How Do Solar Panels and Their Battery Backup Systems Work?

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Many people assume that it is difficult to understand the way solar panels and battery backup systems work. In reality, they are relatively simple in nature. Solar panels and cells generate electricity and battery backup systems do exactly what their name suggests, which is provide additional power if the solar panels are not able to generate enough energy or malfunctions.

Components

  • The main pieces of equipment for a solar energy system include solar panels (same volts and amps), power inverter (true sine wave), battery bank (deep cycle), charge controller MPPT (Maximum Power Point Tracking), electrical disconnect, fuse and breakers (DC voltage) and large wire (voltage loss).

Solar Panels

  • Solar panels are a box that encases solar cells. Solar cells capture the sun’s energy and convert it into electricity. Many cells are needed to produce a sufficient amount of energy. Because the cells are very delicate, the panels are a useful way to increase their stability.

Battery Backup and Calculations

  • The battery backup is helpful to power a home if there is not enough sunlight during the day, usually because of unfavorable weather conditions. Typically, this is considered an emergency power source that only produces energy for your essential appliances for 24 hours. To calculate how many amp hours you will need for a battery backup, you have to estimate according to your previous electric bills. Start by dividing the kWh usage on your bill by the number of days in the month and subtract the amount of electricity used for air conditioning or heat use.

Inverter

  • It is essential to know what equipment or appliance will use the most electricity at any one time and how much total energy is needed. For example, if you have a microwave that uses 1300 watts of electricity while the lights in the kitchen are consuming energy as well, add all the wattage to figure out the heaviest load that occurs at the same time. A good rule of thumb is to have a minimum power inverter of 2000 watts. The solar panels convert the sunlight into DC power, which is why the inverter is needed. The inverter is used to turn the DC power into AC power that is usable for most electrical equipment and home appliances.

General Process

  • The inverter connects the solar panel to the charge controller, which regulates the energy. The charge controller distributes energy to the output and the battery.

Example of Specifications of an Optimal System

  • An optimal system would have a 650 watt to 1,200-watt range. An example of the specifications for an effective solar panel and battery backup system is if you have solar panels that generate 810 watts of energy, use a 60 amp charge control, 2000 watt power(12 or 24 volt) inverter and a 1,170 amp hour battery bank.

  • Photo Credit solar panels image by Yali Shi from Fotolia.com
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