From The Sun To Your Toaster
If you look closely, you will see that solar panels are everywhere from rooftops to farm fields. But how do they work? It seems strange that a black piece of glass and plastic can sit there and generate energy when other ways to generate power require movement of some kind. Geothermal requires steam to spin a turbine, coal needs to be burned for many types of heat, hydroelectric needs a waterfall or a dam. While movement does create energy, we have a better way.
How Do Solar Panels Work?
Those panels that seem to just sit there are actually doing a lot of work. Tiny packets of energy called photons are generated by our Sun and travel 93 million miles to a solar cell where an electron is knocked loose, an electrical circuit is created. These panels direct the electricity to a waiting battery or through transmission wires and into the power grid. Many cells make up a single solar panel, and connected panels can be connected to form a solar array.
The electricity created from these photons are direct current (DC) electricity. This means that the flow of electricity only goes in one direction, much like a battery powers a flashlight. But the electrical grid in the United States uses alternating current (AC) electricity, which is less expensive to transmit over long distances. To get around this, your solar power system uses an inverter. The inverter functions as the brain of the system, converting DC to AC, providing ground fault, and compiling system statistics. A central inverter has been common to the industry, but with larger power arrays, micro-inverters that handle a single panel have become the more efficient option. This way when one panel goes down or experiences an issue it doesn’t affect the performance of the entire array.
Do Solar Panels Get Damaged Easily?
Those panels of glass and plastic do look rather fragile. It seems as if a hailstorm or a sudden gust of wind could destroy an entire field of them, but the panels themselves are built to last at least 20 years and can withstand a quite beating. The real enemy of solar panels is falling debris like acorns and tree branches. Falling debris can create micro scratches on the panels which decrease their efficiency. In addition, the accumulation of debris can cover the panels and put them out of commission until they are cleaned.
What Happens On Cloudy Days?
The myth many believe is that when it is cloudy, solar panels are useless. It’s true that they aren’t as effective on cloudy days, but the reality is that the typical solar panel can still generate between 10-25% of their rated capacity when clouds are blocking the sunlight. There is no shortage of photons from the Sun. In fact, every hour, enough photons impact the planet to generate electricity that will satisfy our global energy needs for an entire year in total. What matters is how much sun you get over the year. If sunny days outnumber cloudy ones, then solar power is a viable in your area.
Interested In Solar? Call Verogy!
We are passionate about solar power and the benefits it can have on your business. Call us today, and we can discuss the ways it can reduce your costs.