How Does PV System Work?

By June 15, 2019 June 28th, 2019 Solar Education

The sun generates enough energy for earth population usage for one year within a day. Yet, today we still rely on fossil fuels as our primary energy source. However, that is slowly changing with the fact that the price of the PV system is dropping makes it more public friendly. Hence, this is a good opportunity for you to understand the process of how solar panels work, from the panels absorbing sunlight to converting the sunlight into electricity that runs your home. In order to generate electricity from the sun to power homes, both solar modules and inverters are required.

Solar Modules

How can solar modules absorb energy from the sun?

Solar modules are made up of silicon, which is a semiconductor. Semiconductors are in between metal and insulator. Furthermore, metals have very low resistivity or very high conductivity, insulators, on the other hand, have high resistivity or very low conductivity. Semiconductors are not as highly conductive as metals, but with higher energy input, they can be conductive and that is where the sunlight comes into place.

What happens when sunlight enters the panel?

There are two layers of silicon on per panel, the bottom layer is doped with boron, which bonds the silicon facilitate a positive charge (proton), while the top layer is doped with phosphorus, which facilitates a negative charge (electron). When sunlight reaches the panels, the high energy knocks electrons loose in both layers, then the electrons will flow from the bottom layer to the top layer. It then will travel through the external circuit and eventually flow toward the inverter.

How can solar modules absorb energy from the sun?

Solar modules are made up of silicon, which is a semiconductor. Semiconductors are in between metal and insulator. Furthermore, metals have very low resistivity or very high conductivity, insulators, on the other hand, have high resistivity or very low conductivity. Semiconductors are not as highly conductive as metals, but with higher energy input, they can be conductive and that is where the sunlight comes into place.

What happens when sunlight enters the panel?

There are two layers of silicon on per panel, the bottom layer is doped with boron, which bonds the silicon facilitate a positive charge (proton), while the top layer is doped with phosphorus, which facilitates a negative charge (electron). When sunlight reaches the panels, the high energy knocks electrons loose in both layers, then the electrons will flow from the bottom layer to the top layer. It then will travel through the external circuit and eventually flow toward the inverter.

Inverters

What are inverters?

The electricity the solar modules generated are direct current (DC), but most household appliances are power by alternating current (AC). Therefore, the electricity is fed into inverters, which converts the current from direct current (DC) into alternating current (AC).

String Inverter vs. Micro Inverters

Traditional solar systems are linked by string inverters, a string inverter is a standalone box usually installed near electricity meter. There is usually one inverter on each solar installation. However, if one panel stops working, the whole system would stop working as well due to they all connect by one inverter. On the other hand, micro inverters are attached individually on the backside of each solar panel, hence if one panel stops working, the rest would still function. However, the main disadvantage of microinverters is the price, they are typically more expensive than string inverters.

Reference

How Solar Panels Work. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.ucsusa.org/clean-energy/renewable-energy/how-solar-panels-work#.XGsIvuhKg2x

Animation: How Solar Panels Work – An Interesting Intergraphic. (2017, February 03). Retrieved from https://www.valuewalk.com/2017/02/solar-panels-explained/

Sendy, A. (2017, March 23). Pros and Cons of String Inverters vs Micro Inverters. Retrieved from https://www.solarreviews.com/blog/pros-and-cons-of-string-inverter-vs-microinverter

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Elena Chen

Author Elena Chen

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