Electricity, there should be no one who does not know about it. People today cannot live without electricity. Almost all the machines used in our daily life need electricity to work. It turns out that our lives today are incomplete without electricity. The solar power system is a most common source of generating electricity.
Power plants generate most of their electricity through electromechanical generators. Which are driven primarily by combustion or nuclear fusion-fueled heat engines. But also by other means such as flowing water and wind speed energy. Other energy sources include solar photovoltaics and geothermal power. In this article we talk about “ How this solar panel actually works”.
Generally, this solar panel is also called solar photovoltaic (PV) panel. This panel converts sunlight into useful electricity. It sounds confusing, but it all boils down to a photovoltaic effect. The ability of a substance to emit electrons when immerse in light.
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Before we get to the molecular level, let’s take a high-level look at the basic flow of electric generation:
Basic Steps in Solar Energy Generation and Transmission
- Sunlight strikes the solar panels, creating an electric field.
- The electricity generated flows over the edge of the panel and into the conductor wire.
- The conductor wire carries electricity to the inverter. Where it is transform from DC electricity to AC, which is use to power buildings.
- The other wire transmits AC electricity from the inverter to the electric panel on the property (also called breaker box). Which distributes the electricity throughout the building as require.
- Any electricity not required on the output flows from the utility meter and into the utility electrical grid. As electricity flows from the meter, it causes the meter to run backwards. Which gives credit to your property for more production.
How Solar Power System Works?
The solar panel is made up of many small photovoltaic cells. Photovoltaic means they can convert sunlight into electricity. These cells are made of semiconductor material. Most of the time we use silicone material to keep the balance and maintaining of electricity.
When sunlight collides with a semiconductor in a solar PV cell. Then the energy in the light is absorbed in the form of photons. Once the energy is absorbed, it releases many electrons. Which then flow freely into the cell. The solar cell is specifically design to create an electric field by sandwiching together (+ and -) charge semiconductors (see image on the left for visualization).
This electric field forces the drifting electrons to flow in a certain direction towards the conductive metal plates lining the cell. The flow generate by it is known as energy flow. And the strength of the current determines how much electricity each cell can generate. Once the loose electron hits the metal plates, the current is directed into the wire. Allowing the electron to flow like any other source of electric generation.
As the solar panel generates electric current,
Energy flows from the wire series into the inverter (see step 3 above). While solar panels generate direct current (DC) electricity. But most electricity consumers need alternative current (AC) electricity to power their buildings. The function of the inverter is to convert electricity from DC to AC. Which makes it accessible for everyday use.
Once the electricity is convert to usable mode (AC power),
It is sent from the inverter to the electrical panel (also called breaker box) [Step 4]. And distributute throughout the building as need. Electricity is now readily available for power lights, appliances and other electrical appliances with solar energy.
Any electricity that is not use by the breaker box is sent to the utility grid by the utility meter. The utility meter measures the flow of electricity from the grid to your property and vice versa. When your solar energy system produces more electricity than you are using on site. This meter actually runs backwards. And you are credit with the extra electricity generate by the net metering process.
Moreover, when you use more electricity than your solar array generates. You draw complementary electricity from the grid through this meter, from which it normally runs. Unless you are completely off-grid with a storage solution. You will need to draw some energy from the grid. Especially at night, when your solar array is not being generate. However, most of this grid energy will be offset by the extra solar energy you generate throughout the day and during low consumption periods.
Lastly, while the details behind the solar are highly scientific. There is no need for a scientist to explain the benefits that a solar installation can bring to a business or property owner. An experienced solar developer can guide you through these benefits. Also, help you find the right solar solution for your business.
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Solar Power System : Types
Below are three types of solar power systems available
On-grid Solar Power System / Grid interactive System
On-grid solar power systems are use to reduce electricity bills. This type of system will save you the amount per unit multiplied by the units generated by the solar system (known as net metering, which includes government approvals).
When your home’s electricity consumption is low and solar generation is high. Then your solar system will feed extra energy into the grid / electricity company.
On the other hand, when your electricity consumption is high and solar production is low. Then your solar system will take extra energy from the grid / electricity company and feed it into your home.
Off-grid Solar Power System / Standalone System
This system is use when electricity / grid is not present or someone needs backup to protect against power cut. Also, in some cases if someone wants to generate their own green energy! (Government involvement is not require in this case). This is a battery based system. Thus the energy generate from the solar panel is store in the batteries connect to this system. In case of unavailability of grid in the absence of hours of sunlight. You can operate some essential tools / devices directly on this system.
Hybrid Solar Power System
This is a combination of off-grid and on-grid solar systems. There is a simple three step to understand this.
- If your home’s electricity consumption is less than the energy generated from the solar system. Then extra energy will be store in the batteries connect to the system.
- Second, if the electricity consumption of the house is more than the production of solar energy. Then the additional requirement will be meet by the battery.
- If the electricity consumption of the house is less than the energy generate by the solar panel and the batteries are fully charge. Then the extra energy generated goes to the grid / electricity department.
How Does Weather Affect Solar Energy?
Weather conditions can affect the amount of electricity generated by the solar system. But not in the way you might think.
Appropriate conditions for generating solar energy include a clear sunny day. But like most electronics, solar panels are actually more efficient in cold weather than in hot weather. This allows the panel to generate more electricity at the same time. As the temperature rises, the panel produces less voltage and produces less electricity.
But although solar panels are more efficient in cold weather. They do not necessarily produce more electricity in winter than in summer. Sunny weather often occurs during the hot summer months. In addition to low clouds, the sun is usually out for most of the day. So even if your panels are less efficient in hot weather, they will still generate more electricity in summer than in winter.
Do Some States Get More Solar Energy Than Others?
Undoubtedly, some states receive more sun than others. Thus, the real question is: if the weather can affect Solar Power System. And are some states better candidates for solar energy than others? The short answer is yes, but not necessarily because of the weather.
Let’s take clouds for example. Anyone who has sunburned on a cloudy day knows that the sun’s radiation penetrates through the clouds. For the same reason, solar panels can still generate electricity on cloudy days. But depending on the quality of the cloud cover and the solar panel. The efficiency of solar panel power generation is usually reduce by 10 to 25 % or more compare to a sunny day.
In other words, solar energy can still work well in generally cloudy, cold places. New York, San Francisco, Milwaukee, Boston, Seattle – all of these cities experience adverse weather conditions ranging from rain and fog to snowfall. Although they are also cities where people save a lot by getting solar.
Wherever you live, solar energy can be an excellent investment and a great way to help fight climate change. How much you save – and how quickly you see a return on your investment in a particular state. Depends on many factors, such as the cost of electricity, available solar incentives, net metering and the quality of your solar panel.