Solar energy is the most abundant resource on the planet. In a single hour, we receive enough energy from the sun to power 2,880 trillion lightbulbs for an hour or our entire global civilization for a full year. A home solar system in Kenya lets you use a fraction of this energy to power your home and life. But how does it all work?
As the sun’s rays reach the earth’s surface, they carry energy from the nuclear reactions happening on the sun in the form of photons (or tiny particles of light). A solar system captures these photons and turns them into clean, renewable power through the photovoltaics in solar panels, power inverters and wiring, your home’s electricity meter, and the local utility grid. Here is how these pieces work together.
In a single hour, we receive enough energy from the sun to power 2,880 trillion lightbulbs for an hour or our entire global civilization for a full year.
Sunlight and Solar Cells
A photovoltaic (PV) home solar panel consists of around 60 cells of semiconductor material. These cells are tied together to form a solar module, and solar modules are in turn tied together to form a system. Residential rooftop solar systems generally average 20 to 25 modules, but each is specific to the needs of the homeowner.
PV solar panels are primarily made of semiconductor materials like silicon. The PV cells are connected and mounted in a frame, usually made of aluminum. The frame is then covered with glass or plastic to protect the PV cells from damage and harsh weather conditions.
When photons from the sun strike a PV cell, they either reflect off, pass through the cell, or are absorbed by the semiconductor material. The absorbed photons generate electricity.
When the semiconductor material absorbs enough sunlight (solar energy), electrons are dislodged from the material’s atoms. Special treatment of the material surface during manufacturing makes the front surface of the cell more receptive to the dislodged, or free, electrons so that the electrons naturally migrate to the surface of the cell.
As these free electrons are drawn into an electric field between the negative top layer and the positive-charged semiconducting silicon of the bottom layer of the solar cell, they create a voltage potential like the negative and positive terminals on a battery. When these conductors in an electrical circuit are connected to an external receptor, like a battery, energy can flow as direct current (DC) electricity into a power inverter.
The power flowing through electrical power lines is typically alternating current (AC). This is what’s used to power your household appliances, heating and cooling systems, and all electronic devices in your home. This means the DC electricity generated by your solar panels needs to be converted to AC to make it usable.
Inverters are used on PV modules or in solar arrays to convert DC electricity to AC electricity. In DC applications, electricity is maintained at a constant voltage in one direction. In AC, electricity flows in both directions within the circuit as the voltage changes from positive to negative. Inverters are crucial equipment in solar power systems to help regulate the flow of electrical power.
As part of your solar system installation in Kenya, a power inverter is wired in to make the necessary electrical conversion and create a gateway between a solar array and the home’s main electrical panel.
Every outlet, light, or power source in your home is connected to the home’s central electrical panel through copper wires. To add solar energy converted to AC electricity to a home’s power supply, the main electrical panel requires some new wiring and additional circuit breakers.
Once the new solar power supply is converted and wired, the electrical panel can distribute the power to the other circuits throughout the home.
Go Solar Today
If you’ve wanted to install solar on your roof, the financial benefits of solar energy are bright and clear: you can increase your energy independence and security and stabilize your costs, take advantage of tax waivers, increase your home or property values, give back to the power grid, decrease your carbon emissions, and do your part to live in a more environmentally beneficial way.
A knowledgeable and helpful Jesaton Solar representative is ready to assist you with making the switch today.