VisSim Diagram of the Month

With all the long sunny days of August, it only makes sense to look at the IV curve of a solar panel. It turns out that solar panels are great big diodes that happen to generate electricity. When you get close to reverse biasing them, the current falls off precipitously. This nonlinear knee in the current vs voltage gives rise to an interesting property of solar panels. The voltage at which maximum power (I*V) can be extracted varies with the amount of generated current or light falling on the panel. This is shown in the attached diagram. It also means that good solar panel inverters must constantly track power and vary the voltage drawn to maximimize power generation. This technique is called max power point tracking (MPPT), and that's a topic for another diagram.
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