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Photovoltaic solar panels are the main building block in a solar power system. Since each solar module produces a limited amount of power, installations usually consist of multiple panels, called an array. The array produces DC (direct current), which can be stored in batteries or instantly converted into AC (alternating current) required by conventional appliances.

Equipment that converts the power from DC to AC is known as a solar inverter, and they come in a few varieties, modified sine wave or pure sine wave. They are further classified based on which type of system it is to be used in, whether it is off-grid or grid interconnected. Recently the innovation of micro inverters has greatly simplified installations, and makes it easy to add on panels to an installation. Each solar module is paired with its own micro inverter, which then converts the power directly at the panel. For off grid installations the use of a charge controller is necessary to properly manage the power harvest, charge the batteries, and prevent overcharging.

The greatest innovation in charge controllers would have to be the relatively new feature called maximum power point tracking (MPPT). This innovative method of charging batteries constantly monitors peak power voltage from the array and input voltage on the batteries adjusting amperage to compensate for the fluctuations. This provides the most efficient means to manage the power harvest. The function of MPPT charge controllers is analogous to the transmission of a car, keeping your charging system in the “right gear”. Other components of the solar system would include the wiring and mounting hardware, while some installations use a tracker that changes its tilt angle and direction throughout the day.

Read more: How Solar Panels Work

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