HOW DOES SOLAR ENERGY WORK?
The sun is the largest and naturally occurring nuclear reactor. It releases energy in the form of photons; which come in enough volumes to satisfy our planets energy needs. This energy is what is referred to as solar generated power.
Solar energy is constantly improving, and the costs are rapidly dropping as the ability to effectively harness more from the sun keeps getting better by the day. Before we go into that, what is solar power and how does it work?
Basically, a solar energy system consists of Photovoltaic ( P V ) cells which convert sunlight into current electricity. The system also has an inverter that turns direct current - derived from the cells - into alternating current. Other components such as the electrical panels and utility meters then send the power to wherever you want it while measuring the energy you use. Let us check out these components independently and comprehensively;
Photovoltaic panels. ( PV )
PV panels are comprised of numerous solar cells. The solar cells themselves are made of semiconductors constructed in positive and negative layers which work together to create an electric field.
Photons from the sun hit the solar cell and loosen the electrons from the silicon like semi- conductors atoms. The electrons then flow through a circuit to generate electricity. Multiple cells make a panel, and multiple panels make up modules which can then be wired together to form a solar array. The more panels deployed, the more energy generated.
Basics of electricity.
PV cells generate direct electric current; which means electrons flow in one direction within a circuit. For instance, if a battery powers a lamp through direct current, the electrons would flow from the negative side of the battery, through the lamp and back to the battery through the positive side.
In an alternating current system, electrons are pushed and pulled in a manner where they will periodically reverse direction. Alternating current is created when a coil of wire is spun at a high speed next to a magnet. The coil can be turned using different types of energy including solar, wind, coal, water or nuclear energy.
Alternating current is usually chosen for use in power grid and powering many appliances in homes and industries since it is less expensive to transmit. Since Solar panels generate direct current, it has to be converted to alternating current using an inverter.
Inverters primarily convert direct current from the solar array into alternating current. Inverters do more than just convert DC power into A C power; they also offer ground fault protection and systems statistics like current and voltage in the DC and AC circuits etc.
The industry has previously been dominated by central inverters. This has however been disrupted by micro-inverters which brought a very significant shift in the PV industry. Micro - inverters, unlike central inverters, are optimized for individual solar panels and not for the entire system or array. This ensures optimum performance for every solar panel because in the event there is a problem with one panel; it will not affect the entire system.
A utility meter measures the amount of energy that you consume. This especially works where your personal solar energy system is connected to the main grid. In the event your system generates more energy than you need, the meter will count backwards - since your system pumps energy to the grid. This way, you get to offset the energy you will use at night when your systems are not generating, and you dont have batteries to store energy produced during the day.
Utility grids connect you to the electric energy generated by power companies working with the government. It is important to maintain your connections to the grid as the energy you get comes in handy when your system cannot produce enough energy to suffice your needs.
Power Guide Monitoring System.
You can have a power monitoring system to help you continuously track your energy production and ensure that your solar energy system is working in pristine condition continually.
In the event your PV system is grid-tied, it will not have batteries to store the energy produced thereby. This means that when your PV system is generating power, the surplus energy is back-fed into the grid. Solar users then get covered at night in exchange for the energy they produced in the day time. A net meter will record and compare the energy back - fed to the grid with the energy that is received from the grid and offset the differences.
When your excess energy is fed to the grid, your utility company gives you credit. This way you get to lower your electricity bills or even getting paid for the energy that you produce. In some jurisdictions, you may not necessarily get paid for the energy you have fed to the grid, but the credits you have will cover your bills at a future time. This extra energy you produce becomes significant as it gets to power nearby amenities like schools, hospitals or even your neighbors.
A solar energy system will more often than not be customized for your home or business. This means that the costs of installation and government rebates will be based on the location you are in and the size of your system. You may find companies that have packages and financing plans to help you take care of the initial costs with ease.
When looking to install solar energy, it is important to engage a professional to do it for you. This is a technical venture that needs to be handled by trained personnel. Doing it yourself may seem to be easy and cheap, but it may turn to be costlier in the long run. You may also pose a great danger to yourself and your property if you choose to do the installations -however small your unit may be. Getting the services of a PV system installation expert will also ensure that you benefit from warranties extended by manufacturers in the event their need will arise.