Harnessing the Sun for Your Home – Key Components
Using the power of the sun is becoming increasingly attractive from an economic and environmental aspect. If you’re going solar, you need to know the components.
While generally considered electric platforms, solar systems definitely have unique components. Here’s some of the jargon you are going to need to be familiar with before buying.
1. Photovoltaic Cell – This is the key piece of any solar platform. Known as a PV cell, it is typically a small cell containing a silicon substance under glass. When the sun hits the cell, the silicon undergoes an electrical reaction that creates a charge. The charge is collected by small wires. Depending on the nature of the cell, each should produce roughly half a volt.
2. Solar Panel – A collection of solar cells joined as a unit in a frame. A single panel typically is insufficient to produce enough energy to power anything of significance in your home.
3. Solar System – Also known as a photovoltaic system, a solar system is an interconnected set of solar panels. This is what you see on the roofs of home or other areas around homes and buildings. A solar system converts enough sunlight into electricity to provide most or all of the power required by a home.
4. Orientation – Before installing a panel system, one has to give some thought regarding where to put it. The sun tracks across a structure in a particular way. To maximize the energy production, the panels have to be oriented to receive the maximum amount of sunlight. This, of course, results in the maximum amount of electricity.
5. Direct Current – A type of electricity that flows in only one direction. Solar cells produce direct current electricity.
6. Alternating Current – Electricity that flows in both directions. AC power is used by utilities and in practically all appliances and machines in a home.
7. Inverter – A key component in a solar panel system. The inverter converts the direct current produced by the solar panels into AC power that can be used in the home or fed back into a utility power grid system.
Obviously, there are a wide variety of systems for converting sunlight into power. Making yourself familiar with the above components is a good place to start.