iMod – Case Study: renewable energy sources – solar panels

In recent years, use of many types of natural factors and phenomena as primary energy sources is being talked about more and more often and outspokenly. One such renewable source of energy is sunlight. 

There are two basic methods for converting solar energy:

  • Conversion into electricity in solar cells,
  • Conversion into thermal energy in collectors, use to heat buildings, water, or for conversion into electricity (using steam turbines).

Solar panels

Conversion of solar energy into thermal energy is decidedly the most universal method. Installations of this type find applications in small residential houses as well as in large complexes supplying energy to Multifamily buildings or even pro-ecological towns. These types of heating systems are divided into:

  • passive systems – using only differences in temperature,
  • active systems - supported by mechanical devices.

Active heating system using solar energy
Active heating system using solar energy

Both types of installations are gaining more popularity. Passive systems are mainly used in places with high exposure to sunlight, and active systems are more costly to install, but they have the capability of operating practically all year (even when the outside temperature falls below 0oC, which causes freezing of circulation water in a passive system).

The active installation shown on figure 1 is characterized by a heating agent that circulates in a closed system and that is not water, but a non-freezing fluid. The heating agent flows through a collector, absorbs thermal energy, and gives off heat in the water tank.

The iMod telemetric module fulfills the functions of module controlling this type of installation – it acquires information from sensors installed on the outside of the building and in the water tank. Depending on the demand for heat, it activates the pump. This logic can be implemented using a dedicated application for the iMod, which changes it into a fully functional PLC controller.

In addition, the user can use the  Modbus protocol to easily connect the TPD-280 control panel, thanks to which he can gain control over the entire installation. Manual control may also take place using a cellular phone – it is enough to send an SMS with the appropriate content to change the operating mode of the pump.

Conversion of solar energy into electricity.
Conversion of solar energy into electricity.

The second method of using solar energy is the direct production of electricity. The undoubted advantage of such a solution is independence from suppliers of electricity, and in the case of a surplus of energy production, it is possible to sell it to an energy facility. More often, however, these are installations powering low power devices. An iMod telemetric module in an installation of this type can serve to read voltage values in the battery system and exposure to sunlight. In addition, when the level of voltage in the battery falls below normal values, the iMod platform can inform the user of this fact and switch to a mode of operation that takes electricity directly from the grid.

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