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How to transform sunlight into electricity

Solar energy is the third largest renewable energy source in the world. Nothing unusual. After all, it can generate electricity for household and industrial purposes, significantly reducing bills. However, before we decide to install photovoltaic panels, it is worth getting acquainted with their construction and how photovoltaic works at all.

How do solar panels work? – this question is worth asking yourself at the construction stage

As with any purchase, before making a transaction, it is worth considering the construction and  operation of photovoltaics . Knowing it can bring a lot of savings, especially for people who, before building a house, think about powering it with solar energy.

The basic elements of photovoltaic systems are roof or ground mounted solar panels. If we are sure of the decision to install photovoltaics before the building is erected, we should pay attention to the construction of the roof. Flat, single or gable, it can reduce investment costs by a large amount.

It is also worth knowing how  the photovoltaic panels themselves work . It is required that at least one side of the roof faces south. It is very important. Due to the fact that the modules are mounted in this direction, the sun illuminates them as long as possible.

With no roof slope facing south, installing solar panels is still profitable – contrary to popular belief. Installation outside the southern slope means that the panels will pay for themselves after 7-8 years (in the case of home panels with a power of 3-4 kW).

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The general  principle of operation of photovoltaic cells  is that they bring more benefits the greater the demand for the energy they produce. The operation of photovoltaics is therefore the most beneficial in the case of households that use energy not only for electrical appliances, but also for the entire house – for its heating, cooling or production of domestic hot water. In the case of the latter, it is worth considering a modern hybrid solution, which is a combination of photovoltaics and a heat pump.

Photovoltaics – how do its individual elements work?

A photovoltaic installation consists of several elements, each of them corresponds to a different stage of obtaining and processing energy. Let’s start by discussing the basic element.

How does a solar cell work?  A photovoltaic phenomenon takes place in the cells, i.e. the conduct of an electric charge as a result of external factors – in this case temperature and solar radiation. This phenomenon transforms the energy from the sun into a direct current. To generate more energy, the cells combine into photovoltaic modules.

The direct current generated in the modules is transferred to the inverter, where it is converted into alternating current. The inverter is, in a way, responsible for the operation of the entire photovoltaic system – it checks how the entire system works and controls its operation, regularly adjusting the parameters of the generated current to the parameters of the home network.

If the photovoltaic system breaks down in any way, the inverter will notify us about it, because it is then turned off. The group of modules that power the inverter forms a photovoltaic panel. Another, no less important element of the photovoltaic system are supporting structures that ensure the stability and correct positioning of the photovoltaic panels.

How does such a solar panel work?

A package of 10-40 photovoltaic panels allows you to get from 3 to 10 kW. The produced energy can be fully used for the needs of your own household or shared with the power grid. To do this, you must sign an appropriate contract with an energy company, thus becoming a prosumer, i.e. both a producer and a consumer of energy.

This means belonging to the discount system, i.e. cashless energy settlement. In the event that we produce excessive amounts of energy, it will be transferred to the power grid. Thanks to this, we can collect 80% of this energy as part of the settlement. A bidirectional meter is used for energy conversion, which is also part of the photovoltaic structure. However, this only applies to installations up to 10 kW.

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