Electrical Fundamentals

Electrical Fundamentals

-Rikesh Mathew

Electrical Fundamentals

The fundamentals mentioned in this article is applicable for a variety of things but I will relate to Solar PV.

Voltage

By definition, Voltage is the difference in potential difference between two points. For purposes of Solar PV, Voltage generally determines compatibility. If an electrical appliance is connected to a higher rated voltage socket, the appliance draws too much current and burns out. If an electrical appliance is connected to a lower rated voltage socket, the appliance draws too little current and does not perform to its rating. So, according to the rating, match appliances together. Voltage is measured by Volts (V).

Open Circuit Voltage

This is the voltage the Solar Panels will produce when exposed to solar radiation and the terminals are not connected to anything.

When connected to a load, the voltage drops. 

Amperage

Amperage is the amount of electricity flowing through the wires. As a result, this will determine the sizing of the wire. If the wire is not sized adequately, the excess energy will go out as heat and can cause fire. Amperage is measured by Ampere (A).

Power

Amount of total electricity flowing through the system. It is the product of Voltage and Amperage. It is measured as Watts (W).

Power = Voltage × Amperage

Energy

Energy is the Wattage with time. It is the product of Power and time. It is measured as Watt hours (Wh).

Energy = Power × Time 

Types of Current

Direct Current (DC)

There is always a positive (+ve) and negative (-ve) lead terminals. Electrical charge will flow through the wires. Batteries require DC.

Alternating Current (AC)

The positive (+ve) and negative (-ve) lead terminals keep switching really fast and as a result the electrical force vibrates instead of flowing which is termed as oscillations. AC is more efficient over long distances.

Connections

Parallel

You achieve this by connecting all the positive (+ve) and negative (-ve) terminals together. The takeaway is that in parallel, the Voltage remains constant while Amperage changes. 

When connecting solar panels in parallel, you have to ensure that they have to have same voltage. The amperage gets added up. Solar panels are independent in this condition (from shading effects) but at the detriment of higher losses as Voltage is low.

Series

You achieve this by connecting the positive (+ve) with the negative (-ve) terminals. In Series configuration, the Voltage varies while Amperage remains constant. 

When connecting solar panels in series, you have to ensure that they have to have same Amperage. The voltage gets added up.

Configuration

The way you explain how many batteries you have in series or parallel.

  • If you have 3 batteries in series it is denoted as 3s.
  • If you have 3 batteries in parallel, it is denoted as 3p.
  • If you have 3 batteries in series and parallel, it is denoted as 3s3p

DC-to-DC converter

This is used to convert a source of Direct Current from one voltage to another. 

Example: If input is 24 V and 30 A and output voltage is 12 V. The output current is 60 A. As a result the output will have larger wiring as compared to the input side.

Charge Controller

Device used to limit the rate at which current is added or drawn from electric batteries. It protects from over charging and overvoltage.

Example: If input is 100 V and 20 A and output voltage required for the battery is 12 V. The output current is 166 A.

C-Rate

Determines how many amps are going in or out of a battery.

Example:

1C Discharge rate of a 100 A battery gives 100 A of continuous discharge.

2C Discharge rate of a 100 A battery gives 200 A of continuous discharge

C/2 Discharge rate of a 100 A battery gives 50 A of continuous discharge

⚠️ Warning ⚠️:  If you exceed the recommended discharge rate, the chemistry of the battery changes and becomes unusable.

Faradaic Efficiency

Ratio of output energy to input energy. Measured as a percentage. It is dependent on the characteristic of the battery chemistry.

Final note: Do I need to go further than this? most probably yes but for now these are the fundamentals.

A photovoltaic system, also PV system or solar power system, is a power system designed to supply usable solar power by means of photovoltaics. It consists of an arrangement of several components, including solar panels to absorb and convert sunlight into electricity, a solar inverter to convert the output from direct to alternating current, as well as mounting, cabling, and other electrical accessories to set up a working system.

It may also use a solar tracking system to improve the system’s overall performance and include an integrated battery solution, as prices for storage devices are expected to decline. Strictly speaking, a solar array only encompasses the ensemble of solar panels, the visible part of the PV system, and does not include all the other hardware, often summarized as balance of system (BOS). As PV systems convert light directly into electricity, they are not to be confused with other solar technologies, such as concentrated solar power or solar thermal, used for heating and cooling.

PV systems range from small, rooftop-mounted or building-integrated systems with capacities from a few to several tens of kilowatts, to large utility-scale power stations of hundreds of megawatts. Nowadays, most PV systems are grid-connected, while off-grid or stand-alone systems account for a small portion of the market.

Operating silently and without any moving parts or environmental emissions, PV systems have developed from being niche market applications into a mature technology used for mainstream electricity generation. A rooftop system recoups the invested energy for its manufacturing and installation within 0.7 to 2 years and produces about 95 percent of net clean renewable energy over a 30-year service lifetime.[1]:30[2][3]

Due to the growth of photovoltaics, prices for PV systems have rapidly declined since their introduction. However, they vary by market and the size of the system. In 2014, prices for residential 5-kilowatt systems in the

United States were around $3.29 per watt,[4] while in the highly penetrated German market, prices for rooftop systems of up to 100 kW declined to €1.24 per watt.[5] Nowadays, solar PV modules account for less than half of the system’s overall cost,[6] leaving the rest to the remaining BOS-components and to soft costs, which include customer acquisition, permitting, inspection and interconnection, installation labor and financing costs.[7]:14 

A photovoltaic system, also PV system or solar power system, is a power system designed to supply usable solar power by means of photovoltaics. It consists of an arrangement of several components, including solar panels to absorb and convert sunlight into electricity, a solar inverter to convert the output from direct to alternating current, as well as mounting, cabling, and other electrical accessories to set up a working system.

It may also use a solar tracking system to improve the system’s overall performance and include an integrated battery solution, as prices for storage devices are expected to decline. Strictly speaking, a solar array only encompasses the ensemble of solar panels, the visible part of the PV system, and does not include all the other hardware, often summarized as balance of system (BOS). As PV systems convert light directly into electricity, they are not to be confused with other solar technologies, such as concentrated solar power or solar thermal, used for heating and cooling.

PV systems range from small, rooftop-mounted or building-integrated systems with capacities from a few to several tens of kilowatts, to large utility-scale power stations of hundreds of megawatts. Nowadays, most PV systems are grid-connected, while off-grid or stand-alone systems account for a small portion of the market.

Operating silently and without any moving parts or environmental emissions, PV systems have developed from being niche market applications into a mature technology used for mainstream electricity generation. A rooftop system recoups the invested energy for its manufacturing and installation within 0.7 to 2 years and produces about 95 percent of net clean renewable energy over a 30-year service lifetime.[1]:30[2][3]

Due to the growth of photovoltaics, prices for PV systems have rapidly declined since their introduction. However, they vary by market and the size of the system. In 2014, prices for residential 5-kilowatt systems in the

United States were around $3.29 per watt,[4] while in the highly penetrated German market, prices for rooftop systems of up to 100 kW declined to €1.24 per watt.[5] Nowadays, solar PV modules account for less than half of the system’s overall cost,[6] leaving the rest to the remaining BOS-components and to soft costs, which include customer acquisition, permitting, inspection and interconnection, installation labor and financing costs.[7]:14

A photovoltaic system, also PV system or solar power system, is a power system designed to supply usable solar power by means of photovoltaics. It consists of an arrangement of several components, including solar panels to absorb and convert sunlight into electricity, a solar inverter to convert the output from direct to alternating current, as well as mounting, cabling, and other electrical accessories to set up a working system.

It may also use a solar tracking system to improve the system’s overall performance and include an integrated battery solution, as prices for storage devices are expected to decline. Strictly speaking, a solar array only encompasses the ensemble of solar panels, the visible part of the PV system, and does not include all the other hardware, often summarized as balance of system (BOS). As PV systems convert light directly into electricity, they are not to be confused with other solar technologies, such as concentrated solar power or solar thermal, used for heating and cooling.

PV systems range from small, rooftop-mounted or building-integrated systems with capacities from a few to several tens of kilowatts, to large utility-scale power stations of hundreds of megawatts. Nowadays, most PV systems are grid-connected, while off-grid or stand-alone systems account for a small portion of the market.

Operating silently and without any moving parts or environmental emissions, PV systems have developed from being niche market applications into a mature technology used for mainstream electricity generation. A rooftop system recoups the invested energy for its manufacturing and installation within 0.7 to 2 years and produces about 95 percent of net clean renewable energy over a 30-year service lifetime.[1]:30[2][3]

Due to the growth of photovoltaics, prices for PV systems have rapidly declined since their introduction. However, they vary by market and the size of the system. In 2014, prices for residential 5-kilowatt systems in the

United States were around $3.29 per watt,[4] while in the highly penetrated German market, prices for rooftop systems of up to 100 kW declined to €1.24 per watt.[5] Nowadays, solar PV modules account for less than half of the system’s overall cost,[6] leaving the rest to the remaining BOS-components and to soft costs, which include customer acquisition, permitting, inspection and interconnection, installation labor and financing costs.[7]:14

A photovoltaic system, also PV system or solar power system, is a power system designed to supply usable solar power by means of photovoltaics. It consists of an arrangement of several components, including solar panels to absorb and convert sunlight into electricity, a solar inverter to convert the output from direct to alternating current, as well as mounting, cabling, and other electrical accessories to set up a working system.

It may also use a solar tracking system to improve the system’s overall performance and include an integrated battery solution, as prices for storage devices are expected to decline. Strictly speaking, a solar array only encompasses the ensemble of solar panels, the visible part of the PV system, and does not include all the other hardware, often summarized as balance of system (BOS). As PV systems convert light directly into electricity, they are not to be confused with other solar technologies, such as concentrated solar power or solar thermal, used for heating and cooling.

PV systems range from small, rooftop-mounted or building-integrated systems with capacities from a few to several tens of kilowatts, to large utility-scale power stations of hundreds of megawatts. Nowadays, most PV systems are grid-connected, while off-grid or stand-alone systems account for a small portion of the market.

Operating silently and without any moving parts or environmental emissions, PV systems have developed from being niche market applications into a mature technology used for mainstream electricity generation. A rooftop system recoups the invested energy for its manufacturing and installation within 0.7 to 2 years and produces about 95 percent of net clean renewable energy over a 30-year service lifetime.[1]:30[2][3]

Due to the growth of photovoltaics, prices for PV systems have rapidly declined since their introduction. However, they vary by market and the size of the system. In 2014, prices for residential 5-kilowatt systems in the

United States were around $3.29 per watt,[4] while in the highly penetrated German market, prices for rooftop systems of up to 100 kW declined to €1.24 per watt.[5] Nowadays, solar PV modules account for less than half of the system’s overall cost,[6] leaving the rest to the remaining BOS-components and to soft costs, which include customer acquisition, permitting, inspection and interconnection, installation labor and financing costs.[7]:14

A photovoltaic system, also PV system or solar power system, is a power system designed to supply usable solar power by means of photovoltaics. It consists of an arrangement of several components, including solar panels to absorb and convert sunlight into electricity, a solar inverter to convert the output from direct to alternating current, as well as mounting, cabling, and other electrical accessories to set up a working system.

It may also use a solar tracking system to improve the system’s overall performance and include an integrated battery solution, as prices for storage devices are expected to decline. Strictly speaking, a solar array only encompasses the ensemble of solar panels, the visible part of the PV system, and does not include all the other hardware, often summarized as balance of system (BOS). As PV systems convert light directly into electricity, they are not to be confused with other solar technologies, such as concentrated solar power or solar thermal, used for heating and cooling.

PV systems range from small, rooftop-mounted or building-integrated systems with capacities from a few to several tens of kilowatts, to large utility-scale power stations of hundreds of megawatts. Nowadays, most PV systems are grid-connected, while off-grid or stand-alone systems account for a small portion of the market.

Operating silently and without any moving parts or environmental emissions, PV systems have developed from being niche market applications into a mature technology used for mainstream electricity generation. A rooftop system recoups the invested energy for its manufacturing and installation within 0.7 to 2 years and produces about 95 percent of net clean renewable energy over a 30-year service lifetime.[1]:30[2][3]

Due to the growth of photovoltaics, prices for PV systems have rapidly declined since their introduction. However, they vary by market and the size of the system. In 2014, prices for residential 5-kilowatt systems in the

United States were around $3.29 per watt,[4] while in the highly penetrated German market, prices for rooftop systems of up to 100 kW declined to €1.24 per watt.[5] Nowadays, solar PV modules account for less than half of the system’s overall cost,[6] leaving the rest to the remaining BOS-components and to soft costs, which include customer acquisition, permitting, inspection and interconnection, installation labor and financing costs.[7]:14

A photovoltaic system, also PV system or solar power system, is a power system designed to supply usable solar power by means of photovoltaics. It consists of an arrangement of several components, including solar panels to absorb and convert sunlight into electricity, a solar inverter to convert the output from direct to alternating current, as well as mounting, cabling, and other electrical accessories to set up a working system.

It may also use a solar tracking system to improve the system’s overall performance and include an integrated battery solution, as prices for storage devices are expected to decline. Strictly speaking, a solar array only encompasses the ensemble of solar panels, the visible part of the PV system, and does not include all the other hardware, often summarized as balance of system (BOS). As PV systems convert light directly into electricity, they are not to be confused with other solar technologies, such as concentrated solar power or solar thermal, used for heating and cooling.

PV systems range from small, rooftop-mounted or building-integrated systems with capacities from a few to several tens of kilowatts, to large utility-scale power stations of hundreds of megawatts. Nowadays, most PV systems are grid-connected, while off-grid or stand-alone systems account for a small portion of the market.

Operating silently and without any moving parts or environmental emissions, PV systems have developed from being niche market applications into a mature technology used for mainstream electricity generation. A rooftop system recoups the invested energy for its manufacturing and installation within 0.7 to 2 years and produces about 95 percent of net clean renewable energy over a 30-year service lifetime.[1]:30[2][3]

Due to the growth of photovoltaics, prices for PV systems have rapidly declined since their introduction. However, they vary by market and the size of the system. In 2014, prices for residential 5-kilowatt systems in the

United States were around $3.29 per watt,[4] while in the highly penetrated German market, prices for rooftop systems of up to 100 kW declined to €1.24 per watt.[5] Nowadays, solar PV modules account for less than half of the system’s overall cost,[6] leaving the rest to the remaining BOS-components and to soft costs, which include customer acquisition, permitting, inspection and interconnection, installation labor and financing costs.[7]:14

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