Plug-in Solar Panel: The User Friendly Solar Panel
Costs might be one of the primary “scare” factors for solar energy systems, but for some people, the installation, setup, and maintenance procedures look just as dreadful. There are some people that simply do not want to meddle with battery banks or monitor the solar energy system’s load balancing.
Is there a way to simplify things down then for these people? Well, there is a certain kind of solar panel could make things a lot easier, in fact all you really have to do with it is to plug it in any available power outlet.
Plug ‘n Use Solar Energy
Refining the description already mentioned above, plug-in solar panels are solar panels that can be plugged to an outlet in your home to provide additional electricity. The panel is designed as a “support unit”, and depending on the amount of sunlight it receives, it would provide auxiliary power to your home. Most of these kinds of solar panels are usually available in pieces, and are not introduced in arrays or sets. The most obvious advantage of these kinds of solar panels is that there is absolutely no technical expertise necessary. All you have to do is to find a good spot in the roof, place it there (using DIY installation components), and plug away.
“Wait, so it’s a solar energy system that does not need batteries to work?” That’s right, since it’s a plug-in device there are no batteries, and thus no active load balancing, needed for it to function properly. The secret to this innovative concept is a piece of technology that is called a micro-inverter. The micro-inverter functions exactly like a typical inverter, converting solar DC power to standard grid (110/220V) AC power, only that it is a lot smaller. It is what enables the plug-in solar panel to plug in directly to your outlet.
Since these panels only come in one piece, wattage rates are usually higher compared to regular panels. This is to maximize the maximum available power to the panel, and probably also to keep it more economically available through a “dense” product package. Of course, this does not mean that you cannot use two or more panels together, because depending on the setup recommended by the manufacturer, you might be able to use many panels in an array that looks no different from an ordinary solar energy system.
Plug-in Solar Panel Examples
The idea for the plug-in solar panels seems to have been thought up by people for a long time already, although it has only been during the last few years that the technology was advanced enough to make it a reality. Nevertheless, most of the plug-in solar panel products that are being marketed now have just made it to the production line quite recently.
- For instance, the Plug-N-Play Solar Panels of ONYX have just become available about half a year ago, last January 2012. The product is described as a DIY kit, and can be adjusted or custom installed using a number of different components that can simply be bought out of a hardware store. The wattage rating of these plug-in solar panels is at 330 watts.
- SpinRay Energy, a company that offers various solar energy solutions, offers a “cumulative” alternative to the standard single panel configuration. Their plug-in solar energy system can accommodate up to five solar panels, providing a total of 1000 watts of extra power for your home. You can still use just one panel if that is only what you need however.
It is interesting to note that although these panels plug in directly, it does not need to always function that way. You could always remove the micro-inverter and use it like a normal solar panel. This could open possibilities where a solar energy system can be set up step by step, level by level, buying the panels first (and be able to use it already), then gradually buying the batteries and all the needed components later.
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