Our parent company is Design Homes Inc. formed in 1966. We are one of the Midwest’s largest builders of custom homes with 20 model home locations serving 10 states ( www.DesignHomes.com
). Design Homes began in 1966 and is now a 45-year old, debt-free, privately owned company with a number of 'spin-off' divisions, including radio stations, aircraft ownership in a charter operation, apartments, retail ventures, and a division that makes commercial parabolic antennas with a unique aluminum spinning operation (www.DHSatellite.com
). DH Satellite has become the standard for heavy-duty antennas worldwide, and most TV stations use at least one.
As we became aware of the growing market for PV solar panels for generating electricity, it became apparent that attaching solar panels to our horizon-to-horizon mount system would be the ideal way to gain the most possible efficiency. The sun follows a known arc that changes each day. We are aware that other tracking systems use light sensing systems to track the sun. We felt if we could create a controller that moved the panels through the arc of the sun and changed this arc to match the seasons we would have a better system. Our people developed the controller and we were amazed at the efficiency gained by being pointed at the sun all day long instead of simply facing the panels southward. Also on a day of broken clouds when there is a break we are pointed at the sun.
During the past few years, we have refined our 'trackers' and now have a balanced system with a heavy-duty commercial motor and new US-built controller. Our tracker will work anywhere on earth and can generate up to 40% more electricity than fixed systems. Since we 'tie-in' to the power company grid, batteries are not needed. We also realized the need for roof-mounted systems and developed a modular, expandable system that is non-roof piercing---and can also be ground-mounted with anchors. Special software allows for closely-spaced panels with no shadowing.
We offer many systems---including a 1KW pole-mounted Solar-Tracker system, a 2.8 KW tracking system and a 3.2KW system, as well as several 'fixed' systems and separate components. Fully adjustable tracker frames are available for solar installers---which will adapt to any solar panels.
Thousands of our mount systems have been sold throughout the world, and many have been in hurricanes. We are very proud that many of the systems that were in a hurricane survived.
DH Solar is a division of DH Satellite. ( www.dhsolar.net
) We expect this DH division to grow into another very large and successful worldwide business.
Anyone who has used a modern mathematical calculator can grasp the concept of photovoltaics (PV). It is simply the process of converting energy from the Sun into electricity that can power everything from household appliances and lights to commercial buildings and power plants. In precisely the same way as the small solar cells on hand-held calculators eliminate the need for batteries, PV can provide the world with a clean, reliable source of electricity and reduce our reliance on ever-depleting fossil fuels.
The PV technology of the 21st century makes it possible. It employs layers of micro-fine crystalline silicon to convert ordinary sunlight into small electrical charges. This process is then multiplied thousands of times to create, smaller than ever before, modules and systems that can generate enough electricity to power entire towns.
It's important to note that PV is different from the solar thermal energy used for heating or in hot water production. A single PV cell consists of two or more thin layers of semi-conducting material, most commonly crystalline silicon. When the silicon is exposed to light, small electrical charges are generated and conducted away by metal contacts as direct current (DC). Click here to view an animated demonstration.
In order to maximize energy collection and conversion, single cells are connected together and housed in a module. These modules are the building blocks of the PV systems and are, in turn, connected together to generate usable volumes of electricity. In some instances, an inverter is also used to convert high voltage DC into lower voltage AC power--which can then be sold back to the power company if you generate more than you use.
Types of PV technologies
There are essentially two types of PV technology, crystalline and thin-film. Crystalline can again be broken down into two types:
Monocrystalline Cells - These are made using cells cut from a single cylindrical crystal of silicon. While monocrystalline cells offer the highest efficiency (approximately 18% conversion of incident sunlight), their complex manufacturing process makes them slightly more expensive.
Polycrystalline Cells - These are made by cutting micro-fine wafers from ingots of molten and recrystallized silicon. Polycrystalline cells are cheaper to produce, but there is a slight compromise on efficiency (approximately 14% conversion of incident sunlight).
Thin film PV is made by depositing an ultra thin layer of photovoltaic material onto a substrate. The most common type of thin-film PV is made from the material a-Si (amorphous silicon), but numerous other materials such as CIGS (copper indium/gallium diselenide) CIS (copper indium selenide), CdTe (Cadmium Teluride), dye-sensitized cells and organic solar cells are also possible.
Types of PV Systems
PV technology was first applied in space, by providing electricity to satellites. Today, PV systems can be used to power just about anything on Earth. PV systems are usually installed in one of two ways: a system with batteries to store the electricity generated for later use, and a system that is connected to 'the grid'---which means the generated electricity goes through your existing electric meter and makes it run backwards---in affect, selling the electricity back to the power company.