About Solar Energy
There is a lot of research dedicated to innovation in solar energy, including innovations to make less expensive and more efficient solar energy systems, and increased efforts to educate the public about solar energy. The cost of solar equipment, as well as the cost of installation, has decreased fairly dramatically as technology improves and the number of trained professionals increases. Solar energy is viewed as a clean energy source, and is increasingly being used in rural areas that are farther away from the power grid. Some people refer to them as “photovoltaics”, which means “light electricity”. There are several terms important to understanding facts about solar energy, and we’ll address some of those below.
Understanding More Information About Solar Energy:
- Basic Solar Panel Design
- PV Panels
- Solar Inverters
Basic Solar Panel Design
Solar panels are panels made up of solar cells, which absorb light and turn it into electricity. Solar cells are usually made up of mostly crystalline silicon, and the solar cells are laid out in a grid pattern. The cells are grouped together on a grid, which is called a module. On a larger scale, a group of modules makes up the solar panel, and then a group of panels makes up the solar array. An array is the complete unit for generating solar energy. Solar panels are well sealed, on both the front and back, and are covered in non-reflective glass to protect the solar panel from environmental damage, and usually have a drainage path to prevent water accumulation. Solar panels usually last for about 25 years, but can last for much longer, although solar cells become less effective over time.
PV panels, or photovoltaic panels, are similar to solar panels, but instead of producing hot water or steam, produce direct current electricity. PV panels are powered using the photovoltaic effect, which describes the effect of light photons exciting electrons, which allows them to act as carriers for electric current. PV technology is employed to build the solar panels that make up a solar array. Photovoltaic electricity was first used to generate power for spacecraft, but is now also used for grid-connected power generation. PV panels, and all types of solar energy equipment, are most effective when they are positioned for optimal sun exposure, so there are devices called solar trackers that help to reposition the panels for maximum sunlight exposure. The cost of installing a PV panel based solar energy system is very low compared to other power options available, and the systems can last for a very long time with little maintenance after the initial installation.
A solar inverter is a device which converts the DC current, or direct electrical current produced by a PV panel, into AC current, or alternating current, which is the type of power we are most familiar with, and use in modern homes. Solar panels cannot produce AC current by themselves, so the solar converter turns the power a solar power system generates into a form of electricity we can regularly use. Some countries do use DC current, and some devices do run off of DC current, but at least in the US and other places, AC current is considered standard. There are solar inverter boxes that can be installed in one place that work with the entire solar power system, or there are also newer devices, called micro-inverters, that work directly under each solar panel.
As you now probably understand, a large part of understanding more about solar energy is learning about the different components that comprise a solar energy system. Your local solar energy services company can help you assess what kind of solar energy system would be right for your home or business, and help you design a system that is both efficient and affordable.