Designing a solar power system takes environmental factors and load requirements into consideration.
Grid-Connect or Stand Alone
Grid-connect systems export electricity to a larger network, while stand-alone systems supply a local load only, usually with battery backup. Most systems close to an existing supply will be grid-connect, to avoid the high cost associated with batteries. Remote stand-alone power supplies often incorporate a second power generator, such as a diesel gen-set.
Different types of panels suit different situations. High-efficiency panels, like silicon monocrystallines, will often be chosen when installation space is limited or where frames and installation costs are high. Low-efficiency panel, like some thin-films, might be chosen where installation space is plentiful.
Solar panels on fixed arrays will generally be oriented towards the north in the southern hemisphere. This will expose the panels to the greatest amount of sunlight through the course of a day. East facing arrays will receive morning light, and west facing arrays will receive afternoon light. Arrays might be faced east or west so that power generation matches the times when loads are expected to be high.
The tilt of an array will impact the time of year that the solar panels receive the most sunlight. Positioning an array to the installation site’s angle of latitude will expose the panels to the greatest amount of sunlight over a year.
A flatter installation will receive more sunlight in summer, and a more extreme angle will receive more sunlight in winter.