The Basics of a Solar Panel
Solar panels, also known as photovoltaic cells or PV modules, convert sunlight into electricity. They can be found powering calculators or providing energy to entire cities.
They use silicon – a naturally occurring element that creates electrons when exposed to light. Silver is added to enhance the electron flow, creating a conductive solar cell.
Solar energy is a clean, renewable resource that offers an SOLAR LIGHTING alternative to environmentally unfriendly fossil fuels. It is a virtually endless energy source that, when properly harnessed, can power the entire planet.
Solar panels convert sunlight into electricity by utilizing photovoltaic cells that contain a special semiconductor material. The solar panel’s layers of semiconductor materials are arranged with positive and negative sides (similar to a battery) to produce flow of electric current. The flow of electrons from the solar cell to wires creates DC electricity that can be used in a home or business. Solar panels can also be connected to an inverter, where the electricity is converted into alternating current.
The solar panel’s efficiency depends on the amount of light it receives and how much it is absorbed. A solar panel’s output is lessened by clouds, and its ability to produce electricity is significantly decreased in winter than in summer.
Fortunately, the sun is a very abundant natural energy source, and the solar industry continues to look for ways to increase its efficiency. The best way to maximize solar power production is through large solar arrays, which are often referred to as solar farms. The solar panels can be mounted on a support frame or rack, either fixed to the ground with a “fixed mount” or on a motor-driven tracker that reorients itself to follow the sun’s daily and seasonal movements across the sky (dual- or single-axis trackers). A system that includes a monitoring system will provide detailed information about the performance of the solar array on an hourly basis.
The heart of a solar power system is the photovoltaic (PV) cell. There are three main types of PV cells: monocrystalline, polycrystalline and thin-film. Monocrystalline cells are made from a single crystalline silicon and tend to have the highest efficiency. Polycrystalline cells use multiple melted silicon fragments and are less expensive than mono-crystals. Thin-film cells spray or deposit semiconductor material, such as amorphous silicon, cadmium telluride, or gallium arsenide, onto glass or metal substrates. These cells can be made in many different shapes and sizes, opening new horizons for PV systems.
A PV cell produces electricity by converting sunlight into direct current (DC) energy. Sunlight strikes and ionizes the semiconductor material in a PV cell, causing its outer electrons to break free of their atomic bonds. The electrons flow through a metallic grid or contact layer placed above the semiconducting material and into an external electrical load.
There are two essential parts of a solar panel: the solar cell and the battery. The batteries store the energy produced by the solar panel for future use. They also provide backup in the event of a power outage. Batteries last longer when they are not overcharged or drained too quickly. To minimize losses, the batteries are connected to a charge controller. This device ensures that the batteries don’t exceed a safe voltage level and stops current from flowing back into the solar panel once the voltage is low.
An inverter is the final piece of equipment required to turn DC solar power into AC energy. It essentially takes the power that’s stored in your batteries and converts it to household voltage. This makes it usable for appliances such as washing machines, fans, air conditioners, electric grinding wheels and sewing machines.
An added benefit is that it prevents electricity from being transmitted back to the power grid during a temporary outage and protects line workers who may be working on your grid connection. Solar inverters can also be set up to feed excess electricity into the grid, helping you generate solar energy credits.
When it comes to choosing an inverter, you’ll need to decide between a central inverter or microinverters. Both have their advantages and disadvantages. A central inverter treats the entire string of panels as one unit and optimizes its output based on the weakest panel. This can be an issue if you have shading or other external factors reducing the performance of certain panels in your system.
A micro-inverter, on the other hand, optimizes each individual panel’s performance based on the real-time solar intensity solar lighting manufacturer and the carrying capacity of the battery. This allows each panel to achieve its maximum peak power voltage (VPP).
Before solar panels can be installed, the mounting system must be in place. These are specialized equipment systems that hold your solar panels in a safe, stable position on the roof or poles in the ground. They can be fixed or tracked, and they can also include a monitoring system that lets you see your solar panels’ performance on a minute-by-minute basis.
There are many different types of mounts, including pole mounts that hold the panel in an elevated manner for better sun exposure. Roof-ground mounts are one of the most popular choices, and they can be flat or sloped for maximum efficiency.
Solar panel installations can be quite complex, but it is important to make sure that your racking and mounting system meet the guidelines for durability and structural integrity. This is especially true in cases where you are setting up a larger solar array that will be subject to high winds and weather events.
Before installing the racking and mounting rails, you will need to ensure that your structure is “square”. This means that the lengths of the side rails (the distance between the roof attachments) are the same. Use a tape measure to check this, and compare the diagonals. If they are not the same, you will need to adjust the rails. Then, you can start installing your solar panels.