Photovoltaic Solar Panels | Solar PV for your Home
Photovoltaic Solar Panels, commonly referred to as PV Solar Panels, are one of the most popular choices for renewable energy in U.S. households. In 2011, U.S. Solar Installations soared by 109% and reached record capacity, according to the U.S Solar Market Insight report.
Please find information about PV Solar Panels below:
A PV solar panel is made up of photovoltaic cells which are in an aluminium frame and protected by a glass sheet to let the light through. The PV cells are crystalline cells which are made of a semiconducting material. There are different types of semiconducting materials used, which vary in cost, silicon being the most common material used. Silicon PV cells can also vary depending on the way that they are cut and treated. Two of the most common types used are monocrystalline and polycrystalline.
When exposed to photons of sunlight, the PV cells within the solar panel generate electricity. The semiconducting material (e.g. silicon) within the cells undergo a process known as the 'photovoltaic effect' when exposed to sunlight. This means that when they absorb photons of light they are able to produce electrons.
These electrons are then captured as a DC current which can either be used straight away by the home or business, or sent to the power grid for energy suppliers to use. It is possible for a PV generation meter to be placed in the home or business to indicate the real-time amount of electricity generated by the panels to be monitored.
It is not essential for the PV cells to be in direct sunlight as daylight will produce solar energy, but the more sunlight the cells are exposed to, the more solar energy they will produce. PV solar panels are therefore most efficient when positioned in a southerly direction.
There are different types of PV solar systems available which vary in efficiency and cost. The industry is evolving rapidly, and the types of solar technology available have developed significantly over the years.
The cheapest type of Solar PV is armorphous, or ‘thin-film’ silicon. It is essentially a thin layer of silicon which coats a material such as glass. This type of solar power is the least efficient type available and originates from the technology that powers solar watches and calculators. Although it is cheaper than other types of Solar PV, it is difficult to get a good return on this thin-film silicon technology unless a large surface area is available. It is for this reason that the technology is not very popular in the U.S. Although this technology is not very efficient, it can be used to create solar roof tiles to cover either a whole roof or part of a roof.
A more widely available and popular choice for PV Solar Power is polycrystalline. These type of Photovoltaic Panels are made up of many small crystals of silicon that are cut from a wafer. Polycrystalline solar panels are relatively efficient and affordable, making them a good option to choose.
Monocrystalline solar panels are made from a single silicon crystal making them purer than polycrystalline panels and thin film silicon panels. It is for this reason that monocrystalline panels are one of the most efficient types available, but are also amongst the most expensive.
Finally, hybrid solar panels, otherwise known as ‘heterojunction incorporating thin-film’ (HIT), are made by using a monocrystalline cell covered with a thin-film. By combining the two types of materials they work together more efficiently to create greater solar energy conversion. Hybrid solar panels are considered the most premium option and therefore the most expensive technology available.
It is possible to install PV Solar Panels on the roof of a building or wall that faces within 90 degrees of south. PV Solar panels can be installed at ground level should there be a large enough area of un-shaded land. It is crucial that the installation area is not overshadowed by other buildings or trees, as this will result in less electricity being produced. Installation can be completed within one day, once scaffolding has been erected at the property, providing the system is not too large. Any scaffolding and associated costs with the installation process should be accounted for when getting quotes.
Different types of PV cells vary in efficiency, and the more efficient the PV cell, the fewer amount of solar panels that will be required. PV Solar systems are measured by kilowatt peak rating (kWp), specifically, how much power is generated in a peak controlled environment. Depending on the amount of light the cells are exposed to will determine how close to peak the panel will perform. A standard solar panel measuring 3’11’’ by 5’11’’ will produce between 180 and 250 watts of energy. Four to five solar panels would be required to produce 1kW of power, and this would supply around 25% of an average family’s energy demand in a year. This would be classed as a smaller installation, with the more panel space available, the greater the return that will be seen.
By installing PV Solar panels you will be producing your own source of electricity from the solar energy generated. This will therefore save you money on your electricity bills in the first instance. Most Solar panel systems are not set up to store energy, so any excess energy produced can be sent to the power grid for which you will be reimbursed, as otherwise it will be wasted. It is therefore important to determine how much solar energy you wish to produce before installing any solar panels. This can be worked out by assessing how much energy your household or business uses on average as well as looking at the space available to locate the solar panels.
Despite growing support for solar energy at a local and State level, it is possible that homeowner association rules prohibit and restrict the installation of PV Solar panels. It is also possible that the cost of installation can be drastically increased. There are solar access laws at both State and local level that are designed to protect a consumer’s right to install and operate solar panels. Your local and State solar rights will need to be fully researched before installing solar panels
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