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Solar PhotoVoltaics (PV)
Solar photovoltaics (PV) systems turn sunlight into an electrical current. This power can be stored in batteries, used as Direct Current (DC) or converted to Alternating Current (AC) for household or industrial use, or feed directly into the electrical grid.
A system generally consists of an array of solar modules (panels), bracket support system, a charge controller, a possible battery bank system , a DC (direct current) load centre, a fuse or breaker system, an inverter and an AC load centre. As production of panels and their associated electronics has rapidly expanded, the cost per unit has been declining. With the incentives now offered by many regional forms of government, implementing a P.V. system can not only benefit the environment but can also benefit your bank account.
Let's take a look at some of the parts of a system.
In this system, the solar array charges a battery bank which then provides power to an AC-DC Inverter. The inverter shown, connects to two power panels. One panel is used just for critical loads in the house (furnace ignition, freezer, fridge). The other connection, goes through a disconnect switch and into the electrical box for the house. This provides power to the house and may feed excess power into the local electrical grid if permitted. The disconnect switch ensures there is no power sent out onto the grid when the grid is down. Otherwise, personnel working on the grid could be in for a shock!
Solar Module or Array - produces DC current when the sun shines
Over current Protection - usually fuses - disconnects the array should there be a short.
Charge Controller - manages the current flowing to the batteries and any DC load. Ensures the maximum power is obtained from the solar modules.
Batteries - store the power for when it's required.
DC-AC Inverter - converts DC power to standard household AC current. May have features to cut power with grid fails, or to supply power to several separate load centers.
Household Electric Meter - may run forwards and backwards if "Net Metering" is permitted. With Net Metering, excess power can be "stored" on the grid till required.
Traditional Solar Module
Usually made from silicone wafers, a module is rated in both WATTS and voltage. The peak wattage of each module is added together to determine the total output of the array. The voltage output becomes important when considering the distance required to connect to the DC load (controller/batteries) and the voltage that can be handled by the inverter.
The G.E. 200 watt module to the right, has the following features...
Solar PV Technology Advances
Balance Of System Componets
See a home Solar Panel Installation here: Solar Panel Installation
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