Solar Panels

Solar Panel Diagram (Simple Explanation & How It Works)

By:Michael Johns

off-grid solar panel diagram

In this article, you will learn about solar panel diagrams and how the system works.

Below we will take a look at multiple solar system diagrams for off-grid use in a vehicle or remote location and a home grid-tied system. If this is your first time looking at this information it can all be a little confusing. 

Don’t worry. Together we will walk through each part of the diagram, the components, and how they work. By the end, you’ll have a clear understanding of where everything connects so you can get to work on your own projects.

Solar Panel Diagram for Off-Grid Systems in Vehicles and Buildings

off-grid solar panel diagram

Let’s go through the solar diagram above step by step.

  1. Solar Panels

The solar panel is filled with photovoltaic cells. When photons of sunlight hit these cells they create electricity. An electric current flows into the wires.

  1. Charge Controller

The solar panels connect to the solar charge controller. This device regulates the current and voltage. When electricity arrives at the controller it will automatically adjust the voltage to match the battery voltage. It also incorporates safety features to avoid overcharging and reverse current.

  1. Batteries

You must use batteries with an off-grid solar panel system to get a reliable electricity supply and store energy for later. The electricity flows from the controller into the batteries. The direct current (DC) power is then stored in the deep cycle battery.

  1. Power Inverter

If you want to run alternating current (AC) appliances you will need an inverter. The inverter converts DC into AC electricity. This is the same type as you receive from the main grid. Most appliances require AC electricity to run. The inverter connects directly to the battery terminals and draws power when you need it. You can plug your appliances directly into an inverter just like a wall socket at home.

That’s it, a simple off-grid solar panel diagram. Of course, there are many variations to this based on an individual’s needs. For example, boat owners might incorporate transfer switches to use shore power. Or you may wish to add in-line fuses at certain points for additional safety. 

Solar Panel Diagram for Home Grid-Tie Systems

Grid-tie solar panel diagram

Let’s break down this home solar panel diagram so you can understand how everything works.

  1. Solar Panels

The solar panels are mounted on the rooftop or nearby sunny location. When sunlight hits the cells inside the panel it creates electricity. This is DC electricity and the current flows into the wires.

  1. Solar Inverter

After leaving the solar panel the electricity flows into the solar inverter. This converts it from DC to AC electricity. This matches the type of power supplied by the utility grid and is needed to run home appliances.

  1. Electric Box

Now you have AC electricity it can be fed into your circuit. This is done via your electricity box where the utility grid supply also connects. 

  1. Appliances and House Electricity

Appliances and electronics in your house draw electricity from the electric box. This will prioritize drawing electricity supplied by the solar panels before the utility grid. If you need more electricity than your solar panels’ supply, you will then draw from the main grid.

  1. Electricity Meter and Utility Grid

Electricity can flow both ways when you have a solar array. This means you can take and send electricity from the utility grid. When your solar panels produce more electricity than your home is using, it will send the excess to the main grid. The utility company will issue you credit for supplying electricity to the grid. Then you can use this credit to buy electricity from the utility company later. 

Off-Grid vs Grid-Tied Solar Panel Diagram Comparison

solar panel diagram comparison

Solar Panel Diagram Summary

I hope this guide to solar panel diagrams helps you understand how the systems work. 

You can use this knowledge of where all the components and equipment connect in a system to create your own custom diagram. There is no one size fits all solution and the information above should be used as a guide. Depending on the equipment, number of solar panels, battery, and unique circumstances you may wish to add to these examples I have created above.