A solar panel is a group of photovoltaic cells that convert sunlight to electricity. Solar panels convert solar energy into direct current (DC) which is fed into a charge controller, inverter or battery to create alternating current (AC). The output of the inverter is used to power loads in homes and businesses such as lighting, appliances, pumps, and motors. Solar arrays can also be connected to the grid to provide electricity to local power companies and utilities.
The basic principles behind a solar panel’s ability to generate electricity are straightforward. The more sun a panel gets, the more electricity it will produce. As the sun moves across the sky, its rays are directed at different angles to each panel. The angle of incidence directly affects the amount of sunlight absorbed by each solar cell. Solar panels are usually oriented to face south (in the northern hemisphere) or north (in the southern hemisphere). Many solar installers utilize a solar tracker to optimize solar panel performance and maximize energy production.
Shopping for Solar Panels: Tips for Finding the Perfect Solar Solution for Your Needs
Solar panels lose efficiency over time, but their decline is slow and well within the manufacturer’s warranty. The efficiency loss is more pronounced in hotter climates, but fortunately, there are solutions to help mitigate the effect of high temperatures.
Depending on the type of solar panel, installation begins with surveying the location to ensure there are no shade or obstacles obstructing sunlight. The mounting system is then installed and may be tilted slightly from 18-36 degrees to allow for maximum conversion efficiency. The panels are then fixed to the mounting structure using bolts and nuts.