Facts About Solar Panels

Facts about solar panels are good to know when considering solar power for either a solar powered generator or for going completely off the grid. Here are some of the basics you should know about solar power.

How Solar Panels Work

When light hits silicon, the electrons within are stimulated and make electricity. Connect a copper wire to a silicon cell, expose the cell to light, and you have a usable current of electricity that can charge a battery.

But silicon is hard to grow, and for years solar panels were a costly investment.

A homeowner couldn't think of going off the grid without investing thousands of dollars upfront, leaving solar energy to the realm of movie stars and the very wealthy.

Fortunately for us ordinary folks, things have changed for the better in the past few years. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory found a way to produce solar cells out of copper indium gallium selenide, also known as CIGS. This material absorbs sunlight in a powerful way, and only a thin film of silicon is needed to conduct electricity. Less silicon in a solar panel means a lower cost, making solar panels affordable for just about anybody.

Facts About Solar Panels and
the Equipment You Need

A solar panel harnesses energy from the sun, but you need to harness that energy from the solar panel as well. Here are some of the other pieces of equipment you need to get electricity from the solar panel and into your home.

  • Charge Controller - This makes sure the charge going from the solar panel is at a low enough voltage for your battery to handle.
  • Battery - This stores the electricity from the solar panel until you are ready to use it. You will need to use a marine deep cycle battery rather than an ordinary car battery as it will last far longer.
  • Inverter - the power coming from your battery will be a direct current, but most of your appliances will run on alternating current. The inverter changes the direct current into alternating current.
  • Proper Wiring - The wire you use should be large enough to accommodate the current running from the solar panel to your charge controller, battery and inverter. A 14 gauge wire or larger will ensure your wires don't overheat and cause a potential fire.

Facts About Solar Panels and
Finding Your Equipment

Now that you know the equipment you need to harness energy from the sun, you are likely wondering where you can find these pieces of equipment. Fortunately, you can make a solar powered generator for $300 or less (you can learn more here). Here are some tips on where to find the equipment you need.

Finding a Solar Panel

One of the crucial facts about solar panels is you need a solar panel for it all to work. Solar panels will produce different amounts of watts depending on the number of silicon cells it has. Generally, the more wattage it can produce, the more expensive the solar panel will be.

You can find solar panels for sale on eBay, and also on Amazon (find the solar panels here).

Finding a Charge Controller and Inverter

Charge controllers are available in all price ranges and capacities, as are inverters. You can purchase both of these items from Wal Mart, Amazon or eBay.

Learn More About Going Off the Grid

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