Solar Energy Components Series: Part One: Solar Modules

Updated: Jun 5

If you are new to solar energy, understanding all the technical terms and parts involved in module installation can be overwhelming. You may have many questions before deciding to bring solar energy into your life!


Today, we will look at the different components that make up a solar energy system and we will do our best to break it down for you in this fun 4 part series!


Photo from Solar Advice


Take a look at the pictures above and below. Here you will see that the solar energy system is relatively simple. As you see from the above picture, the solar energy system consists of solar modules, a mounting system, an inverter, your current electrical panel and a meter! These components connect together and then connect to the transformer on your electrical utility pole!


Let’s go a little more in-depth and discuss the importance of each of these components! Today we will cover solar modules!


Solar modules


Solar modules are the main component that interacts with the sun. The module absorbs the sun’s rays into solar cells, which then creates a photovoltaic effect. The photovoltaic effect is a physical and chemical reaction that makes some materials work together to produce an electric current when the sun hits the area[1] The cells make up the module, and they loosen the electrons from their atoms and creates energy that flows across the module. When the electrons are flowing freely, this creates the production of electricity. From here, the electricity flows inward to your home or business [2].


Diagram from Kite Electric


Types of solar modules


Did you know there are many different kinds of solar modules? The two main types of modules are monocrystalline and polycrystalline.


What’s the difference?


While both types do the same thing, the difference between monocrystalline and polycrystalline is that the monocrystalline is considered to be a higher premium solar product. This is because these modules are higher efficiency and are sleeker in design. This keeps the bulkiness of solar energy off your roof!


Monocrystalline


When this type of module is made, silicon wafers are formed into bars and then sliced into thin wafers—called mono because it is single-crystal silicon, allowing more space for the electrons to flow![3]


Polycrystalline


Polycrystalline solar modules are made up of multiple melted silicon fragments to produce wafers for the module. The electrons in this type of design have less space to move, and the efficiency is considered lower[4][1], but these types of modules have come a long way with their technology.


Here at Kite, we use both types of solar modules on our installs, depending on what you prefer!


What are solar modules made of?


Most solar modules are made of silicon which is a semiconductor material. Silicon is an excellent material as it is in abundance on the planet and helps keep module production low. It is also non-toxic and allows for the sun to produce more electricity for you![5] An anti-reflective material covers the cells to ensure maximum sunlight absorption. There is also glass that protects the cells from being damaged.


Check out the photo below to see the general makeup of a solar energy module!


Photo by longi solar


P-type and N-type


The P-type and N-type layers within a solar module are also essential but could confuse those unfamiliar with solar energy. To make it simple, P = positive and N= negative! So the P- layers are the positive charge for the solar module, and the N is the negative charge![6]


Electricity


The energy that comes from solar modules is DC (direct current); it can technically be used in that form – however, an inverter turns that energy into AC (alternating current) which is better for the electrical appliances and devices in your home and is less likely to create a power surge in your home[7] (see our blog about surge protectors).


Photo by longi solar


Conclusion

Kite Electric uses the highest quality of technology and innovation in its installs. The manufacturers we use for our modules include Canadian Solar, Longi, Hanwha Q-Cell. Here at Kite, we believe in ensuring our customers receive the highest quality in innovative material and want your investment to last for years to come!

Ready to get started? Call Kite Electric today for your free solar assessment!

Stay tuned for part 2 on mounting systems!

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Sources

Solar Metric [1], [2], [6],[7] Solar Magazine [3], [4] Solar.com [5]

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