5 facts you probably didn’t know about commercial solar
We all know that solar is an unlimited renewable energy source that doesn’t generate any CO2 emissions. We also know that commercial solar has the potential to dramatically lower your energy bills and generate high ROI.
However, these aren’t the only fascinating things about solar!
Commercial solar installation is a big, complicated job, with a whole raft of different considerations that go into it. You’ll find yourself doing a lot of research, poring over data and going over the facts.
Today, we’ll be shining some (sun)light on a couple lesser-known facts about solar power!
1) Solar panels don’t need direct sunlight to generate power
While direct sunlight is the most effective type of light at generating electricity (and is therefore the preferred option), modern solar PV systems don’t necessarily need it to create power.
Modern panels are perfectly capable of creating electricity from diffuse, ambient and reflected light. They will continue to function and generate power for your business, even in the shade or on overcast days.
While they may suffer from reduced efficiency, as long as there’s light hitting them, they will generate power!
In fact, the only conditions that will result in your solar panels not generating any power are pitch darkness or something physically obscuring your panels, like a thick blanket or layer of snow.
Additionally, with developments in solar batteries mean that excess power can be stored for use later, allowing you to continue enjoying the benefits of commercial solar when the weather is poor or when the sun goes down.
2) Angle matters when it comes to commercial solar
So you’ve decided on commercial solar. If you want to maximise the benefits however, you can’t just bolt a couple of panels onto your roof – you’ll have to think about a host of different factors, including:
- Roof volume
- Roof strength
- Your energy needs
Another lesser-known consideration is angle and pitch.
Simply put, solar panels work best when sunlight hits at a specific angle. Tilt can affect how much sunlight your panels capture, which in turn affects how effective your commercial solar installation is.
Here’s an example: say you live on the equator, where the sun is pretty much directly overhead all year round. In these cases, your panels will capture a majority of sunlight throughout the day, even when laid flat.
Now let’s say you live further south in Melbourne. Even in summer, the sun is never quite directly overhead, instead always positioned slightly north.
As such, your commercial solar panels can miss out on sunlight.
It’s this reason the team at Pacific Solar prefer north-facing roofs for commercial solar installation, as the pitch of north-facing roofs compensates for our latitude.
If need be, we can also make use of panel frames to angle your panels at a suitable pitch for maximum sunlight exposure.
3) Commercial solar requires more than just solar panels
There are four main components to your typical commercial solar installation:
- Solar panels
- Racks and mounting frames
- Solar batteries
While racks and batteries can improve efficiency and give you a reservoir of solar power respectively, neither are mandatory.
Inverters, on the other hand? These are essential, no matter the scope of your commercial solar installation.
Inverters are responsible for converting power from your solar panels into electricity that can be used in your business. Specifically, they convert DC (direct current) electricity into usable AC (alternating current) electricity.
As such a vital part of your solar PV system, it’s crucial that you choose an inverter that’s efficient and reliable.
4) Commercial solar loses the least energy in long-distance transport
It’s simple, really: energy is lost during long-distance transmission. The greater the distance between where the power is generated, the more of it will be lost as it’s transmitted to the end user (read: you).
Energy loss takes many forms:
Since commercial solar installation is carried out on-site however, your panels will have a much shorter distance to travel.
This directly translates to less energy loss in transmission, and greater efficiency – almost all the electricity generated by your commercial solar installation goes into your business.
While the amount of energy might be pretty marginal and practical effects limited, it’s still an interesting point, and makes for a good conversation-starter when people ask you about your solar installation!
5) Solar power has a surprisingly long history
And while we’re on the topic of conversation starters, here’s another one: when were the first solar panels made?
Was it the 90’s? The 80’s? Or perhaps the 50’s?
Not even close – the answer is the 30’s… the 1830’s, that is!
It was all the way back in 1839 that the photovoltaic effect was first observed by French scientist Edmond Becquerel, who created the world’s very first crude solar cell.
Of course, it would be several decades before the first functioning panels were created in 1883, when Charles Fritts installed the world’s first rooftop solar array on an apartment block in New York.
While terribly inefficient, expensive and virtually useless for any practical application (less than 1% of sunlight was converted), it proved that solar power was feasible!
The first commercially-available panels hit the market in 1954 and soon, solar panels found their way into small-scale applications like pocket calculators, radios and eventually, onto commercial properties all over Australia.
Thinking of commercial solar installation?
At Pacific Solar, we’re committed to educating Australian businesses about the benefits of going solar.
Part of that is our focus on customer education – in addition to teaching you about the capacities of your solar options, we’ll also provide you with a wealth of data including exact savings and predicted ROI.
Another part of that is this blog series, where we explain other aspects of commercial solar!
We take this approach into each commercial solar installation that we work on, no matter where it is in Australia. With Pacfic Solar, you’ll know exactly where you stand, and how you’ll benefit from going solar.
It doesn’t just end there, either; we’ll also provide ongoing reporting, telling you exactly how much money your commercial solar has saved you.
It’s this type of openness that matters when you’re considering a decision as momentous as commercial solar installation.
And it’s this openness that sets Pacific Solar apart from the rest!