How do solar panels work

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Solar Energy

Renewable Energy

A renewal energy resource is an energy resource that is regenerative or virtually inexhaustible. Typical examples are solar, wind, geothermal, and water. Renewable energy reduces our carbon footprint, reducing our reliance on fossil fuels

kWh and MWh

kWh and MWh are measurements of energy production and usage. kWh stands for kilowatt hour. MWh stands for megawatt hour.

Alternating Current (AC)

Alternating current is a type of electrical current, the direction of which is reversed at regular intervals or cycles. In the United States, the standard is 120 reversals or 60 cycles per second. Electricity transmission networks use AC because voltage can be controlled with relative ease. This is the type of current used by homes and buildings.

Solar Energy

Solar energy is electromagnetic energy transmitted from the sun. Solar energy is measured is kilowatt hours (kWh) or megawatt hours (MWh).

Photovoltaic (PV)

The process by which sunlight is converted into energy. The sun emits photons (light), which generates electricity when they strike a photovoltaic cell. A photovoltaic module is another term for a solar panel.

Direct Current (DC)

Direct current is a type of electricity transmission and distribution by which electricity flows in one direction through the conductor, usually relatively low voltage and high current. This is the type of current created by your solar panels. To be used for homes, DC must be converted to alternating current (AC) using an inverter.

Carbon Footprint

Our carbon footprint is the amount of carbon emissions (pollutants) we generate through our use of fossil fuels. Using solar power or other renewable energy reduces our carbon footprint.

Solar Equipment

Solar Array

A solar array is an interconnected system of photovoltaic modules (solar panels) that function as a single electricity-producing unit. These modules are assembled as a single structure, with common support or mounting. Solar arrays may be installed on building roofs, open land or over parking structures/carports

Solar Panel

A solar panel (often used interchangeably with PV module) is a panel designed to absorb the sun’s rays as a source of energy for generating electricity or heating.

Solar Cell

A solar cell is the smallest semiconductor element within a PV module to convert light into electrical energy. Solar panels are made up of multiple solar cells.

Monocrystalline panels

Monocrystalline solar panels are generally thought of as a premium solar product. The main advantages of monocrystalline panels are higher efficiencies than polycrystalline panels and sleeker aesthetics. To make solar cells for monocrystalline solar panels, silicon is formed into bars and cut into wafers. These types of panels are called “monocrystalline” to indicate that the silicon used is single-crystal silicon. Because the cell is composed of a single crystal, the electrons that generate a flow of electricity have more room to move. As a result, monocrystalline panels are more efficient than their polycrystalline counterparts.

Polycrystalline panels

Polycrystalline solar panels are made by melting multiple silicon fragments together to form the wafers for the panel. Polycrystalline solar panels are also referred to as “multi-crystalline,” or many-crystal silicon. Because there are many crystals in each cell, there is less freedom for the electrons to move. As a result, polycrystalline solar panels have lower efficiency ratings than monocrystalline panels.

Balance of System

“Balance of system” is a term used to describe all components of a solar electrical system other than the solar modules, mounting structure, and inverter. This includes the AC and DC breakers, fuses and other electrical safety components of a utility or grid tied solar electric system.

Racking

Photovoltaic mounting systems (also called solar module racking) are used to fix solar panels on surfaces like roofs, building facades, or the ground.

Inverter

An Inverter is a device that converts direct current (DC) electricity to alternating current (AC) electricity. This converts power from solar panels into power that a home, business or electricity grid can use.

Microinverter

A microinverter is an inverter attached individually to each panel in the solar array. Microinverters allow a solar array to be more shade tolerant, produce more power and provide access to panel level monitoring.

String Inverter

A string inverter is an inverter typically mounted on the roof or side of a structure. Multiple solar panels are interconnected via “strings” which then tie into the string inverter to convert the solar energy to AC energy.

Monitoring

Monitoring is a system by which solar production data is passed from the solar array to a cloud-based app. Customers can use their secure login to view real time and historical solar production for their solar system.

Grid-Tie System (GTS)

A Grid-Tie System (or Grid-Connected System) is a solar electric or photovoltaic (PV) system in which the solar array supplies power to the community electrical grid.

Electrical Panel

An electrical panel (also known as a breaker panel) is a distribution board component of an electricity supply system. The electrical panel divides an electrical power feed into subsidiary circuits, while providing a protective fuse or circuit breaker for each circuit in a common enclosure.

Electrical Grid

An electrical grid is an integrated system of electricity distribution, usually covering a large area such as a city or county. Homes and businesses may export excess solar power to the electrical grid during the day and then pull power back again at night as needed.

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