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What Are Solar PV Panels?

Solar PV Panels - What does PV stand for?

PV is short for Photovoltaic which essentially means electricity from the energy of the sun. The word is derived from two Greek words – “photo” meaning light and “voltaic” meaning voltage. Photovoltaic is used to describe a process known as the “photovoltaic effect” which is the process by which a material such as silicon converts sunlight into electricity.

How a Solar PV Panel Powers Your Home

Solar PV Panels capture the sun’s energy and convert it into electricity. Electricity generated by PV panels is mainly used for powering household appliances and equipment.

The most common Solar PV Panel system is known as a grid connected system, which as indicated by it’s name is a set up connected to the national grid. With this system, owners will benefit from solar power during the day and electricity from the grid in the evening.

A stand alone system is another type of PV Panel set up. This one is not connected to the national grid. With this type of solar installation, the user can add solar batteries to have electricity when it goes dark. These set ups are great for remote locations where there is no alternate source of electricity.

How do the Panels Work?

Solar PV panels use cells containing a semi-conductor material to capture the sun’s energy and convert solar radiation into electricity. The most commonly used semi-conductor material is silicon, which is an abundant natural resource found in sand. When light from the sun hits the cell a certain amount of energy is absorbed within the semiconductor material, knocking electrons, the negatively charged particles that form the basis of electricity, loose.

Most cells in a PV panel have two layers of semi-conductor material, one positively charged and one negatively charged. When light shines on the semi-conductor the electric field across the junction between these two layers causes electricity to flow, generating direct current (DC). By placing metal contacts on the top and bottom of the PV cell, we can draw that current off for external use.

The direct current then needs to be converted into alternating current (AC) so it can be used in a domestic building. This is performed by an inverter.

How to install PV Panels

Installation of PV panels will vary depending on the roofing material and the panel manufacturer. Whichever combination it is, be sure to use our SolarFlash product to ensure a watertight roof.