Freestanding PV Panels for Home Installation and Portable Solar Energy
Aside from being attached to rooftops and building structures, photovoltaic solar arrays can also stand on their own. Known as freestanding arrays, these range anywhere from the smallest portable single-panel package to large commercial structures supported on massive steel framing.
For many people, choosing a home solar energy system is difficult simply because of aesthetics. Although pv panels have greatly advanced in look and feel, some would still rather these systems operate out of sight and out of mind. In these cases, solar panel arrays are often better off being installed far away from the home, with buried connective wiring running the power back into the residence. In this type of installation, the homeowner gets all the benefits of renewable solar power without having to disrupt their roofline or alter the look of their house in any way.
Another reason for choosing a freestanding photovoltaic solar energy system over a fixed one is strictly due to functionality. Sometimes a home or residence is not optimally positioned for roof-mounted solar panels. Either the roof lacks a sun-facing configuration or the home falls into shadow for much of the day, losing out on too much sunlight. This could be because adjacent houses cast their own shadows, or looming treelines exist too close to the solar residence. In these cases, choosing another location on the propery - a higher location or a clearing away from trees - is the best solution. Panels mounted in the best possible location will always produce more solar energy, allowing their pv cells to maximize sunlight all day long.
Other advantages to this type of system include scalability, adjustability, and easy access. Whereas roof-mounted systems are limited by available space, you can add as many panels or panel units to a freestanding array as desired. Additionally, ground mounted freestanding PV panels can be accessed directly or via a small ladder without having to climb onto a home's roof, making for easy repair or angular adjustment toward sunlight. The further the location from the equator, the more drastic changes the sun's path will see over the course of the different seasons. Angling the photovoltaic panels directly into the sun can greatly increase pv cell efficiency, which is an option not always available with fixed roof solar panels.
One drawback to consider when choosing a freestanding PV panel array over one fixed flat against a rooftop or structure is increased exposure to the elements. As these types of installations are angled to make the most of sunlight, people often forget that they're exposing them to high winds. If you live in an area with high storm activity or significant snowfall, you may want to read up on things you can do to lessen the elemental wear and tear on your freestanding solar power system.
Portable Photovoltaic Panel Systems - Pack them Up and Take Free Electricity With You!
Another great thing about freestanding PV systems is that they've enabled portability. Many companies now offer portable solar kits that allow you to provide your own free solar electricity anywhere you go, whether it be at home, to a remote cabin, or even to your favorite vacation spot.
Stand-alone panel systems on a smaller scale can be had for hundreds instead of thousands of dollars. Some (like the one seen to the right) come as complete all-in-one solar kits. These include everything you need to plug right in and begin enjoying free renewable solar energy, including the solar charge controller, the watt inverter, and the deep cycle battery that stores solar energy gathered by the PV panels. Even wiring and connectors are included, allowing you to power almost any normal household devices: TV, DVD player, laptop and desktop computers, lamps, coffee-makers, radios, etc... Such kits are perfect for camping or going to the beach, too.
Larger freestanding portable kits are more suited for home use, and can be set up seasonally to take advantage of the sun. Some of these solar panel arrays may not be suitable for year-round energy, and are designed be taken down or stored inside during harsh weather months. This of course depends on the materials used and the type of system purchased. As a general rule, freestanding solar kits are just every other electronic component you might buy - you get what you pay for.