What Is a Photovoltaic System?
A photovoltaic system, also known as a Solar PV system, is an energy system that is designed to transform the energy from the sun into electricity by means of photovoltaics, also known as solar panels. This system is safe, reliable, low-maintenance, and provides green energy without on-site pollution or emissions. Hence, by installing a photovoltaic system, you contribute to a greener environment, and, what is more, you will be an owner of a more sustainable home.
Solar photovoltaic systems fall into two main categories: grid-connected and off-grid systems. The grid is the local electric utility’s infrastructure that supplies power to homes and businesses. As for the off-grid systems, they are installed in remote locations where no utility grid is available.
Interested in learning more about the installation and prices of photovoltaic systems? If yes, let us help you! Just fill in the contact form at the top of this page and we will gladly assist you by providing you with free no-obligation quotes from our professional suppliers. Our service is 100% free of charge.
The UK Government has announced that the solar PV Feed in Tariff will expire in March 2019. You can still apply and qualify for the FIT scheme.
Application Deadline for Solar PV Feed in Tariff:
Read our guide on how you can still benefit from the solar PV Feed in Tariff before it ends in March 2019.
How Does Photovoltaic System Work?
Photovoltaic systems produce energy most efficiently when all the elements are functioning together. For a clearer understanding of solar photovoltaic system, have a look at this video that describes each step of the process:
6 Advantages of a Photovoltaic System
Photovoltaic systems are very efficient, and installing them comes with the following benefits:
1. The solar energy they produce is sustainable. This is because the sun is a renewable resource and cannot be over-consumed. Hence, it is an abundant and natural source.
2. Solar energy can be produced anywhere. Thus, even though countries closer to the Equator have greater potential for producing it, it is not available only to them. It can be produced anywhere, even on cloudy days. Hence its availability makes it very valuable and useful.
3. Solar energy is free. Even though the installation costs are high, you will not be charged for the the electricity that the photovoltaic system will provide you later on. Hence, solar power is a free electricity resource.
4. Using solar energy will reduce your electricity bills in the long run. In some cases, you can also generate income by selling your surplus energy back to your energy provider.
5. Having a photovoltaic system installed in your house will increase your independence and the value of your home. Thus, you will not be dependent on nonrenewable energy resources that you used before.
6. The more homes that use solar energy, the more jobs will be created in the renewable energy resources. Hence, you will contribute to a wider job market.
Despite producing electricity, solar energy can be used to heat water or to provide heat for homes and businesses. Thus, solar thermal and solar water heating can be interesting to look at, if you want to include solar energy all around your house. What is more, using the newest technologies, such as thermodynamic panels, water can be heated by simply exploiting the temperature of the ambient air.
Photovoltaic System Components
A complete photovoltaic system consists of many parts so it can function properly and effectively. In order to generate electricity, a number of technologies must be in place.
Thus, a solar photovoltaic system consists of mounting structures, PV module, inverter, and storage.
Maximise Energy Output With a Mounting Structure
Photovoltaic cells must be mounted on a durable, stable structure that can support the array and withstand weather conditions like wind, rain, and corrosion over decades. These structures are designed in a way that they are able to tilt the PV array at a fixed angle determined by local latitude, the orientation of the structure, and electrical load requirements.
In order to obtain the highest annual power output, modules in the northern countries are pointed towards the south, inclined at an angle equal to the local latitude. The rack mounting method is the most used method because it is versatile, durable, and easy to construct and install.
If you are curious to learn what is the most optimal angle in your city, we made a table of the 5 biggest cities and UK and the angles according to the time of the year. Have a look at it here:
|London||14° Angle||38° Angle||62° Angle|
|Birmingham||14° Angle||38° Angle||62° Angle|
|Leeds||12° Angle||36° Angle||60° Angle|
|Glasgow||10° Angle||34° Angle||58° Angle|
|Sheffield||14° Angle||37° Angle||60° Angle|
When it comes to the PV arrays that are mounted on the ground, tracking mechanism automatically moves the solar panels to follow the sun across the sky in order to provide more energy. Most common trackers are one-axis and two-axis.
One-axis trackers are designed to follow the sun from east to west. Two-axis on the other hand, allow the photovoltaic cells to remain pointed directly at the sun throughout the day. Clearly, the more sophisticated and advanced photovoltaic system commands a higher price and maintenance cost.
Photovoltaic Cells, Modules, and Arrays
A photovoltaic module (PV module) is a packaged, connected assembly that usually consists of 6x10 solar cells. To achieve the desired electrical current and voltage, modules are then wired into a PV array. Modular photovoltaic systems are flexible and this allows designers to create different types of them that will meet a wide variety of electrical needs.
The solar cells are very thin and fragile and are placed between a transparent front and back sheet, usually made of glass or some type of tough plastic. For easy maintenance of the module, an aluminium frame is fitted around it. The arrays containing the cells, and the modules are among the most important components of the photovoltaic system.
Solar Power Inverters
Solar inverters are the third component of the photovoltaic system and their purpose is to convert the direct current (DC) electricity generated by the solar modules into alternating current (AC) electricity, which is used to provide power in our homes, as well as, the local transmission. Hence, this element of the photovoltaic system allows you to get the electricity that you use to make your home appliances work.
The photovoltaic system usually has two types of inverters: 1. One inverter for all modules (converts energy generated by all modules) or 2. Each module has its own micro inverter.
Usually, one inverter for all modules is more cost-efficient and easier to cool down and service if necessary. In the same vein, it is also considerably easier to replace these solar PV inverters than it is to replace micro inverters. However, microinverters can be more advantageous if some of the modules are covered by shade since they will operate independently from the modules that are still exposed to sunlight.
Except for these two basic types of inverters, an advanced ‘smart inverter’ was developed, which allows for two-ways communication between the solar inverter and the electrical utility. This way a balance between supply and demand can be achieved, which results in cost reduction, ensure grid stability and decrease the likelihood of power blackout.
To be able to measure how much you are using and how much you have fed the utility grid, a utility meter (also called net-meter) is connected to the photovoltaic system.
Solar Energy Storage
In order to store the electricity that is obtained through the solar panels, solar batteries have been added to the photovoltaic system. They are rechargeable and allow for the storage of solar energy so that we can use sun’s energy even when the weather prevents the sunlight from reaching the solar cells.
Not only do the solar batteries allow us to use solar energy at any time, but they are also very useful for the utility companies. If the solar photovoltaic system is grid-connected, the extra energy that customers send to the grid can be returned to them at a later point with the help of the solar battery.
Generally speaking, the higher a solar battery storage system costs, the more energy they can store and a longer lifespan is guaranteed. For family use, an average priced battery is enough and will be paid off within a few years.
Choosing the right photovoltaic panels can be time-consuming and frustrating. To simplify this process for you, we can provide you with free, non-binding quotes from different solar panels suppliers in the UK. Just fill in the contact form at the top of this page, and we will make sure to connect you with the most suitable suppliers!