Solar 101

Energy from the Sun: An Overview of Solar Power Systems

Solar technology had advanced and been adopted by more than 2 million American homes since 1954 when scientists at Bell Telephone ascertained that silicon, an element found in sand, generated an electric charge when exposed to sunlight. Solar panel systems are becoming more and more popular as a clean, cost-effective energy option for homes and businesses.

A Primer On Solar Energy Systems

The invention of solar panels has allowed us to tap into a limitless supply of power: the sun. To explain how solar panel systems function:

We’ll give you a quick rundown of solar panel systems and the tools you’ll need to convert sunlight into electricity below.

Note: How does a solar panel work?
A solar panel is an apparatus for converting solar energy into electrical power. Silicon solar cells, an aluminum or steel frame, a protective glass sheet, and electrical connections make up the main components of a solar panel. The standard dimensions for a solar panel are four feet in width and six feet in height.

What Parts Make Up A Solar Panel System?

The setup of solar panels is a simple process. Solar panel systems are simple to install and maintain, with only four main parts and no moving parts. A solar panel system consists of the following four parts:

Solar Photovoltaic Panels

Solar panels, which consist of several silicon solar cells covered in a sheet of glass and held together by a metal frame, collect electrical current through wiring and circuitry in and behind the cells. Each solar panel, also known as a solar module, measures around 4 feet by 6 feet and weighs around 30 pounds.

Despite having no moving parts, a solar panel’s “active” component is in the silicon cells themselves; sunlight activates electrons, which then flow through the cell. Wires within the cells record this current of electrons, and the combined output of the solar panel’s various cells ultimately powers our electronics.

Solar cells usually come in 60 or 72-cell formats. Half-cut solar panels, where each cell is cut in half so you have twice as many cells on the solar module, are one example of the newer type of solar panels being used in the ongoing effort to improve solar cells’ efficiency at converting sunlight into electrical current (i.e., 120 or 144).

Note: Some panels are better than others.
Consider product quality, durability, and long-term performance, among other factors, when selecting solar panels for your home and budget.


Your solar panels’ cells soak up the sun’s rays and convert them into usable direct current (DC) power. However, alternating current is what is used in the vast majority of buildings (AC). Inverters transform the DC power generated by your panels into AC power.

String (or centralized) inverters and microinverters are the two primary categories of solar inverters. Power optimizers can be added to string inverters, making them operate like microinverter systems.

String (Or Centralized) Inverter

With a string inverter, all your solar panels can be wired into your home’s electrical system through a single device. Historically, string inverters have been the most widely deployed inverter type due to their low cost and high durability.

Each inverter can be connected to multiple strings of panels. Still, the performance of the entire string may temporarily degrade if electricity production from even one panel in the string decreases (as may happen due to shading).


If you opt for microinverters, one will be (typically) installed at each solar panel, maximizing output from each panel. Microinverters will help mitigate performance issues caused by shading or panels not installed facing the same direction. Microinverters are typically more valuable than string inverters.

Power Optimizers

Optimizers for electrical current are a cross between microinverters and string inverters. Each panel also has a power optimizer, similar to the microinverters.

However, before sending the DC electricity generated by the solar panels to a central inverter, the optimizers “condition” the DC electricity. They function similarly to microinverters and are effective when some panels are in the shade or installed at an angle.

The price of a power optimizer system is typically higher than that of a string inverter system but lower than that of a microinverter system.

Racking And Mounting Systems

The hardware used to secure solar panels to a roof or the ground is a solar racking and mounting system.

Solar panels are most efficient when installed facing south at an angle of 30 to 45 degrees (depending on how far you are from the equator). Despite continuing to function well, panels installed at a pitch angle of five degrees or more to the east or west will generate 10–20% less electricity than those installed in ideal conditions.

The most common type of rooftop solar installation for homes is a lie-flat system, in which the solar panels are tilted at an angle perpendicular to the roof’s slope. However, racking can be used to tilt or position your panels to face the sun optimally.

Mounts can either be fixed, in which case the panels don’t move at all, or tracking, in which case the panels can “follow” the sun throughout the day (on single-axis track mounts) and throughout the seasons (dual-axis track mounts). Solar panels must be installed on the ground to use a tracker mount.

Performance Monitoring Systems

You can learn a lot about how well your solar panels are functioning with the help of a performance monitoring system. The amount of electricity your system generates can be monitored and measured hourly.

You can keep tabs on your panels’ output with the help of the included production monitoring apps in the most popular residential inverters. Thanks to your solar panels, the app may also offer consumption tracking to keep tabs on how much money you’re saving. Please be aware that a fee may be associated with tracking this additional consumption.

Monitoring your solar panels in terms of electricity production and financial returns is essential if you want to get the full benefit from your solar panels.

Two main categories of monitoring systems exist:


Solar power systems offer a sustainable and renewable energy source that allows us to mitigate climate change and minimize our dependence on fossil fuels. The technology behind solar power systems has improved significantly over the years, making them more efficient and cost-effective.

With the increasing demand for clean energy, solar power is becoming popular for homeowners and businesses. As we continue to explore and invest in solar power technology, we can look forward to a future powered by the sun, reducing our carbon footprint and ensuring a brighter, more sustainable future for future generations.

At Sun Services USA, we take care of each stage of the process, from the initial site survey through the engineering design, utility applications, and installation! Even if there are no significant developments, we will continue checking in with you once a week to ensure you are kept in the loop. Please feel free to communicate with our staff with questions or if you require assistance.