What are Solar Panels?

Solar PV Panels are probably the most recognizable component of a home solar power system. They consist of many PV cells and are typically rectangular in shape and mounted on the roof of your home or a free standing support structure. Solar panels are rated in watts. Normally, this rating represents the maximum power they can generate under ideal conditions. Some of these may be rated for 100 Watts, 210 Watts or other amounts of power output.

Not all solar panels are created equal, so be sure to make note of several pieces of information when comparing solar panels for your energy needs. Some common measurements include:  1) efficiency, 2) rated power at Standard Test Conditions (STC), and 3) rated power per square foot. Be aware of these metrics when comparing solar panels, so that you can make a fair comparison between different panels.

Solar PV panels are made up of multiple PV cells. These are wired together and mounted on a backing with a frame and protective cover. Multiple PV panels can then be arranged together to form a solar array. These can be set up on free-standing frames or on top of roofs or other structures to collect sunlight and generate electricity. The diagram above shows examples of each of these different solar energy items.

There are currently a wide range of manufacturers that produce solar power panels. These can be purchased individually or as entire kits, which include inverters and other key elements that make up a home PV power system. For those who are handy or good at following detailed instructions, there are a number of good resources to help you construct your own PV panels, and quite possibly save a significant amount of money in the process.

Stay tuned for future posts with more information on solar panels and particularly on DIY solar panel projects and resources.



Grid-Intertied System

Grid-Intertied Solar Power SystemThe grid-intertied or utility-connected system is probably one of the most popular and common systems for those having access to the grid or a utility service provider.

The diagram to the left, shows some of the main components and the basic configuration for this type of setup.

Basically, what happens here, is that you install a photovoltaic (PV) system at your house, which is connected to your household electrical system. However, you are also connected to the power grid through your electric meter. When your solar panels are generating more electricity than you need, it is fed back into the grid and it is like your electric meter is running backwards. At times when your solar panels are not generating enough power to meet your needs, then your meter is running forwards and you are using electricity from your electric provider.

This approach helps you reduce your monthly electric bill, but also provides you with the stability of always having the amount of electricity that you need, regardless of varying weather conditions that may affect the efficiency or electric output of your PV panels.