Monthly Archives: September 2015

How does a Solar Panel work?

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Simply put, a solar panel works by allowing photons, or particles of light, to knock electrons free from atoms, generating a flow of electricity. Solar panels actually comprise many, smaller units called photovoltaic cells. A photovoltaic cell is basically a sandwich made up of two slices of semi-conducting material, usually silicon.

To work, photovoltaic cells need to establish an electric field. Much like a magnetic field, which occurs due to opposite poles, an electric field occurs when opposite charges are separated. To get this field, manufacturers mix silicon with other materials, giving each slice of the sandwich a positive or negative electrical charge.

When these two materials are placed side by side inside a solar cell, the n-type silicon’s spare electrons jump over to fill the gaps in the p-type silicon. This means that the n-type silicon becomes positively charged, and the p-type silicon is negatively charged, creating an electric field across the cell. Because silicon is a semi-conductor, it can act like an insulator, maintaining this imbalance.

As the photons smash the electrons off the silicon atoms, this field drives them along in an orderly manner, providing the electric current to power calculators, satellites and everything in between.

You can find our list of Solar Panels that we carry here at ApolloGateMotor.com. Don’t hesitate to give us a call toll-free at 1-800-803-8093 with any questions you might have.

What is a Solar Controller or charge Regulator?

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A charge controller, charge regulator or battery regulator limits the rate at which electric current is added to or drawn from electric batteries. It prevents overcharging and may protect against overvoltage, which can reduce battery performance or lifespan, and may pose a safety risk. It may also prevent completely draining (“deep discharging”) a battery, or perform controlled discharges, depending on the battery technology, to protect battery life.

Charge controllers are sold to consumers as separate devices, often in conjunction with solar or wind power generators, for uses such as RV, boat, and off-the-gridhome battery storage systems. In solar applications, charge controllers may also be called solar regulators. Some charge controllers / solar regulators have additional features, such as a low voltage disconnect (LDV), a separate circuit which powers down the load when the batteries become overly discharged (some battery chemistries are such that over-discharge can ruin the battery).

A series charge controller or series regulator disables further current flow into batteries when they are full. A shunt charge controller or shunt regulator diverts excess electricity to an auxiliary or “shunt” load, such as an electric water heater, when batteries are full.

Simple charge controllers stop charging a battery when they exceed a set high voltage level, and re-enable charging when battery voltage drops back below that level. Pulse width modulation (PWM) and maximum power point tracker (MPPT) technologies are more electronically sophisticated, adjusting charging rates depending on the battery’s level, to allow charging closer to its maximum capacity.