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There no gimmick about this issue, as it is true as it can get. Solar energy might be our chance as a race to preserve the planet in a good shape for the generations to come.

Recently more and more people have shifted their attention towards photovoltaic systems, because they are cost efficient and can allow an indicidual to live off grid.

What is a photovoltaic system?

A photovoltaic (PV) system is a system composed of one or more solar panels combined with an inverter and other electrical and mechanical hardware that use energy from the Sun to generate electricity. PV systems can vary greatly in size from small rooftop or portable systems to massive utility-scale generation plants. Although PV systems can operate by themselves as off-grid PV systems, this article focuses on systems connected to the utility grid, or grid-tied PV systems.

How do these Systems Work?

The light from the Sun, made up of packets of energy called photons, falls onto a solar panel and creates an electric current through a process called the photovoltaic effect. Each panel produces a relatively small amount of energy, but can be linked together with other panels to produce higher amounts of energy as a solar array. The electricity produced from a solar panel (or array) is in the form of direct current (DC). Although many electronic devices use DC electricity, including your phone or laptop, they are designed to operate using the electrical utility grid which provides (and requires) alternating current (AC). Therefore, in order for the solar electricity to be useful it must first be converted from DC to AC using an inverter. This AC electricity from the inverter can then be used to power electronics locally, or be sent on to the electrical grid for use elsewhere.

A solar panel consists of many solar cells with semiconductor properties encapsulated within a material to protect it from the environment. These properties enable the cell to capture light, or more specifically, the photons from the sun and convert their energy into useful electricity through a process called the photovoltaic effect. On either side of the semiconductor is a layer of conducting material which “collects” the electricity produced. The illuminated side of the panel also contains an anti-reflection coating to minimize the losses due to reflection. The majority of solar panels produced worldwide are made from crystalline silicon, which has a theoretical efficiency limit of 33% for converting the Sun’s energy into electricity. Many other semiconductor materials and solar cell technologies have been developed that operate at higher efficiencies, but these come with a higher cost to manufacture. In order to have the system working correctly at all time, the user must also buy an inverter.

An inverter is an electrical device which accepts electrical current in the form of direct current (DC) and converts it to alternating current (AC). For solar energy systems, this means the DC current from the solar array is fed through an inverter which converts it to AC. This conversion is necessary to operate most electric devices or interface with the electrical grid. Inverters are important for almost all solar energy systems and are typically the most expensive component after the solar panels themselves.