Solar panels rarely, if ever, power electrical equipment directly. This is because the amount of power the solar photovoltaic panel collects varies depending on the strength of sunlight it can collect. This makes the power source too variable for most electrical equipment to cope with.
In a grid tie system, the inverter handles this variability – so if demand outstrips supply you will get power from both the grid and your solar system. For an off-grid or a grid fallback system, however, you will rely on batteries for storing the energy.
Solar panels generate their maximum power when the sun is shining at its brightest – not necessarily when it is needed. Batteries are used to store the energy and to provide a constant power source for electrical equipment.
‘Deep cycle’ lead acid batteries are used to store the energy. These are similar to car batteries but have a different internal design which allows them to be heavily discharged and recharged several hundreds of times over.
Most lead acid batteries are 6v or 12v batteries, and like solar panels these can be connected together to form a larger battery pack. Like solar panels, battery packs can be connected in series to increase the capacity and the voltage of the power store, or in parallel to increase the capacity whilst keeping the voltage the same.
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