Many people are scared when it comes to solar power because they don’t understand it and how it works.
I will try make this explanation as simple as possible as asked by a regular newsletter reader.
Think of a solar panel as a sun powered battery charger. (We will refer to a 12V system for this newsletter)
1) Sunlight hits the surface of the panel and this solar energy is captured by the cells and wiring that is laminated in the panel. This power is DC power the same as power stored in batteries.
2) This captured energy must be stored or used right away, 99% of recreational users store this power in batteries for use later on lights and fridges.
3) The energy is transferred to a battery from the connections on the back of the panel via copper wires.
4) Control or regulation of this power is done by a solar regulator which is placed between the panel and the battery.
5) Power is then stored in the battery and is available to use. Some solar regulators are more advanced and can control loads and charge rates etc but this will be covered in next week’s newsletter.
Note: Sizing of solar panels is covered here in newsletter 48 of 2009 -
The first picture below shows a typical connection of a 80W panel to a 12V battery via a solar regulator.
The second picture shows how to connect more than one panel to the system.