Many of the folks who visit our site are interested in installing a solar or wind electric system for their home but they do not know where to begin. Although to a certain degree each situation is different there are a few basic things that we will need to know to get you started.
A brief description of the major components of a Solar PV System. Note that components vary depending on whether or not batteries will be used in your system. There are additional small components required for a complete installation that are not listed here.
Solar electric panels (also known as photovoltaic modules) are perhaps the most popular of the renewable energy technologies for home owners. This article goes over some of technical basics behind solar electric panels and how they are used in larger systems.
PV modules often come with special connectors (wires) on the back rather than just a junction box. There are several different types of connectors, and it's important to understand the difference between them.
Solar charge controllers are an essential element to any solar electric panel system. At a most basic level, charge controllers prevent batteries from being overcharged and prevent the batteries from discharging through the solar panel array at night.
Maximum Power Point Tracking (MPPT) is a popular technology that an increasing number of solar charge controllers offer. While MPPT charge controllers usually cost more than traditional solar charge controllers, the gain in overall charging efficiency makes them well worth it in most cases.
This video series tests wiring mismatching solar panels in series vs parallel through an MPPT charge controller to understand how to maximize solar power production from an array made of different kinds of solar panels.
In areas where power outages are common, backup power sources are extremely important. Depending upon what loads you need to run and for what period of time, you may need an actual battery based system.