Solar Array - A Complete Guide And Mechanics Of How It Works?
Solar Tech Logo_Final Version

Solar Array – A Complete Guide And Mechanics of How it Works?

A solar array consists of interconnected solar modules composed of several solar panels. Solar arrays, also known as photovoltaic arrays, meet the energy needs of big residential and commercial buildings. 

The solar array provides DC power, delivered to an inverter, which converts it to AC power that your home can use. Solar arrays can be mounted on several structures and environments. 

However, the roof is the most frequent location for residential installations. Based on panel size and other criteria unique to your property, a solar array capable of powering an everyday household needs between 21 and 34 panels.

What is a Solar Array?

The quantity and solar panels’ size inside a solar array is determined by the amount of sunlight available where it is situated. Other essential considerations for acquiring a solar array include the number of units of power required, the capacity of electricity storage, the amount of space available for building the solar array, and so on. 

A solar array’s electricity can be utilized to light both external and internal spaces at a low cost.

What is the Number of Solar Panels in a Solar Array?

The size of the ideal solar array for you is determined by several criteria, including your energy use, available roof area, and the amount of daylight where you reside (usually measured in the peak sun hours).

The amount of solar panels you’ll require is determined by the size of your monthly electricity expenditure (among various factors). You will save the most money if you strive to cover as much of your electrical usage as possible. If your home’s energy needs differ from your neighbor’s, you may need to build a few more panels.

The number of panels you’ll need to cover your electricity consumption is also determined by their location in your geographic region and the design itself. In terms of location, one solar panel in California will produce more electricity than one in New York. All other factors are equal since California receives more sunlight throughout the year. When estimating the output of the solar panel system, installers consider your location and offer a design accordingly.

The array’s physical placement, as well as the direction it faces, are crucial considerations. If the roof faces east/west, you’ll need more panels to achieve the same production level as if it faced due south.

What are the Five Major Parts of a Solar Array?

Every solar array has several major components and a few optional components. Solar inverter(s),  AC/DC disconnects, Solar panels, and solar racking are essential components of any installation. 

A solar power meter, batteries, charger controllers, and solar battery storage unit(s) can be added if desired and required.

  1. Solar Panels

Solar panels are probably the most prominent part of a solar power system. Solar panels, also called photovoltaic panels, are extremely visible and crucial to any solar power setup’s success.

Each solar panel contains several solar cells, and a solar array comprises several solar panels.

Solar panels are commonly found on the rooftops of buildings and carports, although they can also be fixed on the ground. They can be positioned at an angle to collect as much sun as possible during the day.

Depending on the manufacturer, solar panels can be produced from various materials. Nowadays, crystalline silicon wafers are used in almost all modern solar panels. The different silicon types are thin film, polycrystalline, and monocrystalline.

For most new solar panel installations, monocrystalline panels are the industry standard. Glass, metal, plastic, and wiring are examples of additional materials.

Types of Solar Panels 

Different Types of Solar Panels used in a Solar Array can be classified as the following

• Polycrystalline silicon panels combine the utilization of several silicon crystals. They’re a cost-effective alternative to monocrystalline panels, but they’re inefficient.

• Monocrystalline silicon panels are made up of just one crystal. They are the most efficient and industry-standard solar panels. They are, however, the most costly alternative.

• Thin-film solar cells are rarer than polycrystalline and monocrystalline solar cells. Amorphous silicon is used to make these solar cells, and they are the most flexible sort of solar panel. If you need to place solar panels on a curved surface, these flexible solar panels could be an excellent choice. These are sometimes utilized for RV solar panels. However, they are the least efficient.

While certain other components will need to be maintained and replaced over time, a solar panel can last for decades. You don’t want to scrimp on this component because it’s your system’s most expensive and important portion. Solar panels of good quality will work for more than 25 years.

  1. AC / DC  Disconnects 

AC / DC Disconnects[1] for solar power systems are the electrical switches that govern your system. You can use the system disconnect to turn off the power from your solar array. If you need to make repairs or maintain your solar panels, you may require to accomplish this from time to time. Or if the solar system has a problem.

  1. Inverters 

Solar inverters are another important component of any solar power system. The inverter’s main function is to convert the DC power generated by the solar panels into electricity in the form of AC.

Because most household appliances and devices run on AC power, this conversion is required. You wouldn’t be capable of powering everything in your house without converting DC energy to AC. The inverter is an important element of solar equipment that works hard.

The inverter lasts the life of your solar system. However, it only has a ten-year warranty, whereas solar panels can last 25 years. Because the inverter is the most probable component to fail, it’s worth investing in a high-quality brand immediately.

  1. Charge Controllers 

A charge controller is a gadget that controls how much electricity flows from the solar panels to your batteries. Another potential component is a solar charge controller; however, you will not require one if your system does not include a battery.

Charge controllers ensure that the batteries in the system are charged safely to extend the battery bank’s life. MPPT (Maximum Power Point Tracking) and PWM (Pulse Width Modulation) are the two major forms of solar charge controllers (PWM).

  1. Solar Batteries 

A solar power system can include solar batteries as an optional component. Like regular batteries, solar batteries store energy for future use. A solar battery stores energy produced during the day so that it may be used at night because there is no sunlight. You can use a battery bank to store a large amount of energy if you desire or require to store a lot of it.

If your system generates a lot of energy, a battery can store it for a long time in case of an emergency. A hybrid system is a form of solar power configuration, and if you’re thinking about it, it’s better to plan for one from the start. It’s not usually easy to incorporate a battery into a grid-tied system after installation.

You won’t need a battery if you have a solar power system connected to the grid. A grid-tied system can draw energy from the power grid in the evening. If you own an off-grid system and need electricity in the evenings, you’ll need to invest in a solar battery. Off-grid cabins and tiny solar houses benefit from batteries.

Battery technology is a good solution for individuals who have to use their energy mostly in the evenings. Batteries are more expensive to install, but they reduce your dependency on the grid in the long run, lowering your power bills. On the other hand, a battery wouldn’t be the most cost-effective solution if you have a feed-in tariff.

Some solar owners can take advantage of a feed-in tariff, a price paid by your utility provider for sending solar power into the shared energy grid. You can feed energy into the grid in the morning and then pull it back in the evening to balance expenses. You will not be feeding excess energy into the grid if you store it in a battery. As a result, you will not be compensated for your extra efforts.

Batteries might be among the most expensive components in a solar power system. If your feed-in tariff rate is high, it may not be economically viable to store extra energy in a battery.  The solar calculator can assist you in estimating your energy use and determining which energy source is ideal for your needs.

There are various battery alternatives in the solar power business; the two most common battery chemistries are lithium and lead-acid. You can use either flooded or sealed AGM batteries within the lead-acid category.

Solar Battery Types 

  • Lead-acid
  • Lithium-ion
  • Nickel-cadmium
  • Flow

Each battery type has advantages and disadvantages, and the price is also a factor. On the other hand, lithium-ion batteries are rapidly becoming one of the most common battery options because they require essentially no maintenance. Compared to a lead-acid battery, lithium-ion batteries can store more solar energy in a smaller size.

Other important components

Mounts & Racks

Even though racks and mounts aren’t electrical parts, they’re vital to your solar system. Your solar panels are attached to your roof or mounted on the ground using the racks and mounting. The racking quality is key, but the proper installation is even more crucial. The system’s efficiency can deteriorate if panels are installed at an incorrect angle.

  • Solar Mount Types 
  • Roof Mounts: Roof mounts are the most typical way to connect a solar array to a building, like a tiny house, a commercial building, or a house. Using roof attachments, rigid solar panels can also be mounted on boats and vehicles, like RVs and vans.
  • Ground Mounts: Basic ground mounts link a solar array to concrete piers closer to the ground for stability. The panels are set at a fixed angle. However, they can be manually adjusted as the season’s changes. 

You can choose this alternative if you don’t have enough roof space. However, both pole-mounted and ground panels necessitate a large amount of land. As a result, this installation is more common in business or agricultural settings than in residential settings.

  • Pole Mounts: This is a less common type of mounting that links a solar array to a pole concreted into the ground. Pole mounts lift solar panels higher than ground installations and, in certain cases, use tracking systems that automatically tilt the panels to gather the most sunlight throughout the day and year.

Solar Power Meter 

An optional component is a solar power meter, often known as power system metering. You can use a solar power meter to track how much solar power your panels are supplying to your home. A power meter aids in comprehending and monitoring your system’s functioning. To attain optimal efficiency, you can troubleshoot, tweak, or repair your system if necessary.

Back-Up Power 

Many individuals benefit by having a backup power source, especially if they reside in an area prone to bad weather. For example, you can lose traditional power in a snowstorm or hurricane. Simultaneously, the solar power output will be minimal if there is little sunlight in these situations. A solar battery is a good backup to a regular generator.

What is the Name Of a Solar Panel Array?

A photovoltaic array is a grouping of solar panels. A photovoltaic array is a collection of solar panels connected to make a much bigger PV installation (PV system) known as an array. The larger the overall surface region of the array, the more solar electricity it will generate.

A solar array is the primary source of electrical power generation in a complete photovoltaic system. A single photovoltaic module or panel produces insufficient solar power for general use.

Most manufacturers offer a conventional solar panel with a 12V or 24V output voltage. The PV array will provide the desired power output by joining numerous single PV panels in series (for higher voltage) and parallel (for higher current).

A Photovoltaic Solar Array

Solar energy is converted to direct current (DC) electricity using photovoltaic cells and panels. A single photovoltaic array’s solar panels are connected in the same way that a single panel’s PV cells are connected.

Electrical connections between panels in an array can be made in a series, parallel, or combination. Still, in most cases, a series connection increases the output voltage when 2 solar panels are connected in series, the voltage doubles while the current stays the same.

The modular photovoltaic array (PV system) flexibility allows designers to develop solar power systems that suit various electrical needs, large or small.

Even though their power, voltage, or current outputs are ostensibly equivalent, solar panels or modules from various manufacturers should not be used together in a single array. This is because variances in the I-V characteristic curves of solar cells and their spectral response are likely to create more mismatch losses inside the array, lowering its total efficiency.

An Array of Photovoltaics’ Electrical Characteristics

The output voltage and current relationship encapsulate a solar array’s electrical characteristics. The quantity of output current (I) is controlled by the intensity and amount of solar insolation (solar irradiance). 

In contrast, the operating temperature of the solar cells influences the PV array’s output voltage (V). Manufacturers provide I-V curves for photovoltaic panels, which summarize the current-voltage relationship.

Solar Array Parameters

  • VOC = open-circuit voltage: – This is the highest voltage the array can deliver while the terminals are not attached to anything (an open circuit condition). This value is significantly greater than Vmax, which is related to the PV array’s operation and is determined by the load. The quantity of PV panels linked in series determines this figure.
  • ISC = short-circuit current – The PV array’s maximum current when the output connectors are shorted together (a short circuit condition). This value is significantly more than Imax, which refers to the normal working circuit current.
  • Pmax = maximum power point – This refers to when the power supplied by the array to the load (batteries, inverters) reaches its maximum value, where Pmax = Imax x Vmax. Watts (W) or peak Watts are the units of measurement for a solar array’s peak Watts (Wp).
  • FF = fill factor – The fill factor is the connection between the maximum power an array can deliver under normal operating settings and the resultant of the open-circuit voltage and the short-circuit current ( Voc x Isc ). The fill factor value indicates the array’s quality, and the closer it is to 1 (unity), the more electricity the array can deliver. Between 0.7 – 0.8 is a typical range.
  • Percent Eff = percent efficiency – A photovoltaic array’s efficiency is the array’s maximum electrical power ratio to the quantity of solar irradiation it receives. Depending on the type of cells employed (monocrystalline, polycrystalline, amorphous, or thin film), the efficiency of a conventional solar array is typically modest, ranging from 10 to 12 percent.

Designers can use photovoltaic I-V characteristics curves to build systems that function as close to the highest peak PowerPoint as possible. When subjected to solar radiation corresponding to 1000 watts for every square meter, 1000 W/m2, or 1kW/m2, the peak power point of the PV module is measured.

Create Your Photovoltaic System

In the design of photovoltaic arrays and solar power systems, the solar radiation amount received and the daily energy demand are the 2 determining parameters. While shading any section of the solar array will dramatically limit the output of the overall system, the photovoltaic array should match the load requirement and account for any system losses.

The current in each panel will be the same if the solar panels are connected in series electrically, and if the panels are partially shaded, they will not produce the same amount of current. 

In addition, shaded PV panels will lose power and squander heat rather than produce it, and bypass diodes will help avoid such issues by offering an alternate current path.

Blocking diodes are unnecessary for a full series linked system. Still, they should be employed at night or when the solar irradiation is low to avoid a reverse current flow from the batteries to the array. Aside from sunshine, other climatic aspects must be taken into account.

Because the output voltage of a silicon solar cell is a temperature-dependent quantity, the designer must be aware of current daily temperatures, including both extremes (low and high) and seasonal fluctuations. In addition, the mounting structure must account for rain and snowfall. In mountaintop installations, wind loading is extremely crucial.

What’s the Difference Between a Photovoltaic Module and a Photovoltaic Array?

Photovoltaic modules are also known as PV modules. A photovoltaic module is an energy power system that uses photovoltaic technology to create usable energy and solar power. PV modules assist in absorbing solar energy and converting it to electrical power.

Each photovoltaic module comes in various sizes, each corresponding to a specific number of kilowatts and energy it can absorb and produce. Rooftop-mounted or even building-integrated PV modules are the two small PV module options.

The module, cells, and array are the three main components of a solar panel. The solar cell is the most important component of a photovoltaic panel since it aids in processing sunlight absorption. Solar cells are required for a significant amount of energy to be obtained.

The solar cells are housed in a PV module, also known as a solar panel. That’s where the solar cells are installed to provide the required quantity of energy in kilowatts or voltage.

On the other hand, the PV array comprises solar PV modules or panels that are linked or coupled to obtain the necessary energy voltage amount and convey it to the panel.

Overall, each piece has a purpose, and the three elements are interdependent regarding operation. Each is beneficial and plays an important part in energy absorption and production.

Conclusion

In conclusion, The solar array is the essential component of a solar panel system. It houses your solar panels, which collect and convert sunlight into electricity. When a solar installer refers to solar arrays, they usually refer to the solar panels and their arrangement. 

Save 10% on your Solar

We’ve partnered with Dumos to offer the best Solar Panels to our readers

Leave a Comment