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Solar Energy Diagrams Explained

If you are looking for solar energy diagrams, then you have come to the right place. Here you will find solar energy diagrams and explanations for each covering photovoltaic solar energy, solar water heating, passive solar energy and concentrated solar power.

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.

Grid Tied Photovoltaic Solar Power Diagram

solar energy diagramThis 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 home. 

solar energy diagramAny 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.
Solar Water Heating Diagram

solar energy diagramThe 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 through them. 

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 cools. 

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 freezing.
Passive Solar Heating Diagram
solar energy diagramThis 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.

Concentrated Solar Power Diagram
solar energy diagramThis 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 energy. 

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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