If you are looking at buying solar for your house, farm or business, you may see the word Photovoltaic or PV constantly being used. Well what does that mean exactly? The word photovoltaic can really be broke down into 2 main parts the word Photo meaning light and the word Volt which is a unit of electrical measure. Put these two parts together and you can literally translate the word as light electricity, which is exactly what photovoltaics are at it’s core, the production of electricity using light.
Now that we understand what the word Photovoltaic means, how do we get power from light or the sun? Some types of semiconducting materials, like specific types of silicon, can produce electricity when exposed to sunlight. These semiconducting materials can be made into a PV Cell that will absorb the suns light and produced electrical power. A series of these PV cells can be hooked together electrically to form a PV Module.
Now that you have the PV Module it will be given a watt rating based on it being tested in a lab under optimal test conditions. Meaning a 300W module is rated for 300W under optimal conditions and most of the time in the field it will produce far less than that. Now you can take these PV Modules and string them together to form a PV array that is sized to offset your needs. In grid tied solar applications you will have inverters to change the DC power produced by the PV Array to a grid matching AC power. This allows you to use the PV Arrays energy to power your devices and send excess energy back to the grid.
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