How It Works
A solar photovoltaic (PV) panel -also known as a solar
panel- is a rectangular unit containing solar cells which are connected to
create electricity. Small conductors capture and accumulate power to be
extracted. With more connected cells comes higher voltage and current so you
can power more of your home.
Most residential solar panels use an inverter to convert the
solar power into a form that can power your home appliances. This inverter can
also connect your system with the local electrical utility, which enables the
utility to purchase your excess power.
What Can Go Wrong?
One common problem is shading. A shaded panel will not
produce solar energy. Some solar cells will work when their panel is partially
shaded and some won’t. This means that any shading can significantly decrease
the effectiveness of your solar panel. It may also cause certain cells to
overheat, leading to cell damage and premature failure of the panel.
Solar panels come in various physical sizes and are rated
based on the watts of electric power they produce. Typical thin film PV solar
panels will generate from 90 to 200 watts of electricity in full sun.
Crystalline silicon panels commonly generate between 160 and 300 watts,
depending on size and efficiency of the PV cells. For example, a 12-panel array
of 280 watt solar panels would generate approximately 3.36 kilowatts of
electric power under peak sun conditions. Solar panels have a negative carbon
footprint, meaning that they produce no emissions while offsetting the need for
power production from other fossil fuel sources.