Understand The Basic Components of Solar Power Systems in 2020

Jessica PirroJanuary 3, 2020 5085 3

Understanding the Basic Components of Solar Power Systems

In 1954, scientists at Bell Telephone discovered that an element that was found in sand, silicon, created an electric charge when it was exposed to sunlight. This discovery led to the development of photovoltaic cells that captured the sun’s solar energy and then would turn it into electricity. Since then, the technology has evolved, and the solar power system now provides incredibly attractive financial benefits for homeowners, businesses and non-profit organizations across the United States.

Solar panels give us to access an inexhaustible source of power - the sun. Throughout the day, the photovoltaic cells on the solar panels are going to absorb the sun’s energy. Circuits within the photovoltaic cells collect the sun’s solar energy and then turn it into direct current (DC) solar electricity. The DC solar electricity will then be passed through the solar power inverter to convert it to the alternating current (AC) solar electricity used by homes and businesses. You can then use that solar electricity for your home use, or store it with solar batteries, or you can send it back to the grid.

The Components That Make Up a Solar Power System

Solar power systems have four main components:

- The solar panels.

- The solar power inverters.

- The racking and mounting systems.

- The performance monitoring systems.

Solar Panels

Solar panels can collect and convert the sun’s solar energy into solar electricity. They are a key component of solar panel installation. Most of the solar panels that are on the market today are either going to be poly-crystalline or mono-crystalline solar panels.

The key differences between poly- and mono-crystalline solar panels are between efficiency and cost. Mono-crystalline solar panels will be more efficient (making them more expensive) than poly-crystalline solar panels.

Solar Micro-inverters vs. String Solar Power Inverters

Solar Power Inverters

The photovoltaic cells in the solar panels collect the sun’s solar energy and turn it into direct current solar electricity. Most homes and businesses, but, using alternating current electricity. The solar power inverters convert the DC solar electricity from the solar panels into usable AC solar electricity. There are three basic approaches to solar power inverters.

String Solar Power Inverters

A single solar power inverter connects your entire array of solar panels to your electrical panel. String solar power inverters are going to be the least expensive solar power inverter option and will cost less than micro-inverters. But, if one of the solar panels stop producing solar electricity, even due to temporary shading, it can bring down the performance of the entire solar power system.


If you choose micro-inverters, one is going to be installed at each of the solar panels, which will allow the solar panels to maximize production. If some of your solar panels are shaded at different times of the day or if they aren’t all installed facing the same direction, micro-inverters will minimize your performance issues. The cost of micro-inverters tends to be higher than the cost of string solar power inverters.

Power Optimizers

Solar power systems that use power optimizers are a hybrid of micro-inverters and string solar power inverters. Like the micro-inverters, solar power optimizers are going to be installed at each of the solar panels. But, instead of converting the DC solar electricity from the solar panels into AC solar electricity, the optimizers “conditions” the DC solar electricity before sending it to a centralized solar power inverter. Like micro-inverters, they perform well when one or more solar panels are shaded or if the solar panels are installed facing different directions. Power optimizer solar power systems tend to cost more than string solar power inverters, but less than micro-inverter systems.

Racking and Mounting Systems

Racking and mounting systems are used to affix your solar panels either to your roof or to the ground. They are also going to allow you to position your solar panels at an angle that is best for capturing the sun’s rays.

To perform at their best, solar panels should face south and be installed at an angle between 30 and 45 degrees. Solar panels that are facing east or west and at a pitch angle of five degrees or more will still work well but will produce 10 to 20 percent less solar electricity than those that are installed under ideal conditions.

There are two types of mounts: fixed mounts, in which the solar panels are going to remain stationary, and track mounts, which will allow the solar panels to “follow” the sun as it moves across the sky during the day and the changing seasons. Track mounts are only suitable for solar panels that are ground mounts.

Performance Monitoring Systems

Performance monitoring systems provide you with detailed information about the performance of your solar power system. With a monitoring system, you can measure and track the amount of solar electricity that your solar power system is produces on an hourly basis.

While certain solar installers charge extra for installing a monitoring system, it can provide significant value over the lifetime of your solar panels. Monitoring systems help you identify any performance issues to ensure that you maximize the solar electricity production of your solar power system.

Two Types of Monitoring Systems:

- On-site monitoring: The monitoring device is physically located on your property and records the amount of solar electricity that is produced.

- Remote monitoring: Your solar power system transmits its performance data to a monitoring service that you can access online or with a mobile device.

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Comments (3)

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  • bashakam • September 7, 2020 114 111

    This summary information is very useful for beginers.

  • Rumplestilskin • January 15, 2020 114 111

    Good information!

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