• Solar Panels - PV or Photovoltaic Panels
  • Photovoltaic cells or panels are only one way of generating electricity from solar energy. They are not the most efficient, but they are the most convent to use on a small to medium scale.
    PV cells are made of silicon, similar to that used in computer "chips". While silicon itself is a very abundant mineral, the manufacture of solar cells (as with computer chips) has to be in a very clean environment. This causes production costs to be high.
    A PV cell is constructed from two types of silicon, which when hit by solar energy, produce a voltage difference across them, and, if connected to an electrical circuit, a current will flow.
    A number of photovoltaic cells will be connected together in an "Module", and usually encapsulated in glass held a frame which can then be mounted as required. The cells in a module will be wired in series or parallel to produce a specified voltage. What may be referred to as a 12 volt panel may produce around 16 volts in full sun to charge a 12 volt battery.
    In most cases, a number of panels (modules) will be connected together to form an "Array".
    Panels of a similar type may be connected in series to give a higher voltage (two 12 volt panels may be connected in series to produce 24 volts).
    Usually a number of panels will be connected in parallel to give an increased current.