What are the Parts that Make Up a Solar Power System?
When making the decision to install a solar power system, it’s helpful to understand how it works. While the technology is complex, its function can be simply stated- capturing sunlight and converting it to electricity.
The six major components that constitute a solar system are unified by this goal. Here is a brief overview of each:
- Solar Panels: These are the most visible part of a solar system. They are installed outside, usually on the roof, and sometimes mounted on the ground. They capture the sun’s rays and convert them to direct current (DC) electricity. Their surface is composed of photovoltaic (PV) cells.
- Inverter: While solar panels produce direct current (DC) power, home appliances use alternating current (AC). This is where the inverter comes in- it converts DC power produced by solar panels into the AC power that homes depend on.
- Utility Grid: Even after making the move to solar, your home or business is still connected to the utility grid. You’ll need it to produce power at night. However, your electricity costs are offset by the amount of energy your solar panels produce during the day.
- Utility Meter: The utility meter keeps track of how much solar power your system produces during the day. When it produces more electricity than you are able to use, the excess amount is sent to the utility grid. In this case, your meter actually works in reverse.
- Circuit Breaker Panel: The breaker panel connects your solar system to the electrical circuits in your home. Circuits are continuous wires that join outlets and lights throughout the household.
- Battery Pack: Solar power systems produce electricity during the day. Batteries store that electricity for use at night and on cloudy days. Without batteries, your system would only function when the sun is shining on your panels.
Solar Modules: The Essential Component
Solar modules are the primary piece of technology behind solar systems. They come in three types: monocrystalline, polycrystalline, and amorphous silicon. Due to better performance, monocrystalline and polycrystalline panels are far more common.
Before designing your solar module array, 21 Century Solar Solutions provides you with a report on your energy use, identifying any inefficiencies, and with suggestions for improvements. By preparing your home to be energy efficient, you’ll receive the most benefit from your solar installation.
Here are a few of the things you can do to prepare your home for solar energy:
- Windows: Old leaky windows let out air, increasing heating and cooling costs. Double-paned, low emissivity windows will help keep your home insulated.
- High Efficiency Furnace: Furnaces built before 1992 wastes an average of 35% of the fuel they use. If you have one of these, replace it with a condensing furnace, who’s average energy efficiency is 90%.
- Compact Fluorescent Lamps: These types of lightbulbs use only a quarter of the electricity as compared to standard incandescents. Moreover, they are a very easy way to boost your home’s energy efficiency.
- Energy Star Appliances: Replace old clunky appliances with Energy Star appliances. These are government certified appliances that reduce energy costs without sacrificing performance.
- Seal Holes & Cracks: Carefully look over the inside and outside of your home for holes and cracks. Sealing them keeps not only improves energy consumption, it also keeps out allergens.
- Seal Furnace Duct System: Sealing your furnace duct system ensures more even cooling and heating of your home. It also means your heating and cooling systems will need less energy to accomplish their tasks.
Your Maryland Solar & Energy Efficiency Experts
At 21st Century Solar Solutions, we are passionately devoted to empowering our Maryland neighbors through renewable energy. We have served countless home and business owners throughout the state. Our work is backed by strong warranties, and we provide exceptional ongoing service and support.
Get in touch to begin your journey toward energy self-reliance. Our dedicated team of specialists will be with you every step of the way- from initial consultation to installation and beyond.