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Solar PV - How It Works

Solar home

The engine of a solar PV system are its photovoltaic cells, these cells are capable of converting light into an electric current. The electricity generated by solar panels is a DC 'direct current', whereas, the "mains" electricity we all use is AC - 'alternating current'. In order to utilise the electricity from the panels it must be converted from DC to AC. An additional device called an Inverter undertakes this role along with constantly monitoring the electricity coming in from the national grid, and then modifying the DC electricity generated by the solar panels to match it perfectly.

The electricity generated by the solar PV system is automatically used directly to power a property with any excess being automatically sold straight back to the supplier. Any shortfall of power, such as peak use times or at night, is topped up by the supplier.

Solar PV operates on light intensity, not heat, so even if the day seems cold, if there is light, the system will be generating electricity, PV systems will therefore generate electricity all year round. It is a surprise to most people to discover that the UK climate provides perfect conditions for Photovoltaic Solar generation. Extremes of temperature effect the efficiency and the lifespan of the panels making the temperate weather found in England, France, Germany etc ideal. However, light intensity changes with the seasons, therefore most electricity will be generated in the summer with the least in the winter.

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