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What is a Solar PV system ?

How does a solar PV (photovoltaics )system work?

When the sun shines on a PV panel, solar energy is absorbed by individual PV cells in the panel. The cells are made from layers of semi-conducting material, most commonly silicon.

Amber Heating Solar PV Panels

The PV cells produce an electrical charge as they become energised by the sunlight.
This electrical charge creates a direct current (DC) of electricity.

The current passes through an inverter to turn
it into alternating current (AC) electricity. This is
the kind of current needed for household

The cells don’t need direct sunlight to work and can even work on cloudy days. However, the stronger the sunshine, the more electricity generated

Solar panel systems tend to be made up of between six and 12 panels, with each panel capable of generating around 400 to 450W of energy in strong sunlight.

The Benefits of Solar PV system

  • The cheapest form of renewable energy
  • Reducing electricity bills
  • Reducing your carbon footprint
  • Reduce your dependence on the grid
  • Possible payments for extra energy generated
  • Silent operation
  • Low maintenance

FAQ’s about Solar PV system

The average solar panel system is around 3.5 kilowatt peak (kWp).
Most panel systems typically cover between 10 to 20m² of roof surface area.

An unshaded, south-facing roof is ideal for maximum performance. East or
west-facing roofs still work, but it’s not recommended to install PV panels on a north-facing roof.

Nearby buildings, trees or chimneys could shade your roof having a negative impact on the performance of your system.  However, Solar PV panel optimisers help improve the overall performance of your PV system. So, if one panel is shaded, it doesn’t impact how much electricity the other panels can generate.

Solar PV panels on houses are normally considered ‘permitted development’ and don’t usually need planning permission. But there are exceptions so it’s best to check with your local planning office for guidance. If you live in a listed building, conservation area or national park, there may be additional restrictions.

Before installing a solar PV system in your home, you must register it with your Distribution Network Operator (DNO). The DNO is the company responsible for bringing electricity to your home. Usually, your installer will register the device for you.

PV panels can be installed on an outbuilding roof. It’s important to make sure that the building roof is strong enough.

If the building doesn’t have its own electricity supply already then you should factor this in when looking at the total cost of the system.

PV panels can be installed in the garden on a suitable frame. They need to be free of shading by nearby trees and buildings, and they should face as close to south as is practical.

One advantage of mounting panels in the garden is that it’s easy to keep them clean. But you also need to be more careful about rodents and other physical damage.