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Last updated: 06 June 2018

What Are PV Panels?

A Little Bit About PV Panels

PV panels, also known as photovoltaic, are generally confused with solar thermal systems, but they work in another way. Unlike solar thermal systems, which are used to produce hot water, PV panels capture the sun’s energy and convert it into electricity.

The electricity generated by domestic PV panels is mostly used for powering household appliances and equipment. The most typical PV system is the grid-connected system, which as its name indicates, is connected to the national grid. This means that at night, when the solar panels do not work, you can use electricity from the grid. Moreover, if your solar system produces more electricity than what you need, you can sell the surplus back to the grid.

The second type of PV panel system is the stand alone system, which is not connected to the grid. In this case you can add batteries to the system to have electricity when it gets dark. This system can be really convenient in remote areas where there is no alternative for other source of electricity. Nowadays, thousands of people power up their homes and business with the help of PV panels.

Further down you will get some information about how the panels work, benefits associated with using them and the maintenance needed.

How Do PV Panels Work?

PV panels consist of small solar cells that are connected together. PV Cells are made out of semiconducting material, silicone being the most commonly used. Cells are usually very small but when combined together to form solar panels and solar arrays, they can be very efficient. When the sun shines over the cells, an electric field is created. The stronger the sun, the more electric energy is produced. Nevertheless, the cells do not need direct sunlight to work, and they can still produce electricity on a cloudy day.

PV panels are available in various shapes and sizes and can be easily mounted on top of an existing roof. An alternative to solar panels, which takes less rooftop space but is more expensive, is using solar tiles.

Benefits Provided by PV Panels

Using PV panels as an electricity source can prove to be really beneficial. Once the solar panels are purchased and the installation costs are overcome, you can start saving money due to the reduced costs of the electricity. Apart from these savings, there is also an opportunity to make some money out of solar panels. The government’s Feed-in Tariffs pay you for the electricity you produce using renewable sources of energy, either you consume it or if you sell it back to the grid. Another advantage of the PV panels is that they are environmental friendly. Using them contributes to cutting our carbon footprint.

PV Panels and Maintenance

PV panels need little maintenance; they just need to be kept respectively clean and to not be overshadowed by trees. If dust or snow becomes an issue, they need to be cleaned with warm water and a brush, or high pressure hose. If you don't feel like doing it yourself, you can always contact a window cleaning company and they will do the work.

PV panels are likely to last up to 35 years or more, but the inverter needs to be replaced after ten to fifteen years. However, it is always good to play it safe and check with your installer, what are the specific maintenance requirements for your system, as well as its respective insurance.

Solar photovoltaic electricity is an excellent source of renewable energy and there are plenty of reasons why you should start taking advantage of the benefits it brings. In addition to reducing your carbon footprint, you will also cut down on your electricity bills. What’s more, PV panels are easy to maintain and will last for a long time.

Read more: 10 Things you Need to Know Before Buying Solar Panels in the UK