While solar panels might seem like magical, mysterious machines that take sunbeams and somehow make energy, they’re not as complicated as they seem. If you want to learn the solar panel basics, we’ve covered them in the article below.
Solar panel basics
Off-grid solar panels are great for those who want to live in a place that is not fixed to a specific location. Houseboats, renovated vans, and other remote homes are great places to use off-grid set-ups when it comes to solar panels.
When using off-grid panels, you’ll need to consider how much power you’ll have to use. When using an efficient system, power can’t be taken for granted anymore. If you have the money for it, you can feel free to power a whole regular-sized property with solar panels, but this tends to be more expensive.
Calculating the amount of power you need allows you to choose a system that can accommodate your requirements. Depending on where you live, you may need more or less power. If you live in an area with dark winters, you’ll need more power during that time but have less solar power stored. Living in a place with a lot of bright daylight may lead to less power usage.
Solar systems come in three voltages: 12V, 24V, and 48V. However, if you plan on using greater amounts of power or want to charge your equipment less frequently over time, go with a medium or large voltage for a higher battery bank. This will save you money and effort over time, even though it will cost more upfront.
Solar power systems have several key components. These include solar panels, charge controllers, batteries, and inverters. Solar panels are the PV panels that receive light. They come in different sizes, and their positioning matters greatly.
Batteries come in three types: lithium, sealed, and flooded. Flooded batteries tend to be cheaper than lithium batteries. Lithium requires less maintenance and weighs less than the others. Sealed batteries are perfect for those who want zero maintenance battery options on their set-up.
Charge controllers will send charge into batteries. There are two charge controller types: PWM (Pulse with Modulation) and MPPT (Maximum Power Point Tracking). PWM controllers tend to be cheaper, but MPPT provide more power and are best if you expect power outages since they can operate without as many cables.
Inverters convert DC battery power into AC power. Preferable options for inverters include the Outback inverters and Victron inverters. It’s best not to go cheap on this aspect since you’ll pay for it in the long run. Once you have these components, you can set up connectors, cables, and mountings.
How do solar panels work?
On a basic level, solar panels gather sunlight and convert it into electricity. DC battery signals go through an inverter. Then, the inverter switches the DC power into AC power, which can be used as electricity in your household.