalt oxide which can be tailored for high power or high energy stable thermal profile and can operate at high voltage.

                  EnergySage Buyer’s Guide for Solar Batteries

                  EnergySage has prepared a comprehensive solar batteries guide where consumers can browse hundreds of solar batteries from top manufacturers around the world. Solar batteries can provide numerous benefits, especially for property owners in areas that experience demand or time-of-use charges or where net-metering policies are limited in terms of compensation from the grid. Essentially, electricity demand tracks the total amount of energy that is being consumed at a given time. The more devices using electricity at the same time, the higher the customer’s demand charge.

                  As such, solar batteries can reduce demand charges and provide resiliency, while adding value to solar installations at the same time. When you install a solar battery alongside a solar panel system, you can store extra solar electricity produced by your panels for later use after the sun goes down. Learn more about other aspects of going solar such as obtaining solar quotes and using the EnergySage buyer’s guide for solar panels, solar batteries, and solar inverters. See this solar resource for more details.


                  Reference:

                  IRENA (2017), Electricity Storage and Renewables: Costs and Markets to 2030, International Renewable Energy Agency.

                  Solar batteries for your-solar PV system

                  Why solar batteries?

                  solar batteryA battery is a device that stores chemical energy and converts it to electricity through the electrochemistry process. A battery can be made up of one or several electrochemical cells. Each electrochemical cell consists of two electrodes separated by an electrolyte allowing the flow of electrons between the two electrodes and electricity is produced. Generally, batteries store energy for later use and can have many applications such as powering equipment or gadgets not connected to the grid. Also, solar batteries are used to store power from solar panels for later use perhaps at night when there is no sunshine or during cloudy days when less power is generated by solar panels.

                  What are solar panel batteries?

                  Solar batteries are devices that are built using the electrochemistry technology and contain electrochemical cells that are connected in series with 2 electrodes immersed in the electrolyte solution and a circuit formed between the electrode and the electrolyte to produce an electrical current. The electrochemical cells are the ones that convert chemical energy into electrical energy.  There are several types of solar batteries that are used in connections to store electricity that is tapped from the solar system. However, the most common solar batteries include the lead-acid batteries and lithium-ion batteries.

                  1. Lead-acid batteries generally used in motor vehicles and are low-cost compared to all other types. They are generally bulky but have a relatively large power due to their ability to supply high surge currents considering their volume and relative weight.
                  2. Lithium-ion batteries are known for their best energy density and a very slow loss of charge when not in use and commonly used for portable electronics such as cellphones and electric vehicles. A popular example is Tesla Powerwall.

                  solar batteryWhen are solar panel batteries needed?

                  Solar batteries are useful to store excess electricity for your solar photovoltaic system in cases where:

                  1. You want to supplement power from the grid with your solar power to reduce electricity costs.
                  2. You are completely not connected to the grid and you use solar panel batteries’ to store electricity for later use.
                  1. Supplementing your grid-connected solar power system with batteries:

                  Through net-metering, a solar power system can be connected to the grid to help feed excess electricity to the grid or draw it to supplement your energy demand. Feeding excess electricity to the grid through net-metering comes with incentives such as reduced utility bills. However, in areas where net metering policies either don’t exist or are limited, adopting solar batteries can help to store excess electricity and use it when it is much economical to do so.

                  electric gridAlso, depending on the type of electricity rate structure including time-of-use (TOU) rates as well as demand charges, solar batteries can be used to store electricity to reduce these utility charges. As such, solar batteries will be useful to help to reduce your electricity bill when you understand your TOU and demand charges. TOU rates approach allows utility companies to charge different rates for electricity, where the cost of energy varies based on the time of day it is consumed.

                  On the other hand, the demand charge is set based upon your maximum hourly power requirement and hence the best way to decrease your electric bill when energy demand is factored in is to decrease your electric bill all at once. As such, utilizing solar batteries will help to lower your overall energy demand thus reducing your energy demand charges as well as high TOU rates. For instance, you can use electricity stored in the solar batteries during high TOU rates and consequently reduce your utility bill.

                  2. Areas not connected to the grid.

                  Areas not connected to the grid can benefit a lot from solar power. However, since there is no sunshine at night, you will need solar batteries to store excess electricity produced during the day for later use at night when it is extremely needed for lighting and other uses. About 1.1 billion people around the world still lack electricity and solar-powered mini-grids are well-suited in remote areas as it is much affordable and faster to electrify these areas using renewables than extending the main grid. As such, solar batteries will be needed to help store excess power produced by solar panels during the day and use it at night when it is needed.

                  How much do solar batteries cost

                  Just like solar panels, upfront costs of solar batteries depend on the make and model and there are various types and models of solar batteries in the market today. According to EnergySage, solar batteries’ cost before installation range between $5,000 to $7,000 or from $400 dollars per kilowatt-hour (kWh) to $750/kWh. This cost does not include the cost of the installation which is done by a licensed electrician. For instance, the 13.5-kilowatt-hour (kWh) Tesla Powerwall 2.0 is priced at $6,700 but has a built-in inverter while the LG’s 9.3kWh Chem RESU battery does not have a built-in inverter and cost about $6,000 to $7,000. However, as mentioned before will vary based on how many solar batteries are needed, the make, and the model of the solar battery. At EnergySage, you can get solar battery quotes from different vendors and compare their different prices.

                  The EnergySage Solar Batteries Buyer’s Guidesolar batteries

                  The EnergySage has developed a comprehensive classification system where users can browse and compare several solar batteries’ to evaluate their quality ratings based on their most important aspects such as cost, capacity, power, round-trip efficiency, degradation rate, and warranty.

                  This classification system captures various battery technical specifications such as performance, durability, warranty, and overall quality, and using this system, the EnergySage has grouped different solar batteries into five different classifications i.e. Poor, Fair, Good, Very Good and Excellent. EnergySage solar batteries buyer’s guide has captured several solar batteries from different top manufacturers and you can get price quotes here.

                  The EnergySage platform is a good starting point to assist you with your solar buying decision, however, it will take a licensed solar installer to make a good assessment of your household or business. In particular, a solar installer will assess your power project requirements, your energy requirements to help you decide on your solar panel and battery requirements.

                  Get started with a solar panel cost calculator from the EnergySage to estimate your solar panel requirements and get more advice about your battery requirements based on your energy profile or consumption.

                  How and where to dispose of batteries in a sustainable way?

                  where to dispose batteriesThe battery technology just like solar PV technology continues to advance and today there are various types of batteries being used to help power equipment or store energy for electricity. As the solar PV sector continues to grow whether with on-grid or off-grid solar applications; the battery technology will help to accelerate the increased adoption of solar PV in domestic, commercial and utility sectors and other renewable energy technologies that are intermittent in nature like the wind energy.
                  Similarly, with the rapid development of electric cars in various countries, it means that we will see the demand for battery technology continue to grow exponentially. Solar PV and electric vehicles(EV) will definitely demand increased usage of the battery technology among other sectors that require batteries such as agricultural, commercial or even the household sector where batteries are used for TV remotes, flashlights, children’s toys and small electronics like cellphones.

                  However, even with these technological developments; how and where to dispose of batteries after their useful life is completed is one aspect of sustainability that will need to be tackled from a system thinking perspective. At the development stage of these batteries, it calls for implementing sustainable design to make it easy to recycle most of the components of the battery technology in question. For instance, researchers at the IBM research unveiled recently a new battery technology that will eliminate the need for heavy metals in battery production hence improving sustainable design.

                  As such, before looking into proper ways of disposing batteries, it is good to know what batteries are, the different types of batteries, and what they are made up of, making them something that requires proper disposal. Well, batteries are a collection of one or a group of cells that undergo various chemical reactions to create a continuous flow of electrons in a circuit.

                  Battery cells are generally classified into three components that is the anode, also known as the negative electrode, cathode, also known as the positive electrode, and finally, the electrolytes. For sustainability, the battery chemical composition will matter as it will guide how a battery will be disposed of after its useful life. For instance, in the USA, when it comes to lead-acid batteries, 99% of these batteries are collected and recycled.

                  However, according to the World Economic Forum, recycling lithium-ion batteries is a bit challenging due to the diversity of cell types and the broad range of materials such as an alloy of cobalt, nickel, and copper that may require manual sorting and handling or even smelting (pyrometallurgy) to recover individual metals or battery raw materials such as cobalt carbonate.

                  Types of batteries

                  There are many types of batteries classified according to their chemical composition, formation factor, size, and the purpose they serve. They include:

                  1. Primary batteries: These are a kind of batteries that cannot be recharged once fully used. These batteries are made up of electrochemical cells that their electrochemical reactions can also not be reversed. This kind of battery is usually used in devices that require no charging. Primary batteries are made up in a way that they provide high specific energy, and whenever used, the devices consume little power to ensure the battery has a long life span. The most common kind of primary batteries is alkaline batteries. They have higher specific energy levels, are environmentally friendly, and are cheaper to purchase.
                  2. Secondary batteries are the direct opposite of primary batteries. Secondary batteries can be recharged, and their electrochemical cells and electrochemical reactions can be reversed when all the energy has been fully used up. The secondary batteries are commonly known as the rechargeable batteries. Secondary batteries can be classified into different groups depending on their chemistry or chemical composition.
                    1. Lithium-ion: they are also known as Li-ion batteries. They are used in smart devices such as mobile phones and other battery home appliances. It has Lithium electrodes on it.
                    2. Nickel Cadmium: Also known as Ni-Cd batteries. They are made up of nickel oxide hydroxide chemical and the metallic cadmium as the electrodes.
                    3. Nickel-Metal hydride. This kind of batteries has the same chemical reaction to Ni-Cd batteries, which is nickel oxide hydroxide. Although, a negative electrode uses hydrogen-absorbing alloy, but not cadmium like the Ni-Cd batteries.solar battery
                    4. Lead-acid batteries: Lead-acid batteries are cheaper efficient power batteries that are used in heavy-duty applications. They are usually used in instances where they are non-portable because of their weight. Lead-acid batteries are used in an application that includes vehicle batteries for ignition and lighting and also as solar-panel energy stores. Lead-acid batteries are made up of acid that is used to ensure proper current flow in the circuit. Lead-acid batteries are the oldest form of secondary batteries and are relatively cheap compared to the other secondary batteries.

                  where to dispose batteries

                  Where to dispose of batteries

                  Batteries are disposed of depending on the type which determines their chemical composition.

                  a) Household batteries: Household batteries can be classified into two groups, either rechargeable or non-rechargeable batteries. Disposing of the household batteries is not as complicated as disposing of the vehicle and industrial batteries.

                  According to battery solutions, alkaline batteries (AAA, AA, C, D, 9V, etc.) can be recycled using a specialized “room temperature,” mechanical separation process to recycle alkaline batteries.

                  The alkaline battery components are separated into three end products, that is, a zinc and manganese concentrate, steel, and paper, plastic and brass fractions. All of these products are put back into the market place for reuse in new products to offset the cost of the recycling process.

                  However, when it comes to rechargeable batteries, for example, lithium batteries are recyclable. They can, therefore, be disposed of at the battery recycling centers, electronic retailers who recycle batteries, or a waste collection site for hazardous materials. Therefore, ensuring you dispose of batteries properly.

                  b) Industrial batteries.

                  Industrial batteries can also be referred to as forklift or traction batteries. Industrial batteries can normally be drained to about 20% of the maximum charging capacity before a recharge.

                  Industrial batteries are manufactured with lead plates making them not disposable in the trash. Lead is considered to be a hazardous waste that is highly toxic to the environment. So when it comes to the industrial batteries, an estimated 60 to 80 percent of the used battery is normally reclaimed. More than 95 percent of the industrial lead-acid batteries are recycled.

                  The outer plastic shell is recycled to make some new plastic items, whereas the metal plates undergo purification to manufacture new batteries. In most states, there is a law that accepts the return of the industrial batteries to the retailer for disposal purposes. In case one cannot trace the retailer, they can contact the government officials for the information on the directions to follow to ensure proper disposal of the industrial batteries, industrial batteries maybe containing sulphuric acid that is harmful.

                  Safety precaution is normally advised when transporting the batteries for disposal. One should also avoid exposing the batteries to open flames or incidental devices like the cigarette lighters just for precaution measures.

                  c) Vehicle batteries: Car batteries are made out of lead-acid which is hazardous. It is, therefore, essential to dispose of it carefully just to avoid harmful side effects that can be life-threatening to human beings. There are many ways to dispose of vehicle batteries.
                  where to dispose batteries

                  • Returning the battery to a retailer. When purchasing the battery, there is normally a core charge fee certain retailers usually add in the receipts. This charge means that the battery is essential to the retailer. It can either be recycled or be rebuilt. Meaning that you can return the battery to the retailers, and they refund back your money with the same amount you paid as a core charge fee.
                  • Taking the car battery to a recycling depot: You can check on the closest designated recycling depots near you on the internet and dispose of your car battery there for disposals.
                  • Taking the car battery to an auto parts store: You can make your take battery to an auto parts store as you go buy another one.
                  • Selling the car battery to scrap metal depot: One can decide to sell their batteries off to the scrap metal depot near them at a fee.
                  • Taking the car batteries to battery recycling centers where they can recycle them and make something good out of them.

                  Each state has its own recycling program while resources such as Earth911 have a comprehensive online platform for helping online users decide on how to dispose of old batteries. Earth911 provides a recycling locator for all types of batteries where you just enter your zip code and it pulls the details for your specific battery and how or where to recycle them.

                  Call2Recycle is another online resource that offers a network of over 34,000 local recycling centers and drop-off locations for rechargeable batteries such as local municipalities and local retailers like Best Buy.

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