What You Need to Know About Your SOLAR ENERGY SYSTEM

What You Need to Know About Your SOLAR ENERGY SYSTEM

The sun provides abundant solar energy that can be used to provide electricity and heat. Solar power is a renewable resource that offers several advantages over traditional energy sources.

It can help reduce electricity costs and environmental impacts. Solar systems can also qualify for rebates and tax credits to further lower the upfront cost of installation.

Solar panels

Solar panels, also known as photovoltaic modules, are the heart of your solar energy system. They convert direct sunlight into electrical energy and are composed of interconnected silicon cells. A single solar panel generates only a few watts of electricity, but multiple panels can be combined in series or parallel to increase voltage and current output.

Silicon (atomic number 14 on the periodic table) is the primary material used in solar cells because it can absorb and convert sunlight into energy. Solar cells are also found in computers and nearly every electronic device on the planet. When sunlight hits a solar cell, electrons are activated and flow through the cell’s wires to produce DC electricity. This electricity is then gathered by the other cells in your solar panel, creating the electrical output you see on your meter.

There are two types of silicon solar panels: monocrystalline and polycrystalline. Mono cells are made from one solid silicon crystal, and are typically more efficient than poly cells. Both options are available for residential use.

In addition to being a clean, renewable energy source, solar power is also highly efficient and cost-effective. A solar PV system can reduce or eliminate your dependence on fossil fuels and help protect you against rising utility rates. Solar systems require little maintenance and can last up to 25 years.


An inverter is one of the most important components in your solar energy system. It converts direct current (DC) electricity, which is what a solar panel produces, into the alternating current (AC) electricity that your appliances use.

DC electricity travels in only one direction. Inverters are able to change this by using solid-state devices such as IGBTs (Insulated Gate Bipolar Transistors). These create an H-bridge that oscillates between the solar inverter off grid negative and positive poles of a battery to create AC electricity.

The inverter must also be able to manage peaks in power production. These are moments when the output voltage increases from zero to its maximum value and then back down again. Inverters that can handle these peaks have what is called a high surge rating.

A good way to find out if you have an inverter with a high surge rating is to check the amps it can deliver under peak load. Then you can compare this to the appliance’s name tag rating.

Some people choose to go with a hybrid inverter to reduce their installation costs. This combines solar panels with a battery to provide energy backup. However, it is more expensive than a standard inverter and is not suitable for all outdoor solar lights for yard roof types. If you do opt for a hybrid, be sure to carefully evaluate all options when choosing the type of battery and roof it can be used on.


Batteries store energy to be used later, helping to make solar systems more reliable and decreasing dependence on the grid. They also help homeowners avoid utility peak-time rates.

There are four main types of solar batteries: lead-acid, lithium-ion, nickel cadmium and flow batteries. Each battery type has its own pros and cons, but they all work in the same way to provide power when solar panels aren’t generating electricity.

The first thing to consider when selecting a battery is its capacity. You need to know how many appliances it can power at once, as well as what types of appliances it can power. You should also look at the depth of discharge (DoD) and charge rate to understand how much life it will have.

Lithium-ion batteries are the most popular choice for residential solar storage due to their long lifespan, high efficiency and lack of maintenance requirements. They can be installed in a variety of locations and don’t have the same sensitivity to temperature that other battery types have.

Nickel-cadmium batteries are another option for solar storage because of their affordability and longevity. However, they have a low DoD and must be disposed of properly. Flow batteries are an emerging technology that can hold large amounts of energy and operate at extreme temperatures. Currently, only a few brands produce flow batteries for solar use and they are relatively expensive.


The solar charge controller bridges the gap between your solar panels and your battery bank, regulating how the power is transferred. It also protects the batteries from overcharging or overdischarging by disconnecting them at a set voltage. The type of controller you need depends on the type of solar panel you have.

A shunt type controller measures the current coming from the solar panel and when the output reaches a set voltage value, it disconnects the circuit to the battery. They are commonly used in small, off-grid systems and are cheaper than other types of charge controllers.

Pulse Width Modulation or PWM controllers are heavily tested technology that uses passive heat sink cooling to prevent overheating, and can be sized up to 60 amps. They have a limited capacity for system growth and are best used in smaller systems where the size of the solar array and battery bank is consistent with the current load.

Maximum Power Point Tracking, or MPPT, controllers are more expensive than PWM but have better performance and efficiency. MPPT constantly sweeps through the PV voltage to find the sweet spot that maximizes solar energy transfer.

Whether you have a battery inverter or a Powerwall, your solar energy system will be able to tell when your battery is full, and will only pull as much power as your home needs to avoid overcharging your batteries. Your solar energy system will also have a setting for Permission to Export that lets you decide when to allow your solar to export to the grid.

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