What is a Solar Panel?

When you strip it down to the basics, a solar panel is an aluminum or stainless steel frame. And inside this frame is a silicone cell. The cell is protected by a thick and clear sheet of protective glass, usually measuring 2mm in thickness but this is just a generalization. Depending on the quality of the solar panel you choose, the thickness of the protective glass is going to differ. When the solar panel is positioned to face the sun, it captures (or harvests if you prefer) the UV rays. Contrary to popular belief, a solar panel is the most efficient in cooler conditions (a cool summer’s day with the sun clear in the sky, for example), as supposed to hot days. This is because panels are designed to go after UV rays, not heat. And when temperatures get extreme, it actually interferes with the efficiency levels.

 

Aquasol

Canadian Solar

Cinco

Enersol

JA Solar

 

What Elements and Equipment are Involved with a Fully Functional Solar System?

  • Inverter

The inverter has one specific purpose – to safely switch the DC energy from the solar panels to AC energy, which can be used inside the home. Without an inverter, you won’t be able to utilize the energy for appliances or lights. It’s also logical that you want to invest in a quality inverter, given its critical place in the equation. You can find out more about solar inverters right here.

  • Batteries

Batteries are an optional component. There are people who use solar power on demand, which means they only use solar energy when the sun is shining. But it also means they don’t have solar power during the night. For the most part, when people install a solar array, they take the battery option as well. Provided that you probably spend most of your day at work and use most energy at night, batteries just makes sense. Naturally, you get different sizes, models, and quality options, but this is why we have a solar battery section to keep you informed. Or, if you’ve heard about how wonderful lithium-ion batteries are, there’s an article on them too.

  • Solar Charge Controller/MPPT

Just like the batteries, a solar charge controller is an optional component. It regulates the current used to charge the battery which comes from the inverter. However, a solar charger does become a necessity if you are using panels with high outputs. If you want to maintain the health of your battery and the overall efficiency of the solar array, read more about solar charge controllers right here.

  • Solar Panel Accessories

Customize your solar panel system and gain a lot more control. From monitors, wiring, strut, everything you need to make your system function better can be found right here.

Converting the Energy

Now, the silicone cell is the magical component that turns the UV rays into DC energy. Once the rays have been harvested and transformed into practical energy, in a manner of speaking, it gets sent to an inverter. The inverter takes the flow of energy through another transformation, switching it from DC energy to AC. The latter is the energy/electricity that gets used inside your home. And just to clarify, the inverter and the solar panel are two separate pieces of solar power equipment. If you would like more in-depth info about solar panels, how they are made, and the different types that are available, simply read our quick and basic solar panel guide.

Different Solar Panel Brands

Solar panels aren’t all made equal, which makes the brand of solar panel you choose very important. Essentially, the best way to know if brand is worth your attention or money is by getting to know them a little better. At Solar Advice, we only stock high-quality brands that prioritizes affordability. In other words, we want to make the best brands available to you at the best prices. And if you would like more info on the brands we carry, we have a special brand section you can check out.