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L.Srikumar Pai
B.Sc( Engg.), MIE, MIWWA, MICI
Civil Engineer & CAD Specialist
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Solar Power: Experts  with glittering ideas

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As the use of solar energy is gathering pace, experts have come up with ideas to guide people on its usage.

T.N. Sivakumar, former professor and electrical consultant, explains that consumers who want to install solar panels at homes have two options - one is to connect the solar panels to the inverter and the battery and use the stored energy, and the other is to connect the panels to the inverter and connect this system directly to the conventional power connection that comes into the house.

An export meter should be installed to estimate the solar energy supplied to the grid connection through this. The Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation (Tangedco) should start permitting it, he says.

The investment will vary with the capacity of the panels and the battery.

“It is like buying a car. Investment depends on how much one wants to spend,” says Mr. Sivakumar. It is mandatory that the battery for a solar system has a minimum five-year guarantee. There are batteries that have a 10-year guarantee too. When the government starts implementing the generation-based incentive, it will motivate more to go in for solar systems at houses, he says.

Architect Kamalhassan Ramaswamy suggests that apart from rooftops, solar panels can be installed on the walls or on the west or south-facing façade in a building.

“It is possible to integrate the solar panels with the building.”

In the case of new buildings, solar panels can be used as rooftops for car parks or garages, instead of constructing a roof and installing the panels on top of it. This will bring down the building cost, he says.

R.R. Balasundaram, who runs an industry In Coimbatore, has installed a 1.2 kilo watt (KW) solar photovoltaic system at his house seven months ago. Later, he augmented it with another 0.4 KW.

The 12 solar panels on the rooftop of his house and six batteries had cost him Rs. 2.5 lakh. He had connected lights, fans, television, computer, mixer-grinder and washing machine to the system. Besides, there was a separate solar water heater. Only an air-conditioner and a refrigerator were not covered.

“The bi-monthly consumption of electricity has gone down to about 300 units from 700 units. I am paying at least 50 per cent less than what I was paying earlier,” he says.

“When there is no power supply during the evening or night, I still watch the television. The power comes from the batteries that store the solar energy. The batteries carry a guarantee for five years. We need to clean the panels once a week or if it rains, just once a month,” he adds

( Courtesy: the Hindu )


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