How does Solar PV work?

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Photovoltaic Panels use light energy from the sun to generate electricity through what is known as the ‘Photovoltaic effect’.

A Solar Photovoltaic (PV) Panel is made up of silicon cells, prepared in such a way that when the sun’s rays pass over them they become ‘agitated’ creating an electric charge, which is then fed to a cable output. This electric current is in DC format, and is then converted to AC format via an inverter to make it compatible with the electricity supply.

A Photovoltaic system does not necessarily need bright sunlight in order to operate successfully as the system relies on the light created from the sun – thus it continues to generate electricity even on cloudy days.

There are five main factors that will impact how much energy a Solar PV system will generate:

  • The overall size of the PV array.
  • The latitude of the location.
  • Which direction the panels face.
  • The angle at which the panels are mounted.
  • The amount of shade that may cover the panels.

Typically PV Panels are roof mounted, there are however many different configurations possible including ground mounting and mounting on flat roofs.


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