What are the Components of a Solar Photovoltaic (PV) System?
The process of turning light into electricity is called the photovoltaic effect: photo, or light and voltaic or producing voltage.
Solar Cells: We can change sunlight directly to electricity using solar cells made of silicon. When the sun shines on these cells they absorb the sunlight and generate direct current (DC) electricity.
PV modules or solar panels are made of groups of PV cells. The solar panels are then grouped together on your roof and connected to create an array or PV system.
Inverter: In addition to solar panels, your PV system will include a device called an inverter. Because the appliances and other electronics in your home run on alternating current (AC) electricity, it is the inverters job to convert the DC electricity from the solar panels to AC for use in your home.
Utility Meter, Grid and Net Energy Metering: PV systems are most commonly interconnected to the utility grid (the network of power lines throughout our communities). Your utility meter will keep track of how much electricity your PV system produces and how much electricity you use.
When the PV system is producing more electricity than your household is consuming, for instance, during the middle of the day when you're at work, excess electricity is sent back to the utility grid. You will receive credits (like a savings account) for excess generation that can be used at night or on cloudy days when your PV system isn’t producing as much energy. This process is called Net Energy Metering.
Balance of System: The Balance of System is what keeps your solar panels on your roof and delivers electricity to your inverter and home. Racking for the solar panels, wiring and conduit all play a part in your homes PV system.
PV System Maintenance and Benefits: Solar is reliable, simple, low maintenance and is able to produce clean energy from the sun for up to 25 years! Your PV system will generate electricity when it is most expensive, during the day enabling you to create clean energy at a fraction of the cost for years to come.