Solar PV - Solar PV Panels - Photovoltaics
Solar PV Panels convert photons of light to electrical energy using a semi-conductor material; the most common being crystalline silicon. When daylight shines onto a Solar PV cell, electrons are released causing electricity to flow. The amount of solar electricity produced depends on the intensity of the light received by the Solar PV cells
Tilt Angle of Solar PV Panels
Solar PV Panels will operate at maximum efficiency if they are orientated towards the south. The most efficient tilt angle can be calculated by subtracting 20° from the geographic latitude. Therefore, an installation in London, latitude of 51°, the optimum tilt is (51 minus 20) 31° from the horizontal.
Solar PV Panels - Installation
The installation of Solar PV Panels causes minimum disruption to the home and systems can be retrofitted. A typical silicon cell is quite small, in the order of 100mm x 100mm square. Solar cells produce electricity at low voltage but when more power is required a number of cells can be connected together to create Solar PV Panels.
Solar PV Panels - Solar PV Tiles
Solar PV tiles are Solar PV Panels that are manufactured to a shape that can be integrated into a normal tiled roof. The top of the solar tile is hidden under the tails of the row of tiles above it, so only its exposed area contains the Solar PV cells. The solar tiles are connected together electrically in arrays and have the same characteristics as the solar panels already described. Solar tiles can make a cost saving as they take the place of ordinary roof tiles.
Stand-Alone Solar PV Panels
Stand-alone Solar PV Panels are useful where there is no connection to the local electricity network or where the mains power supply is prone to interruptions. If the installation is for a home that is not connected to the local electricity supply network, then the Solar PV Panels can be configured to directly charge a bank of batteries. The power flow from storage batteries is direct current (DC) that can be converted to alternating current (AC), mains power, by the installation of an inverter.
Solar PV Panels - Mains System
Energy supply companies are obliged to acquire a percentage of their energy from renewable sources, to help cut carbon dioxide emissions. By purchasing the surplus electricity from a Solar PV Panels system, energy suppliers are able to fulfil this requirement. During daylight hours, the electricity generated by the Solar PV Panels will supply the home and any surplus will be sold to the nominated electricity supply provider through an approved import/export meter. During periods of high energy use in the home, or when the Solar PV Panels are unproductive, electricity can be bought back from the network to supplement the Solar PV power supply.
A Home’s Energy Requirement
An average family in the UK uses between 2,000 and 4,000 kilowatt hours of mains electricity per year. A typical domestic Solar PV Panel system of between 1.5 kilowatt-peak and 2 kilowatt-peak will provide 30 to 40 per cent of the total electricity requirement. If the house is already energy efficient then the solar power percentage will be higher.
Solar PV Panels - Installation in a Home
Solar PV Panels should always be installed by a trained and experienced installer. Electrical safety regulations cover Solar PV Panels and should be adhered to by the installer.
Planning Consent for Solar PV Panels
National planning guidance urges local planners to take into consideration the need to develop more renewable energy in their regions. Planning permission is usually only required for the installation of Solar PV Panels on listed buildings or buildings in conservation areas. In all circumstances it is advisable to discuss the planning issues with the local authority before having Solar PV Panels installed.
Maintenance of Solar PV Panel Systems
The average life of Solar PV Panels is in excess of 20 years. Crystalline silicon modules have a very long life span and require very little maintenance. Solar PV Inverters will generally need to be replaced after ten years.
The maintenance of systems connected to the local electricity network is usually limited to the cleaning of the Solar PV Panels but the wiring and components of the system should be checked regularly by a qualified technician.
Batteries in Solar PV Panels stand-alone systems should last between 6 and 10 years with regular maintenance, depending on the quality and type employed.
If you are not able to install your own Solar PV Panels, you can support renewable energy by switching to a supplier of green electricity
About Solar PV - Solar PV Panels - Photovoltaic