How Solar Power Works|
The solar cells that you see on calculators and satellites are photovoltaic cells or modules (modules are simply a group of cells electrically connected and packaged in one frame). Photovoltaics, as the word implies (photo = light, voltaic = electricity), convert sunlight directly into electricity. Once used almost exclusively in space, photovoltaics are used more and more in less exotic ways. They could even power your house.
How do these devices work?
Photovoltaic (PV) cells are made of special materials called semiconductors such as silicon, which is currently the most commonly used. Basically, when light strikes the cell, a certain portion of it is absorbed within the semiconductor material. This means that the energy of the absorbed light is transferred to the semiconductor. The energy knocks electrons loose, allowing them to flow freely.
PV cells also all have one or more electric fields that act to force electrons freed by light absorption to flow in a certain direction. This flow of electrons is a current, and by placing metal contacts on the top and bottom of the PV cell, we can draw that current off to use externally. For example, the current can power a calculator. This current, together with the cell's voltage (which is a result of its built-in electric field or fields), defines the power (or wattage) that the solar cell can produce.
The Components That Make Up A Residential Solar System
The four basic components of a residential solar system are rooftop solar modules, an inverter, an in-home solar power monitor, and an electric meter.
Sharp solar modules collect the sun's energy and convert it into electricity. Based on your electricity requirements, the appropriate numbers of modules are connected to form a rooftop array.
The inverter converts the electricity from direct current (DC) to alternating current (AC) for use in the home.
The Monitor and Electric Meter:
The monitor allows you to view the status of your system and its performance, while the standard electric meter displays net power usage.
Solar power can provide electricity for many applications.
In very remote locations it may be the only practical solution since reliable power can be provided virtually anywhere. In addition, more and more residential and commercial customers are realizing the benefits of utilizing solar power for electricity to offset their utility-supplied energy consumption, to provide back up power or to operate independent of the utility grid. Solar power can be a solution.