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How Does Solar Power Work?

September 5, 2017

It is common to take electricity for granted. For most of us, we simply plug our gadgets, lights, and appliances into a wall outlet and they are powered on without much thought to where the power actually came from.

Homes powered by an electric utility like PNM receive power generated from enormous power plants typically operated through the burning of coal or natural gas. On the other hand, solar power systems are basically small power plants on a homeowner’s own property that generate clean electricity from the sun.

There are two crucial components of every solar system: solar photovoltaic panels and the AC inverter. An optional component that NM Solar Group includes are the power optimizers.

Solar Photovoltaic Panels

The solar photovoltaic (PV) panels are the heart of your solar system and consist of multiple solar cells made of silicon. The solar cells convert light from the sun into electricity by absorbing photons and releasing electrons. The panels have a positive side and a negative side and are connected via conductors. The electrons that are released are captured and generate an electrical current.

AC Inverter

The power generated from the solar panels is DC electricity, like a battery. In order to be used in a home, the DC power needs to be converted to AC power via an AC Inverter. The inverter uses transformers to transfer electricity through circuits via electromagnetic induction.

Power Optimizers

NM Solar Group uses power optimizers to increase the efficiency of solar systems. Not all companies use power optimizers, but they greatly increase the power produced by the system by conditioning the power that is produced from each panel. We pair a power optimizer to each solar panel installed in a system. They track the maximum power point of each module individually to prevent power reductions caused by shading.

A secondary benefit of the power optimizers is the ability to monitor the performance and health of the solar system. NM Solar Group includes solar monitoring hardware to allow homeowners to access a secure cloud-based website to view the production of the individual solar panels and entire system over various time periods. It also allows us to monitor the health of the solar system to ensure it is functioning normally and alerts us to any issues that need to be addressed.

We will discuss how excess power is credited via net metering in our next article.

If you would like to learn more about solar, the local Albuquerque-based solar company NM Solar Group would love to help. Please give us a call at 505-415-6172 or Click Here to schedule a free consultation.

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