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Sunipod provides value-added resources to
evaluate solar for your power needs.





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power generation systems for captive applications.
Sunipod Apps: Sunipod Apps software provides an
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CaptiveSolar power system owners.
Sunipod Tools: Free tools to determine if solar
power make business sense and how systems can
be installed at your facility.
blog.sunipod.com: Free resource that discusses
relevant questions a business must ask before
deploying solar power systems.
Surya-Uday Yojana: An initiative to work with
corporate CSR programs and social organizations to
provide sustainable power to those devoid of it.
Click to get a free solar proposal


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IS THIS BOOK RIGHT FOR ME?
Not quite sure if this Ebook is right for you? See the below description to determine if
your level matches the content you are about to read.

INTRODUCTORY




INTERMEDIATE





ADVANCED


This Ebook!
Introductory content is good for readers who are new to the subject.
This content typically includes step-by-step instructions on how to
get with this aspect of solar photoVoltaic (PV) power systems and
learn its fundamentals. After reading it, you will be able to
understand general concepts relating to solar PV power systems.
Intermediate content is for readers who are familiar with the subject
but have only basic understanding of the technology and introductory
understanding of the topics discussed. This content typically covers
the fundamentals and moves on to reveal more complex functions
and examples. After reading it you will feel comfortable leading
projects with this aspect of solar PV power systems.

Advanced content is for readers who are, or want to be, experts on
the subject. In it, we walk you through advanced features of this
aspect of solar power and help you develop complete mastery of the
subject. After reading it, you will feel ready not only to execute
CaptiveSolar power systems but will also be able to inspire others.



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Author Bio:

Must-have Consumer Guide
to Solar Power Generation
Systems.
by Bhuwenesh Gupta:
Author bio:
Co-founder of Sunipod, Bhuweneshs
more than 15 years of experience started
with power electronics developing
technologies used in large industrial
operations. He worked with Ernst & Young
in their Strategy Consulting Groups Energy vertical providing consulting services to
large global energy firms like PG&E, TXU and Entergy for their engineering, technology
and strategic growth.

He also helped startups in the power and engineering sector, develop niche advantages
over their competitors through development of product and market fit. He has worked
with companies in telecom, power, environmental engineering and international logistics
align products and resources to increase revenues and grow exponentially.

What drives Sunipod? His vision to develop high tech electrical engineering products
specifically designed for the Indian Solar industry and to provide Solar On-grid and Off-
grid hybrid power generation systems in India. A voracious reader Bhuwenesh holds a
degree in Instrumentation and a Masters in Industrial Engineering from the US.



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CONTENTS

Introduction / 6
Basic facts about Solar Power Generation systems /
8
Overview of a solar power generation system / 10
Introduction to key system components / 13
Solar PV Modules or Solar panels / 13
Solar PV Module Mounting Systems / 18
Combiner Boxes / 21
Solar Inverters / 23
Solar Battery Banks / 27
Operating and maintaining a solar power system /
32



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Introduction:

If like most businesses in India you use electricity, you must know that you are already
overpaying and should be looking for immunity from constant price increase and budget
imbalances.

A fast increasing number of businesses know about solar energy and most of them are
at some stage of evaluating its technology, applications and business benefits. There is
a lot of information about solar power generation systems, but very few sources provide
clear, objective and business specific information relevant in the Indian context.

This Ebook serves as a business guide to familiarize the owners, managers and
executives of commercial, industrial and non-business institutions with,

Basic workings of a solar power generation system
Introduction to the solar power system components
Operation and maintenance overview
Economics of solar power generation systems

This information is valuable for solar champions to,

Confidently initiate solar power deployment discussions in their organizations.
Assess and present business/financial value of such systems based on cost
versus benefits.
Start initial discussions with system providers.



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However this guide does not,

Make you an expert at designing or installing a solar PV power system.
Teach you how to protect yourself from grey market system providers
Cover the environmental benefits of deploying solar power systems.
Provide ways to talk about your Green initiative to spread goodwill inspire others
and get great PR.

For these topics

Look out for more Ebooks in this series of free consumer guides.
Sign up at blog.sunipod.com.
Use system design tools at tools.sunipod.com for free, and
Sign up for captivesolar.org.


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Basic facts about Solar Power Generation
systems:

There is only one very good reason why any large scale business should consider
investing in solar energy at their premises and that is the large-scale SAVINGS on
electricity costs that will be forthcoming as a result of deploying solar PV systems on
site. So lets get some obvious facts out of the way

Solar electric systems, which are also called PhotoVoltaic or PV systems, are
pollution-free, reliable and have an expected life of about 25 years.
They make use of infinite source of energy - the Sun, best of all sunlight is FREE.


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Solar electricity is one of the most accessible forms of energy available
especially in India where the average solar radiation is great for power
generation from PV systems.
Commercial and industrial PV systems for businesses are becoming more
common and affordable all the time and they can be adapted to fit anyones
specific needs. Think techno-commercial viability!
Your power generation really is free after a short payback while others continue
to pay heavily for coal and gas generated power. We will talk about costs in this
guide.
With this out of the way enjoy the rest of this guide




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Overview of a solar power generation
system:

Solar power systems are becoming common across regions and industries. There are 2
basic types of solar power systems.

Ones that provide electricity while the sun
is shining. These systems generate
electricity when it is used the most during
the day time and provides it for institutional
operations thus replacing costly grid
power.
Another type of system stores that energy
in specially configured deep-cycle battery
banks for use when the sun is not shining
used to eliminating the need for expensive
diesel power generation.


Most of these solar PV power generation systems consist of solar modules mounted on
structures connected in series and parallel. These convert solar radiations into DC
electrical power whenever sufficient solar radiation is available.


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In order to achieve a higher system Voltage, modules are installed in a row
arrangement, called a string. This has the advantages of faster and cleaner
installations, higher plant efficiency and better usage of smaller cross section cables.
Carefully optimized numbers of strings are connected in parallel by cables to form an
array configuration.

Outputs from such arrays are typically connected in parallel in the combiner box.
Combiner boxes from a quality system provider typically hosts a number of disconnect
and other safety devices making it a protection firewall of sorts for your system.

This combiner box output is fed to the Maximum Power Point Tracking (MPPT)
algorithm based solar inverter. High efficiency solar inverters convert the solar power
systems direct-current (DC) power to single phase or three phase alternating-current
(AC) power used by most applications. In battery based systems solar inverters also
ensure that the batteries do not get overcharges. This hybrid capability in quality solar
inverters allows the system to smartly draw and use power from the grid whenever
enough solar PV generated power is not available giving you a Zero Downtime
system.

Even the average solar radiation in India is great for
power generation from PV systems.


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A simple diagram visualizing the system and its various components is displayed below.

Despite differences in details PV systems should have these specific components
Solar PV Modules or Solar Panels
Module Mounting Systems
Combiner Boxes
Solar Inverters
Batteries (Optional)

Before that envy-inducing, money saving solar power system can be deployed one must
have a basic grasp on exactly what goes into the system. Each component has a
unique and important role in the whole system. We will run through all these major
components of a solar power system and their relationship to the other pieces of the
puzzle.




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Introduction to key system components

Solar PV Modules or Solar panels:

Solar PV Modules or Solar panels are made up of PhotoVoltaic (PV) cells that change
sunlight directly into electricity. Solar cells are often made from semi-conductor based
materials (A semiconductor is a material which has electrical conductivity)-mostly
Silicon - that react to the suns light not its warmth.

Radiation from the sunlight strikes a thin Silicon layer which dislodges electrons in the
thin semiconductor coating creating a flow of electrons which is electric current. A Solar
module contains many solar cells connected together. An electrical circuit is created by
many solar cells connected in series in PV modules.

Solar PV Modules are typically measured in Watts (W) of power they generate and
range from 5 W to 300 W. Your system provider will recommend the right module based
on your estimated requirement and site characteristics.
Based on technology solar modules are broadly distinguished into Crystalline and Thin
Film.

Crystalline Silicon panels

Crystalline Silicon panels are constructed by first putting a single slice of Silicon through
a series of processing steps, creating one solar cell. These cells are then assembled
together in multiples to make a solar panel. Crystalline Silicon, also called wafer Silicon,
The greater the intensity of the light, the greater
the flow of electricity


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is the oldest used material in commercial solar panels. Two main types of crystalline
modules exist those containing Mono-crystalline cells and those containing Multi-
crystalline (Also called Poly-crystalline) cells. Both types of modules are made of the
same basic material, but their manufacturing processes are different.

Mono-crystalline panels

Mono-crystalline panels start off as
molten Silicon. Elements like Boron
are added to give it higher electrical
characteristics. It is then drawn out
forming the ingot of desired length
and has an initial circular shape. It is
sliced into thin wafers and exposed
to a diffusion process. In this
process another element like
Phosphorous is added to further improve the electrical characteristics of the material.
Once this is done an electrical grid placed on top to allow the electrons to flow.

An octagonal shape is given to the round sliced wafers so they can be packed into the
panel frame without wasting space between them. Most manufacturers use a white
back sheet giving the Mono-crystalline modules their characteristic and most recognized
look.
For a better understanding we can compare the
process to a regular bread toast. The complete uncut
bread is like the ingot. Each single slice of bread is like
the thin wafer slices of the solar cell, and the butter
on your toast is the electrical grid placed on top that
makes it all work for you.


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Multi-crystalline panels

Multi-crystalline cells are
manufactured differently.
Although the process starts off
similarly as Mono-crystalline with
molten Silicon-Boron mixture,
instead of a cylinder ingots here
the mixture is formed in a cube
like shape, which results in the
Silicon cooling and forming
multiple crystals (Hence the Multi
in the name). This process slightly reduces their efficiency. However because of their
shape the cells can be made into squares or rectangles very easily. This allows
manufacturers to make the multi-crystalline panels with cells packed closer with very
little space between them. The end result is that poly-crystalline modules have power
output ratings per unit area that are similar to mono-crystalline panels even though
theyre less efficient on the cell level.

Thin film panels

Thin film solar panels are made by placing
thin layers of semiconductor material onto
various surfaces, usually on glass. The
term thin film refers to the amount of
semiconductor material used. It is applied
in a thin film to a surface structure, such
as a sheet of glass. Contrary to popular
belief, most thin film panels are not


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flexible. Thin film solar panel technologies are further categorized into sub-technologies
based on material used.

PV panels produce power, and each panel has its own characteristics. These
specifications are listed on the backside of every module and on the technical
specification sheet from the manufacturers. The most important of these are,

The power value which lets you know the Wattage the module can produce.
From this you can calculate the energy output for the system.
The current, so you know how many amps are running through the cables.
The Voltage, because it tells you of the modules potential to push the current.

New and emerging PV technologies are being constantly introduced in the market. The
end result of all these technologies is the same: You place the panel in the sun, and it
produces power. But each technology has its pros and cons. Below are two main ones;

Efficiency:

People are often tied up in calculating the efficiency of the panels and are shocked
when they find out how low the efficiency rates are. To calculate the efficiency take the
modules rated power output, and divide it by the modules area.
Simply put the efficiency of a panel is the measure of the number of usable electrical
Watts generated from the panel area. If a panel produces 100W of electricity from 1000
mm2 area then it has an efficiency of 10%.
One of the main reasons why crystalline modules are used so frequently is that theyre
more efficient than other PV technologies. Typical crystalline panels are rated at 11 to
15 % efficiency whereas thin film panels are 8 to 12 % efficient.
Any panel with a rated output of 100 W will produce
100 W power irrespective of the technology.


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Voltage temperature coefficient:

The PV panels Voltage is inversely proportional to the temperature of the cells within
the module. This means that as the cell temperature rises, the panel Voltage decreases.
Likewise, as the temperature decreases, the Voltage increases.

This is an important to know because PV panels are exposed to extreme temperatures,
and their Voltages react based on those temperatures. This change in Voltage happens
in the exact same increments regardless of the temperature and is hence linear in
nature.

The amount of change is referred to as the Voltage temperature coefficient. This
value is often reported in terms of a percentage per degrees Celsius (%/C),
and it tells you that for every degree change in Celsius, the modules Voltage
changes by a corresponding percentage.

Crystalline-based modules have similar and higher Voltage temperature coefficients due
to their cell nature, composition and how they react to temperature. Thin film modules,
however, have smaller Voltage temperature coefficients, so they dont lose as much
Voltage in high-heat conditions.

Solar PV Module Mounting Systems

Often overlooked, the solar PV module mounting systems are a crucial component of a
solar power system. Solar PV Mounting systems hold the modules in the designed
array. These systems will also be continuously exposed to environmental conditions
and will be most subjected to corrosion and degradation.


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Unfortunately most system providers cut
costs on this component, taking advantage
of the customers oversight. The module
mounting structure should be designed to
holding the suitable size and number of
modules in series or parallel at the optimum
angle. The frames and legs of the array can
be a mix of concrete structures and mild
steel with suitable angles, channels and
tubes to meet the design criteria. Quality systems provide hot dip galvanized or powder
coated material conforming to IS:2062 for steel structures. All nuts & bolts considered
for fastening modules with this structure should hold it together for lasting durability.

Making sure the right mounting system is used is important as it performs these crucial
functions,

Optimizing the power generation from the solar power system. In India typically
arrays must point toward the south for better power generation. Also the tilt angle
of the panels must be between 20 to 30 degrees.
The module mounting structures must be designed to optimize the rooftop space
usage for the array without sacrificing the output from solar power system at the
same time.
Ideally module mounting systems must be installed ensuring non-intrusive
methods and to protect the roof safe from leakages in the rainy season.
A good system designer provides for some flexibility in the installation that allows
for the consumer to port the system without any structural damage to the building
or any damage to the system itself.
Given the cost of solar panels in the grey market good mounting systems can
also protect your system from theft and vandalism.



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Types:

Solar PV module mounting structures are designed to support two types of systems
each having their own set of engineering considerations.
Ground mount systems which are
installed in a shadow free area in the
compound or an open field. These
are designed considering the ground
characteristics like soil density etc.
Rooftop systems which are installed
in a shadow free area on the flat or
angled rooftops. These are designed
considering roof structure, material
slope etc.

Both these must be designed with environmental factors like wind loading, rain water
accumulation etc in mind.




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Note on tracking systems

Images of solar panels that move to face the Sun are popular, and businesses thinking
of deployment often inquire if such systems can be used in their implementation thereby
increasing the power generation from their systems. This is done by using solar tracking
systems that move about single or dual axes making the solar panels optimally face the
suns position throughout the day. It is important to note that there is a definite
improvement in yield from a solar power system if tracking systems are used. However
this increase in yield must be assessed against the cost of implementing and
maintaining a tracking system.

Solar tracking systems are moving electro-
mechanical systems that are prone to
malfunctions and failures requiring frequent
servicing and replacement of parts. The purely
mechanical systems need constant human
operations, which also may not always be feasible.

In India, optimally designed mounting structures
and thoughtfully installed systems are usually
enough to extract the most power from sunlight
making the tracking systems an unnecessary
expense.

At the time of writing this no commercially popular solar tracking system provides a
favorable cost-benefit ratio to justify its implementation.




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Combiner Boxes:

In a Solar PV array combiner boxes are used
to combine the inputs from multiple strings of
solar panels into one output circuit. Although
important most system providers skip this
component in trying to cut costs. A solar
combiner box literally combines the wiring
coming from the solar panels before providing
input to the solar inverter. On a single-line
diagram, combiner boxes look like a "reverse-
fed distribution board". Instead of breaking
one feeder into multiple branch circuits, the
combiner combines multiple branch feeds
from solar strings and groups them into one
output. This output in turn serves as an input for the inverter. Good combiner boxes
support from one PV panel to many in series, and ranging from a single low Voltage
panel to multi-panel high Voltage arrays for all systems.

They are mounted near the solar panels or just before the input is provided to the
inverter. Multiple string inputs are combined in the box and then a single set of wires
(positive, negative and ground) go out of the box to the inverter.

Look at it like kind of a Sentry or an Anti-Virus
protecting the solar power system or the rest of the
electrical infrastructure from any electrical
accidents.


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Solar combiner boxes usually have the following components:
Enclosure This protects the wires and the devices inside from the weather and
has to be completely water tight, preferably IP65 certified. The enclosure also
helps to prevent unauthorized access to the wiring through a key or padlock.
Over current Protection - All combiner boxes will have a set of Over Current
Protection Devices (OCPD) which prevents a short from sending too much
current to the inverter. Good combiner boxes even integrate Surge Protection
Devices (SPD) for lightening protection.
Connectors and wire terminals - To connect wires from solar panels. Most boxes
can handle terminals are designed to hold wires of different sizes.

The key benefits of a having a combiner box in the system design are:
Optimizing the wiring needed so more attention can be paid to quality
cabling.
Integrating multiple components thus reducing the system component count.
This leads to increased mounting options and additional space savings.
Simplifying the physical wiring leading to tidy installations which are less likely
to have tripping accidents in the future.
Preventing overloading should one of the strings fail and backload into
another string. While such an event is unlikely it is good to have this added
protection.
Ability to disconnect a single string easily which makes them easier to service
and perform any maintenance when required.

Combiner boxes are useful when installations are being done in phases. So when make
expansion of solar power systems easy so a modular solar power system is scheduled
for expansion each of the system can be easily reorganized.



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Solar Inverters:

Technologically, solar inverters are the most
important components of any solar power
system. They efficiently convert the Direct
Current (DC) generated from the solar panels
or from the batteries and passes the Alternating
Current (AC) to the load center where it is used
by the equipment. A high end quality solar
inverter also acts as intelligent system manager
and monitors the PV array.

Types of Inverters

Though both grid-tied and off- grid systems require inverters, the type of inverters that
they need are very different.
Grid-Tied Inverters - Grid-tied solar inverters are designed to take as input the
high DC Voltages, common in such systems and are built with safety features so
that during a power outage the inverter will turn off the current coming from the
solar panels and shut down transfer of electricity to the grid automatically. This
built-in feature is to protect the grid from tripping and for protecting any line
workers that may be working during the outage.
Off-Grid Inverters Off-grid solar inverters are designed to receive DC power
both from the solar panels and from the battery backup system. Off-grid inverters
can allow continued use of solar power during the outage after disconnecting
from the grid. They have a number of features designed to optimize the
performance of the battery backup system. They are also designed to work with
lower battery Voltages usually operating at between 12 to 48 Volts.


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Hybrid Inverters- These types of solar inverters are used in solar power
systems which are grid-tied but also have battery banks as backup should the
grid ever go down. They tend to have features which are found in both grid-tied
and off-the-grid inverters. These types of inverters are more applicable for Indian
conditions as they reactivate the output in a split second to continue supplying
electricity to any connected loads.


Key Solar Inverter Features

Besides converting DC current to AC current, good solar inverters have many additional
useful features like:
Maximum Power Point Tracking (MPPT) - The technology that allows a
solar PV array to deliver the maximum amount
of energy to a load center or a battery bank is
known as Maximum Power Point Tracking
(MPPT). The total Watts of electricity the solar
panels deliver is a function of current multiplied
by the Voltage. MPP is the point on the IV curve
where the current multiplied by the Voltage
yields the highest power value. For any solar
panel there is a point (MPP) at which the optimal
Not all inverters are the same. Where the typical
home inverter may have efficiency as low as 40%
typical solar inverters usually has efficiencies upward
of 95%. Also they are designed to get the current to
be as close to a sine wave as possible thus providing
high quality power output.


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combination of Volts and amps will maximize the electricity produced. This MPP
changes throughout the day. Quality inverters have a built in algorithm that
adjusts the Voltage so that it is always at the maximum power point. This will
ensure that we get the greatest amount of electricity possible from the solar
panels.
Ground-fault Protection (GFP) Quality inverters
have a type of inbuilt circuit that cuts the current in
microseconds if they detect a ground-fault or loss of
current. This makes the system safe from electrical
shocks.
AC/DC Disconnects - Solar inverters provide built-in galvanic isolations for
either the DC current coming into the unit or for the AC current coming out.
These disconnects are needed to safely work on the solar panels or the solar
inverters and also important to protect your electricity distribution system.
Monitoring systems - Many quality inverters have monitoring systems. These
can be on the inverter itself via informative digital LCD displays or through a
online portal accessible through PC or phone. They provide information on the
current amount of power being provided by the solar panels, the daily and
cumulative energy production, PV array Voltage and current and utility Voltage
and frequency. Some system also calculate the amount of carbon dioxide you
are off-setting by using the solar power generation system.
High Surge Capacity - Certain equipments have large
motors in them and often need a strong surge of current in
order to start. Quality solar inverter is designed to handle
these strong surges in current demand.
Low Voltage Disconnect (LVD) - Solar inverters
sense when the battery bank is highly discharged. If your batteries are drained
below a certain limit they can be permanently damaged so the inverters can be
set to cut off electric demand before this happens or may sound a warning.



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Selecting and Housing a Solar Inverter

In a well designed solar power system the inverter must be matched to fit specific
requirements based on total output of solar panels and the load center distribution
required within the complex. Most commercial and industrial application use
inverters ranging from 5 kW to 100 kW. It is recommended that multiple of these
inverters be used to stack up many smaller modular systems to build one larger
system. It is important that the inverters be housed in a dry, cool/shaded and
possibly weather proof area.


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Solar Battery Banks

For solar power systems that need energy
storage a battery bank forms a part of the
system design. A solar battery bank is made
of multiple batteries connected in series
and/or in parallel to achieve the Voltage and
energy capacity desired. The solar battery
bank is typically housed in a container or a
stack to keep the batteries safe. The solar
PV array connects to it usually through the
solar inverter for charging and it is also
connected back to the solar inverter to
provide power for the AC loads. The
performance of an off-grid system depends
on how efficiently the bank stores power and
supports the load. There are four basic
battery types that are available to meet the
needs for your solar power battery bank.
Those types of batteries include the lead
acid battery (LA), flooded lead acid battery (FLA), sealed absorbent glass matt battery
(AGM) and gel-cell battery (GC).

Lead-acid batteries

These are the most common types of batteries used in solar PV systems. The active
material used on the negative and positive plates is lead and lead oxide the electrolyte
that allows charges to flow is sulfuric acid. Cells (LA) batteries are referred to as 2 V
nominal. LA batteries are popular in Solar PV systems due to their relatively low cost,


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robust design, and ability to achieve a high depth of discharge (DoD) explained later. LA
batteries are available in either flooded or valve-regulated versions each with both types
their pros and cons.


Flooded lead-acid batteries

These batteries have a liquid electrolyte
inside them that floods the cells. These
batteries have removable caps on each cell
and require maintenance to check the
electrolyte level regularly and add distilled
water when the fluid level begins to get low.
FLA batteries are designed for more regular
cycling and can accept maintenance charging
for longer lasting operations. However FLA
batteries require a high level of user attention
if they are expected to last as long as
possible and perform to their specifications.

Valve Regulated Lead Acid (VRLA) batteries

The best type of lead-acid battery used in solar PV systems is the VRLA battery.
They are also known as a sealed maintenance free (SMF) valve regulated lead acid
battery. They sealed from the environment and need no maintenance. The valve on
the individual cell keep the battery sealed but allows the gas produced during
charging, to escape as soon as the pressure reaches a certain level. Also these
batteries are stackable which allows use of vertical space rather than a large floor
space. VRLAs produce less gas while charging which means there are easier
placement options and less ventilation needs for them.


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Gel Cell Batteries

In a GC battery the sulfuric acid solution has been turned into a gel by adding silica to
the mixture. The primary advantage of these batteries is that it is impossible to spill the
sulfuric acid inside the battery even if it is broken. However, there are several
disadvantages. One is that they must be charged at a slower rate to prevent excess gas
from damaging the cells. If overcharged, voids develop in the gel leading to loss of
battery capacity. This adds an additional level of complexity and danger as the current
must always be adjusted to the manufacturers specifications. Charging the batteries
faster or at a higher Voltage increases the risk of leakage or even explosion. Hence
these are not suitable for solar applications where constant maintenance is not
expected.

Sealed Absorbed Glass Matt Batteries (AGM)

AGM batteries use a very
fine fiber Boron-Silicate
glass mat to hold the
Sulfuric acid rather than a
gel. Like GC batteries
AGM batteries do not
leak acid even if broken
but dont have the same
charging issues of GC
batteries. Also since in the AGM battery the acid is contained in the glass matting there
very little liquid that can freeze and expand. AGM's have a very low self-discharge so
Another disadvantage of GC batteries is that they
must be charged at about a 20% lower Voltage then
standard LA batteries.


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they tend to lose energy very slowly when not in use for comparatively longer periods
without charging. However AGM batteries are considerably more expensive costing 2 to
3 times as much as a standard LA battery of the same capacity. In an optimized system
designed considering with usage patterns and load requirements AGM may not always
be the most economic choice.

Battery Sizes, Capacity and Life

A batterys capacity, the amount of energy stored in it, plays a large role in the overall
design of PV systems and the use of batteries within them.

Battery banks are rated according to the number of Volts (V) and the Amp-hours (Ah)
they are capable of producing. Solar power systems in India use either 2 Volt or 12 Volt
batteries and the battery banks energy storage capacity is measured in amp-hours
(Ah). Although it may sound low, the batteries are connected in series and in parallel
into strings so that the Voltage adds up to the required Volts Direct Current (VDC).
Whenever the equipment wants to use the electricity the solar inverter will convert the
DC Voltage in your battery bank into the 120 or 240 Volts of AC current that the
equipment needs.

To get the total capacity multiply the amp-hour capacity for a battery times its Voltage.
So for a 12 V battery with 10 Ah capacity multiply the 10 x 12 to get a capacity of 120
Watt hours.
The lifespan of a deep cycle battery will vary considerably depending upon how it is
used, how it is maintained and charged, temperature, and how good the quality was in
the first place. By far the biggest factor in batteries not lasting to their full potential is
overcharging, something that is amazingly common despite the zillions of warnings that
are provided against it. Roughly however a well designed solar battery bank has a life
of 4-8 years. It is recommended that the batteries be placed on a well ventilated wood
racks.



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Depth of Discharge (DoD) - Deep Cycle versus Shallow Cycle
Batteries

In commercial solar applications "deep cycle" lead-acid batteries are used as opposed
to a "shallow cycle" battery typically used in cars. How much of its total energy capacity
a battery is designed to lose is known as its "depth of charge" (DoD). A shallow-cycle
battery is designed to apply a lot of current quickly so it is ideal for something like
starting a car where you need a lot of current right away but once the car is started the
car's generator takes over supplying the electricity. These batteries are not designed to
be deeply discharged. In other words it has a low DoD. If they are repeatedly
discharged by more than 20% they will have a very short lifecycle. A deep cycle battery
on the other hand does not provide as much current quickly but is designed to be
deeply discharge by as much as 80% of the battery's total capacity in each charging
cycle. This makes them an excellent choice for a commercial solar power system
because they can provide a lot of electricity by volume.



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Operating and maintaining a solar power
system:

Usually a well designed and installed solar PV power system should operate itself
without intervention human or otherwise. Also one of the best features of a PV system is
the minimal amount of maintenance required. PV systems have no moving parts that
will wear out and ultimately fail. This is why they keep generating power for a very long
time compared to any other type of power generation systems. Quality systems monitor
the output regularly and any problems can be detected and dealt with rather quickly.
However there are some maintenance tasks that should be outlined typically spending
30 to 45 minutes each month.

Depending on the dust conditions a typical solar PV power systems panels must
be cleaned at least once every two months with a soft damp rag to clean off
anything stuck to the glass like bird droppings and to clean any excessive dust
accumulation preventing the system from generation the amount of power that it
should.



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A visual inspection of mounting systems used to mount the solar PV array should
be done at least once every 4-6 months to check the integrity of the mounting
systems

Some visual checks at terminals should be enough to make sure all the electrical
components are functioning properly. Just make sure that there are no open or
cut wires not connected where they should be.

Module connections also deserve to be checked each year just to make sure you
get the output from each module as expected. Visually inspecting the module
wiring annually helps prevent potential problems early

Where batteries are used there is one additional level of visual maintenance is
required to make sure that the terminals are clean. Typically SMF VRLS batteries
require minimal maintenance. But the system provider should be able to provide
any specific maintenance requirements for the battery type used.



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Remember, that the solar PV power generation system is an electrical system and like
any other electrical equipment care must be taken when handling any and all operations
or maintenance activities. The area must be kept clean and free of any debris like
leaves etc to avoid accidents. The system or any of its components should not be
moved without expert supervision. If there is any doubt about the maintenance of the
system in house ask the system provider if they offer Annual Maintenance contracts
(AMC) with their systems and at what additional costs. Sometimes the peace of mind
may be worth a bit of the extra money spent on professionals.

Warranties:

Warranties ensure that the solar PV
system will be repaired if something
should malfunction during the warranty
period. Typically Modules are insured
for workmanship and power output
performance for up to 25 years.
Inverters also carry manufacturers
warranties to ensure smooth and
efficient power production.
Ask the system provider about
installation warranty that covers any
problem with the physical installation itself. This warranty should cover additional labor
required to remove any defective component and reinstalling the component after it is
repaired or replaced. Be sure you know who is responsible for honoring the warranties,
to avoid any misunderstandings, read the warranty carefully and review the terms and
conditions with the provider. Also ask if extended warranty is available for the solar
power system and the associated costs.



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Insurance:

For commercial and industrial applications
insurance coverage is important to ensure that
the system functions as expected and
continues to provide savings. Typically the
existing property insurance coverage can be
extended to cover the newly installed system
for minimal to no extra charge. Talk to your
insurance company to get protection from
interruptions like fire, theft, vandalism and
against natural occurrences damaging your
installation in your area.
Additional insurance must be bought to cover
the valuable investment:
In-transit insurance covering the goods while they are being transported to you
from the provider site ex-works.
Erection all risk insurance from the time goods are delivered to your complex to
the time complete system is installed and commissioned.
Both these coverage cost very little but go a long way in ensuring the safety of your
investment.



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Power your institution with
Sunipods solar power
generation solutions.

Learn how your institution can save money while
contributing to the environment and the community by
deploying an optimized Sunipod solar power generation
solution.

Get a free proposal from Sunipod today.





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