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PhotoVoltaic (PV) Panels
PV solar panels, also known as photovoltaic panels, convert sunlight into electricity. They are made up of multiple solar cells, which are made from layers of silicon and other materials, and are designed to absorb photons from the sun’s rays. When photons hit the solar cells, they knock electrons loose from their atoms, creating a flow of electricity.
The electricity generated by the solar cells can be used to power homes, businesses, and other devices. PV solar panels are a renewable source of energy, as they do not require any fuel or produce emissions, making them an environmentally friendly alternative to traditional energy sources.
In a domestic installation, PV solar panels can be integrated with battery storage to store excess electricity generated during the day for use at night or during times when the sun is not shining. This can help reduce reliance on the grid and provide backup power during power outages.
To integrate PV solar panels with battery storage, a solar inverter and a battery inverter are needed. The solar inverter is used to convert the DC electricity generated by the solar panels into AC electricity that can be used in the home or fed back into the grid. The battery inverter is used to convert the DC electricity stored in the batteries into AC electricity that can be used in the home.
The solar inverter and battery inverter must be compatible with each other and with the PV solar panels and batteries. There are several types of battery chemistries that can be used for battery storage in PV solar installations, including lead-acid, lithium-ion, and flow batteries.
The system can be designed to prioritize the use of solar power over grid power, so that the batteries are charged during the day and then used to power the home at night. It can also be set up to automatically switch to battery power in the event of a power outage.
Overall, integrating battery storage with PV solar panels can help maximize the benefits of solar power and provide a reliable source of electricity for homeowners.
Thermal Solar Panels (hot water)
Thermal solar panels use the heat from the sun to provide hot water only. They do not run central heating and require a hot water storage cylinder. They can be very efficient (when the sun is shining of course) but these days most people will choose PV.
Although they do generate a lot of hot water quite quickly due to their high efficiency, unless you are using all of the water then a lot of the time the solar energy is not actually being used.
Note that if you have a hot water cylinder heated by gas and also have a PV system, you can get a device which diverts the generated solar electric to your immersion heater which not only saves on gas costs but is giving you more environmentally friendly hot water.