How Solar Panel Systems Work
From sunrise to sunset, solar systems converts sunlight into electricity. The system turns on automatically in the morning and turns off automatically at night. A solar electricity system is comprised of 3 main sections: the solar panels, a solar inverter, and an electric meter. Additional components can be installed on a solar panel system that includes a battery storage, and a solar monitoring system.
Solar panels are composed of many connected solar cells which are comprised of silica and crystal. Silica is one of the most abundant materials on earth and has the unique property of being highly conductive. Solar panels conduct electricity from the sun by capturing some of the electrons flowing in solar rays. The sun’s electrons enter into the solar panel through small neutrally charged portions of the silica cells and make their way into larger conductors where they combine to produce electricity. However, the electricity produced by solar panels is not ready to make its way into your home just yet.
Solar panels produce direct current (DC) electricity which is more efficiently stored in batteries, but less efficient at traveling distances in the wiring. Modern home electronics and greater power grids run off active current (AC) electricity because it can travel distances with less loss in efficiency than DC current.
In order to use the electricity made by your solar panel system, a solar inverter will need to be used to convert the DC electricity to AC. A solar inverter interrupts the flat DC currents that a solar cell produces and converts it into AC at a low-efficiency loss.
An optional addition to a solar panel system before the solar inverter is a battery storage pack. Battery storage devices are more prominent on off grid solar systems because when you do not have sunlight, you would also not have any electricity. A battery backup would allow you to store extra electricity during the daytime to then use through the night.
Battery backups are less common on grid-connected solar installation projects because when your solar panel is not producing electricity you will still have a constant flow from the power grid, and when your solar panels are producing excess electricity you will sell the electricity to your local utility provider. CAM Solar does offer battery storage installation, but for the simple solar panel system, it is an element that is not recommended.
Once the electricity produced by your solar panels is inverted into an AC current, it flows through an electric meter. The electric meter is an electrical measuring device used by your utility provider to monitor a home’s power usage. Your solar panels will flow through this meter so your utility provider can track how much electricity you are producing, using, and even selling back to the grid.
When your solar panels are producing excess electricity your electric meter will move backward, meaning excess electricity produced by your panels is being added to the electricity grid. Your utility provider will have more information about energy buy back rates and what kind of savings you will expect to see. Depending on what rate you can sell your excess electricity for, you can consider installing a battery backup.
The monitoring system is an optional addition to a solar panel system, that provides useful data for how your solar panels are operating, what peak hours of the day it produced the most electricity during, and current electricity flow. The system will track overall system performance, and see equivalent ways in which you’ve benefitted the environment over the lifetime of your system. You will also be able to view your home’s system performance, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
If you chose to include the optional Consumption Monitoring Kit, you can also see how much money your solar system is saving you on your utility bill and learn how your home uses energy to make smarter decisions for your home and family.