Knowledge Base

Learn more about Cloud Energy products and services, alternative/renewable sources of energy and its benefits with the Knowledge Base.

How Do Solar Panels Work?

How do solar panels convert the sun’s energy into electricity?

The sun transmits energy in the form of electromagnetic radiation. When this radiation is absorbed by the solar cells, a chemical reaction occurs, causing rapid electron movement.

Because of the way the cells are manufactured with layers of material with differing atomic structures, the electrons are forced to move in one direction, creating direct current, or DC. It then flows into an inverter which converts the DC into alternating current, or AC, to be usable in your home or business.

Which Solar Panel Is Right for Me?

With so many choices on the market and an ever-growing list of companies offering solar panels for your home or business, which solar panel system meets your needs in making the switch to solar? In answering that question, it’s important to get as much information about the product you are purchasing or leasing. Panel efficiency differs between manufacturers and so do product warranties.

Solar power systems are designed and warrantied to produce a certain amount of energy, usually stated in kilowatt hours (kWh). As technology develops, this will require a smaller and smaller physical area, but it will produce exactly the same results. So, the best solar panel for you is one that uses the space you already have and greatly reduces or even eliminates your electric bill from day one.

Solar Panel Installation

Solar Panel System Components

The Cloud Energy’s solar power systems consist of an array of solar panels (or modules), a mounting system, and an inverter with a computerized solid-state controller. The solar panels generate DC electricity directly from sunlight. The inverter converts the DC electricity produced by the solar panels into AC electricity to be usable in the home. The computerized controller also regulates the solar power system and ensures peak performance. A standard system is designed to stop working the moment there is a power interruption. In applications that are not connected to the grid or require back-up power, batteries are also required.

Solar Panel Installation

For most customers, residential or commercial, the roof is the best location for solar panel installation. It usually already has the structural specifications that the solar panels require. All that is needed is mounting hardware and appropriate flashings. If the roof is not applicable or desired, various other mounting options are available, including shade awnings or ground-mount options (i.e., standard ground-mount, ground pole, or trackers).

Inverter Installation

The inverter is commonly installed near the main panel either indoors or outside. Since it is made with solid-state electronics and performs better in cooler conditions, the inverter should be located out of afternoon sun. Usually, the best location is near the main electric panel.

System Monitoring

This allows you to remotely view your system’s performance through your computer or remotely on a wireless device.

Additional Hardware

If you decide you want a battery back-up system or need a stand-alone energy solution, Cloud Energy Photoelectric Limited can design and install a system that is right for you. Some back-up systems and all stand-alone systems require a gas generator (propane, natural gas, diesel, etc.). Battery banks vary in size depending on power loads but generally need 10-20 sq. ft. and may require venting.

Basic Solar Terms

albedo – ratio of light reflected from a surface.

alternating current (AC) – an electric current that reverses direction at regular intervals.

altitude – height of the sun above the horizon.

ampere (amp) – unit of electric current (refers to flow of current); one ampere corresponds to a certain number of electrons passing a fixed point each second.

array – photovoltaic modules connected together to provide a single electrical output.

azimuth – horizontal angle measured clockwise in degrees from a reference direction, usually the north or south point of the horizon, to the point on the horizon intersected by the object’s line of altitude.

cell – basic unit of a photovoltaic panel.

diffuse insolation – solar radiance that is scattered or reflected by atmospheric components, such as clouds, dust, etc.

direct current (DC) – an electric current in which electrons flow in one direction only.

direct insolation – solar radiance that directly hits the earth’s surface.

electrical efficiency – useful power output divided by the total electrical power consumed.

electric circuit – complete path of an electric current, including the generating apparatus, intervening resistors, or capacitors.

electric current – rate of flow of electric charge, measured in amperes.

electrical grid – interconnected network for distributing electricity.

energy – any source of usable power, as fossil fuel, electricity, or solar radiation.

gigawatt (GW) – 1,000,000,000 watts.

insolation – measure of solar radiation energy received on a given surface area in a given time.

inverter – device that converts DC electricity into AC electricity.

junction box – protected enclosure for electrical wiring.

kilowatt (kW) – 1,000 watts.

kilowatt-hour (kWh) – measure of kilowatt production of power in kilowatts and time in hours.

load (noun) – (1) the power consumed on an electrical circuit. (2) a power-absorbing device, such as a blender, light bulb, etc.

load (verb) – to add a power-absorbing device to an electrical circuit .

megawatt (MW) – 1,000,000 watts.

module – interconnected assembly of solar cells; also called a panel.

monocrystalline – single silicon crystal; monocrystalline panels are made from one large, single silicon crystal making it rated the most efficient solar technology available.

ohm – unit of electrical resistance.

photovoltaic (PV) – technology and research that relates to the application of solar cells for energy by converting radiant energy directly to electricity.

photovoltaic efficiency – the ratio of power produced by a solar cell at any instant to the power of radiant energy striking the cell; certain factors such as temperature can cause the efficiency rate to vary during the day.

photovoltaic system – a system which uses solar cells to convert light into electricity; consists of multiple components, including solar cells, mechanical and electrical connections and mountings and means of regulating and/or modifying the electrical output.

polycrystalline cell – solar cells produced from processed liquid silicon; when solidified, multiple silicon crystals are formed. Less efficient than monocrystalline cells.

radiance – light from the sun; also called solar radiance.

remote system – photovoltaic system not connected to the utility grid.

silicon – a chemical element from which semiconductors are made.

solar – (1) of or pertaining to the sun. (2) utilizing, operated by, or depending on solar energy. (3) manufacturing or providing solar power.

solar constant – the average density of solar radiation measured outside Earth’s atmosphere and at Earth’s mean distance from the sun, equal to 0.140 watt per square centimeter.

solar energy – energy derived from the sun in the form of solar radiation.

solar power – energy from the sun that is converted into thermal or electrical energy.

solar spectrum – distribution of energy emitted by the sun arranged in order of wavelengths.

solar thermal – method of harnessing solar energy for thermal energy (heat).

thin film – a thin layer of semiconductor material, such as amorphous silicon, which is deposited directly onto a plate of glass. Least efficient of all solar cells.

tracking array – a solar array that follows the path of the sun to maximize the solar radiation incident on the photovoltaic surface.

transformer – a device used to transfer electrical energy from one circuit to another; with an alternating current, a transformer will either raise or lower the voltage as it makes the transfer.

volt (V) – standard unit of voltage; one volt produces one ampere of current when acting a resistance of one ohm.

voltage – potential energy that makes the electrical current flow in a circuit by pushing the electrons around (pressure).

watt (W) – the unit of electric power, or amount of work (J), done in a unit of time. One ampere of current flowing at a potential of one volt produces one watt of power.

How Much Does Solar Cost?

Solar Panel System Cost

Since every customer’s needs are unique, the exact solar panel system cost will depend on system size (see What Size Solar System Do I Need?), ease of installation, and state rebates or incentives. Each installation is custom built depending on the unique power needs of each residence.

We would be happy to provide you with a free quote over the phone: +234 (0) 802 522 2500

Financing Solar Power

Solar for Homes

When purchasing, most people decide to finance a solar power system. However, you are welcome to pay cash, find your own financing solution, or use our lending program. The Solar Company offers several different lending options that are designed to meet your economic situation. If you do decide to finance, it is important to use a lender that understands what you are buying; this will allow you to get a better loan.  Our in-house Financial Advisor can assist you in choosing the best method to purchase your solar power system.

Solar for Businesses

There are even more great benefits for our commercial clients. And there are extra incentives for most commercial businesses – including an accelerated depreciation, tax credits, and state rebates – which makes this a great time to explore solar for the long-term benefit of your company.

What is Renewable Energy?

Renewable energy refers to power harvested from natural sources, such as the sun, wind, or water, which are not in danger of being depleted. The five renewable energies are:

  • Solar: power absorbed from the sun and converted to usable electricity through photovoltaic technology.
  • Hydropower: power created by channeling water to generate turbine-produced electricity.
  • Wind: power created by harnessing wind energy to generate turbine-produced electricity.
  • Geothermal: power created by harnessing the steam given off when water is pumped onto underground rocks naturally heated by the earth’s core.
  • Biomass: power created by harnessing the steam and heat given off by processing wood, green waste, garbage, or manure.
What Size Solar Power System Do I Need?

It depends on how much electricity you use. Two homes the exact same size will use different amounts of electricity and therefore require different size systems. Major electrical loads within a home are air conditioners, electric heaters, pools, and other heating elements or motors.

That being said, an average 2,500 sq. ft. single-family home uses about 5,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity per year. A 3 kilowatt (AC) system will generate nearly all the electricity required for such a home on an annual basis. Sometimes a PV system can be installed that is slightly over-sized to allow for the possibility of a growing family or other factors that may play a part. When a system overproduces electricity, the unused portion is fed back into the grid and will actually be credited back to your utility account in a program called net-metering.

The actual amount of electricity produced is dependent on how much solar energy reaches your site. An optimally located array would face south and have nothing obstructing the sun’s rays from reaching the solar panels, such as trees or other structures that produce shading.

Think too about your energy goals: are you interested in completely eliminating your monthly electric bill (minus standard utility connection fees) or just make a dent in the bill?  System size will then vary on how much electricity you intend to produce.

Businesses are also very unique in their energy needs so everything must be factored in to calculate the size of system needed.

Actual system production can easily be calculated by a Solar Consultant with a free site analysis, or we would be happy to provide you with a free quote over the phone+234 (0) 802 522 2500

What Kind of Maintenance do Solar Panels Require?

Solar panels generally require very little maintenance since there are no moving parts. A few times a year, the panels should be inspected for any dirt or debris that may collect on them. Always make sure you are safety conscious when inspecting panels and don’t take any needless risks! If your panels are too high up on the roof to see very well from the ground, use caution with ladders.

For a general cleaning, simply use a standard garden hose to wash the face of the panels during either the early morning or in the evening. Avoid spraying cold water onto hot panels or you could risk cracking them!

There are also automated cleaners that work similar to sprinklers, such as the Heliotex system, which can be programmed to clean your panels as needed – a good choice if you are in an especially dusty area.

The Solar Company offers solar panel cleaning services – please contact us to schedule an appointment with one of our professional cleaners. This is a better choice for panels that are too high to reach well with a garden hose or if you want a more thorough cleaning.

Standard solar panel maintenance is the best way to make sure they are always producing efficiently.

Photovoltaic (PV) Solar Panels

Photovoltaic, or PV for short, is a technology that converts light directly into electricity. PV is a developing field and utilizes several different technologies: monocrystalline (single crystal), polycrystalline (multiple crystal), cadmium telluride, gallium arsenide, or amorphous silicon deposited as a thin film. The major advantage of monocrystalline cells is their higher efficiency and therefore smaller space requirements. Thin film can be cheaper to manufacture but is significantly less efficient, requiring more area which results in more labor, mounting hardware, and bottom-line costs.

PV solar panels are usually either roof-mounted or ground-mounted. On a rooftop, rows of panels (called arrays) are mounted to face south or southwest at or near a 30 degree angle for maximum efficiency. The PV solar panels are fastened onto aluminum racks which are then secured to the roof framing, providing sufficient support for the array. This same array layout can also be mounted on the ground if the property has large, usable ground space.

Pole mounts are also a popular system, especially in more rural areas. The panels are generally mounted on the top of the pole but can also be mounted onto the side. Top-pole mounts require a steel pole about 12 feet in length set in concrete. These systems may include an auto-tracking feature which will automatically adjust the angle of the panels to follow the sun’s progress throughout the day.

Benefits of Installing PV Solar Panels

  • Economic benefits: Sunlight is free, abundant, and dependable. Unlike power from the utility company, solar energy is not subject to rate hikes. PV systems also allow for energy storage that can be used when needed (such as during a power outage) if installed with a battery backup. As far as the savings of installing a PV System, the payback on a loan or monthly lease will be significantly less than your current electric bill.
  • Environmental Benefits: Solar energy is clean energy: no CO2 emissions and no cleanup. Because solar energy is renewable, it can help slow down global warming and its negative effects.

If you’re ready to find out how much you could be saving each month by making the switch to solar, contact us for a free quote.

Why Solar?

Why Should You Go Solar?

There are many benefits to going solar for your energy needs. Going solar can drastically reduce your monthly electric bill. It can shield you from future energy rate increases and give you energy independence from the utility company. Best of all, for little to no upfront cost, you increase the value of your home or business while protecting the environment around us.

Benefits of Going Solar:

  • No upfront costs to install your system
  • You can dramatically reduce  your monthly electric bill
  • Shield yourself from future energy rate increases 
  • Gain independence from utility company
  • Increase the value of your home
  • Protect the environment
  • GUARANTEED energy production for up to 25 years
  • And a whole lot more!

Discover the savings! Talk to a Cloud Energy representative today to learn more about going solar!

Islanding and anti-islanding

Islanding refers to the condition in which a distributed generator (DG) continues to power a location even though electrical grid power from the electric utility is no longer present. Islanding can be dangerous to utility workers, who may not realize that a circuit is still powered, and it may prevent automatic re-connection of devices. For that reason, distributed generators must detect islanding and immediately stop producing power; this is referred to as anti-islanding.

What is Cloud Energy Ownership Scheme?

The Cloud Energy Solar Access Ownership Scheme (CESOS) is an instalment payment plan program designed by Cloud Energy Photoelectric Limited to ease the acquisition of solar energy harvesting components like inverters, batteries and solar panels at affordable cost. The program enables qualified individuals and/or businesses to acquire solar energy and pay over a 3-month period. It is a program designed also as a means to educate the public on the benefits of using solar energy to quicken the pace of the nation towards the attainment of the renewable energy goals 2020, especially as it contributes to the fight against climate change through the provision of clean energy for a green environment.

How does the program work?

The Cloud Energy Solar Ownership Scheme enables you to apply for and buy any of the approved solar bundles on an instalment basis. Upon approval, the applicant is required to pay a deposit of the Total Cost of the product. This total cost includes the original cost of the components of the system, the installation costs, the insurance premium for the burglary and fire and the cost of funds of only 25%. These costs make up the total cost. The balance after the payment of the 30% deposit is spread over the tenor of the asset.

Who is qualified for Cloud Energy Solar Ownership Scheme (CESOS)?

The program is designed primarily for the following class of individuals and businesses:-

  • 1. Employees in the Federal and State Government Civil Service
  • 2. Employees of Federal & State Government Parastatals, Departments and Agencies.
  • 3. Employees in the banking sector
  • 4. Employees in the insurance industry
  • 5. Employees in other multinational companies
  • 6. High networth private corporate bodies and businesses
  • 7. Employees in the organised private sector.
  • 8. Cooperatives and Associations in any of these organisations
Which products are available on the Cloud Energy Solar Ownership Scheme?

The products available are in various sizes and are all designed to be able to solve all basic energy needs in a home like energy for Fans, TVs, radios, fridges, laptops, indoor lightings, perimeter lightings, etc. Specifically, the following are the bundle configurations on the Cloud Energy Solar Ownership Scheme:-

  • 1. Cloud Energy SOLAR BASIC: Is made up of a 3KVA Inverter, 2(Nos.) 150AH Batteries and 4(Nos.) 250W polycrystalline solar panes
  • 2. Cloud SOLAR CLASSIC: Is made up of a 3KVA Inverter, 2(Nos.) 200AH Batteries and 6(Nos.) 250W polycrystalline solar panels.
  • 3. Cloud Energy SOLAR PREMIUM: Is made up of a 3KVA Inverter, 4(Nos.) 200AH Batteries and 8(Nos.) 205W polycrystalline solar panels.
  • 4. SOLAR FREEZERS AND FRIDGES: Are also available in the 218L and 238L capacity range.
I already have an Inverter and batteries. Can I convert to Solar?

Yes. For applicants who are already using Inverters and batteries, they can also participate in the program through the add-ons available on the program. These Add-Ons will convert the existing inverter bundles to solar energy bundles:-

  • 1.   Cloud Energy Solar ADD-ON OPTION 1: Comprises of 8(Nos.) 250W/24V Polycrystalline Solar panels with a 50Amps Charge Controller.
  • 2.   Cloud Energy Solar ADD-ON OPTION 2: Comprises of 12(Nos.) 150W/12V Polycrystalline Solar Panels with a 50Amps Charge Controller.
  • 3.   Cloud Energy Solar ADD-ON OPTION 3: Comprises of 12(Nos.) 250W/24V Polycrystalline Solar Panels with an 80Amps Charge Controller 
How do I apply?

Application forms for Cloud Energy Solar Ownership Scheme (CESOS) can be downloaded free of charge on our website, click here to download the Application form. Applicants are to complete and submit the form, they will be contacted as soon as possible.

Why do I pay for insurance?

The products under the Cloud Energy Solar Access Program are insured for fire and burglary to protect both the customer and the company against loss. The insurance policy is in favour of Cloud Energy for the duration of the instalment payments only. 

Do I sign an Agreement for this plan?

You are required to sign an agreement that enables you to possess the bundles after paying the 30% deposit and confers ownership completely after the last instalment has been paid.

Do I need to pay VAT for this Products?

Yes: Value-Added Tax (VAT) is a statutory payment on all goods and services in Nigeria.

Will I need to pay any additional money after the instalment plan to own the products?

No additional payment or fee is required once the instalment is fully paid.

Can I pay less deposit at the point of acquisition?

No. The minimum deposit required is 30%. Prospects who wish to pay above the minimum amount are encouraged to do so.

My energy needs are minimal; can I buy a smaller unit?

We are determined to satisfy most demands under this scheme. Each request is evaluated and our response is customized to offer effective electricity solutions. We can customize the solution to meet your needs and still have it in the payment plan.

Does the program give warranty on products purchased?

The Cloud Energy Solar Ownership Scheme (CESOS) offers manufacturers’ warranty of up to 2years on every battery, 2years warranty on all Inverters and 10years warranty on each solar panel. 

Do I need Collateral?

You do not need any collateral to be part of this program, the equipment that we have deployed to your residence or office serves as collateral, pending when you complete the payment and ownership transfers to you.

Do I need a Guarantor?

Yes, each person that is to participate in the program is to provide a guarantor who must be his/her employer, or his/her bank or a Clergy man, town union president, cooperative union president, trade union president , or a civil servant of the rank of Director. The guarantor counter signs the form and valid photocopy of identification. Click here to download the Guarantor's Form.

 

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