Solar Panel Diagrams How Does Solar Power Work
If you are anything like me, then you find that a picture speaks a thousand words. Ive learned all about how solar panels convert the suns light into electrical energy, but things only really fell into place when I saw it all laid out clearly in diagrams.
Its great to have visual representations to help us to understand how scientific processes work. So Im going to use some solar panel diagrams to show you how solar cells work and then describe all of the elements that go up to make a complete home solar system.
Storing Solar Energy For Later Use In A Battery
The most solar power generated is when the sun is at its peak around noon. For a home, unless there are stay at home parents or a home office setup, solar power wont be used when its generating at its peak.
For this reason, you may wish to opt for a battery that collects unused solar energy and stores it for use later on .
A battery isnt mandatory with a PV solar power setup if you are happy to use power from the grid when your solar system isnt generating enough. But, if youre aiming to run electricity through solar as much as possible, youll want to weigh up the cost of batteries vs. the savings youll get. Then you can make a better-informed decision around when storing solar will have paid itself off.
How A Photovoltaic Cell Works
The diagram above gives us a more detailed look at what happens inside a solar cell. The solar cell contains two separate discs of silicon sandwiched closely together. These silicon discs are doped or specially treated to give them an electrical charge. The N-Type silicon on the top level of the disc has a positive charge, and that P-Type silicon underneath has a negative charge.
When no light is shining on a PV cell, the differently charged positive and negative discs of silicon create a barrier between each other, and electricity cant flow between them.
But when photons from the sun hit the silicon discs, something special happens. Contact with photons releases electrons from the negatively charged p-type silicon, transferring them through a circuit to the N-type silicon causing an electrical current to flow. This photoelectric effect is what produces electricity in a solar cell.
Thats how the process works. But if our home solar systems were made up only of solar cells, they wouldnt be of much use since we wouldnt be able to store or use the electricity we generate. Clearly, we need several more elements to make up a complete home solar system.
You May Like: Where To Buy Solar Panels Wholesale
The Difference Between A String Inverter And A Microinverter
Inverters are essential components of your solar panel system. In fact, without them, youd never get the power you need to run your home or business. The sole job of an inverter is to convert the DC that the solar panel intakes into AC , which is the currency used to power your home.
There are three types of inverters in a solar panel system:
A string inverter is named due to the fact it is a series of boxes, or panels, that are strung together in a line. They feature a central inverter that collects energy from multiple solar panels.
A microinverter has a small inverter attached to each individual solar panel that then collects the energy and converts it.
An optimizer does just that attached to the solar panels, an optimizer allows you to control each solar panels output independently from the rest. It helps to ensure that solar panels are still producing even if some are not .
Key Takeaways: How Do Solar Panels Work
- Solar cells are typically made from silicon, which is a semiconductor and can generate electricity through the photovoltaic effect.
- Solar inverters convert direct current electricity produced by solar cells to usable alternating current electricity.
- Other types of solar technology include solar hot water and concentrated solar power they both use the suns energy, but through a slightly different mechanism than photovoltaics.
- See how much solar panels can save by comparing custom quotes on the EnergySage Marketplace.
How Does Sun Exposure Affect Solar Panel Efficiency
It is important that your solar panel array are installed in areas that receive good insolation throughout the day, free from as much shading from trees or neighboring obstructions as possible. This will ensure your system is as productive as possible, given the site conditions.
More sun exposure means more photons hit the solar panel, thereby freeing more electrons and creating a stronger current, meaning more power for your home.
Solar Panels And Battery Backup How Sunlight Is Turned Into Electricity And Stored To Power Your Home
A solar photovoltaic system consists of one or more photovoltaic solar panels. One solar panel consists of about 36-72 photovoltaic solar cells. The cells convert the light into electricity. The solar panels are connected in a series called an array. Because PV Arrays are built with individual, linked solar panels, solar photovoltaic systems are exceptionally modular, which provides for easy transportation and rapid installation, and enables easy expansion if power requirements increase.
Solar systems that are grid-connected or grid-tied applications need an inverter, microinverters or power conditioner to convert the direct current , generated by the solar panels, into alternating current for use in your home or business. Excess solar electricity generated and not used immediately is sold back to the utility for a credit to be used when sunlight is not available. This is called Net-Metering.
If a Home Solar Battery Backup System is added, the Battery stores excess solar power, rather than sending it back to the grid. This stored solar electricity can be used anytime during a PG& E outage, during peak hours to reduce energy bills, or at night to avoid using grid power.
You May Like: How To Sell A Sole Proprietorship
How Silicon Makes A Solar Cell
Silicon has some special chemical properties, especially in its crystalline form. An atom of silicon has 14 electrons, arranged in three different shells. The first two shells — which hold two and eight electrons respectively — are completely full. The outer shell, however, is only half full with just four electrons. A silicon atom will always look for ways to fill up its last shell, and to do this, it will share electrons with four nearby atoms. It’s like each atom holds hands with its neighbors, except that in this case, each atom has four hands joined to four neighbors. That’s what forms the crystalline structure, and that structure turns out to be important to this type of PV cell.
When energy is added to pure silicon, in the form of heat for example, it can cause a few electrons to break free of their bonds and leave their atoms. A hole is left behind in each case. These electrons, called free carriers, then wander randomly around the crystalline lattice looking for another hole to fall into and carrying an electrical current. However, there are so few of them in pure silicon, that they aren’t very useful.
The other part of a typical solar cell is doped with the element boron, which has only three electrons in its outer shell instead of four, to become P-type silicon. Instead of having free electrons, P-type has free openings and carries the opposite charge.
Next we’ll take a closer look at what happens when these two substances start to interact.
Other Essential Solar Panel Parts
Aside from their solar cells, a typical solar module includes a few essential parts:
Panels have a glass casing that offers durability and protection for the silicon PV cells. Under the glass exterior, solar panels have an insulation layer and a back sheet, which protects against heat dissipation and humidity inside the panel. This insulation is important because increases in temperature lead to a decrease in efficiency, resulting in lower solar panel performance. Solar panels have an anti-reflective coating that increases sunlight absorption and gives the cells maximum sunlight exposure.
When it comes to silicon solar cells, there are generally two cell formations produced: monocrystalline and polycrystalline. Monocrystalline cells are made up of a single silicon crystal, whereas polycrystalline cells are made up of fragments of silicon. Monocrystalline formats provide more room for electrons to move around and thus offer a higher efficiency solar technology than polycrystalline, though they are typically more expensive.
You May Like: Is There A Government Grant For Solar Panels
What’s The Future For Solar
As prices for solar panels in New Zealand become more competitive and battery storage technology advances, solar energy is likely to get more common in New Zealand.
While going completely off-grid is expensive, and mostly undesirable – except in rare cases where it’s prohibitively expensive to connect to mains power – solar panels are still a great way to stay in charge of your own energy usage, produce your own green, renewable energy and become more self-sustainable.
As the cost to install solar improves, it seems set to be a firm part of the renewable energy plan for our future.
Best Solar Options For Your Home
Before you make the decision to invest in solar panels for your home, there are several factors you need to consider. There are, as discussed above, a relatively large variety of solar panel types to choose from, so it is important that you discuss your personal energy needs and budget with your solar professional before making your final decision.
Your professional will also be able to tell you the best angle, direction, and size required in order for your solar panels to achieve maximum output. Generally speaking, a 5 kilowatt panel would probably be suitable for a family home.
.If cost is an issue, there are several government grants and community solar projects that can help to spread the cost of your solar panels over a period of timesome areas even have local solar parks that can be accessed by members of the community for a much lower cost.
Contribute To Saving The Environment
Because solar panels generate electricity without releasing harmful gases into the atmosphere, they dont contribute to global warming. Moreover, by supplementing the electricity we get from the grid, they reduce our reliance on fossil fuels that produce greenhouse gases and particulates that cause pollution.
Guarantee Major Savings With Solar Panels
If you want to start saving money on electricity and invest in renewable energy, the first place to start is comparing solar panel system quotes. Thats where EnergySage can help: when you sign up for a free account on the EnergySage Marketplace, we provide you with custom quotes from installers in your area. So what are you waiting for get started with your own clean energy journey with EnergySage today!
Don’t Miss: Can You Run Pool Pump With Solar Cover On
Anatomy Of A Solar Cell
Before now, our two separate pieces of silicon were electrically neutral the interesting part begins when you put them together. That’s because without an electric field, the cell wouldn’t work the field forms when the N-type and P-type silicon come into contact. Suddenly, the free electrons on the N side see all the openings on the P side, and there’s a mad rush to fill them. Do all the free electrons fill all the free holes? No. If they did, then the whole arrangement wouldn’t be very useful. However, right at the , they do mix and form something of a barrier, making it harder and harder for electrons on the N side to cross over to the P side. Eventually, equilibrium is reached, and we have an electric field separating the two sides.
This electric field acts as a diode, allowing electrons to flow from the P side to the N side, but not the other way around. It’s like a hill — electrons can easily go down the hill , but can’t climb it .
There are a few more components left before we can really use our cell. Silicon happens to be a very shiny material, which can send photons bouncing away before they’ve done their job, so
How Does Solar Pv Work
Each solar photovoltaic panel is made up of a number of connected solar cells. When the sun is shining, the solar panels absorb the light, and the silicon and conductors in the panel convert this light into DC electricity. This flows into an inverter, which converts the DC electricity into AC electricity which is then available for use in your home.
Solar panel systems are generally installed as grid-connected’. This means that if your solar panels are producing more electricity than your home is using at the time the excess power gets sent back to the grid. And if you need additional power, then your home will still draw electricity from the grid.
Solar panels do not generate power at night. So unless you have a storage battery system, you cannot store the electricity generated.
You May Like: How Many Solar Panels For 10kw
No Concept Of Projected Savings
Although the community solar operators do guarantee minimum cost savings, these ratings never appear to be true. Some of the operators offer savings close to the amount of baseline bills, but others dont.
If the contact doesnt identify minimum savings, the subscriber cant oppose abrupt price changes. This may reduce or even eliminate the chances of savings.
This is the reason why some subscribers regret their decision of choosing a solar garden facility. Nevertheless, you can avoid such issues by taking into view the dubious claims made by an operator.
See Related: Best Books on Renewable Energy
Lets Start At The Beginning
We can sit here and talk about the various conspiracies and machinations and special interests and generally bad people who are holding backthe notion that solar power can be a mainstream energy source literally all day and we will.
Before we do that, though, we should make sure that we all understand what we mean by solar power as it exists today. So, lets talk about what solar power is, and how it works.
Don’t Miss: How To Design Solar Panel
Lack Of Control Over Output Or Operations
The solar garden subscribers are not allowed to take control of solar power operations. They are not even in a position to know the actual output their solar garden is producing.
Similarly, in case of natural calamity or system failure, your garden will go offline. As a result, the production or supply of electricity to the grid will become zero and your savings for that time also go to zero.
These problems may also arise in the rooftop solar arrays, but you have complete control over it. You can simply call a technician and get your solar system fixed within a couple of hours.
It Does Not Harm The Environment
One of the main advantages of solar energy is that it is a renewable resource. Thus, unlike traditional energy sources such as coal, it does harm the environment by emitting toxic material into the surrounding. It is, therefore, one of the energies whose increased use contributes to a sustainable future.
Recommended Reading: Can You Put A Solar Panel On A Golf Cart
What Does A Solar Inverter Do
A solar inverter takes the DC electricity from the solar array and uses that to create AC electricity. Inverters are like the brains of the system. Along with inverting DC to AC power, they also provide ground fault protection and system stats, including voltage and current on AC and DC circuits, energy production and maximum power point tracking.
Central inverters have dominated the solar industry since the beginning. The introduction of micro-inverters is one of the biggest technology shifts in the PV industry. Micro-inverters optimize for each individual solar panel, not for an entire solar system, as central inverters do.
This enables every solar panel to perform at maximum potential. When a central inverter is used, having a problem on one solar panel can drag down the performance of the entire solar array. Micro-inverters, such as the ones in SunPower’s Equinox home solar system, make this a non-issue. If one solar panel has an issue, the rest of the solar array still performs efficiently.
Types Of Solar Panels
- Monocrystalline: they are comprised of monocrystalline cells. They are very recognisable for their intense black colour and trimmed corners. They are 15-25% more efficient than the other models. In addition, their useful life is longer, given that they can last up to 25 years.
- Polycrystalline: they are comprised of polycrystalline cells. These have a dark blue colour. They are cheaper but also less effective, although currently, it has been possible to reduce their losses due to reflection and improve their collection of light.
- Thin layer: this model is different than the previous ones. It is not the combination of several individual cells, but a custom-cut sheet. Its manufacture is more simple, which explains its low price. They are very flexible and can be adapted to all types of surfaces, and so they are increasingly being used in homes.
Recommended Reading: Does A Sole Proprietor Need An Ein
Step : A Net Meter Measures Usage
On cloudy days and overnight, your solar shingles or panels may not be able to capture enough sunlight to use for energy conversely, in the middle of the day when nobody is home, they may collect surplus energymore than you need to operate your home. Thats why a meter is used to measure the electricity flowing in both directionsto and from your home.Your utility company will often provide credits for any surplus power you send back to the grid. This is known as net metering.