How Does Solar Energy Work

How Does Solar Energy Work
by James Johnson

With energy prices flying through the roof, how does solar power work is a question popping up around many dinner tables these days. Even though it sounds like a winning proposition, the cost of equipment and installation is a major concern when considering going solar. However more grants are becoming available all the time on both the state and federal level to help offset these costs. So rather than focusing on the just costs, it may be a good idea to look at the benefits of solar power for your home.

When installing solar power to a residential or commercial application, the concept is basically the same except for the difference in installation requirements. A house is small and simple but a factory or warehouse needs greater capacity and would require a more complex and involved installation.

In a nutshell, solar panels are like power lines with a semiconductor to produce electricity when the sun’s rays are focused on them. They can serve multiple purposes, such as heating your water or air through your building’s HVAC system. The electricity generated by solar power, is usually routed to your controller/regulator. At that point the voltage or amperage is modified to your system’s needs. Finally it is routed to your electrical or storage system.

Do It Yourself Project

The essential parts of a solar power system consist of: 1. PV panels which are the solar or photovoltaic panels. 2. Current regulator which is a device for controlling the voltage or amperage of the electricity produced by the solar panel. 3 A storage system which is usually a group of batteries that will reserve for later use the power produced by the solar panels when the sun is up.

Solar panels are available in a wide range of prices according to the kind of installation you want. The typical box type of panels on the roof is adequate if the building is used for industry in an out-of-the-way spot. When installing solar panels on larger business or industrial buildings, note that not only can you mount panels on the roof you can also install solar panels on the ground. This will allow more energy to be generated

Solar panels can be mounted in a rooftop setup in addition to ground and pole mounts. The ground and pole mounts offer additional design flexibility especially when your structure is in the shade for part of the day. Solar panels can also be equipped with mechanisms that allow them to follow or “track the sun throughout the day maximizing their exposure to the suns rays. One of the largest drawbacks to solar installation is of course sunset. This is remedied by installing a battery array or storage system, or using supplemental power from the utility company power grid.

If you want a more discrete, dual purpose installation you can even have your structure constructed with solar cells built right into the roofing, awning and window materials. In a residential application using roofing materials with the solar cells built in will give you the same level of protection as an asphalt shingle while functioning as a solar panel, giving you more flexibility in design and reducing the chances your home will look like a space station.

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