Solar 101 - Understanding Solar

Updated: Mar 5, 2020

Understand the basics of solar energy and know where to start if you want to buy a solar system for your home or business.

Know about solar. Don't buy what you (don't yet) understand

What is Solar ?

The sun is a source of energy, a massive source at that. Solar power is the energy that is generated from sunlight through a process known as the photo-voltaic effect, generally known as PV. The energy from the sun’s rays is converted into electricity that can power equipment at home or in the office - TV, fridge, lights, machines and other equipment.

In order to generate solar energy for a building, a solar power system is needed. The system is comprised of different components that work together to produce electricity.

The key components include the following:

Solar Panels

For capturing energy from the sun. Solar panels vary in physical size, electrical output power -in watts- and efficiency. The panels can be mounted on a building’s roof or can be installed on aground-mount structure.

Solar Panel by Inborn Energy.


For converting energy captured from the sun (known as direct current, DC) to a format that can power our appliances, known as alternating current AC. There are several types of inverters - off-grid inverters are used where there is no electricity completely. Grid-tied inverters are applied when connecting solar where main electricity is available. Usually these systems have no batteries. Hybrid inverters, such as the Homaya 1500VA by Schneider Electric, combine the capabilities of both off-grid and grid-tie inverters, and are becoming more popular in common small scale application.

Inverter by Schneider Electric

Mounting & Racking

The structure on which solar panels will be mounted to either on the roof or on to the ground. It is important to ensure structures mounted on the roof is properly sealed so as to protect the roof against the elements and leakages.

Solar panel mounting structure


For storing the energy generated by the solar panels. You can either store the energy on the batteries or on the grid, depending on the system implemented. Thee are different types, technologies and sizes of batteries which can be used for a solar system.

Solar batteries by Inborn Energy.

Charge Controller

For controlling the charging and discharging of the battery. This is usually used for systems that require batteries, such as an off-grid system. Some inverters come with integrated controllers, and are referred to as Inverter-Chargers. Charge controllers have different current ratings They have different ratings

Victron charge controller

Other components of the solar system include wiring, fuses, and disconnects. Also, depending on the requirement of the installation, monitoring devices can be added to the system. This assist in troubleshooting issues such as defective equipment as well as monitoring output remotely.

This is the first part of the Solar Basics. Following posts will cover other aspects of solar that you need to know and understand.



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