How Does Solar Work When Integrated into an Energy System?

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January 27, 2020
With time, technology has evolved to such a degree that it requires a lot of power to maintain its functionality. With the rise of consumers and most of the energy being supplied by non-renewable fossil fuels. The supply for fossils is limited, thus, the civilization will look to replace the energy deficit from elsewhere. Luckily such a source of renewable energy already exists, and the most popular, as well as cleaner method, is solar. It’s not only friendly but also saves a lot of money. Although solar power systems do not provide adequate electricity for a reasonably large household, it can still help cut down electricity bills significantly. Solar power has been in use across lands exposed to a lot of sunlight. But how does all this work? What are the components of the solar power system and how do these work in sync?
 
For more information on the solar panel guide, find out how to extract optimum power output. 
 

What is solar power?

Solar power is harnessing the power of the photons emitted by the sun to generate electricity. The main job is done by solar power cells, otherwise known as a Photovoltaic or PV system.
 
The system uses solar panels or modules placed on buildings for trapping sunlight and then transform that into electricity, feeding it into an inverter and a battery bank initially.
 
The inverter then transfers the incoming DC voltage to AC, which is then fed into a distribution panel.
 
The distribution panel feeds the power to consumers or to the grid, depending on usage.
 
A net meter is mounted on the system as well which measures the flow of power to and from the grid system.

Solar panels and composition:

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Various layers in a solar panel each responsible for absorption and electricity.

Solar power is extracted from solar panels or modules. Solar modules are made up of several smaller solar cells which are made of a special form of silicon, a widely available semiconductor.
 
The silicon is tightly packed between two conductor sheets which make up a complete solar cell.
 
The silicon is arranged in a way to allow the movement of electrons when bombarded by photon waves of the sun, thus creating power.
 
A solar cell is able to produce only half a volt and several of these solar cells are combined to make solar panel systems.
 
Usually, one solar panel provides enough power to charge a laptop, but an entire house will need an array of solar panels for meeting daily deficits.
 
 A solar panel converts sunlight with a certain degree of efficiency depending on the manufacturer of the solar power system, often varying between 45% to as low as 20%. 
 
It can produce enough energy for a household to function perfectly, provided that it has enough sunlight throughout any given day.
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The location of Australia allows the country to receive maximum sunlight during the day.

 
The amount of sunlight a solar panel receives will further affect how much energy to be extracted at the end of each day.
 
Countries like Australia are well-off due to their geographic location.
 
These modules are also affected by temperature and may change the rate of energy absorption during extreme weather.
 
Solar panels collect all their energy and feed it to an inverter or battery for the next stage.

Energy collection and conversion:

Inverter

The next step in harvesting solar power is the inverter. The inverter takes DC voltage from solar panels and converts it to AC voltage for household use. It is known as the backbone of the solar power system since it is responsible for the electricity you use which comes from solar panels.
 
Inverters are of multiple categories:
 
A central inverter is a single unit inverter which is roughly the size of your luggage bag. It is mounted inside the house and takes all the DC voltage from all solar panels and converts them at once.
 
The device is the most viable type of inverter as it is relatively cheaper and ensures greater longevity with consistency.
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Inverters for solar panels come with various sizes depending on needs the scale of a property.

 
Single unit central inverters only pose a dangerous scenario because of the amount of their AC. It is prone to accidents and must be mounted on specific spots away from fire hazards or children.
 
Microinverters have recently come into use as of late. These are smaller components that sit on each individual panel.
 
They convert energy faster and are safer than central inverters because of their distribution of AC power output.
 
Microinverters cost more than central inverters due to the number of solar panels installed.
 
But, the popularly used systems are the central inverters because of their cost-effectiveness.
 

Batteries as storage:

Batteries are optional for solar power systems as they extract DC from solar panels and store them for later use.
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The energy transfer from the sun to the rest of the devices responsible for generating electricity.

 
Batteries have a 60% discharge rate which further affects the overall efficiency of any solar power system; moreover, batteries tend to be extremely expensive and come with any exact warranty period.
 
Batteries have a shorter life than their payback period, which means it will not help you save any money or even help recover your costs.
 
Batteries aren’t usually a smart option as opposed to feeding the surplus into the electrical grid.
 
 
Batteries come from quite a large number of suppliers some of which provide batteries which will not even last three years. It is advised not to get a battery altogether and instead feed the extra energy into the grid.
 

Distribution panel for conversion:

A distribution panel, also known as an alternating current panel dissipates energy from an inverter.
 
It channels the electricity and feeds into your household, where the excess amount is then sent to the grid for storage.
 
The distribution panel extracts electricity off the grid and feeds it to homes lacking power at the night or during the overcast days.
 
The distribution panel first feeds into the net meter to keep count of the power usage.
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Transforms DC into AC upon absorbing the sun’s rays.

 

Digital meter to keep count:

The digital meter or net meter is the component that keeps the count of the flowing electricity.
 
It measures the inflow of electricity from the grid as well as the surplus flowing from the solar power systems to the grids.
 
All the calculations are made in the meter keeping counts of energy used.
 

Power grid to feed in excess power:

The power grid is the main electricity supply to every household which comes from local power stations.
 
Besides having solar power, a connection to the power grid is necessary, as solar may not always provide the much-needed power for households and the compensation comes from power grids.
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Excess energy from solar panels is fed back to the meter.

 
On days when the solar panels feed-in surplus, the energy is then fed to the power grid.
 
The household receives compensation for the amount of energy fed into the grid with reduced bills.
 
Countries such as Australia issue a feed-in tariff to outline how much can be compensated every hour.
 
All this is calculated in the net meter which the energy flows through before entering the grid. The grid completes the entire basic set up of the solar energy system.

Conclusion

Solar energy is encouraged heavily, especially in Australia. The government provides rebates for households willing to purchase a whole setup. As explained, solar energy can be integrated into the energy system for a clean and inexpensive source of environmentally friendly energy. The initial cost of setting up solar energy might be a bit high but it pays off with time. Omit, solar energy could replace the use of fossil fuels as more solar farms are set up across the globe to blend in with the energy systems. To sum it all up, solar energy is simple to set up and can benefit households and the economy if implemented.
Barry Martin
Barry Martin
A hardcore solar enthusiast and installing solar panels since 2012. We have placed specialists in separate segments for installation and promoting only the prominent solar brands emerging in today's market. If you're looking for solar consultancy and/or even installers, then I am your guy.

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