Introduction To Solar Power
Solar panels are specific devices that utilize the rays of light coming from the sun and produce electricity.
The devices have been termed with “Solar” because they are powered by the most powerful light source, which is the Sun, called Sol by astronomers. These are usually manufactured in the form of long slabs; hence they are called panels.
Solar panels have photovoltaic solar cells that are up 60 in number that under the effect of sunlight, develop electricity through photovoltaic effect and provide it to the areas in need.
Many solar panels have concentrators which intensify light on the panel and hence, increase productivity and efficiency. Solar panels usually use silicon-based photovoltaic cells and different types of solar panels vary according to the level of purity of the silicon present in them.
This directly facilitates in the better conduction of electricity as better purity, means better alignment of their atoms and thus, more sunlight conversion to electricity .
As discussed above, based on the level of purity of silicon, we have different types of solar panels. Monocrystalline solar panels are the most efficient since they are made out of the highest-grade of silicon available.
They appear in uniform coloring and outlook which makes them easily recognizable. Initially, monocrystalline solar cells are made out of silicon ingots and they are cylindrical in shape. Later in the process of implementation, they are cut into rectangular wafers and get their characteristic look.
These solar panels are space-efficient. They require the least space out of the other types available and can produce up to four times the electricity than thin-film solar panels.
As these are more efficient in regards to space and functionality, these are expensive than the rest of the types as well and from a financial standpoint, a polycrystalline solar panel is a better opt which will be our next type of discussion.
Another type of solar panel is the polycrystalline solar panels.
These were first introduced in the 1980s and are also known as polysilicon solar panels and multi-crystalline silicon solar panels. These solar panels have less silicon purity and so lack in the efficiency category as compared to monocrystalline solar panels.
The manufacture of polycrystalline solar panels is relatively simple. Silicon is melted into square molds and then cooled. They are then cut into wafers and installed. This makes them simple to manufacture and cost-effective.
Polycrystalline solar panels waste less amount of silicon as compared to monocrystalline solar panels but they are less tolerable to heat changes. This means that they are less efficient at high temperatures .
Solar panels are always subjected to direct sunlight throughout the day.
This does not necessarily mean that they are constantly being charged or discharged too. Charge controllers, simply called regulators, is a piece of circuitry that bars the rate at which the batteries/photovoltaic cells are charged or discharged.
In many cases where there are chances of overcharging, charge controllers function so as to protect the solar panels from burning out. It can also prevent completely draining the cells in order to protect the overall life of the cells .
Like all the electricity generating devices, there is option to transfer electricity in a single-phase configuration or three-phase configuration. Accordingly, solar panels use single-phase chargers or three-phase chargers to function according to the changes in the phase of the electricity being transferred to and from the photovoltaic cells.
Although single-phase and three-phase chargers have been touched here, there are many other configurations in which there are multiple phases coming and going.
Accordingly, multiphase chargers are used. Single-phase trickle chargers are utilized in solar cells to allow fast charging of the voltaic cells. These chargers charge the photovoltaic cells when they are in no-load condition and are able to charge them at almost the same rate at which the battery discharges itself .
Two of the most widely used batteries for solar power is the deep-cycle flooded LA batteries and deep-cycle valve-regulated LA batteries. The previous is the most used out of the two and as the name suggests, consists of plates that are completely submerged into the electrolyte.
The submersion allows longer life and thus, low plates replacement cost and easy maintenance with optimal performance. The latter works such that the oxygen being produced at one end due to some chemical reactions navigates to the other and produces water.
So, indirectly, these are significantly reducing water loss.
Lead acid batteries are a major component of solar cells and are of various types.
The two types that are being touched here are the Wet (flooded) cell, gel cell and AGM (Absorbed Glass Mat). Wet cell is the batteries that have submerged electrodes with an electrolyte and are same as the deep-cycle flooded LA batteries discussed above.
In gel cell, however, the electrolyte is suspended with a silica additive that makes the electrolyte as well as the battery, stiff.
This particular type of cell is the most sensitive to overcharging and function for longer duration in hot weather applications.
In AGM, the electrolyte is kept in close proximity of the plates. Theoretically, this enhances discharge efficiency as well as recharge efficiency.
Another major component of electricity generation is the inversion. Inverters are devices that convert DC to AC.
Similarly, solar inverters are installed on the basis of how the panels are installed and perform the same function as a normal inverter. Examples of solar inverters include string inverters, central inverters, microinverters and others .