First up, we will have a
look at a photovoltaic solar power diagram so you can better understand
how it works. Press the right mouse button and choose "View image" to
see the larger version.
Tied Photovoltaic Solar Power Diagram
This diagram shows a grid tied
photovoltaic solar power system. In this type of system, the power that
is created by your home’s photovoltaic solar system is sent directly
into the local power grid.
As with all solar power,
this system starts out with the sun. The sun sends out energy in the
form of photons, which react with certain materials which display the
photovoltaic effect in which their atoms start moving around when
exposed to sunlight.
Most modern solar panels
utilize silicon because its atomic structure makes it one of the better
conductors of photovoltaic energy.
The electricity created by
the solar panel is then sent to an inverter which changes the
electricity from direct current into alternating current so it can be
used by the electronics in your home. This energy then passes by your
home’s electrical panel and is used by any devices in your
Any excess energy then
passes the opposite way through your utility meter causing it to
rollback and you are sending energy instead of using it. This energy is
then sent into the utility grid where it is swallowed up and used for
all other homes and buildings on the same local utility grid.
Off Grid Photovoltaic
Solar Energy Diagram
The diagram to the right
shows how an off grid solar system works. It functions in the same way
as the system above, except the electricity is stored in a battery
instead of going into the grid.
The electricity is stored
into the battery until it is needed, at which time it is then sent to
the inverter to be changed into useable AC energy.
Water Heating Diagram
The diagram to the right shows
how a solar water heating system functions. Cold water passes from the
bottom of the hot water tank to the solar water heating panels that are
normally located on the roof. There are several different types of
collectors, but basically they are also black panels with tubes running
The black panels absorb
heat from the sun and then transfer this heat to the water as it passes
through the panels. The heated water is then sent into the top of the
water tank where it floats on top of the cooler water. The hot water is
then drawn out of the top of the tank, and replaced by more heated
water from the panels or slowly sinks to the bottom of the tank as it
Once the water has cooled
to the point where it reaches the bottom of the tank, it is then drawn
out of the tank and into the system again, while being replaced by hot
water from the panels. Some solar water heating systems also contain a
backup traditional water heater for those times when the system cannot
provide enough hot water. This type of system only functions in warmer
climates, as the lines can freeze when the temperature drops below
Solar Heating Diagram
This diagram shows very simply
how passive solar heating can be used to keep a home cool during the
summer while allowing the sun’s heat to enter the building and thus
warm the building’s temperature during the winter.
By having large south
facing windows, the sun is allowed to enter the building. However it is
necessary to ensure that the sun’s light and heat is only allowed to
enter the building during the winter.
This is done by having a
large overhang or awning over the windows, which ensures that the
sunlight is blocked from entering the building during the summer when
it is highest in the air.
You can also take
advantage of this greenhouse effect by having a large glass room built
on the south side of your home which can quickly increase the overall
temperature of your home. The concrete floor in this diagram helps to
hold the heat inside the building.
When using passive solar
heating, it is essential that the building be very well insulated and
also as airtight as possible. This ensures that the heat that is
collected inside the building stays in the building. If heat is allowed
to escape through air gaps or poor insulation, then the room will not
be nearly as effective at heating your home.
Solar Power Diagram
This concentrated solar energy
diagram shows very basically how concentrated solar power works. A
concentrated solar power plant contains a large array of parabolic
mirrors which utilize a heliostat to allow the mirrors to precisely
track the sun.
These mirrors then reflect
the sun’s light and heat onto a receiver or concentrator which collects
the huge amounts of heat created by the focusing of the sun’s
In a solar power station
this heat is then collected by a transfer liquid stored in a container
capable of withstanding the extremely high temperatures.
The transfer liquid then
passes the heat onto water causing it to boil and thus creating steam.
This steam is then used to power a steam generator and works in the
exact same way as a coal fired power plant, except for the fact that
the steam is created using entirely clean, renewable energy.
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