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What Is A Solar Array And How Is It Different From A Photovoltaic System?

Date: Oct 12 2017
solar energy

 

More and more people are looking for cleaner sources of energy for powering their homes. Thanks to government incentives and falling solar equipment prices, more than one million homes now have solar panels. It is natural for you to follow in their footsteps and seek to install solar panels on your rooftop (or any other convenient corner of your house). On entering the market, the first thing you are likely to confront is a host of confusing solar terminologies. For example, you will have to start by distinguishing between the two terms—solar arrays and solar PV systems.

SOLAR ARRAYS

A solar array is composed of solar photovoltaic cells, modules, and panels. In the word ‘photovoltaic,’ ‘photo’ refers to light and ‘voltaic’ refers to voltage (the unit for measuring electrical energy). Together they denote the process of converting light energy into an electrical current.

Made of either monocrystalline or polycrystalline material, photovoltaic cells consist of several layers. The central layer has two semiconductors of which the top carries negative charges while the bottom semiconductor carries positive charges.

When exposed to the sun, the loose electrons in the upper layer become excited, gather up speed, and come into contact with the free electrons. This activity results in the formation of a barrier between the two clear layers—positive and negative. Both the layers try to force the loose electrons out of the cell, creating an electric current.

A single photovoltaic cell generates only a small amount of energy. Therefore, to get the required amount of electricity, you may need many such cells. These solar cells join to form a solar panel which typically consists of as many as 40 solar cells.

A solar array consists of several solar panels. An average home may need as many as 10 to20 solar panels to generate enough electricity to meet the household needs. The exact figure, however, depends on many other factors, especially the region where you live.

PHOTOVOLTAIC SYSTEM

A photovoltaic system refers to the solar power system as a whole including the balance-of-system components that are designed to convert DC power to AC power.

A standard balance-of-system is composed of the following components:

Safety equipment

Inverters

Power-conditioning equipment

Instrumentation

Meters

The solar or photovoltaic cells are the most basic units that make up the entire system. Although a single cell can generate electricity on its own, you would need a photovoltaic system to convert enough sunlight to meet your power requirements. For more information on solar panel installation, get in touch with us.

License No CVC56780

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