How Do Solar Systems Work | Perth Solar Force
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How Do Solar Systems Work?

Want to know how a Solar System works? – It’s actually pretty simple.

When solar panels are installed on a roof, the panels collect sunlight and turn it into an electrical current. That current runs through your very own inverter and is then used as energy to power your property.

The Science behind it:

The sunlight collected by the solar panels is turned into an electrical current, called direct current (DC). The DC is then changed into an alternating current (AC) by a product called an inverter. AC is the type of electricity you use to power your house –  to charge your phone or to turn the lights on and off. The inverter is connected to your meter box so that it can send the electricity to your house or send the surplus power back to your local power grid.

If a solar system produces more power than the household consumes, the excess power is sent back into the main power grid. Electricity companies will actually pay you for this energy. For example some South-west regions of WA, including Perth, recieve 7.135cents per Kwh. This is due to the solar feed -in tarrif created by the government as an incentive under the Renewable Energy Buyback Scheme (REBS). For more information about this scheme, please take a look at our Government Incentives page.

Does Solar Only Work During the Day?

Yes! However, during the day, your solar panels can produce more than enough electricity to power you right through the night. If you add a battery to your solar system, you can store the excess electricity and use it later on, during the night. The battery systems are becoming more and more popular with customers preferring to store and use their excess energy.

When the Sun Goes Down:
At night, when the sun goes down, the solar cells will stop producing power. Your home electricity will now come from your main power grid (the way you get electricity now), and you pay the usual rate for the power used (from your selected power company) when the system is not producing

The two main components of a solar system:
  1. The inverter
  2. The solar panels
Inverters The role of the inverter is to convert (or invert) the DC energy created from the panels, into AC electricity that is usable in households, and then feeds it into your property. The inverter is actually the hardest working part of your system, so it is usually more likely to see one fail in its 10-15years. Due to this, we recommend using a proven Inverter brand, with a great track record, so you can get the most out of your inverter and solar system. Inverter size can range from 1.5kW up to 100kW, but the average residential household in WA needs a 3kW to 5kW system. Large scale commercial solar systems actually use multiple inverters within the one system.  But it all depends on each individual customers needs. Please check out our inverters page and see which brands of inverters we recommend. Panels You may have heard solar systems be referred to as Photovoltaic or PV systems. This is the name for the scientific process that occurs when the solar panels harvest the sunlight and convert it into electricity. This makes the solar panels the other essential component of a solar system. Photovoltaic cells make up the panels and energy can be produced directly from theses. When sunshine hits the PV cell (in the panels), the UV cells (protons)  from the sun charge the electrons in the cell and cause them to create a flow, generating electricity. This is what is called the “Photovoltaic effect”. Solar panels are classed according to their rated power output (in watts). This rating is the amount of power the solar panel would be expected to produce in 1 peak sun hour. Different geographical locations receive different quantities of average peak sun hours per day. In Australia, the figures range from as low as 3 in Tasmania to over 6 in areas of QLD, NT and WA. Perth has around 4.4hrs (on average) and can range from below 3.0 in June to above 8 in December. This means that an 5kW solar system would ideally produce around 12.5kW per day in June and around 32kW per day in December. Cell operating temperature effects the output of energy, with the most nominal temperature to be 25 degrees, and varies 2.5% per 5 degrees temperature variation. Panel Optimisation Roof angle and orientation and location of your home can have an impact on the efficiency of your system, and how much energy your panels can generate. The optimal position for panels to be in is when they are positioned perpendicular to the sun.  This means the sun rays hit the PV panels on a 90° angle. North angled rooftops have the best performance and generate the most, particularly in southern hemisphere countries like Australia. Perth Solar Force has a great tool to accurately calculate the optimal position of your panels. Your rooftop orientation and angle of the roof need to be combined to measure the solar output potential of the panels, at the property location, and we use a tool called Nearmaps to help determine this. 
In Western Australia, the highest solar energy generated during the day is usually from 10am to 3pm. Read more about Seasons and Panel Efficiency. Panel directions and the type of household’s various orientations generally best suit are given below: North Facing Panels: North facing panels will produce the highest amount of power/kWs per day. This is because the sun is at its highest and brightest in the middle of the day, targeting  the north facing roof and solar panels. This is the best option for people who are at home during the middle of the day or for businesses with high power demands during the middle of the day. North / North-West Facing Panels: West facing panels generate the most amount of power in the afternoon, due to the sun setting in the west and will obtain all of the afternoon sun. West panels may produce 5-12% less electricity compared to if your panels were installed on the north facing side of the house. However, some houses do not have room on their north facing roof, so this is the next best alternative. West facing is best for households utilising more energy in the afternoons than in the mornings, e.g. when you get home from work.  North / North-East Facing Panels: Panels facing East to North east are similar to panels facing North to North West and will produce pretty much the same amount of power, which again may be 5-12% less compared to north. This option is ideal for people who are home in the morning as the sun rises in the east so then you will get more morning production. This is great for earlier risers, or energy use in the mornings. East and West split Panels:  Directly east and direct west facing roof may produce around 12% less than north facing panels. The east/west split does have the advantage of producing power all morning on the east side, all afternoon on the west side with for most months of the year, having all the panels getting hit by the sun during the midday. This will help with a constant number of panels producing throughout the day from sun rise to sunset instead of a heavy concentration for north panels in the middle of the day. South Facing Panels: As Australia is so far south of the equator, south facing panels are the least ideal. In the summer time when the sun is directly above your house, south panels may produce just as much power as the north panels. But outside of these months, such as spring, autumn and especially winter, the south panels will more than likely produce very little to no power. Typically, south facing panels will produce up to 30% less a year.

All households use power at different times of the day as well as different amounts of power. Each system needs to be customised to suit your personal needs and requirements. Speak to a solar expert for a free assessment and quote.

Please contact us for a free assessment and quote.