What Is Solar PV? Photovoltaic Basics

09.23.2021
3 min read

For homeowners unfamiliar with solar energy, many of the terms commonly used in the industry may seem daunting to learn. To help you better understand how solar energy works and can be incorporated into your home’s electrical system, we think it’s best to start with the basics. A solar photovoltaic (PV) system is the system that converts sunlight into usable electricity for your home. Let’s break down how the sun’s rays can provide power for your home’s electricity needs.

From Sunlight to Electricity

Solar panels are made up of linked photovoltaic cells designed to take in the sun’s rays and transform them into electrical currents. At POWERHOME SOLAR, we use high-output monocrystalline solar panels, which perform better than other panel types, to maximize the efficiency of this solar energy conversion process. 

A closer look at each solar panel reveals about 60 to 72 silicon photovoltaic cells. These PV cells contain positive and negative layers that create an electric field. When photons released from the sun interact with this electric field, electricity is created and directed to your solar inverter. There, it is converted into an electrical current that is safe to circulate throughout your home through your circuit breaker box.

Zooming In On Photovoltaic Cells

Photovoltaic cells are made up of two layers of semiconducting material, typically silicon. Silicon is an ideal material for solar cells, not only because of its electrical conductivity, but also because of its durability, availability and environmental friendliness. Each layer of silicon is enhanced with additional materials that help produce either a positive or negative charge. 

The top silicon layer of the PV cell receives a phosphorus additive. This introduces extra electrons into the layer to create a negative charge. Conversely, the bottom silicon layer receives boron, which subtracts electrons to create a positive charge. Where the two layers meet, an electrical field is created, awaiting the arrival of sunlight in the form of photons. When photons enter the electric field within the PV cell, an electron is pushed from the field and electricity is created.

What Does A Solar Energy System Include? 

To use the electricity created in your PV cells, your solar energy system must include a solar inverter. When electricity is released from your solar panels, it comes in the form of direct current (DC) electricity. This current flows in only one direction and cannot be used to power your home. A solar inverter intakes the DC electricity sent by your solar panels and converts it into alternating current (AC) electricity, a more efficient form of electricity that can shift between high and low voltages.

If you live in an area with frequent grid failures, you may want to consider attaching a solar battery to your home’s solar energy system. This battery acts as a storage facility for excess electricity generated by your solar panels. In the event of a power outage, the solar battery can release stored electricity to keep portions of your home powered. 

Schedule Your Free In-Home Consultation with POWERHOME SOLAR

Our POWERHOME SOLAR team of experts is standing by to help you join the solar energy movement. To find out if you qualify for a rooftop solar energy system, fill out the form and a POWERHOME SOLAR representative will contact you to provide an in-home assessment and free quote.