Building Blocks of Solar Part 4 – Sizing a Solar Array

Hack My Solar Blog Post

Sizing a Solar Array

A Solar Array is just a fancy term for your solar panels, which themselves are combinations of solar cells, combined into a single system.  Today we discuss “sizing a solar array.” The first step is determining what your needs are.  It is always good to eliminate or reduce some parts of your usage before determining the size of your solar array.  For example at our house we got rid of our drip coffee maker and began buying roasted beans, hand grinding them, heating water on a propane stove, and using a french press.  The amount of electricity we need to make our Continue reading “Building Blocks of Solar Part 4 – Sizing a Solar Array”

Building Blocks of Solar Part 3

Hack My Solar Blog Post

How do Solar Panels work?

Solar, or Photovoltaic, Panels work by converting light energy from the sun, or photons, into electricity through the “Photovotaic effect.”  Interestingly, a French physicist built the first ever photovoltaic cell at 19 years old, in 1839.  The first practical photovoltaic cell was demonstrated by Bell Laboratories in 1954 and early on they were primarily used in space.

A Solar Panel is a collection of solar cells that are made up of semiconductors.  Semiconductors absorb the photons–through a process I wont describe in detail–and cause electrons to be excited and break free to be converted into usable DC electricity.  Solar cells are arrangements of silicon “sandwiches” where one layer is activated with boron and the other activated with phosphorus.  This helps the charge to be created and directs the free electrons to the wiring that leads to your charge controller.   Continue reading “Building Blocks of Solar Part 3”