Solar power has emerged as a shining star in the quest for cleaner and more sustainable energy sources. Solar panels, also known as photovoltaic (PV) panels, play a crucial role in converting sunlight into usable electricity. Manufacturers design them to harness the energy from the sun and generate clean and renewable electricity. Solar panels consist of multiple solar cells made from semiconducting materials, usually silicon, which can absorb photons from sunlight and convert them into an electrical current. Learn how solar panels work and the installation process.
Construction of Solar Panels
Understanding the construction of solar panels is essential to understand how they work. Each solar panel consists of multiple solar cells connected in a specific arrangement. These cells are sandwiched between protective layers of glass or other transparent material and placed in a sturdy frame. The covering protects the internal components from weather and dirt while allowing sunlight to penetrate and reach the solar cells.
Photovoltaic conversion is the direct transformation of light into electricity at the atomic level. It is a process where photons from sunlight knock electrons loose from atoms in the solar cell’s semiconductor material. The material’s unique properties allow it to facilitate the movement of these freed electrons, generating an electric current in the solar panel.
The electric current within solar panels is direct current (DC), a one-way flow of electrons from a negative terminal to a positive terminal. Once the electrical current is created, the metal contacts and conductive materials guide the flow of electrons toward a common point. This point is typically a set of wires or conductors that serve as the electrical output of the solar panel.
Conversion to Alternating Current
It’s important to note that while solar panels produce direct current, most homes use alternating current (AC) electricity. AC is also the standard form of electricity supplied by the electrical grid. Therefore, an additional step is required to convert the DC into AC electricity for compatibility with the electrical grid and household appliances. This conversion is accomplished using an inverter. It includes two main stages:
The inverter first converts the DC electricity into a high-frequency AC using electronic switching components. This high-frequency AC is commonly referred to as an intermediate AC.
The intermediate AC generated by the inverter is then processed further to match the standard frequency and voltage of the electrical grid. This process involves adjusting the frequency, usually to 50 or 60 Hertz, and ensuring appropriate voltage levels. The inverter delivers the AC electricity as output.
Distribution of Electricity
The AC electricity produced by the inverter is now ready for distribution. An electrical panel acts as a centralized point where the incoming AC electricity is received and distributed to different circuits within your home. The electrical panel contains circuit breakers or fuses that act as protective devices. Each circuit is dedicated to specific areas or electrical loads, such as lighting, outlets, appliances, or HVAC systems.
Electricity consumption and generation may be monitored in grid-connected solar systems through utility meters. The meters measure the electricity consumed from the grid and the excess electricity exported back to the grid from the solar panels.
Connection to the Electrical Grid
Professionals design grid-tied solar systems to work in conjunction with the existing electrical grid. They allow for the seamless integration of solar energy into the grid-supplied electricity that enters your home. Utility meters are typically installed to measure the bi-directional flow of electricity and are usually referred to as net meters.
Before connecting the solar power system to the grid, a homeowner usually enters an interconnection agreement with a utility company. This agreement outlines the technical and operational requirements for the grid connection, including safety protocols, metering procedures, and any necessary approvals or permits.
Monitoring and Control
Solar power systems often incorporate monitoring and control mechanisms. Monitoring and control systems are crucial in optimizing solar power systems’ performance, efficiency, and safety. These systems provide real-time data, remote management capabilities, and monitoring of various parameters. This data includes metrics such as solar panel output, energy consumption, battery status, and weather conditions. Monitoring systems analyze the collected data to assess the solar power system’s performance. It helps identify issues like underperforming panels, wiring faults, or malfunctions, allowing for timely maintenance or repairs.
The reports will also give you an idea of how much electricity your solar system produces per month at different times of the year. Additionally, if you notice that a group of panels is underperforming, there may be actions you can take to increase their output. For example, you can trim tree branches that create too much shade or reposition a few panels to capture more sunlight.
Solar Panel Instillation
The installation process for solar panels is a complex undertaking requiring the expertise of professionals. From the initial assessment and system design to the final testing, every step plays a vital role in an efficient system.
A thorough preliminary assessment is essential before diving into the solar panel installation process. Professionals will visit your property to evaluate its solar potential. Factors such as location, roof orientation, shading from nearby structures, and local weather patterns determine whether solar power is viable for your home.
Designing the Solar System
Once the preliminary assessment is complete and you decide to proceed with the project, the next step is system design. Experts will work closely with you to customize the solar system according to your energy needs and preferences. They will consider the number of solar panels required, their positioning on the roof, and the optimal angle for maximum sunlight exposure.
The solar panel installation begins with roof preparation. The roof surface needs to be examined and, if necessary, repaired or reinforced to ensure it can safely support the weight of the solar panels. A strong and stable roof is vital for the longevity and efficiency of the solar system.
Mounting the Solar Panels
Once the roof is ready, the solar panels are mounted on it. Racks or frames are securely attached to the roof surface, providing a stable foundation for the solar panels. Proper alignment and positioning of the panels are crucial to maximizing sunlight absorption throughout the day.
Electrical Wiring and Inverter Installation
After the solar panels are in place, the next step involves electrical wiring and inverter installation. A professional will ensure the electrical connections between the solar panels and the inverter are properly made to ensure the proper flow of DC electricity from the panels to the inverter.
Connecting to the Electrical Grid
With the solar panels and inverter set up, the system is ready to be connected to the electrical grid. A professional will ensure the proper integration between your existing electrical system and your new solar system.
Contact the Professionals
At Air 24/7 Air Conditioning & Heating, our team has over 30 years of experience serving the Tampa, FL community. We install, maintain and repair heating and cooling systems. In addition, we offer indoor air quality services. Contact Air 24/7 Air Conditioning & Heating today to schedule an appointment with one of our HVAC professionals.