What Is A PV Panel?

The Most Comprehensive DIY Solar Panel GuideQuestion: I’m interested in using solar energy to power my home but I don’t understand all of the terminology yet. What is a PV panel?

Answer: Well first let’s define PV. It stands for photovoltaic. Photo means light, and voltaic means electricity. So photovoltaic refers to the generation of electricity from light.

So what then is a PV panel? First let’s quickly define what a solar cell is. A solar cell is a special piece of silicon that can transfer the sun’s energy into an electric current. A PV panel then is a thin, flat, wide unit of connected solar cells packaged neatly together in an anti-reflective, protective coating (like glass). PV panels can then be wired together on your roof to convert the sun’s energy into usable electricity for your home.

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When PV panels are wired together in such a way, they are called a solar array. A solar array can be as simple as a few PV panels installed on the roof of your house to help lower your electricity bill, or on the other end of the spectrum some parts of the world have entire power plants driven exclusively by PV panels!

So how does the energy captured by a PV panel become energy used to power our home, or even an entire power plant? When sunlight is available, the energy captured by the PV panel is fed into additional electrical equipment that make up your solar system (inverters, charge controllers, wiring, and batteries) and how much equipment you have depends on the size of your solar system. This easy-to-use electrical equipment converts the PV panel’s energy into an electric current that is compatible with your home.

All of the needed supplies, panels and additional equipment, can be purchase as a DIY project, making a solar conversion even more convenient and less costly.

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