There are two principal types of solar power systems you can have installed at home. The first is a solar thermal system, which connects to your home's hot water system. These systems are installed by plumbers. Electricians will install the other types of solar power system — photovoltaic arrays. What do electricians do to allow homeowners to take advantage of the sun's power via such an array?
Installing Photovoltaic Panels
To begin with, many electrical firms will supply and install the solar panels that are necessary to generate electricity from light. These are manufactured all over the world, but many originate in Asia. Essentially, a solar panel has thinly sliced sections of silicon, which are attached to a board. When the silicon is exposed to sunlight, it starts to generate electricity. This electricity is captured by wiring in each panel. Electrical contractors will commonly install these panels onto a north-facing pitched roof for you so that they see as much natural sunlight as possible.
Wiring the System
Although each solar panel has electrical connections, you need an electrician to link them all together. Multiple solar panels can be wired together in series, which means that a photovoltaic array can be made up of as many, or as few, panels as you like. The wiring that is used to convey solar power to a home will usually be outside in all weather so it needs to be of the correct grade for prolonged exterior usage.
Connecting to an Inverter
When a photovoltaic array converts solar power to electricity, it makes direct current. This is only of use in certain applications. Since all Australian homes run on alternating current, you need to invert the electrical power from DC to AC. Your electrical installers will connect your array to a device known as an inverter to perform this task. Inverters need to be rated to the size of the array you have installed so some expertise is required to ensure you have the right one fitted.
Grid-Connected Solar Power
With a photovoltaic array and an inverter, you can make use of AC electricity derived from solar power in your home. However, you need to be able to deal with excess energy your system generates safely, too. Therefore, your electrician will connect your inverter to the external electrical grid as well. This means you can provide power for neighbouring properties as well as your own. Commonly, excess energy is bought by your utility supplier at an agreed rate so you can see a big drop in your usual bills if you make enough power.