The electricity prices are rising everywhere, and rural areas are not untouched by this effect.
With the growing energy demand, I don’t see a fall in electricity prices in the future.
There is a big reason behind this.
Most of our energy demands are met through fossil fuels and they are limited.
Demand is increasing and the supply is limited.
I think you got the point.
People in rural areas are looking for energy alternative that is durable, reliable, and affordable.
The solar fits in this category
Benefits of Solar
(i) Solar cells in the panel absorb the photons of light and convert them into electric current.
This current runs your electrical appliances smoothly and improves their useful lives.
In addition, the electricity produced is cheaper that saves you thousands of dollars when you switch to solar.
(ii) Climate change is the biggest concern for everyone. We see frequent droughts, heavy floods, and melting of the glaciers, and rising sea levels.
The present rate of fossil fuel consumption may lead to a 1.5°C to 2°C rise in the temperature in next 2-3 decades.
Sunlight is a clean source of energy that solar panels use to produce current.
Adoption of the solar power system helps in cutting the carbon emissions from the atmosphere and preserving the environment.
(iii) Farmers can benefit from solar by adopting Agri-voltaics in their fields. It is a technique where a farmer can grow crops and generate electricity from solar on the same land.
It offers many benefits to the farmer.
(iv) Solar panels require a very little maintenance. They are durable and have a very long life of 25 to 30 years.
Best solar panels for rural areas
A rural area is known for open spaces, more green areas, animals, livestock, and farmlands.
These characteristics help us in finding the best solar panels for rural areas.
Let us find out how?
Therefore, the ideal solar panels for rural areas are that:
(a) Withstand wind pressure: Look for solar panels with a high wind load rating.
Its value shows the ability of the solar panel to withstand wind pressure.
It is also termed as rear the load rating of the solar panel. The value of 2400 Pa is the average in the solar industry.
Look for a higher value than this average.
(b) Performs well when dust accumulates or dry leaf covers its surface: Dust shades the panel surface and hence they produce less power.
Also, this shading effect causes hotspots, resulting in the heating of the shaded solar cells.
The half-cut solar cell panels are very efficient and are capable of reducing the shading effect in the solar cells.
(c) Ammonia resistant: The IEC 62716 certified solar panels are ammonia resistant
(d) Salt and mist resistant: The solar panels installed near water tend to degrade faster due to the moisture content in the air. Look for IEC 61701 certified solar panels.
Read: Best solar panels for wet and salty climate
In addition, good service, reputed brand, positive power tolerance, and long warranties are the features that must be common in any solar panel.
Top solar panels for rural areas
Let me share a few reputed brands that manufacture best solar panels for rural areas.
How solar panel system works?
In any solar power system, the solar panels are the first interface between sunlight and your electrical appliances.
They absorb sunlight and convert it into an electric current.
This current is direct, it has a constant value.
But our electrical appliances run on alternating current, whose value varies with time.
The inverter takes direct current as input and converts it into alternating current that runs our electrical appliances.
In case you need backup at night, the batteries are connected with the solar panels and the solar charge controller is placed between the two to protect batteries from overcharging and the backflow of current to the panels.
The basic components in a solar power system are:
Factors affecting the performance of solar panels
The output from the solar panel mainly depends on the sunlight.
If the region receives good sunlight, the solar panels will produce more current.
When the sunlight is less, their output will reduce.
Sunlight too is a variable whose value depends on the following factors:
(i) Latitude: It is the angular distance in degrees, north or south of the equator.
The regions near to the equator receive more sunlight and as we go away from it, the sunlight intensity decreases and it is the minimum at the poles.
Therefore, people living around the equator are at advantage of good sunlight and their energy needs can be fulfilled with fewer solar panels.
(ii) Climate: Hot and clear climate receives good sunlight than cloudy and humid one.
The clouds and the water droplets trap and reflect the sunlight and your solar panels get less sunlight striking on their surfaces.
(iii) Rotation: The day and night are a phenomenon of the earth’s rotation about its axis. It completes one rotation in 24 hours.
The earth’s rotation causes variation in the sunlight in a day.
During sunrise, the sunlight intensity is the minimum, it starts increasing and is the maximum at noon when the sun is overhead.
Thereafter, it starts decreasing and becomes the minimum during sunset.
Your solar panels will produce maximum current at noon.
(iv) Revolution: In addition to rotating about its axis, the earth circles around the sun.
When it completes one circle, it is called one revolution.
It takes 365 days and 6 hours to complete one revolution.
Due to the elliptical shape of the earth’s orbit, its distance from the center of the sun keeps changing.
When the distance is the minimum, we see summers and the sunlight intensity is the maximum on the earth’s surface.
When the earth is at the farthest from the center of the sun, winters arrive and sunlight intensity is the minimum.
How many units solar panels can save you?
The output from the solar panels depends on many factors such as:
After considering all the above factors, the 5- kW system with good sunlight generates 20 units per day.
Therefore, your savings in a month when you switch to solar is 20 x 30 = 600 grid units
It is 7200 units in a year.
How many solar panel do I need?
The number of solar panels depends on your energy needs.
The easiest way is to take an average of the last 12 months’ electricity bill.
Why take average?
Because your energy needs are variable in different months of the year.
You consume more in chilled winter and hot summers while it is moderate in other seasons.
For example, the average monthly consumption is 600 units.
a) The daily average is 600/300 = 20 units
b) Assuming, the Peak Sun Hours in a day are 6
c) The panel size = 20/6 = 3.33 kW
d) Take a multiplying factor of 1.5 to compensate for the losses in the system.
e) Actual size = 3.33 x 1.5 = 5 kW
Therefore, you need a 5 kW system to meet your daily energy needs.
The monetary value of the units produced by the solar power system depends on other factors in addition to mentioned above such as:
The solar feasibility spreadsheet does this effectively.
It designs the complete solar power system and finds the payback, IRR, NPV, cost of solar electricity, units saved, and much more within minutes when you enter your data.
The average cost of solar panels
The solar panels constitute 30% to 40% of the total cost of the system.
The prices of solar panels have fallen sharply in the last decade, making it an attractive investment option like never before.
The price of solar panels depends on the technology, efficiency, brand.
However, the average price of the monocrystalline solar panel is $ 0.5/watt to $1 /watt
Disadvantages of solar panel system
High Investment cost: Although solar is a lucrative energy investment that offers a good return over its lifetime, it requires high investment initially.
You need batteries at night: The solar panels produce current till the time sun is in the sky and sunlight is falling on their surfaces.
After sunset, you need additional backup to power your electrical appliances.
The solar batteries are added to the system. The solar panels charge the batteries in the daytime and they provide backup at night.
Adding batteries increase the cost of the system, affecting the financial feasibility.
Solar panel orientation and tilt: You cannot install the solar panels in any direction.
For people living in the northern hemisphere, the panels are facing towards the south with a right tilt with the ground to get the maximum sunlight during the day.
In case, there is shade (due to trees or buildings) in that direction, the solar panels will get less sunlight and your electrical appliances will run slow.
For the Southern hemisphere, the solar panels are faced the North direction.
High height for Agri-voltaics: Farmers can take benefit of Agri-voltaics in their farms.
To make the agricultural activities run smoothly, the solar panels must be installed at a proper height, and this adds to the installation cost for the farmer.
Also, in floodprone farms, the solar panels are installed above the project water level to avoid the damaging of solar panels.
The extra height given to the panels adds to the installation cost to the farmer
How to find the right solar installer?
Solar installer plays an important role in making your solar power system a success, letting you enjoy smooth electricity for decades.
Look for an installer that is within your reach, experienced, reputed, and affordable.
Also, ask for the list of his successful completed project in the neighbourhood.
So that you can check his credentials and expertise.
The best solar panels for the rural areas are:
The right system design meets the energy needs and provides a good return over the life of the solar power system.
Also, it is important to know the design and profitability of the solar power system beforehand, because it can save you thousands of dollars.