Solar energy now creates enough power to charge 18 million homes. This proficient technology sounds easy, but it is a complex system that can be confusing to the layperson.
Understanding how solar energy works begins by knowing the difference between solar panels and a photovoltaic system.
Learn more about solar energy below to buy the right solar panels for your home.
Components of a Solar Structure
Before you learn the difference between a solar panel and a PV system you should first know the components of the solar equipment.
A panel is the structure hooked to your roof. Think of the solar panel as the housing for the individual photovoltaic cells that connect together. Both components — the panel and the cells — are needed to gather sunlight and convert it into energy.
What is a Photovoltaic System?
Let’s go into more detail about how the PV cells function and their purpose within the solar panel. They use electrons to transform heat into electricity.
These cells are made of either polycrystalline or monocrystalline with layers that include two semiconductors. The top semiconductor has extra negative electrons while the bottom semiconductors contain missing positive electrons.
When the sun touches the top layer it moves the extra electrons, pushing them toward the bottom layer. A barrier forms which creates an electrical current. This current projects out of the cells to capture the energy it produces. The cycle repeats as the electrons return back to their original place.
What is a Solar Panel?
The cells cannot produce enough energy on their own. Many of them are needed to generate enough energy to power your home. Therefore, a solar panel is a collection of connected cells.
Solar panels also protect the cells, preventing them from damaging elements like winds, hail, and snow.
Once the cells produce energy, the solar electricity as a DC (direct current) is sent to an inverter. Then it is transformed into AC (alternating current). The AC energy is dispersed throughout your home to various outlets and appliances.
A typical solar panel will have approximately 60 to 72 cells, depending on the size of the unit. The more cells the panel has means the more power it will generate. Therefore, you should gauge your energy needs and buy the appropriate size panel with more photovoltaic cells.
You can learn about solar panel costs when you know the number of cells on your panels.
Panels and Cells Working Together
The main difference between a photovoltaic system and a solar panel is how they help produce energy. The PV cells are heat collectors while the panels convert the energy into electricity for practical use.
Both components are required for the proper functioning of the complete solar system.
Choosing Photovoltaic Solar
A photovoltaic system is just one type of solar collector. There are also thermal collectors that use mediums like water to transform the energy rather than electrons. Other forms use air collectors that have flat surfaces to generate heat that rises into energy.
You may want to choose photovoltaic cells as they can be utilized all year when the sun is minimal. They also require less maintenance and are an independent energy source.
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