# Calculating The Cost Of Going With Solar Energy

There are so many things to know about using solar energy. Technology is changing and improving so quickly that many people have only a vague notion of how solar energy works and just how efficient it really is. In this article we will describe some of the ideal conditions for using solar energy to power your home, vacation cabin, recreation vehicle and more. We will also discuss the components of a good solar energy system and talk about how to use a solar panel calculator. Read on to learn more.

What are ideal conditions, and what can solar do?

Many people harbor glaring misconceptions about solar energy. On one end of the spectrum are people who believe that solar is wildly inefficient and cannot be used to power a whole house or other large application. On the other end are people who want to use inadequate solar energy systems to recharge spent batteries and perform other very challenging tasks quickly. Both of these points of view are incorrect. The best use of a properly planned and installed solar energy system is to provide for ongoing, sensible use.

Naturally, with even the best system, the most electricity will be produced on days when the panels receive full sun for many hours. Remember that the ratings for solar panels are calculated considering direct, bright sunshine. If your circumstances differ from this ideal (e.g. partial shade, short days, fog, overcast, etc.) your results will vary.

Energy storage is possible to an extent; however, you cannot expect massive bursts of energy from your system. Making use of a solar panel calculator to determine exactly how many panels you will need for your intended use can help you plan your system properly to get efficient, satisfactory use. Below are some of the other considerations you must take into account when planning your system.

What you need to know about voltage rating

When you look at solar energy products, you will see that the majority of them are designed to accommodate 12 volts direct current (VDC). You may be surprised to know that there are also smaller 24 volt panels available. If this size is needed, solar panels can be wired in a series.

Alternately, even greater sizes, such as 24, 36 and 48 direct current (DC) volts can be had. Solar controllers prevent overcharge and battery discharge as well as improving charge quality.

If you are using panels that are rated over 5 or 6 watts output, you should use a charge controller. This device acts as and ON/OFF switch. It lets power pass through when it is needed by the battery and shuts it off after the battery has become fully charged. Be aware that controllers are rated using AMPS. Solar panels are rated using watts. Generally speaking a 6 AMP controller will work with panels up to 70 watts in power.

Determining the size of solar panels you will need

When you are trying to figure out what size solar panels to purchase, you must understand that you simply have to do the math. You must determine how much power you need and compare this with the amount of power various sizes of solar panels are capable of producing. You will need to know the number of AMP hours or watts your system is able to produce in a given time-frame. You could measure by hours, or you could measure by days. Using a twenty four hour day as a baseline is a practical approach. Figure out how much electricity you will need in a period of twenty four hours. Determine how much direct sunlight your solar energy system will receive during that same twenty four hour period. When you have come up with some numbers, you are ready to use a good system to determine the exact size of panels you will need.

This article has covered some basic information about selecting and using a solar energy system. When you are wondering about the efficiency and cost of switching to solar, once you have determined your energy needs, the smartest thing you can do is seek out a reliable online calculator to help you determine how much your ideal system will cost and what you can expect in terms of performance. Some calculators also provide you comparisons between your existing system and solar energy in terms of environmental impact. Once you have gotten some solid data on the cost, efficiency and impact of making this smart switch, you should be good to go and well prepared to get started using energy from the sun.