How Solar PV works

What is Solar PV?

Solar PV is a technology that uses photovoltaic cells to convert light from the sun into electricity. Photovoltaic means “light-electricity” and refers to the process of generating electric current from photons, which are tiny particles of light.

Solar PV cells are usually made of silicon, a semiconductor material that can absorb photons and release electrons. When many PV cells are connected together, they form a solar module or panel, which can produce a certain amount of power depending on the size, efficiency, and orientation of the panel.

Solar panels are typically installed on rooftops, where they can receive direct sunlight and generate electricity for the home or business. They can also be mounted on the ground or on other structures, such as carports, pergolas, or parking lots. Some solar panels are even integrated into building materials, such as roof tiles, windows, or facades, creating a seamless and aesthetic appearance.

How does Solar PV work?

Solar PV works in three main steps:

  1. Absorption: When sunlight hits a solar panel, the PV cells absorb the photons and knock loose some electrons from the silicon atoms.
  2. Flow: The loose electrons are then captured by a thin metal layer on the surface of the cell, creating an electric current. This current is called direct current (DC), which flows from the negative to the positive side of the cell.
  3. Conversion: The DC current is then converted to alternating current (AC) by an inverter, which is a device that changes the direction and voltage of the current. AC is the type of current that is used by most appliances and devices in the home or business.

The AC current is then fed into the electrical grid or a battery storage system, where it can be used to power the home or business or be sold back to the utility company for a credit or payment.

What are the benefits of solar PV?

Solar PV has many benefits, both for the individual and for the society. Some of the main benefits are:

  • Clean and renewable: Solar PV does not produce any harmful greenhouse gas emissions or air pollutants, unlike fossil fuels. It also uses a renewable and infinite source of energy, the sun, which will never run out.
  • Cost-effective and reliable: Solar PV can reduce or eliminate the electricity bills for the home or business owner, as they can generate their own power and avoid paying for expensive grid electricity. Solar PV can also provide a stable and predictable source of income, as some utility companies offer incentives or feed-in tariffs for excess solar power that is exported to the grid. Solar PV is also very reliable and durable, as it has no moving parts and requires minimal maintenance.
  • Flexible and adaptable: Solar PV can be tailored to suit the specific needs and preferences of the user, as it can be installed in various sizes and locations, depending on the available space and sunlight. Solar PV can also be integrated with other renewable energy sources, such as wind or hydro, or with battery storage systems, to create a more resilient and independent energy system.

How to get started with solar PV?

If you are interested in installing solar PV for your home or business, there are a few steps you need to take:

  • Assess your energy needs and goals: You need to determine how much electricity you use, when you use it, and how much you want to save or earn from solar PV. You also need to consider your budget, your roof space, and your aesthetic preferences.
  • Review your solar options and budget: You need to research the different types of solar panels, inverters, and installation options available. Decide on the size of system you require and if batteries will be installed.
  • Install and enjoy your solar PV system: After signing the contract, the solar installer will schedule and complete the installation of your solar PV system. The installation usually takes one or two days, depending on the size and complexity of the system, the bigger the system the longer the installation takes. After the installation, the solar installer will test and commission the system and connect it to the grid or the battery. You will then be able to enjoy the benefits of solar PV and monitor its performance and savings.
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