What is Solar PV Power?


Generally speaking, solar systems consist of solar modules that convert the sun’s energy into electricity. Solar energy for home and/or commercial purposes is most commonly harnessed through photovoltaic (PV) cells, these are aligned into modules on solar or PV panels. These panels are attached to roof tops, on “solar trees” (large tree-like structures with solar panels facing upward), in open fields (‘solar farms’), as well as other architectural options designed to maximize the solar energy capturing ability (in other words, the amount of time the panels face the sun).

Solar energy is converted directly to electricity. The photovoltaic (PV) effect uses semi-conductor technology to produce electricity. Typically, a home is served by an array of solar PV modules or solar PV panels and an electric utility. At night, and when solar energy is low, all the power is supplied by the utility. As solar energy increases, PV output increases and the amount of power supplied by the utility decreases proportionately. When the solar array produces more power than the house needs, the extra electricity can be fed back into the electric grid. PV systems can include batteries and generators for backup power and can incorporate other renewable energy sources like wind turbines and micro-hydroelectricity.

Benefits to solar PV electricity

  • Reduces electric bills
  • Very low maintenance
  • Durable and reliable (average Grade A panels lifespan is 20-30 years)
  • Contributes to energy independence for you and the nation
  • Can be configured to provide reliable power during utility outages

Where Are Solar PV Panels Used?
A wide variety of PV panels are available today for fixtures (such as public trash compactors, parking meters, etc.), boating, homes (rooftops), and commercial sites. There are many PV options, from rigid to flexible materials, design-in PV materials for roofing that is flush with or replaces the existing roofing, and elevated panels attached to structures and roofs.

There has been significant material, engineering, design and cost improvements in PV panels recently, making this renewable energy source more and more available to all types of electrical customers, from home owners to businesses, medical, government and educational buildings, as well as manufacturing and industrial facilities.

Are You a Good Candidate for Solar Power?
Do you have a southerly roof exposure and 4-6 hours of unshaded, daily sunlight?

The optimal solar energy system is installed on a completely unshaded roof and facing due south. The system will perform best if it’s oriented approximately at a 10 to 40 degree tilt angle. Shading compromises the output of a system in a somewhat non-linear way based on the time of day and time of year that the shading occurs. Orientations that are due east or due west will have outputs approximately 10 to 30% less depending on tilt angle. In some cases though, unshaded east or west roof areas are better than partially shaded south facing roofs.

View US Insolation Chart