1. What is a solar panel and what does it do?
What is a solar panel? A solar panel is an electronic device that converts sunlight into electrical energy. Solar panels are made up of photovoltaic (PV) cells. PV cells convert sunlight into electricity by exciting electrons in the silicon material of the cell. When these excited electrons flow through an external circuit, they generate electrical power.
What do solar panels do? Solar panels produce direct current (DC) electricity from the sun. This DC electricity can be used to power devices, or it can be stored in batteries for later use. Solar panels also can reverse the flow of electricity and create voltage potentials, which can be used to charge batteries or other electrical devices.
2. Where are solar panels mounted?
Some people might think that solar panels are only mounted on the roofs of houses, but this is not always the case. Solar panels can be mounted in a variety of places, including on the ground, on walls, and even on fences. There are now so many options for mounting solar panels that it’s easy to find a solution that works for you.
The best place to mount solar panels will depend on several factors, including how sunny it is where you live and what your budget is like. Here we look at some of the most common options available:
- Ground-mounted grid-tied systems (roof or surface)
- Rooftop-mounted grid-tied systems
- Ground-mounted off-grid systems (roof or surface)
- Wall-mounted grid-tied systems
- Fence mounted grid-tied systems
- Boat mounted solar panels
- Solar panel carports and canopies
Grid-tied solar system with roof mounting: Pros: Relatively low cost, easy installation, good for small to medium systems
Grid-tied solar system with ground mounting: Pros: More cost-effective for larger systems, can be installed on uneven or sloped surfaces, less shade interference
Off-grid solar system with roof mounting: Pros: Easy installation, no need for batteries, works well in areas with high electricity costs or unreliable utility company
Off-grid solar system with ground mounting: Pros: Relatively low cost, works well in areas that are not densely populated or do not have much rooftop space available
Ground-mounted off-grid systems (roof or surface): Pros: Low maintenance costs, easy installation, less shade interference
Wall-mounted grid-tied systems: Pros: Less room occupied than other options like roof mounting and good for homes where roofs may be difficult to work on, can be easily installed without resorting to heavy machinery. Cons; More expensive compared to using the wall as a support structure for an off-grid system only. Electricity generated is usually fed into house wiring instead of battery storage.
Fence mounted grid-tied systems: Pros: Low cost, easy to install, less shade interference
Solar panel carports and canopies: Pros: Protect your solar panels from the weather (snow, hail, rain), which can increase property value. Cons: More expensive than other options.
3. What are the first steps to installing solar panels?
The first step is to determine your needs.
What size of system do you need? How many solar panels should be installed on your roof, and how much space will they take up?
The next step is to call a qualified installer in your area.
When you contact an installer, make sure that they are certified. This will ensure that they know what installation techniques work best with different types of roofs and other factors.
The installer will come to your home and do a site survey. This is where they will measure your roof, take into account shading from trees or other objects, and note the angle of your roof. They will also need to know what type of electrical service you have in your home (110 volts or 220 volts). Based on all of this information, they will be able to give you an estimate for the cost of installing solar panels at your home.
After the site survey is complete, the installer can order the solar panels and start preparing for installation. They may need to get permits from your local government before starting work, so make sure that you are aware of any rules and regulations that must be followed.
On the day of installation, the installer will arrive with an assistant and equipment to install your solar panels. This is when you might want to invite some friends over to watch, or just stay in another room of your house while they work. The installation process can take several hours depending on how many solar panels need to be installed, so it may be best not to plan anything for that day!
4. What is a solar inverter and how does it work
A solar inverter or PV inverter is a type of electrical converter. A solar inverter or PV inverter is a device that changes direct current (DC) power produced by a photo-voltaic panel to alternating current (AC) power used in homes and businesses.
The inverters we use most often at our house are micro-inverters. These units convert the direct current (DC) power produced by solar panels into grid-ready AC voltage. They can be used with any size photovoltaic array, from a single panel to many arrays totalling thousands of watts.
Each individual micro-inverter is connected to a single solar panel, so if one panel fails or produces less power than expected for some reason, the rest of the system continues to function normally. This level of redundancy is not possible with string inverters, which typically connect several panels in series.
There are also hybrid inverters that can work either as a grid-tie or off-grid unit, and bidirectional inverters that can send power both ways – from the solar array to the grid, or from the grid to the batteries and loads. Some inverters have built-in battery chargers, while others require an external battery charger to be connected.