You probably heard the term solar photovoltaic (PV) and wondered what it means in relation to solar energy. Most people know what solar panels are, but the terminology can get confusing.
Do the two refer to the same thing? Keep reading to find out!
Are Solar PV and Solar Panels the Same Thing?
The answer is yes; they are the same. While the term solar panel is more common and universally used, it essentially means the same as solar photovoltaic. The latter gets used more among professionals, scientists, and researchers.
What is Solar Photovoltaic?
Solar PV is an electric power system that converts sunlight into usable solar power (electricity) using photovoltaic technology. It consists of several cell components or solar cells arranged in a grid pattern to form the famous solar panel.
These photovoltaic cells are usually small and incredibly thin, usually no more than a few micrometres thick. They contain semiconductor materials like silicon, capable of absorbing sunlight and converting it directly into electricity. They produce about 1 or 2 watts of power each.
How Solar Photovoltaic Works
Solar photovoltaic technology uses photons (light particles) to knock electrons loose from atoms. This process is also known as the photovoltaic effect and results in the creation of an electric field.
The negatively charged electron flows through the cell to metal contacts (grid-like lines on a solar cell). This flow of electrons forms an electric current that travels to the inverter. It’s here where it gets converted from DC (direct current) to AC (alternating current).
After that, we can use the new electric current to power electronic equipment in our homes or businesses. The entire system is what we now know as a solar photovoltaic system or solar electric PV system.
Types of Photovoltaic Panels
The two types of solar panels are:
- Monocrystalline panels
- Polycrystalline PV panels
Monocrystalline panels are also known as single-crystal-silicon solar cells. They’re made of silicon ingots with a single large crystal structure. They feature bevelled corners and may come in varying dark blue or black colors. (2)
They are highly efficient and durable, able to withstand extreme weather conditions and mechanical damage. They’re also the most expensive type.
Polycrystalline PV Panels
On the other hand, polycrystalline solar cells are products of silicon ingots with multiple mono-crystal structures. They have a more grainy appearance and usually come in blue. (3)
They’re less efficient than monocrystalline panels but are cheaper to produce. They’re also not as durable, so they may not be the best choice for areas with extreme weather conditions.
At Wayne Solar, we offer the best of both worlds. We also provide all solar services, including installation, with our team of experts to ensure that you make the most of your investment. Contact us today for a free consultation!
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