Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Solar Science 101 – Solar Panels

Top 3 Things to Know About Solar Panels

You've talked about getting "backup solar." And you meant to look into a portable solar generator after the last derecho or hurricane. But it feels daunting - it's an investment and you're afraid you'll choose the wrong system.

SunRunr is committed to providing you with the knowledge and confidence needed to choose the best portable solar generator system for your needs.  In our previous blog, “Understanding How Portable Solar Generators Work," we used the analogy of banking to describe the three key aspects of a portable solar energy system like the SunRunr:  Power Storage (your savings account), Power Generation (deposits), and Power Output (withdrawals).  In this blog we’ll take some of the mystery out of the power generation side of the equation by exploring three key aspects of solar panels.

The Power of Sun + Sand

A solar panel is made by linking together solar cells which are each converting sunlight into electricity via photovoltaic (PV) materials.  Silicon (sand) is currently the most widely used photovoltaic material.  When sunlight hits the silicon within the solar cell, the light's energy is absorbed by the silicon, knocking electrons free from their atoms.  These released electrons are then captured and directed through an electrical circuit. This TED-Ed video provides a great visual of this conversion of solar energy into electrical energy.
The electrical energy produced by a solar panel is direct current (DC) power and is available for immediate use.  If you want to save that electricity for a rainy day or for an hour from now, that electricity will need to be stored.  That’s where battery options (power storage) come into play.  And if you’re looking to power the gadgets and appliances you have around your home, a  power inverter will be needed to convert the direct current to alternating current (AC).

Durable and Maintenance-Free

A question we often hear is, “Can a SunRunr system hack it where I live?  Here in (Maine, Mississippi, Montana) we get a lot of (hail, snow, rain, wind, salty mist).”  The answer is “Yes!”.  Each SunRunr comes standard with two Kyocera solar panels that use a tempered glass cover plate and an anodized aluminum frame that are designed and rated to withstand severe environmental conditions.  And with zero moving parts to break or wear out - no motor, no gears, no mechanical bearings - solar panels have a 20+ year life and are practically maintenance-free.   Normal rainfall is generally sufficient to keep their surface clean, as long as your panels are tilted at an angle of 15 degrees or more. Should you live in an area with a lot of smog or dust or there’s not a lot of rain, a soft cloth, mild detergent and water will do the trick.  

How Much Power Are We Talking?

What can you do with 1500 Watts? You can cleanup after a storm, run your farm’s well pump, recharge your ship battery, or be the family’s hero during a power outage. Need more juice? SunRunr can be easily expanded by adding solar panels and more storage.
The rate at which energy is generated or consumed is measured in Watts (W).  Each solar panel in the standard SunRunr system produces 145 Watts each for a total of 290 Watts. And because the SunRunr is solar PLUS storage, the unit is re-charging while discharging!  If your panels receive 6 hours of sun each day, you’ll have a sustainable usage rate of 1500 Watts per day.  
If you’d like to dive in further, you can find more juicy technical specs plus other general FAQ about portable solar + storage on our website.  Need help determining your power solution?  Let us know or contact one of our certified dealers! Catch our National Preparedness Month deal and save an extra 5% between August 1 and September 30, 2017.

EARLY BIRD BONUS! Buy before the total solar eclipse on Aug 21 and receive a free AC/DC charger!