Electricity From solar Panels
Solar power is arguably the cleanest, most reliable form of renewable energy available, and it can be used in several forms to help power your home or business. Solar-powered photovoltaic (PV) panels convert the sun's rays into electricity by exciting electrons in silicon cells using the photons of light from the sun. This electricity can then be used to supply renewable energy to your home or business.
To understand this process further, let’s look at the solar energy components that make up a complete solar power system.
The roof system
In most solar systems, solar panels are placed on the roof. An ideal site will have no shade on the panels, especially during the prime sunlight hours of 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.; a south-facing installation will usually provide the optimum potential for your system, but other orientations may provide sufficient production. Trees or other factors that cause shading during the day will cause significant decreases to power production. The importance of shading and efficiency cannot be overstated. In a solar panel, if even just one of its 36 cells is shaded, power production will be reduced by more than half. Experienced installation contractors such as NW Wind & Solar use a device called a Solar Pathfinder to carefully identify potential areas of shading prior to installation.
Not every roof has the correct orientation or angle of inclination to take advantage of the sun's energy. Some systems are designed with pivoting panels that track the sun in its journey across the sky. Non-tracking PV systems should be inclined at an angle equal to the site’s latitude to absorb the maximum amount of energy year-round. Alternate orientations and/or inclinations may be used to optimize energy production for particular times of day or for specific seasons of the year.
Solar panels, also known as modules, contain photovoltaic cells made from silicon that transform incoming sunlight into electricity rather than heat. (”Photovoltaic” means electricity from light — photo = light, voltaic = electricity.)