The Basics of a Solar-Powered System

Jessica PirroOctober 31, 201927030

The Basics of a Solar-Powered System

Homeowners who are looking into getting a solar panel installation have a lot of information to sift through. They’ll have to sift through information about financing for solar panels, the different kinds of solar panels that are on the market, the solar panels that have the best warranty, the best solar power inverters on the market, the best solar batteries on the market, how to find the best solar installers, and etc.

However, the question that most homeowners need to be answered is how do solar panel installations work? The answer to that is going to have to be answered in how each part of a solar-powered system works.

How Do Solar Panels Work?

When it comes to how solar panels work, it is very important to understand how photovoltaic cells work. The most important components of the photovoltaic cells are two layers of semiconductor material that are commonly composed of silicon crystals. The newly crystallized silicon, on its own, isn’t going to be a very good conductor of solar energy, but when impurities are intentionally added, the process that is called doping, it then sets the stage for creating the electric current.

The bottom layer of the photovoltaic cells is then usually doped with boron, this will then bond the silicon to facilitate a positive charge (P), while the top layer is then doped with phosphorus, which will then bond with the silicon to facilitate a negative charge (N).

When the sunlight enters the photovoltaic cells, the solar energy that is coming from the sunlight knocks the electrons loose in both layers. Because of the opposite, the charges of the layers are opposite, the electrons are going to want to flow from the n-type layer to the p-type layer. However, the electric field at the P-N junction is going to prevent this from happening.

The external circuit provides the necessary path for the n-type layer to travel to the p-type layer electrons. The electrons that are flowing through this circuit, typically think that wires that are running along with the n-type layer, provide the owner of the solar panels with a supply of solar power.

Most solar-powered systems are based on individual square photovoltaic cells, a few inches on each side. Alone, each of the photovoltaic cells generates a small amount of solar power, therefore they are grouped as solar panels. The solar panels will then either be used individually or then grouped into a large solar panel installation.

If you want to know more about how solar panels work, click here.

How Do Solar Power Inverters Work?

The next aspect of a solar panel installation that we are going to delve into, is how solar power inverters work.

Most people know what solar panels are because that’s the visible part. A solar power inverter, however, is just as important as solar panels when it comes to utility and residential solar-powered systems. The basic function of the solar power inverter is to change the direct current of the solar panels into alternating current. The various electrical and electronic components connected in the circuit to help in the conversion process.

When the sun hits the solar panels, electrons within the photovoltaic cells they will start to move around, which will produce the direct current (DC) solar power. The circuits within the photovoltaic cells will then collect the solar energy for you to use in your home. 

This is where solar power inverter comes into play. Most homes are going to use alternating current (AC), not the DC, which is the solar energy that is produced by the solar panels, deeming the solar energy un-useful. When the solar panels collect the sunlight and convert it into usable solar power, it then will be sent to the solar power inverter, which takes the DC solar energy and converts it into AC solar energy. Once it is converted, solar power can be used to power appliance and electronics and if your solar panel installation produces excess solar energy it can be fed back to the grid.

If you want to know more about how solar power inverters work, click here.

How Can You Store Solar Power from Panels?

The next aspect of solar-powered systems that we are going to discuss is going to be the storage aspect of solar panel installations. Residential solar panel installations are going to have two different options to store solar power; either through solar power batteries or sending it back to the grid, with net metering.

Solar Energy Batteries

Solar energy batteries are going to work by storing the solar power that is produced by the solar panels and storing it for later use. In certain cases, solar energy batteries will have their solar power inverter and offer an integrated solar energy conversion. The higher the solar energy battery capacity, the solar energy it can store.

When you get a solar panel installation with a solar power battery as a part of your solar-powered system, you can store the excess solar energy at your home instead of sending it back to the grid. If your solar panels are producing more solar energy than you need, the excess solar power goes towards charging the solar power battery. When your solar panel installation isn’t producing solar energy, you will then be able to draw the stored solar energy that has previously been stored in the solar power battery for night use. You will only send the solar energy back to the grid when the solar power battery is fully charged, and you will only draw solar energy from the grid when your solar power battery is out of charge.

Solar Power Grid Storage

Solar power batteries, along with other solar energy storage technologies, may not be too common, but it isn’t expected to be the case for much longer. It is expected that it is going to become a $2.5 billion market in the United States by 2020.

The reason that solar power is expected to grow is that the same benefit that solar power batteries offer to homeowners, mainly the ability to store solar power for later use, can also be applied at a larger scale of the entire electricity grid. Solar energy storage technologies, such as solar power batteries, are going to provide electric utilities and energy users more flexibility in the way that they generate and use energy, in particular, solar energy.

The electric utilities and grid managers have a complex task. They need to provide their customers with consistent and reliable access to the electricity that powers their homes and businesses. To achieve that, they are going to need to ensure that there’s enough solar energy being produced by the solar-powered system at a given moment, the customers are going to be more likely to experience blackouts.

The more solar-powered system storage technologies, like solar power batteries, electric utilities, and grid, the operators can easily manage the flow of solar energy. Meaning, in the long run, solar energy will be more integrated into our nation’s electricity mix, which will include the residential solar-powered system.

If you want to know more about how solar power batteries work, click here.

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