Solar (PV) Cells

Solar PV CellMost people when they think of solar power are probably thinking of solar panels made up of photovoltaic cells (PV cells). These solar cells or PV cells collect the sun’s energy by collecting sunlight and converting it into direct current (DC) electricity or battery power.

Since most home appliances run on alternating current (AC) electricity, an inverter is the solar power component in your home system that converts the DC electricity to AC electricity.

A standard PV cell can be thought of as a thin semiconductor sandwich. They are very fragile and some common sizes are 5″ x 5″ or 6″ x 6″. They are connected together in various configurations to form a grid with a protective cover that makes up a solar panel. These solar panels are then mounted on the rooftop of your home to collect sunlight and turn it into DC electricity.

There are several common types of solar cells used in Photovoltaic (PV) panels. Monocrystalline are created from a single crystal block and are typically higher in efficiency, but they also usually cost a bit more. Polycrystalline cells or Multicrystalline cells are created from a silicon block, which is made up of multiple crystals. These PV cells are slightly lower in efficiency than the Monocrystalline cells, but probably less expensive. Amorphous silicon cells are made from finely powdered silicon. These have a much lower efficiency then the other types of solar cells and are usually not desirable for homes or residential applications because they use much more roof space than either Monocrystalline or Polycrystalline cells.

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Types of Solar Power

home solar systemThere are two common types of solar power for home use:¬† 1) Photovoltaic (PV) and 2) Passive solar or solar thermal. Photovoltaic (PV) converts the sun’s energy into DC electricity, which runs through an inverter to produce¬† AC electricity for your home. Passive solar can be used to directly heat either air or water from the heat of the sun, and is often used to heat water for swimming pools or for water heaters.

Future posts will discuss each of these types of solar power in great deal, along with other related home solar energy topics.

See more information on Photovoltaic (PV) and Passive Solar.