Solar panels, battery, regulator, converter, and load make up the solar panel system. When all these components are installed properly, a solar power system can sustain itself for years.
Solar or photovoltaic cells
The assembly of semiconductors and electronics or solar cells is enclosed in a photovoltaic module, more commonly known as a solar panel. Several solar panels are called solar panel array.
A solar panel collects and generates energy from the sun’s radiation. PV panels convert this energy to direct current electricity, a current that is produced by batteries. Although connecting a DC load directly to the solar panel is possible, batteries play an important role to a properly working photovoltaic system.
- The battery stores energy generated by the PV panels
- It stores excess energy that exceeds that of what the load requires
- The battery serves as a back-up energy source when there is no supply from the PV system
During the whole process, the battery experiences a cyclical process of charging and discharging. When it stores harvested and excess energy, the battery is charged. When the load consumes electricity, the battery is discharged. During the day, the cycle is continuous especially if the solar panels are not generating sufficient electricity for the load. As the day ends, the battery experiences continuous discharge, depending on the load and the availability of stored energy.
A regulator or solar charge controller is optional yet a vital equipment in a photovoltaic system. During the cyclic process, the battery is likely to become overcharged or over-discharge, a situation that shortens the batteries’ lifespan. A regulator prevents such situations from happening by regulating the batteries’ condition. It maintains a stage of charge where it monitors when the battery will be overly charge or discharge. In general, a regulator keeps the batteries in the most appropriate working conditions.
Unless you’re powering a DC 12 volt device, you’ll need a converter that allows the DC electricity stored into the batteries to be converted to AC or alternating current electricity, the type of energy that is used by the mains power supply. The DC/AC or direct/alternating converter is also called an inverter and is used to match the required current and voltage by the load. It is typical to experience some energy loss during electricity conversion.
Any appliances that consumes electricity is considered a load. When choosing a load for the solar power system, it is necessary to start with a low power component before installing additional solar panels to avoid wasting of resources. PV systems are ideal for illumination as lights only consume several watts compared to bigger appliances like television, components, or computers. There are also lighting’s that operates on direct current electricity, allowing the use of solar power system in a low budget scale.