When sunlight hits a solar panel, it knocks electrons loose that can then be captured by metal contacts. This forms an electric current that can then be used to power electrical devices.
Solar PV systems are sized based on expected electricity usage. This can be calculated either by reviewing past electricity bills or by using online calculators that are designed for this purpose.
A solar panel generates electricity when sunlight passes through it. That electricity flows into your home and is reflected on your electric bill.
Solar panels are made of silicon cells, a metal frame, wiring elements and glass. A protective back sheet and an insulative layer are added for extra protection.
Each silicon atom has 14 electrons in three different shells. To produce electricity, the last shell must fill up, which is why silicon atoms hold hands with four neighbouring atoms to share their electrons. This gives silicon a crystalline structure and is the basis of most PV technology.
Silicon isn’t a great conductor of electricity on its own. To improve it, solar manufacturers use a process called doping: adding small amounts of other elements to the silicon to increase its electrical conductivity. The most common doping substances are boron, phosphorus and gallium. These doping elements create bonds between the silicon atoms and give them a positive or negative charge.
The solar batteries are the heart of your grid-tie solar power system. They are where the energy produced by your solar panels is stored during the night and in case of a blackout.
Batteries are electrochemical cells that convert chemical energy to electrical energy. They consist of two electrodes (in Volta’s pile the anode was zinc and the cathode silver) that are separated by an electrolyte solution. When a wire is connected between them, electrons flow from the anode to the cathode, balancing the electrical charge and creating electricity.
Silicon is not a good conductor on its own, so manufacturers add boron and phosphorus to it, which make the silicon solar battery able to carry a current. To ensure your solar batteries last as long as possible, they are charged and drained by a special component called a charge controller. This prevents them from being overcharged or drained too much, which can damage them. It also controls how much energy the solar panels send to the batteries by measuring their voltage.
Inverters perform many crucial functions in solar power systems, including converting DC electricity into AC energy and monitoring system performance. They’re also the heart of any battery backup system, which connects to your grid-tie solar system and stores energy for use during outages.
When the sun shines on a solar panel, photons free electrons in its layers of semiconductor material to create direct current (DC) electricity. Wiring connected to the positive and negative sides of each panel harnesses that electricity via the inverter, which then converts it into AC energy.
There are several different kinds of inverters, which can be grouped into two broad categories: string inverters and microinverters. A traditional string inverter connects panels in parallel, meaning the positive terminal of one panel is connected to the negative terminal of another. This allows for more efficient use of space on the roof but may not produce maximum energy if there are shade issues in one or more areas.
When you’re on the go and need power for phones, headlamps or other devices to stay safe and informed, a portable solar charger is essential. Solar chargers also make for a valuable emergency tool when storms or natural disasters knock out the grid.
The solar cells within these chargers contain photovoltaic (PV) cell blocks made of semiconducting material such as silicon. When positioned in direct sunlight, these cells generate electricity by converting photons into electrons and pushing them into a battery pack or onboard storage system.
The best portable solar chargers have built-in USB ports, and they also include a pocket to stow a phone while charging. Some also have metal grommets to affix the panels to a tent, backpack or rock to orient them to the sun, which increases their performance. They also have a display that shows the current wattage being generated and how much energy the device is charging. They can also be hooked up to a computer to monitor their performance in real-time.