What Makes It Run

Solar System Equipment

More and more organizations are looking to make solar a part of their future-focused energy solutions planning, but have less of an understanding of the solar equipment that makes up a solar system. So, we’ve put together a quick primer to get you started on the path towards understanding all of the parts that ensure you get reliable, clean energy delivered without a challenge.

Solar Modules on Sun Tribe Project

Mods (Panels)

The industry term for what is commonly referred to as solar panels is modules or mods for short. The terms are interchangeable but as you work with industry professionals know that the term “mods” is often commonly used.


Inverter at Sun Tribe groundmount project


Can panels produce electricity on their own?”

This is a common question. And the answer is a complicated “yes, but…” because the electricity that is immediately created when sunlight hits a mod is Direct Current or “DC” electricity. However, everything in your home and office can’t use DC electricity; it needs Alternating Current or AC electricity. So we use an inverter is used to transform DC electricity to AC electricity. Fortunately, you don’t need to fully understand the nuances of DC and AC electricity (that’s a whole other lesson), all you need to know is that a small piece of equipment known as an inverter will be installed onsite as part of your system.

Solar Panel Racking Example by Sun Tribe


At some point in your solar research, you’ll find yourself wondering, “How do solar panels attach to roofs? Or the tops of camper vans? Or what about the panels mounted on the ground?” The answer in all these scenarios is solar mounts, commonly known as solar racking systems or racks for short. Sun Tribe generally prefers using ballasted solar systems for flat roofs, in which we aim to minimize roof penetrations through our racking solutions. Mods are attached to racks, and then the racks are securely placed on roofs, which allows for installation, maintenance, and removal without sacrificing your roof’s warranty. For pitched roofs, the racking systems we use ensure that the mods are mounted flush to the surface of the roof while minimizing penetrations.


Professionally installed wire conductors help a solar system run smoothly - by Sun Tribe


Conductors are the pathway that electricity can travel to get from one point to another. You can think of conductors as the riverbed that helps guide the water (electricity) from point A to point B. While many materials can conduct electricity, the most common and efficient conductors are aluminum and copper wire, traditionally wrapped in plastic or rubber insulation for safety and efficiency.

Interconnect equipment on a Sun Tribe solar project

Interconnection Equipment

Installing a solar system doesn’t mean you’re no longer connected to the grid. Your solar system will be connected to the grid using interconnection equipment in places (like Virginia) with net metering, allowing you to pull energy from the grid even when your solar system isn’t producing energy –– like at night. If your solar system creates more energy than is being used at a particular moment, it goes back to the grid and is saved as a credit on your future bill. Interconnection equipment makes that process effortless, practical, and dependable.

The monitoring station at a Sun Tribe solar project in Virginia

Monitoring Equipment

Ok, we’re cheating here – monitoring requires more than one piece of equipment. But here’s the upshot: utility-grade monitoring equipment installed by Sun Tribe allows you to track data and usage in real-time. This can be an excellent tool for educational institutions that are incorporating solar science into the curriculum or it can be a helpful metric in understanding your energy usage habits. Either way, it lets us ensure that every bit of power your solar system generates is power you get to use.

Have additional questions about the equipment in your solar system? Send us a note and one of our resident experts will reply with an answer.


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