How Solar Energy Systems Work


There is no mystery to wind power and solar energy sources and the more you are informed, the more comfortable you will be in your final decision. We will walk you through every step of your wind power or solar energy system design, permitting and installation process.

How do photovoltaic panels work ? (PV)

PV (Photovoltaic) panels collect engergy from the sun and convert it into electricity. PV systems convert sunlight directly into electricity. “Photo” refers to light and “voltaic” to electricity. A PV cell is made of a semiconductor material, usually crystalline silicon, which absorbs sunlight. You’ve seen PV cells at work in simple mechanisms like watches and calculators. You’ve probably even seen them for signs on the road. More complex PV systems produce solar electricity for houses and the utility grid. The utility grid is the power source available to your local electricity provider.
PV cells are typically combined into modules, or panels, containing about 40 cells. Roughly ten modules constitute a PV array, or grouping of panels.

Most PV panels contain a top protective layer, two specially treated layers of silicon with collecting circuitry attached to the top layer, and a polymer backing layer.

The top layer of silicon is treated to make it electrically negative; the back layer is treated it make it electrically positive. When sunlight knocks electrons loose from the silicon, electrons move up from the bottom layer of silicon and crowd the electrons in the top layer. The electrons freed from the top layer are collected by electrical contacts on the surface of the top layer and routed through an external circuit, thus providing power to the electrical system attached to the panels.

Where are PV panels installed?

Most PV panels go on solar south-facing roofs parallel to the roof’s slope in the northern hemisphere, and on solar north-facing roofs in the southern hemisphere. Some arrays can be mounted on poles or on the ground, but such placement could be prohibited by local regulations or homeowners’ association rules. An important consideration is how many peak sun hours your system will get. Will your solar panels get year-round unshaded sun exposure from 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. (the ideal)? Is your climate stormy, foggy, dusty? The power of your system will vary depending on your geographical location. People in the northeastern US, for example, will need more solar panels on their roofs to provide the same amount of solar electricity as someone in Arizona.

Most PV panels contain a top protective layer, two specially treated layers of silicon with collecting circuitry attached to the top layer, and a polymer backing layer.

The top layer of silicon is treated to make it electrically negative; the back layer is treated it make it electrically positive. When sunlight knocks electrons loose from the silicon, electrons move up from the bottom layer of silicon and crowd the electrons in the top layer. The electrons freed from the top layer are collected by electrical contacts on the surface of the top layer and routed through an external circuit, thus providing power to the electrical system attached to the panels.

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