How Do Solar Panels Work?
Making your own electricity couldn’t be easier with Solar PV
Solar Electric or Photovoltaic (PV) panels produce electricity by converting light energy from the sun.
But how do they work?
The panels produce energy from just daylight and do not need direct sunlight to operate, so they can still generate electricity on cloudy or overcast days. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to be in hot sunny climates like Southern Spain to get a great return from your Solar PV System.
The electrical energy produced is either used directly in the building, or exported to the electricity grid:
- Daylight hits the PV cells in the panels and is converted to clean electricity in the form of Direct Current (DC)
- The inverter (the only other main piece of hardware required in the system) converts the electricity from Direct to Alternating Current (DC to AC) for use in the building
- The power is sent straight to the building’s fuse or distribution board after traveling through a generation meter where each unit generated is recorded – this enables the system owner to receive payments based on a set fee per unit from the energy company
- The electricity generated on the roof is then ready to be used on site – this allows for a saving on the external energy requirements from the National Grid
- If the system is producing more energy than is needed, the excess power is exported to the National Grid for which additional payments are received via the Feed In Tariff scheme
Solar Maintenance requirements
Solar PV is an almost maintenance-free renewable energy source, because it is based on solid-state semiconductor technology and has no real moving parts. This allows for the panels to work for long periods of time without attention or maintenance requirements.
The PV panels are designed to operate best with a slight pitched angle and this is not just so they are exposed to as much daylight but also so that the angle they sit at can allow for water to run off them, combining with the self cleaning glass, this negates the need for regular cleaning. Solar panels can be installed on flat roofs, but they may require more regular cleaning.
The inverter is designed to operate automatically to optimize the output of the system, and it is important that this is sized correctly. Unlike the PV panels, Inverters do have some moving components and therefore are likely to need some form of servicing or repairs to some of the many components within it.
Most of our inverter manufacturers provide an option for an extended warranty on this part of the system to cover the life of the PV array.
Once you have your Solar panels installed safely and securely onto the roof and wiring into your inverter/s, there are only a few other connections that need to be made, such as AC/DC isolators and wiring in the generation meter and then you can start your renewable energy generation immediately.
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