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An Introduction to Solar Power System Components

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Many home and business owners who are thinking about going solar are intimidated by solar technology; they don’t understand what it really is or how it works and this can be a major deterrent from taking action, since not understanding something can lead to disbelief in how it will really works. Fortunately, the reality is that solar photovoltaic technology – technology used to convert sunlight into electricity – is actually quite simple when you break down the solar power system components.

Solar photovoltaic systems, also often called solar PV for short, are made up of a number of components, including solar panels, solar inverters, mounting platforms and cabling infrastructure. Combined these components are able to harness radiant light, convert it into electricity and transmit it into homes and business to power electrical devices, like lights and appliances.

Solar panels are perhaps the most well-known of all the solar system components, particularly since they’re the most visible part of a solar system, often sitting in blind view on top of a roof. They are also the life blood of a solar power system, because they are the devices that actually capture the sun’s radiation and convert it into an electrical current. Solar panels can come in all shapes and sizes, but are typically comprised of a grouping of solar cells that are wired together and encapsulated by a glass casing that protects against the elements. While there are a number of factors that determine the electrical output of a solar power system, the number of solar cells and overall size of the solar panel array, are the major determinant in how much electricity can be generated from a solar system. The more solar cells and larger the solar panel array is, the more electricity can be generated.

Solar PV systems would be worthless without solar inverters, though. Once radiant sunlight is converted into electricity, the systems need inverters to transform the electrical current from DC power to alternating current, so it can actually be absorbed by homes. Most homes and businesses run off of alternating current.

Next a series of cabling infrastructure is necessary to actually bring the converted power into homes and business. Cabling networks can vary, but typically are designed to be UV and weather resistant and capable of dealing with extreme fluctuations in temperature (both heat and cold).

Finally, the mounting system is the skeleton of the solar power system. Mounting systems are the platforms upon which solar arrays reside. Most commonly, home and business owners mount their solar systems on top of their roofs so that they can gain greater access to direct sunlight. However, mounting systems can also be built on the ground or on other erected structures, like a pole.

While solar PV technology may seem overly complicated, when breaking it down, the components of solar systems are really quite simple. The technology has been around for decades and decades. There haven’t been huge changes to the underlying components of a solar systems, just major advances in the efficiency with which solar PV systems can produce energy.

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