How Do Solar Panels Work

Going off the gridWhen I purchased my 2006 Aliner, the first thing I wanted to do was add solar to it. But how do solar panels work to produce energy? We all know you need the sun, but there is so much more going on under that panel.

When you sit a solar panel in the sun it starts using photon to produce energy. This is the same energy that we use as electric for our devices and appliances. A solar panel is made up of several layers. The top and bottom layers are glass that has a protected coating which allows electrons to pass in and out. The energy production happens in the middle layers. Photons hit molecules in the upper middle layer releasing electrons. As the electron travels through the process energy is available for our use.

Depending upon your solar panel you can use the energy directly to 12v (DC) batteries, devices, and appliances. However, most of our consumed energy needs to be in AC form. In order to convert DC energy into AC form you will need three other things.

Storing DC Current from A Solar Panel

In a nutshell, this only means you need batteries. Many people your any type of 12v DC battery. However the experts recommend using a deep cycle battery for solar applications.

DC Current Control

To control the DC current going into the batteries you will need a charge controller. A charge controller does just what is says, controls the charge to you batteries preventing over charging. High-end charge controllers do more like: alerts for battery under charge, reporting input and output, and much more. The kit above includes a charge controller.

DC Converter

A DC converter is known as an inverter. It converts DC power into AC current so that we can run normal household appliances. Two things to know about inverters: Know how many watts each appliance using and Pure Sine vs Modified Sine. Inverters are rated by how many watts can be produced safely. For example: My microwave uses 700 watts, that means my inverter should be rated over 700 watts plus room for peak energy on start up. Therefore, if you are running the microwave and the TV at the same time, you must add the watts together. Pure sine experts say are for sensitive electron. If you plan to run a lot of electrons you may want to concern the more expensive Pure Sine Inverter.

So, that’s how solar panels work.

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