The Solar Photovoltaic Panel Process: Technical definition and descriptionBy Catherine Daccache What are Solar PV Panels? Photovoltaic panels (PV panels) conduct energy from the sun and convert it into electricity. Photo stands for light, while voltaic means electricity. The panels are made up of PV cells which consist of semiconductor material, such as crystalline silicon, which absorb sunlight and store it. The cells are typically combined into modules or panels to create solar panels.Did you know?PV cells have been aroundfor ages! You have probablyseen them in watches,calculators, and electricroad signs. But it wasn’t until recently that engineers have turned to them to produce solar electricity forhouses and utility grids. The main reason for this is because they lower the amount of oil and natural gasused to power and heat homes. Moreover, they are 100 % environment-friendly as they emit absolutelyno pollution into our atmosphere once in use.Are Solar PV Panels Right For Your Home?Geographical location matters! Considering how manypeak sun hours your system will get is important. Theideal sun exposure time is from 9 am to 3 pm. Peopleliving in stormy, cloudy, and foggy areas might havemore trouble getting sufficient power from their solarpanels, and in turn might need to install more solarpanels on their rooftops. However, because solar electricsystems only produce power during clear skies, manyconsumers connect their solar system to a utility powergrid in their region. Utility power grids are local solarpower suppliers that provide additional electricity if need be. This type of system is called a grid-tiedsystem, as opposed to an off-grid system, in which you do not pay for additional power from a localsupplier.
Fig. 1: The 13 "PV hotspots" in each province and territory in Canada in terms of yearly PV potential for South-facing PV panels with latitude tilts. Fig. 1. Source: Natural Resources Canada.Where are PV panels installed?Most PV panels are installed on solar south-facingroofs, or can rotate on an axis, as illustrated in Figure2. They are parallel to the roof’s slope in the northernhemisphere, and are installed on solar north-facingroofs in the southern hemisphere. Fig. 2. Source: Natural Resources Canada.Solar Panel Costs Solar Panel SavingsInstallation depends on whether your system is Reduces costs of energy over time and addsgrid-tied or off-grid. Typical off-grid installation value to the household.amounts to an approximate $ 15,000 to $ 20,000 It is cheaper to save electricity than to generateCAN per kilowatt hour. it. Solar energy is free once solar panels areElectricity bill fees depend on how much of the installed, which makes it rewarding in the long-household is powered by solar panels. Also, the run.more energy-efficient the household is prior to Savings depend on two factors:the installation, the smaller and less expensivethe system will be since there will already be a 1) The amount spent on current electric bills.reduced consumption of electricity. 2) The amount your solar panels will provide.Installation fees also differ by location. If you For instance, if a household uses 1000 KWH perreside in a state or area with generous incentives month and it costs $ 200 CAN, then installingto install solar panels, you are more prone to solar panels that provide 250 KWH each monthrebates, low interest loans, and perhaps tax will reduce $ 50 CAN off the bill.exemptions for “going green”.
How Do Solar Panels Work? At the Micro Level Image Source: http://www.starpost.tv/solar-cells-work • The solar cells absorb the sunlight. The solar cells are composed of two semi-conducting layers called the p-type and the n-type. The former is composed of excessive electrons 1 while the latter consists of few electrons. • The sunlight knocks off a few negatively-charged electrons from atoms in p-type semi-conductor. 2 • The electrons flow through electron-barren n-type material. 3 •The constant one-way flow of electrons creates a direct current (DC). The direct current flows through circuits and power light bulbs or charge batteries and is sent back into the 4 p-type to be energized again.
At the Macro Level 1. Light comes in from the sun. 5. Electronic 2. The solar cells devices can now produce a direct current draw power from (DC) which is then the system. regulated by the charge controler to protect the battery bank. 4. The electric current is inverted 3. The battery from DC to AC in the bank stores the inverter and sent to electric charge for power AC outlets. later.Resources: Solar panels photo: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Nellis_AFB_Solar_panels.jpg Solar panel on house roof photo: iStockphoto.com/Andreas WeberFor More Information, visit: Solar and Sustainable Energy Society of Canada Inc. <http://www.sesci.ca/?q=node/35> Canada’s Solar Electric Specialists: <www.heshomeenergy.com> and <www.solartgroup.com>