Last Updated on October 22, 2023 by Kevin Chen
Image source Freepik
Diodes are commonly used in power generation and power supply systems. Solar panels are among the renewable sources of energy. They are able to generate electricity by using energy from the sun. there are many. Diodes are among the essential electronic components that are used for facilitating the smooth running of solar panels. They are strategically positioned at different points of the solar panels. In this guide, we are going to have a complete breakdown of the key roles of diodes in solar panels. We will also cover the types of diodes that are used in solar panels and what you should look at when buying diodes for solar panels.
Overview of diodes and why they are used in solar panels
Diodes in solar panels are used because of the working principle which entails allowing electric current to flow in one direction only and not in the opposite direction. They are made of semiconductor materials such as silicon and germanium. One thing about semiconductors is they can allow or block the flow of electric current depending on how they have been configured.
The directional flow of current is the main reason why they are used in solar panels. Also, each diode that you buy is configured to function in specific circuits. It can be forward-biased or reverse-biased. Additionally, it has power requirements that allow it to be used in a particular electrical circuit. It is important to pay full attention to such specifications when buying diodes for solar panels. They will determine the overall performance and efficiency of your solar power system.
Blocking diodes and bypass diodes in solar panels
Bypass diodes and blocking diodes are the two most common types of diodes that are used in solar panels. Some are even used in other components of the solar power systems such as inverters and battery charging systems.
The blocking functionality is due to the fact that diodes allow current to flow in one direction only. This means that if the current tries to flow in an undesired direction, it will be blocked. The bypass functionality is also due to the ability of the diodes to allow current flow in a particular direction. So, if you would want the current in the solar panel circuit to be channeled in a particular direction, you will have to use diodes.
Do you know that the photovoltaic cells that make up the solar panels are diodes? Yes, they are photodiodes meaning that they use the energy from the sun to generate electric energy. Several photovoltaic cells are connected to each other so that they can generate adequate electric energy that is needed to run electric appliances. So, we can conclude that one of the applications of diodes in solar panels is to generate electric energy from the sun by using photodiodes.
What is a blocking diode in solar panels?
A blocking diode is designed to allow the free flow of electric current from the solar panel to the battery. At the same time, this diode configuration blocks current from flowing from the battery back to the solar panel hence preventing the battery from discharging.
What is a bypass diode?
In all solar power systems, bypass diodes are always considered protective diodes. They provide electric paths through which electric current can flow through. This current is usually from the photovoltaic cells to the battery where it will be stored for usage. The reason for bypassing could be due to a faulty panel in applications where several panels are connected to each other. A fault in one of the panels may end up preventing or even blocking the smooth flow of electric current.
Configuration of the blocking diode
Blocking diode in a solar panel is usually set up during the day, that is when there is maximum generation of solar energy by the panels.
During the day, the panels will always be at high potential and will generate energy which will be used for charging batteries that are at lower potential. The current flow is from high potential to low potential, meaning that it will flow from panels to the battery.
At night, the reverse is true. The battery will be at a higher electric potential than the solar panel. The electric current flow is likely to be from the battery to the panels and this will initiate an electric discharge process. A blocking diode is installed to prevent this from happening. It blocks the flow of electric current from the battery to the panel.
Bypass diode configuration
As we have already defined, a bypass diode is usually configured in case of a faulty solar panel. In most solar power systems, several panels are connected to each other to work as a single unit. The output energy from each panel is combined to form one major output. So, what will happen when one of the panels is damaged? Such a panel does not generate electric energy yet the ones next to it are generating.
It is called a bypass diode because it provides an alternate circuit for the current to flow. When one panel is faulty, you will still get the energy thanks to the alternative paths provided by the diode. You are likely to use bypass diodes when the solar panels are connected in parallel.
The image below illustrates the blocking diode and bypass diode configurations in solar panels.
Image source ScienceDirect
From this guide, it is clear that we cannot underestimate the importance of diodes in solar panels. The most important property of the diodes is their ability to direct the flow of electric current in the panels. They determine whether the current should flow to the battery or not thanks to their blocking and bypassing mechanisms.
If you are building a solar panel, you should buy quality diodes that will be used for the solar power system. Find a reputable diodes supplier in China then confirm the specs to ensure that they will meet your power requirements.
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