Solar PV system at University of Tartu

How solar PV system works

A solar PV system consists of two or more solar panels combined with an inverter and other electrical and mechanical accessories.

Solar PV panels use cells to convert sunlight into electricity. When the sun shines on the cell it creates an electric field across the layers causing electricity to flow. The stronger the light, the greater the flow of electricity.

Each panel generates a relatively small amount of energy but when linked together with other panels, they produce higher amounts of energy.

How solar PV system works
How solar PV system works

Solar panels generate direct current (DC) electricity. As houses and buildings use alternating current (AC) electricity, an inverter converts the energy output from solar panels into a usable AC electricity form, to be utilized in your home or workplace.

Any home that is connected to the electrical grid will have something called a utility meter that your energy provider uses to measure and supply power to your home. When you install solar panels on your roof they are eventually connected to your home’s utility meter. The production of your solar system can actually be accessed and measured by this meter.

When your solar power system is producing more electricity than you consume, it feeds the excess power back into the grid.

With solar power, you do not need to switch it on in the morning or switch it off at night. The system will do it automatically.

You also do not need to switch between solar power and the grid, as your solar system can determine when to do so based on the amount of energy being consumed in your home.  In fact, a solar system requires very little maintenance which means you will hardly notice it is there.

Solar systems are very safe too. There is no danger of the photovoltaic cells leaking or emitting any toxins or fumes.

Key takeaways

  1. Photovoltaic cells absorb solar energy and convert it to DC electricity
  2. An inverter converts DC electricity to AC electricity, which is used by home appliances
  3. Electricity flows through your home, powering electronic devices
  4. Excess electricity produced by solar panels is sold back to the electric grid

Need a solar energy system?

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