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What is a solar electric or photovoltaic system?

blue-light / 2011-03-03
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What is a solar electric or photovoltaic system?

Buying a Photovoltaic Solar Electric System: A Consumer Guide discusses the basic technical,  economic and regulatory information you should know before buying a photovoltaic (PV) solar electric generation system.

This Guide is not a comprehensive technical or economic guide on photovoltaic systems. For that information, see the “Getting Help” section or consult an experienced photovoltaic system designer, retailer or supplier. 

Unlike a solar hot water system that uses the sun’s energy to heat water, solar electric or photovoltaic technology uses the sun’s energy to make electricity.

Learning from the word itself, the prefix “photo” means “produced by light,” and the suffix “voltaic” refers to “electricity produced by a chemical reaction.” PV technology produces electricity directly from the electrons freed by the interaction of sunlight with certain semiconductor materials, such as silicon, in the PV module. The electrons are collected to form a direct current (DC) of electricity.

The basic building block of PV technology is the solar “cell.” Many cells may be wired together to produce a PV “module,” and many modules are linked together to form a PV “array.” PV modules sold commercially range in power output from about 10 watts to 300 watts, and produce a direct current like that from a car’s battery. A complete PV system usually consists of one or more modules connected to an inverter that changes the PV's DC electricity to alternating current (AC) electricity to power your electrical devices and to be compatible with the electric grid.1 Batteries are sometimes included in a system to provide back-up power in case of utility power outages.
PV cells can be made from several processes or technologies. They all do the same job — produce electricity from sunlight.

The basic types of inverters include: True sine wave inverter. If you plan to take advantage of
net metering and feed electricity into the transmission grid, then you must have this type of inverter.

Most households use alternating current in their electric circuits, with power supplied from the utility at 120 volts and 60 cycles per second. A true sine wave inverter transforms the direct current from the PV modules to alternating current of 120 volts and 60 cycles per second. This transformation may also synchronize your system with the utility’s system.

Modified sine wave inverter. Similar to a true sine wave inverter, a modified inverter does not provide the same quality of 60 cycle-current that can be fed back to the utility grid. This quality of power, however, can be used at your home or business to power many AC loads.

And to control all the part of solar panel, solar inverter, battery, we need charge regulator to protect the whole system from burning, especially use the charge regulator to protect the battery, to enlarge the battery life.

PV systems produce power intermittently because they work only when the sun is shining. More electricity is produced on a clear, sunny day with more intense sunlight and with a more direct light angle, as when the sun is perpendicular to the surface of the PV modules. Cloudy days can significantly reduce output, and of course no power is produced at night. PV systems work best during summer months when the sun is higher in the sky and the days are longer. Because of these variations, it is difficult for PV systems to furnish all the power you need, and are typically used in conjunction with utility-supplied electricity.

                     From Buying a Photovoltaic Solar Electric System: A Consumer Guide

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