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What is Solar Power and how does it work?

Master Electrician Mount Maunganui

What is Solar Power?

Simply put, solar is the most abundant source of energy on Earth. The sun throws out about 173,000 terawatts of power at any given time – more than 10,000 times the world’s total energy needs.

By using solar panels, we look to harness this potent, renewable energy source, using it to power our daily lives and reduce our dependency on fossil fuels.

How Does It Work?

Solar power works by converting light from the sun into electricity. This electricity can then be used in your home or exported to the grid when it’s not needed.

 

Step One: The Solar Panels

Solar panels are installed on your roof. The panels are made up of many silicon photovoltaic (PV) cells. These cells absorb the light’s energy and convert it into DC (Direct Current) electricity via the Photovoltaic Effect. However, DC energy is not usable in the home, so it directs to an inverter.

Step Two: The Inverter

The inverter is the brain of the solar system, and its job is to convert the DC electricity into AC (alternating current) electricity, which is suitable for home use. It can also provide you with information like the amount of electricity produced at any particular time or since installation. From the inverter, the AC electricity directs to your switchboard.

Step Three: The Switchboard

A switchboard will send the AC electricity to the appliances in your home. Your switchboard will always ensure that your solar energy will be used first to power your home, only accessing additional energy from the grid when your solar production alone is insufficient.

Step Four: The Utility Meter

Any solar system must have a bi-directional meter, which your chosen electricity provider will install. This meter can record the power drawn to the house from the grid and record the amount of solar energy exported back to the grid from your system.

Step Five: The Grid

Any solar electricity produced by your system and not used by your household or business is directed back to the grid. You will be awarded credit on your electricity bill by exporting solar power back to the grid. Wahoo!

The Takeaway

Once installed, your Solar System will allow you to harness the sun’s power to power your life.

You do not need to switch a solar system on and off – the system will do this seamlessly and automatically. You also don’t need to worry about switching between using your solar system or the grid, as your solar system will determine when is best to do so based on the amount of energy consumed in your home.

Once installed, solar systems require very little maintenance and will continue to provide you with power for many years.

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