You may have heard the term “photovoltaic solar panels” being bandied about more and more lately in relation to solar power but what exactly are they?! We take the mystery out of the term for you, and give you everything you need to know. Read on for more.
About Photovoltaic Solar Panels
Photovoltaic solar panels are panels are made up of groups of solar cells that create electricity when they are exposed to sunlight. The electrons inside the solar cells that make up the panel are activated by the sun, and this activity produced electricity in the form of direct current. Photovoltaic solar panels create electricity during the daytime and they are most efficient when they are exposed to full sun, even though they will still produce some electricity if there is some cloud.
The photovoltaic solar panel itself is made from silicone cells that are sandwiched in between plastic or glass. There are three types of photovoltaic solar panels currently available on the Australian market – monocrystalline panels which are the most expensive but are the most efficient type, polycrystalline, which have a combination of good performance at a good price, and thin film panels which are best suited to occasional or smaller scale use.
Photovoltaic Solar Panels and How They Work
Solar panels are one of the most important parts of a solar power system but they cannot operate by themselves. They need to be used with an inverter as the inverter converts the direct current (DC) electricity produced by the solar panel into alternating current (AC) electricity that can be used inside the home. The solar panels are also connected to an electricity meter, which records how much electricity is produced by the panels. Excess electricity is fed back into the main electricity grid (a grid connect system) or stored in batteries (an off grid system). If you feed electricity generated by your solar panels back into the main electricity supply, the electricity company will pay you for it, either in the form of a net or a gross feed in tariff. With a net feed in tariff, you are only paid for the excess electricity you generate, while with a gross feed in tariff, you are paid for all the electricity that you generate.
Placing Photovoltaic Solar Panels
The efficiency of your photovoltaic solar panels almost entirely depends on where they are placed. Ideally, you will place them facing north as they will get sun for most of the day this way. If you have a flat roof, use a frame to raise the panels to the correct angle. You can place the panels in other orientations but you will need to speak to your installer about this.
If you've got more questions you need answered, simply ask your nearest solar power