The basic principle behind solar panels is that light energy from the sun is absorbed by 'photovoltaic' cells (made from silicon wafers) and converted into electricity. Energy produced in this way can then be used to power electrical equipment or, more commonly, to charge a battery which is is then used to power electrical devices. The amount of power put into the batteries, and to protect them from damage, is controlled by a solar charge controller. In some cases, it is possible to use small solar panels without a solar charge controller to keep batteries charged up (known as 'trickle charging').
What type of electrical items can I power with solar panels?
There is no limit to the type and number of electrical devices with which you can use solar. However, it is very important to understand that the amount of electricity used by common everyday items can be a lot more than we think. Modern life has made us all quite complacent about where electricity comes from and how easy it is to produce; using solar power helps us understand the truth of the matter.
Most solar energy systems use one or more 12V batteries to store electricity, although some are set up to use 24V or 48V. Since most electricals use 220/240V in the UK, we may need to convert the stored electricity to 12V using an 'inverter'.
As long as a solar panel is exposed to sunlight, it can produce electricity. Of course, this is affected by the 'intensity' of the sunlight and when the skies are overcast, the amount of solar energy reaching the panels is restricted and they therefore produce less electricity. By using the most efficient solar cells and the taking weather conditions into account when designing a solar energy system, we can accommodate for weather related efficiency. The professional-grade monocrystalline solar panels we supply work particularly well n all weather conditions including overcast skies
There is a good selection of solar panels available nowadays, giving you a choice of products designed for specific applications or a range of products of different qualities to suit every budget. We always try to give the most accurate advice about our solar panels so that you get exactly what you need.
Setting up a solar energy system is not difficult if you follow a few simple rules and have basic DIY and electrical experience. For large systems, especially those connected to the mains, you should always employ a qualified electrician to setup up you new solar system.
Blocking diodes are typically placed between the battery and the solar panel output to prevent battery discharge at night. Where needed, solar panels are generally factory-fitted with a diode inside the junction box, although some, such as the Sunware semi-flexible marine solar panels, are supplied with an external diode box.
The main exception to this is our range of professional-grade monocrystalline solar panels. These PV modules are made of the highest quality monocrystalline cells which have a high electrical "back flow" resistance to night-time battery discharging. As a result, these solar panels do not contain a blocking diode. Most PV charge regulators do have night-time disconnect feature, however, and you may also fit an external diode onto the +ve terminal if you feel you would like to.
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