How Solar Electric Modules Work
The cells or thin film circuits of the solar modules are specially manufactured to respond to light by producing electric current. The scientific term for "solar electricity" is "photovoltaic" energy - which means electricity from light. The more light the cells get, the more electricity can be produced. These cells when connected together, laminated and framed are called a 'solar module'. These modules are designed to produce electricity at convenient direct current (DC) voltages for storing in a battery or for conversion into typical 120-230 volt alternating current (120 VAC).
Solar electricity can be used to run DC motors, or it may be stored in batteries for later use, or converted instantly into AC power and 'net metered' into the utility grid.
In a standalone solar electric system if household current is needed to run 120 volt AC powered appliances like those found in most homes, the DC power stored in the battery bank must be changed from DC (direct current) to AC (alternating current) by an inverter.
An inverter is the device used to change solar electricity into regular household current.
In a utility-interconnected solar electric system the DC power from the solar array is converted instantly into 120/240 volt AC power and fed directly into the utility power distribution system of the building. The power is 'net metered' and reduces power demand from the utility when the solar array is under sun. These systems can lower the power bill of a building.
Where To Install Your Solar Electric Modules
In most instances the modules are installed on the roof of the building, but they can be mounted on a ground rack or on a pole mount. The major factor in deciding where to place the modules is to maximize exposure to the sun and avoid shading from 9am to 3pm. A solar pathfinder device is available to help locate the ideal location of a solar array.