4Feb

What is Photovoltaic Solar Energy?

Thursday | Filed in: Grid-tie solar

When someone asks what I do for a living, my answer usually begins with “we mostly design and install photovoltaic systems in homes and commercial businesses”. Inevitably, the next response I get is “Hu? What’s that?” Honestly, it is a fair response to a seemingly complicated answer but thinking about solar generating electricity and Blue Pacific Solar on many levels consumes much of my thought process and to use the word solar to describe this marvelous process just seems too broad a response.

Solar is energy from the sun that is converted into thermal or electrical energy. Wind energy is defined as energy received from the movement of the wind across the earth. This energy is a result of the heating of our oceans, earth, and atmosphere by the sun. Though it is not commonly thought of as solar, wind energy is also be considered a form of solar energy.

Solar modules & arrays can be small enough to power your calculator or large enough to power a city. I routinely use small portable solar panels to recharge my iPod, cell phone battery or other small gadget.

But back to the original question.

Photovoltaics, what it does.

Photovoltaic solar energy systems use sunlight to generate electricity. It lowers your utility bill, and helps reduce fossil-fuel consumption and global warming. Solar panels silently convert light into electricity. They have no moving parts, require little maintenance and are designed to last for many years. Photovoltaic, or PV, cells are the basic engine of a solar power system. PV cells convert the sun’s energy into electricity. A PV cell is most often made of a thin wafer of silicon modified with small amounts of other materials that give the silicon wafer special electrical properties. When sunlight hits a PV cell, it produces an electric current. PV cells are connected together in a solar module, which has a non-reflective glass front, a protective insulating backsheet and an aluminum frame for strength and mounting. The technology for solar is not new as it was originally discovered by Edmund Becquerel in 1839. Solar panels work best in direct sunshine, but they also work well even on cloudy days. Don’t believe me? Ever get sunburned on a cloudy day at the beach?

How it does that.

Solar panels are groups of solar modules connected electrically to generate direct current electricity at the desired voltage and current. Fixed solar panels are installed on rooftops or open areas that have full sun exposure. A larger grouping of solar panels constitutes a “solar array.” Large non-residential solar facilities often contain multiple arrays, sometimes located on different buildings at a given site.

How it Works

1. Sunlight hitting silicon cells in a module or solar panel grouped together called a solar array generates a direct current. (DC)

2. A switch protects the solar modules from grid power fluctuations.

3. The solar direct current goes from the solar modules to an inverter, which converts it to husehold AC. AC or alternating current is what is commonly used to power most household appliances or electrical needs.asew

4. If there is extra solar current the system feeds it to the utility grid, running the meter backwards.

5. If more power is needed say at night, the switch draws power from the utility grid with the utility acting much like a battery.

Most high quality mainstream solar panels are guaranteed for well over 20 years. There are many mainstream solar companies but our preferred company to use for most homes or commercial application are Schüco PV solar modules. Schüco guarantees their modules to perform for 25 years. Schüco are engineered to stand up to any weather, and require no maintenance beyond the occasional hose-down so that dust and debris don’t get in the way of the sunlight. Schüco modules are pre-tested for actual output, so when you choose one of Schüco systems, you know exactly what you are getting.

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