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5 KW ON-GRID SOLAR POWER PLANT at Trivandrum, KERALA

Panels: Vikram Solar 335 Watt Polycrystalline 16 nos.

Inverter: 5.8 kVA ABB Grid-Tie Inverter

Features of a home solar system
A home solar system must provide enough electric energy to fulfil all the power requirements of a home. It should also be capable of providing AC power as traditionally all homes use AC power to operate lighting systems, gadgets, appliances and equipment such as computers, refrigerators, mixers, fans, air conditioners, TVs and music systems.

The working of a home solar system
When sunlight falls on the solar panels it gets absorbed by the PV cells and the silicon semiconductors in the cells convert the solar energy into electric energy through the PV effect. This electric energy is in the form of DC power which can directly charge the battery. The DC power in the battery is sent to an inverter which converts it into AC power. This AC power is now sent to the mains in the home which in turn can power all necessary loads.

Cost of a home solar system
The cost of the home solar power plant depends on its size and type. There are two types of solar power plants – off-grid and grid-connected.

An off-grid system is a stand-alone system not connected to the main grid. In this system, solar energy generated is stored in batteries (known as deep cycle batteries different from the ones used in automobiles). The DC power stored in the batteries is converted into AC power by an inverter.
A grid-connected system is one which does not use batteries but only an inverter. Typically, a grid-connected system is governed by a statutory policy involving ‘net metering’ wherein the system records the excess electric power generated over and above the usage by the home that is fed to the grid. In this system, the home user need not worry too much about calculating the size of the power plant as any excess power generated earns revenue and any shortfall is made up by grid supply.

The benchmark cost of a typical 1 kW off-grid system generating 4-5 units of electric power can vary between Rs 1 lakh and 1.25 lakh. Similarly, the benchmark cost of a similar grid-connected system is generally between Rs 75,000 and Rs 90,000. The difference is mainly because of the cost of deep cycle batteries in the off-grid system.

An off-grid home solar system is an excellent cost-saving feature when planned properly and is capable of paying back the initial investment within the first 5 years of operation through savings in electricity bill.

A grid-connected home solar system is both a cost-saving feature as well as a revenue earning system when planned with revenue earning as an objective. However, while off-grid home solar power plants are independent of the main grid, on-grid systems are subject to the regulations of the grid power supply provider. Thus, home users can choose an appropriate system depending on the circumstances prevailing in their localities.
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