What is Solar PV? | Green Electrical Installations

Solar PV (Solar Photovoltaics) uses the energy from the sun to generate electricity. Solar PV systems are becoming increasingly popular due to their cost-effectiveness and environmental benefits. Solar energy is a renewable energy source, meaning it can be used without depleting the Earth’s natural resources. Solar PV systems require little maintenance and have a long lifespan. In modern solar panels, electricity is produced from sunlight and does not require direct sunlight to be produced, although it is most efficient on bright, sunny days when the sun is shining.

With solar photovoltaic (PV) technology, sunlight is directly converted into electricity using thin sheets of semiconducting materials, such as silicon. By absorbing sunlight, the photovoltaic cells in the solar panel produce electricity allowing homes and businesses to be powered. In comparison to fossil fuel energy, solar PV solutions produce zero emissions during operation, making them a highly desirable option. Solar PV technology is a renewable energy source that is becoming increasingly popular as an energy solution due to its cost-effectiveness and potential to reduce energy bills. Solar PV systems are becoming more affordable and efficient, making them a viable alternative to traditional energy sources.

In addition to their obvious environmental benefits, solar cells also offer a great deal of versatility. They can be used in both residential and commercial settings, and they can be installed on rooftops or other surfaces. Solar PV systems can also be integrated with other energy sources, such as wind turbines and batteries, to create a hybrid energy system. Almost anywhere with good sunlight can be used to install solar panels, including rooftops, grazing land, and large-scale solar farms. 

Solar panels also require little maintenance and can last up to 25 years with proper care. They also allow households to reduce their energy bills and become more energy-independent.

How does Solar PV Work?

A solar photovoltaic (PV) panel converts solar power radiation into electricity by using semiconductor cells. Almost all semi-conductors are made of silicon, a natural resource found in abundance in sand. An amount of energy is absorbed by the semiconductor material when light strikes the cell, causing electrons, the negatively charged particles that are the basis for electricity, to loosen.

It is common for PV cells to have two layers of semiconductor material, one of which has a positive charge and the other of which has a negative charge. Light shining on a semi-conductor generates an electric field across the junction between these two layers, causing electricity to flow. Metal contacts can be placed on the top and bottom of a PV cell to allow us to draw current from it externally.

Even on cloudy days, solar PV electric panels can generate electric current since they do not require bright sunlight to work; however, the more intense the sunlight, the greater the electricity flow. Days with slight clouds, however, can result in higher energy yields than days with a completely clear sky due to sun reflection.

Solar energy can only be used when it is being generated – so unless you also purchase batteries to store power for use in the evenings and at night, you will be charged for your energy use as normal when the panels are not generating electricity.

Solar PV Inverters

As part of your solar panel system, an inverter converts direct current electricity (DC) captured by the panels into alternating current (AC). AC current supplies power to your appliances and connects your home to the National Electricity Grid. The voltage usually ranges from 120 to 240 volts, depending on the country. Without a solar inverter to convert sunlight energy into clean energy and electricity, you wouldn’t be able to safely use the energy you generate from the sun to power your home.

It is true that the efficiency of a solar panel system depends largely on its weakest component, so you need to ensure that you choose a high-quality inverter to complement your solar panel system. During the design process, inverters are often overlooked.

Any PV system that uses solar batteries is going to rely on the inverters to provide power. Among their essential features are the following:

  • Direct current can be converted to alternating current.
  • Increasing power output as much as possible.
  • National Grid communication.
  • Providing feedback on the production of power.
  • Maintaining the safety of your solar PV system.

The Different Types Of Solar Inverters

There are four main types of solar inverters. Inverters can be broken down into string inverters, microinverters, hybrid inverters, and power optimisers. Below, we will explore the key characteristics of each kind of solar panel inverter. It couldn’t be easier to find the right solar inverter for your system.

String Inverters

‘Strings’ are groups or rows of solar panels connected in series. Ensure that all the panels in a string are at the same pitch and orientation in order for a string inverter to function effectively. Several strings can be connected to a single inverter, and some string inverters have two or three MPPTs (Maximum Power Point Tracking). Each MPPT can be configured to have a different string of solar panels. It is ideal for an east/west setup, where the two strings of panels will have unmatched solar generation.

Micro Inverters

Home solar PV systems are increasingly using micro inverters, a relatively new technology. An inverter system with a micro inverter is not affected by faults or shading on individual panels, as compared to a string inverter with solar panels. Since each solar panel in a microinverter system has its own inverter, any issues are isolated. Consequently, microinverters are often considered the best way to install more solar panels. Due to the fact that shaded areas are no longer a no-go or the need to mix orientations no longer exists. The return on investment of a micro inverter system is higher than that of your classic string inverter system, despite the fact that they are generally more expensive.

Hybrid Solar Inverters

If you are installing a new Solar PV system with storage, then a hybrid inverter is well worth considering. As solar panels generate DC electricity, we know that an inverter must convert the energy into AC electricity in order to power your home’s appliances. However, solar batteries store electricity in DC form. A hybrid solar inverter is capable of converting the incoming DC into AC, while also sending any surplus DC power to store in a solar battery, or to be sold to the grid. When your stored energy is in demand, the electricity can then be inverted to AC to be used in your household.

Power Inverters

Power inverters are also located on each individual panel and offer many of the same benefits as micro-inverters. Power inverters, or DC power optimisers, provide panel-level optimisation and performance monitoring. Unlike micro-inverters, the optimiser moves DC power to a string inverter instead of directly converting it to AC. There is a battery storage system that is likely to be installed next to your battery storage system. They are generally more cost-effective than micro-inverters since they are located at the module level.

Do solar panels increase home value?

As house prices and living costs continue to rise, it makes sense to future-proof our investments in our homes, both in terms of our own affordability now and the value of our homes in the future. Solar PV panel size varies allowing all homes to install them without size worries.

One of the best ways to increase the value of your home is to make energy-saving upgrades, and a high energy performance certificate (EPC) rating can certainly result in an increase in value of as much as 14% if your home moves from a G to an A rating.

If you are able to afford the initial investment and ongoing maintenance costs of solar panels, as well as the fact that your house is a suitable candidate for solar panels, then joining over 970,000 UK homeowners and installing solar panels to reduce electricity bills, is a good idea. Solar panels generally last 25 years, while inverters generally last 15 years.