How Pv Systems Work

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A photovoltaic cell is made of a select material which is called a semiconductor. This is normally silicon.

In a standard PV cell, you have a very thin wafer of silicon. The two sides of the silicon have very small amounts of impurity on it, which is usually boron or phosphorous.

The impurities makes one side of the cell give up electrons. This is the electron-donor side. The impurities on the other side accept electrons. This is the electron-receiver side.

The layer between the electron-donor side and the electron-receiver side is the cell junction. The two sides are connected by wires.

At a time when the sun is shining, photons of energy (sunlight) bombard the cell. This stimulates the electrons on the electron-donor cell side. These electrons travel through the wire to get to the electron-receiver side. An electric circuit is created.

A PV panel or module is created when multiple cells are connected.

A PV array is created when multiple PV panels or modules are connected.

Direct current (DC) electricity is thus generated. Since most of the appliances in our homes use alternating current (AC), the solar system requires an inverter to convert DC power into AC power.

Electricity is only generated during daylight–with more electricity generated during times of intense sunlight. However, the sun does not always shine (such as night time) or does not shine with intensity (such as cloudy days). Therefore a storage system is required which supplies electricity when your home is producing an inadequate supply.

You have two choices for storage:

  • Off the Grid also known as a Stand-Alone System.
  • On the Grid also known as a Grid-Connected System.

There are pros and cons and considerable differences in prices for both systems.

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