AP Electrical & Renewable Energy Ltd.

How do Solar Panels Work?

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Click to enlarge image

The term Solar PV refers to (solar) photovoltaic panel systems, which convert sunlight into electricity using semi-conducting materials. When exposed to daylight, the panel produces a direct electrical current (DC), which is converted into mains compatible alternating electrical current (AC) by an inverter.

This AC electricity can then be used to power the existing electrical installation, with any surplus generated electricity fed back to the national grid.


Due to the growing demand for renewable energy sources, the manufacturing and efficiency of solar cells and photovoltaic panels has advanced considerably in recent years.

As of 2010, solar PV generates electricity in more than 100 countries worldwide and, while it contributes a tiny fraction of the 4800 Gigawatt (GW) total global power-generating capacity from all sources, it is acknowledged as the fastest growing power-generation technology in the world.

Between 2004 and 2010, grid connected solar PV capacity increased at an annual rate of 60% to 21 GW, with Britain being cited as the fastest growing solar economy in Europe, with current estimates reflecting a 1500% growth since 2009.

Solar PV systems may be free standing, ground mounted or integrated into the roof or walls of building. They are commonly retrofitted onto existing buildings, usually mounted on top of the existing roof structure. Alternatively they can be located separately from the building but connected by a cable to supply for the building.

Roof Integrated systems are increasingly incorporated into new build domestic and industrial buildings as a principle or ancillary source of electrical power.

The size of Solar PV system, referred to in terms of its power output in full sunlight known as its kilowatt peak (kWp), is usually governed by available roof space and budget.