ECN publication
Solar home systems : manual for design and modification of solar home system components
Published by: Publication date:
ECN Solar Energy 1-1-2000
ECN report number: Document type:
ECN-C--00-019 ECN publication
Number of pages: Full text:
148 Download PDF  

Solar photovoltaics is one of the most cost effective means to providesmall amounts of electricity in areas without a grid. Especially when people live in scattered homes, the costs of alternatives to provide electricity are usually prohibitively high. Solar home systems (SHS) are small systems designed to meet the electricity demand of a single household. A Solar home system always consists of one or more photovoltaic (PV) modules, a battery, and a load consisting of lights, and one or more sockets for radio, television or other appliances. A battery charge regulator is usually added to control charging and discharging of the battery. This manual has two major objectives: (1) to provide the necessary background material for the modification of existing designs of Solar home system components, especially the battery charge regulator, inverters for fluorescent lamps and DC/AC inverters; and (2) to provide background material for completely new designs of Solar home system components. The target audience for this manual is primarily engineers in companies producing solar home system components. Engineers in solar energy research institutes would also benefit from the information provided. The solar PV module is by far the most reliable component of a solar home system. Relatively few problems are related to the PV module. We therefore limit ourselves to the designs of the rest of the components, the so-called Balance of System (BOS) components. PV systems will be discussed but only for systems with a power level appropriate to household demands. Batteries will also be discussed, but only those aspects which are important for the BOS components. Because building practices depend very much on local customs and sometimes on regulations, this manual does not extensively discuss the support structure for the modules, but focuses on the electrical and electronic components. The emphasis is on the battery charge regulator because it is the single most critical component in a solar home system. Lights are the only appliances that are discussed in this manual, because lighting is included in most solar home systems, and the lights are usually provided with the system. Some of the larger solar home systems can also be equipped with a DC/AC inverter to allow the use of (larger) AC appliances. In this manual we have limited ourselves to user experiences relevant for design, technical and non-technical aspects of solar home systems. Financial aspects will be mentioned in relation to design and system sizing. Institutional settings, ownership issues, financing schemes and after sales arrangements will not be discussed, although these are also very critical aspects in the success of dissemination of solar home systems. 6 refs.

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