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About Solar Energy

Photovoltaics is a solar energy technology that uses the extraordinary properties of particular semi-conductors to directly convert sunlight into electricity. Photovoltaic (PV) systems use wafers made from crystalline silicon. These cells produce a slight direct current when exposed to solar radiation. The PV cells are combined into larger patterned arrangements called modules or panels. These modules are then connected in series or parallel with other modules to create an array. This array can produce a substantial amount of electrical power and without any moving parts, no noise and most importantly..  zero emissions!

PV System Components

In addition to the array, PV systems depend on electrical equipment to regulate, convert, conduct, analyze, and utilize the electricity produced by the array.

If the PV system on this customers rooftop generates more electricity than they use during daylight hours the electricity meter will run backwards. This provides a credit against what electricity is consumed at night or other periods where the home's electricity use exceeds the system's output. Customers are only billed for their "net" energy use.

Modules

The primary component of any PV system, modules are available in a vast range of sizes and designed for a multitude of applications. Industry standard for most module manufacturer‘s guarantee on nominal performance is 25 years!

Mounting System

An arrays mounting system must securely hold modules in the most efficient orientation possible. Multiple types of mounting systems have been developed to meet a variety of applications, such as, rooftop and ground rack mounts. 

Inverter

Inverters used in PV systems utilize the latest in power electronics to create AC power from the DC power created by the array. Inverters use diverse circuit designs, control channels, and switching devices that affect the performance and quality of the AC power. Complete power conditioning units may also incorporate system monitoring, system control, and maximum power point tracking.

Utility Grid

Net metering allows customers who generate electricity from their own PV systems to feed electricity they do not use back into the grid. Essentially, using the utility grid as their own personal battery. Net metering is a billing mechanism that credits solar energy system owners for the electricity they add to the grid. 

Balance-of-System

Balance-of-system (BOS) components are all the remaining mechanical and electrical elements required to assemble and integrate the major components in the PV system.

This brilliant short video lesson by Richard Komp with Ted-Ed dives into more detail on how solar panels work.