How the OGT solar panels operate including care and maintenance
Electrical Hazard: Solar panels generate electricity when exposed to sunlight. Always treat them as live electrical equipment.
How do the solar panels work on my OGT?
Solar panels are made up of photovoltaic (PV) cells, typically made of semiconductor materials like silicon. When sunlight strikes these cells, photons from the sunlight knock electrons loose from their atoms. This creates an electric current.
The electricity generated by the solar panels is in the form of Direct Current (DC). This DC electricity is then channeled through wiring to various components within the system.
The DC electricity generated by the solar panels needs to be stored and this done via a battery bank. This is essential for providing power when sunlight is unavailable, such as during nighttime or on overcast days.
Always confirm the solar charge system has a charge controller
OGT Solar panels use an integrated charge controller with each solar system we offer. This means they can plug directly into the solar charge port on the trailers. Other manufacturers may not have this included, never plug bare panels into the OGT system without a charge controller.
What is a charge controller in relation to Solar Power?
In a DC solar system, a charge controller is a critical component. Its primary function is to regulate the flow of electricity from the solar panels to the battery bank. The charge controller ensures that the batteries receive an optimal charge without overcharging, which can damage them. There are 2 main types of charge controllers:
MPPT: Maximum Power Point Tracking
A Maximum Power Point Tracking (MPPT) solar charge controller is an advanced device used in solar power systems to optimize energy harvesting from solar panels. It achieves this by continuously adjusting the electrical operating point of the panels to extract the maximum available power. This is done through a specialized algorithm that actively tracks the Maximum Power Point (MPP) of the solar array, ensuring that the panels operate as close to their peak efficiency as possible. MPPT controllers are particularly effective in situations with changing weather conditions or partial shading, as they adapt to these variables. This dynamic optimization significantly increases energy output compared to traditional charge controllers.
PWM: Pulse with Modulation
A Pulse Width Modulation (PWM) solar charge controller regulates the charging process from a solar panel to a battery. It does so by rapidly switching the connection between the panel and the battery, creating pulses of energy that simulate a steady, controlled charge. The controller monitors the battery's voltage to prevent overcharging, transitioning to a maintenance charge once the battery reaches a specific voltage level. Unlike MPPT controllers, PWM controllers do not dynamically adjust to maximize power output, making them most effective when the solar panel and battery voltages are closely matched. They are well-suited for smaller, straightforward solar systems with compatible panel and battery configurations. Cost-effective and relatively simple in design, PWM controllers provide a reliable and efficient means of charging batteries in such setups.
How to keep my OGT solar panels operating efficiently?
To ensure the longevity and optimal performance of a solar panel, it's essential to implement regular maintenance practices. Firstly, keep the panel surface clean and free from dust, dirt, leaves, and bird droppings, which can obstruct sunlight and reduce efficiency. Use a soft brush or sponge with mild soap and water for cleaning, avoiding abrasive materials that may scratch the surface. Additionally, inspect the panel and its connections for any signs of damage or wear, addressing issues promptly to prevent further deterioration. Periodically check for loose mounting hardware and ensure the panel is securely in place. Lastly, monitor the system's performance and consult a professional if you notice a significant decrease in energy output. Regular care and attention will help maximize the lifespan and energy output of your solar panel.