How solar panel (PV) systems work

Solar panel electricity systems are also known as solar photovoltaic (PV)

Solar photovoltaic panels capture the sun's energy using photovoltaic cells - these are the panels that you will have seen on other people roofs.

There are three main components required for the system to function correctly.

  • The Solar Panels - these capture the light energy from the sun and convert it to DC (Direct Current) electricity.
  • The Inverter - this converts the DC power into AC (Alternating Current) power that can be used in the household or sold back to the national grid.
  • The Sun! - Obviously you need the energy from the sun to make the panels work.  But it may surprise you to learn that these cells don't need direct sunlight to work – they can still generate electricity on cloudy days.  Maybe even more surprisingly temperatures above room temperature can reduce the efficiency of PV Solar panels, making the UK a good location to utilise PV technology.
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