How Solar PV Works

Solar power is one of the cleanest forms of renewable energy available and systems are now readily available to transform this energy into electricity you can use in your home. Put simply, solar photovoltaic panels convert light into electricity for use in your home.

This clears up the common misconception that solar photovoltaic systems need heat to generate electricity, and subsequently, the systems will work all year round and even on cloudy days; although it is conceivable that the summer months will provide the highest output as it is lighter for longer. It is estimated that savings of up to 325kg of carbon dioxide per year for each kWp installed can be made by installing a solar PV system.

A photovoltaic panel or tile is made up of photovoltaic cells; these cells consist of a positive and negative layer of silicon, or a similar semi-conducting material, which is placed under glass. When light shines on the semi-conducting material, the electric field across the junction between these two layers causes electricity to flow.

The electricity generated by the panels is produced as direct current, which needs to be converted to alternating current in order for the electricity to be used in the home. To do this, the electricity is passed through an inverter which is installed in the home at the same time as the panels and commissioned with the rest of the system.

The nature of PV cells mean there is little or no maintenance required on panels or tiles as the systems have no moving parts. Typically, a PV system has a life expectancy of up to 40 years with no maintenance work required beside an annual clean and replacement electrical cabling approximately every 20-25 years.