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What is a photovoltaic installation?

Solar energy has become very popular, but many people like to get electricity from the sun. Next I will explain what is a photovoltaic installation.

What is a photovoltaic installation

This article is for you if you are starting your adventure with photovoltaic energy and want to know how photovoltaic systems work. Read it also when you are not completely sure what is the difference between collector, panel, solar and cell.

Everyone has to start somewhere. We have prepared this article for people who are looking for basic information about photovoltaics and the possibilities of using it in their own home.

We will answer the questions:

  • What is photovoltaic energy?
  • what does the photovoltaic installation consist of,
  • because I need it
  • and what distinguishes a photovoltaic system from solar systems.

If you already know, you can go to the  complete guide to solar parks  or check immediately when your installation will pay off using the following form:

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What is photovoltaic energy?

It is a method of converting free solar energy into electricity. Work on its development began as early as the 19th century, but the beginnings were difficult and not very encouraging in terms of effectiveness. Only 1-2% of the solar energy was converted. Only the second half of the 20th century brought with it the development of the possibility of creating photovoltaic cells (that is, those elements of the entire installation that convert solar energy into electricity). Silicon was used and thanks to this it was possible to increase the efficiency of converting one energy into another.

Today, photovoltaic energy is developing very dynamically. Companies are working on technology, because on the one hand the prices of energy obtained from fossil raw materials are rising, and on the other, we are beginning to worry more and more about ecology. And the sun’s energy is inexhaustible, free and obtaining it does not degrade the environment.

Thanks to the development of the method, photovoltaic energy  *  is getting cheaper and cheaper!

Why do I need photovoltaic energy?

In short, to be able to reduce the electricity bill, that is, simply save. For many people who have decided to invest in a photovoltaic system, the advantage is that they obtain renewable energy in an ecological way, thus contributing to the protection of the environment. An additional advantage is that the photovoltaic installation increases the value of the property (so even if you want to move, you do not lose).

Fun fact for eco-positives

Did you know that a person using the electricity grid (ie hard coal) will “produce” about 3,000 kg of CO2 more per year than a person using photovoltaic energy?

That’s a lot? It’s more than a 6-time plane ride from Warsaw to Paris! According to EDGAR # data  ,  each pole emits 8.76 tons of CO2 into the atmosphere. 3000 kg less means a reduction of the carbon footprint by up to 1/3!

How do you save a photovoltaic system?

The electricity generated must be consumed immediately (consumed on a regular basis), because it is quite difficult to store. A situation where your photovoltaic panel produces as much power as you need right now is basically impossible, because you also need power when it’s dark (and your panel isn’t working at the time), and on a beautiful sunny day, your panel can produce more than you can use right now.

That is why photovoltaic systems are most often connected to the electrical grid (this is called grid connection). When it produces more energy than it consumes, it “stores” it in a power plant, such as a warehouse. And when you need it, you get it from the power plant. At the end of the year, the amount that you have delivered is added up and invoiced, the amount that you have downloaded.

You become a prosumer, that is, consumer and producer in one (see the article below). Also check other options besides network installation, for example,

Photovoltaic installation – basic information

In order to enjoy the benefits of free energy, it is necessary to have a photovoltaic installation.

Consists in:

  • A photovoltaic module  , that is, a flat, shiny panel mounted on the roof that collects solar energy and converts it into electricity in the form of direct current),
  • An inverter  , that is, a box that converts direct current (DC) into alternating current (AC), that is, the same as in a power outlet. There are different types of inverters (regular, microinverters and optimizers – you can read about them a little later when choosing the type of PV installation),
  • A support structure  (assembly) that will hold the panels to the ceiling and prevent them from falling off the ceiling.
  • Cables and connectors  that connect the photovoltaic modules and connect them to the inverter. They must be flexible, durable, resistant to weather conditions, humidity, sun, etc.

The key to success is not only the selection of the right components, but also the correct  installation of the entire photovoltaic system  .

Experienced and Reliable Installer:

  • You will position the panels in such a way that they are at the correct angle in the most sunlight.
  • You will install the panels properly and safely.
  • It will not damage the ceiling during mounting.
  • It will provide a guarantee not only for the panels and the inverter, but also for the work carried out, wiring and the entire structure (we recommend choosing installers who provide a minimum guarantee of 5 years for the work carried out)
  • Provide technical support

It is up to the installer to maximize the efficiency of the installation. We will be happy to help you find some professional companies in your area.

Photovoltaic installation and water or home heating

People who have recently become interested in the use and application of solar energy often ask  if the installation of panels and the entire photovoltaic system can also provide them with hot water or backup heating in winter  . Such a solution would be very convenient and would allow additional savings. So is it possible?

The short answer is yes. The photovoltaic installation can also be used to obtain hot water or to help heat the apartment. However, this is done differently than when installing a solar installation.

Wait a minute,  that is, a photovoltaic installation is not the same as a solar installation  ? Although both can be used to heat water?

Exactly! To understand this, you need to organize the concepts of photovoltaic and solar energy.

Both the photovoltaic installation and the solar system of ACS (sanitary hot water) or central heating (central heating) use solar energy. In the case of both systems, the receivers for this energy are mounted on the ceiling, which at first glance appear quite similar. The similarities between the two systems end there.

  • A photovoltaic installation converts solar energy into electricity,
  • A solar installation converts solar energy into thermal energy (heats the water).

Due to the fact that they are two different types of energy, different devices are needed to convert them.

  • A photovoltaic installation uses solar panels (photovoltaic), also called photovoltaic cells, and an inverter (inverter),
  • A solar installation uses solar collectors, also known as solar panels.

How to distinguish solar panels from solar panels?

To the untrained eye, solar panels and roof-mounted solar panels actually look quite similar. The easiest way to recognize them is their thickness: solar collectors contain tubes inside (or specially shaped sleeves) through which the sun heats the liquid (usually glycol solution). Everything is “packaged” to reduce heat loss. As a result, the thickness of the collector is about 10 cm.

Photovoltaic panels are equipped with silicon wafers, which are fixed with tempered glass and aluminum foil (or glass on both sides). The thickness of such a panel, as a rule, does not exceed 4 cm, and manufacturers are constantly striving to reduce the thickness and weight of the panels (which would allow to lay more panels on the ceiling with a limited load capacity).

Solar installation or photovoltaic installation for heating?

A solar installation that  converts solar energy into thermal energy can only be used to heat water and support the heating of the apartment, provided it is equipped with a suitable heating system (eg underfloor heating). They work best in buildings with low heat demand (passive construction). The collectors can also be combined with heat pumps.

By deciding to install a solar installation, we can save on water heating and flat heating, although of course we will not get enough energy from the collectors themselves to heat the whole house in winter.

A photovoltaic installation that  converts solar energy into electricity can be used for everything related to electricity consumption. So also to heat water, for example, supplying energy to a boiler or heating an apartment by supplying an electric boiler. It is a much more universal method than a solar installation, but as you can see, it works indirectly by supplying electricity to the device. There is no independent heating installation based on photovoltaics, although thanks to the power supplied from the photovoltaic installation of the heat pump, we can obtain a very efficient heating tandem that effectively reduces heating costs.

Congratulations! You already have basic knowledge of photovoltaic energy. Time to see how you can use it in your own home to lower your electricity costs!

Do you have any other questions? In the following articles, you will learn about the costs of the panels and how to finance this investment.


* – Remember that the term photovoltaic energy is a mental shortcut: if you come across such a term, it simply means electricity that has been obtained by converting solar energy. From a physical perspective, this is not a new and different type of energy. Photovoltaic energy does not create energy either, because according to the principle of energy conservation, which we learn about in schools, energy cannot be created from scratch, it is only processed. In this case, we get electricity from solar energy, which can be used, for example, to power a refrigerator or charge a phone.

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