A complete photovoltaic system, a solar electrical power source, has many parts to function properly and safely. These basic parts of a solar system can give you electrical freedom from the utility company’s grip on you power needs. No longer will you have to be dependent on their power supply. Here is what you need to generate your own power and let Nature’s free resource do the work for you!
- First you’ll need a photovoltaic array, better known as photocells that mount on the roof of your house or an area with access to direct sunlight. These photocells collect sunlight and transform it into direct current (DC) that can be used to run DC components, devices, and appliances. It also can be converted to alternating current (AC) that is what your home uses now to power your home.
- From the PV array, the DC power is channeled through a charge controller that controls the current feeding the batteries at the appropriate voltage of the batteries. This prolongs the life of the batteries and ensures the batteries are properly charged and ready for optimal use.
- A fuse then protects the connection between the charge controller and the bank of batteries needed to power your home. This electrical safety device is a current-limiting device responsible for the electrical safety of the system.
- A bank of batteries is then fed, consisting o at least six batteries, depending on which system you have the the amount of the electrical load requirements of your home. You may have one of three battery voltages driving your system: a 12-, 24-, or 48-volt system. This is one way the batteries are charged that run the system.
- Another way to charge the batteries is a generator that can feed the AC load requirements of the home when the solar power cannot or the batteries are depleted, while charging the depleted batteries with a battery charger so that the system can once again be used. The battery charger connection is also protected by fuses that connect to the batteries.
- Leaving the batteries, another fuse protection is added before converting the DC power into alternating current (AC) through a device called an inverter. An inverter transforms the power to a useable power source that the home already runs on, AC.
- Now, to get this power generated by either the solar panels or the backup generator, we have to install a device called a transfer switch. A transfer switch switches power from man power to backup power. In this case, the main power is the solar power and the backup is the generator. When the power is now being generated by the solar system, the transfer switch switches to generator power and, with an automated system, the generator will start itself and start supplying power from the generator.
- The transfer switch then feeds the AC loads of the home through a device called an AC loads controller. This device monitors the current and voltage of the incoming feed and protects the loads with the use of fuses. These loads include electrical devices, motors, and appliances to name a few.
- Leaving the batteries is also an option of feeding your home’s Dc loads. If you’ve wired some or all of your home for DC feeds, this connection is connected to a DC loads controller. It, like the AC loads controller, protects your DC powered appliances, fans, lighting, etc… It to has current protection and monitors the appropriate voltage for these devices.Whether you are building a new home that strictly will utilize solar power or you are just using it to supplement the existing power you have, this is a great system that can save you big money on your electric bill. My advice to you before you buy a system is to look over a system that is already in use and talk to the owner for his take on the costs, savings, and likability of the system. Then, you too can make an informed decision on whether this system is for you.