What are Solar Energy Systems?

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

Sometimes referred to as a solar power system, a solar energy system is a collective term for the various types of equipment necessary to harness and make use of solar energy. Solar energy systems today can be created by purchasing individual pieces of equipment, or by acquiring complete kits that contain everything that is needed to establish a viable solar energy storage and retrieval system. While purchasing these systems is still somewhat expensive, the costs associated with securing and installing a power system of this kind are much cheaper than even a decade ago.

Solar panels are part of a solar energy system.
Solar panels are part of a solar energy system.

Solar energy systems are usually centered around two specific pieces of equipment: the solar panels and the battery. Panels are mounted in a position where they will have direct exposure to sunlight for the majority of the day. The energy that is captured by the these panels is stored in the battery or batteries, making it possible to utilize the energy any time of the day or night. It is important to note that solar panels continue to collect energy, even when the weather is cloudy.

Most solar panel systems use batteries to store energy after the sun goes down.
Most solar panel systems use batteries to store energy after the sun goes down.

To aid in the function of the panels, most solar energy systems also come with what is known as a mount. Essentially, the mount is a framework for the panels, and can be adjusted to maximize energy collection in different seasons. Some mounts are equipped for manual repositioning, while more recent models include power driven hydraulics.

Controllers are also a common part of solar energy systems today. The controller helps to manage the flow of power from the batteries into the electrical wiring of the building. As part of its basic function, the device ensures that the circuits are not overloaded and the power flow is sufficient to meet the needs of the building occupants. Many controllers also include an inverter, which can detect when an overload is building and take steps to automatically shut down the system.

A meter is also an essential component in most solar energy systems. Meters help to monitor the current percentage of stored energy in the batteries. This function can help homeowners to adjust their usage to match the amount of stored energy. A feature of this type can be especially important during months of the year when more power is needed for heating and cooling purposes.

As more people develop an interest in alternative energy production, the popularity of solar energy systems has increased significantly. This has made it possible for many of the individual components to be available in various retail settings, using plans available in books and online to create a simple solar power system. It is also possible to work with solar energy contractors to design a viable system for a home or other building, or even custom order a system from one of several solar energy companies.

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

After many years in the teleconferencing industry, Michael decided to embrace his passion for trivia, research, and writing by becoming a full-time freelance writer. Since then, he has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including wiseGEEK, and his work has also appeared in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and several newspapers. Malcolm’s other interests include collecting vinyl records, minor league baseball, and cycling.

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Discussion Comments


I live in a very sunny part of Africa and have used solar energy for pc's and other applications for 25 years.

Now I am trying to find a pc specification suitable for installing pc labs in the millions of rural schools on the continent.

The replies I receive consist of creating a huge 240v ac system via inverters and using desktops. The need is for the lowest power/cost for a system suitable for beginners with one for e-mail.

My ancient but reliable P3 IBM runs on a 20W panel but I want a lab of about 10 thin client machines. Can anyone assist with advice please? T. Muckle

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