What Are the Components of a Solar System?

Posted by vinyasun on Mar 1, 2021 3:59:40 PM


Everybody knows that their new solar system includes solar panels, but what other components must be installed?

First, not every solar system uses solar "panels." It is possible to put your solar system together with solar roofing shingles that look like regular shingles but are actually sleek glass tiles that produce electricity. Tesla solar roof shingles look great and last longer than conventional shingles, but they require a significant upfront investment.

Secondly, you have choices in solar panels. It is important to know that solar power is generated by light, not heat. Solar panels that heat up too much are less efficient, a lot like an overheated computer. Florida summers are hot, so it's important to choose solar panels that continue to produce energy efficiently despite those long summer days that stretch into November.

Solar panels can be:

  • Monocrystalline, a single crystal of silicon you can identify by its smooth, dark coating, and
  • Polycrystalline, composed of multiple crystals of silicon that you can identify by its textured appearance.

Polycrystalline panels are easier and cheaper to manufacture. They look good on your roof. They may cost less upfront. They don't work well when they are soiled.

Monocrystalline panels, well, look like solar panels. They cost more to manufacture. But they have a slight advantage over polycrystalline panels. They convert sunlight into power more efficiently on cloudy days, they are better suited to shady locations, and they function better in the heat.

That doesn't mean that you can slap monocrystalline panels on part of your roof in the shade of a tree and expect great performance. But monocrystalline panels are usually about 25% more efficient at generating electricity than their polycrystalline counterparts.

Another component of every solar system is an inverter.

The solar power generated by your solar panels is DC. The power that runs your lights, AC, and appliances is AC. The inverter converts DC to AC.

There are string inverters and microinverters.

String inverters have been around longer. They convert the DC power collected from your entire solar system into AC power at ground level, where your system connects to household circuits.

Microinverters are a newer technology. They convert DC power in each panel into AC power that is fed into your house.

What's the difference in terms of the power you get from your panels?

  • They eliminate the need for high-voltage DC wiring.
  • They can be optimized for shade.
  • They allow maximum power point tracking (MPPT) technology to adjust each panel's output in response to changing conditions. If a palm branch lands on one panel, for example, it won't affect your whole system the way it might with string inverters.
  • Each panel has its own IP address and can be monitored over the Internet.

Microinverters also make it a lot easier to expand your solar system in the future. However, they cost more upfront.

Your installation may also include power maximizers. Installed in each panel, they optimize the DC current produced by the panel before it enters the grid on your roof.

Every solar system must be anchored to your roof. This isn't as simple as nailing a panel in place. Florida construction codes classify solar panels as "components and cladding" that have to be completely integrated into your roof. If you have roof tiles, your installer has to take extra care to avoid cracking the tiles. There's a similar problem with slate.

It's relatively easy to install solar panels on asphalt.

And your installation will require rails and clamps to secure the panels into a grid. These metal components need appropriate coatings to stand up to humidity and salt.

There's a lot that goes into installing solar. Vinyasun is your best local option for residential solar installations. We are your local experts in the Tesla Powerwall, SunPower, LG and every aspect of solar installation contracting.


Request a quote online or call us at (561) 440-9515 today!

Topics: Solar Basics

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