A naturally occurring nuclear reactor, our sun releases photons, microscopic packets of energy that travel 93 million miles to the Earth in roughly 8½ minutes, delivering enough energy to our planet every hour to satisfy the world’s energy need for an entire year. Nonetheless, solar power currently accounts for a tiny fraction of the energy we consume, for example, in the United States, power generated with solar amounts to just four-tenths of one percent of the total energy consumed.
As the cost of harnessing the sun’s energy drops, our ability to incorporate solar technology into our lives rises, with a recent International Energy Agency report indicating that by 2050, solar energy could become the world’s largest electricity source. That means we can expect to see solar providing for more of our energy needs in coming years as storage technology improves and prices drop.
How Does Solar Power Work?
The solar panels that are a common sight in Australian residential areas are made of silicon which is a highly effective semiconductor. These panels, also known as photovoltaic (PV) panels, have a positive layer and a negative layer which combines to create an electric field, similar to a battery.
When photons, those tiny packets of solar energy, hit a solar cell, they knock electrons loose from their atoms so that when they flow through the circuit created by the positive and negative sides of the cell, electricity is generated. The larger the system, the more electricity can be generated.
Inverters – Converting DC to AC
Solar panels generate DC (direct current) electricity which means the electrons flow in a single direction around the circuit. However, electrical power grids use AC (alternating current) electricity in which electrons are pushed and pulled with the effect that their direction is periodically reversed.
To get DC electricity into the AC grid an inverter is used, but they do more than convert electricity, as they also perform a variety of important functions, such as ground fault protection, and produce system stats like energy production and maximum power point tracking.
There are two main varieties of inverters, central inverters, which optimise for the entire system, and micro-inverters, which optimise for each individual solar panel. Whereas central inverters optimise performance for the weakest panel in the system, micro-inverters enable every solar panel to perform at their maximum potential. That makes micro-inverters the better choice.
Is Solar Power Suitable for My Home?
Yes, solar power is for everyone, regardless of where they reside and how much they can afford to spend on a system. Due to solar radiation rates, some areas are better suited to solar power than others, with Western Australia homeowners blessed with an abundance of solar radiation that enables us to make great use of the sun’s rays to meet our electricity and hot water needs.
At Solar Repairs Perth, we’re experienced with all solar hot water systems used here in WA and pride ourselves on providing a fast and efficient service that meets all your solar hot water needs. For cost-effective solar hot water servicing and repairs in Perth, call (08) 9200 4331.