There are many popular solar energy-based devices in the market. One of the most used devices is a solar PV system. These systems are also available in different types and in this blog, we will discuss all the leading types of solar PV system.
What is Solar Photovoltaic System?
Photovoltaics are devices used to convert sunlight into electricity and a solar photovoltaic system is a larger version of it. The system consists of solar panels or arrays. Photovoltaic cells or solar cells are made from semiconducting materials that absorb photons from sunlight that falls on them that in turn loosen up electrons from their orbits to allow them to flow freely. Thus, electricity is generated. Solar panels are the main component of the system, and they vary in efficiency.
What are Types of Solar PV System?
Over time, the scope of solar photovoltaic systems has increased. Photovoltaic cells are the main source of energy absorption in all solar applications. Typically, there are 3 types of solar PV system.
1. Stand alone PV system or Off Grid PV System
Stand alone PV systems or off grid PV systems are for customers who aren’t able to easily connect to the grid. This can be due to the high cost of bringing in the power supply or because of geographical location. Mostly, it doesn’t make any sense for a person connected to the grid to completely go for an off-grid system. The benefits of such a system are that a person can have power in remote places away from the grid and be totally energy self-sufficient. It also fixes energy costs for you.
2. Grid-Connected System
A grid-tied system is a basic solar installation with a standard grid-tied inverter. This system however doesn’t have any battery storage. It’s perfect for customers who are already on the grid and are aspiring to add solar to their residences. Such systems can qualify for federal and state incentives which help to pay for the system. They are cost-effective and have a really simple design with relatively few components. This grid has the main objective of lowering your energy bill and benefiting you with solar incentives.
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3. Hybrid System
The hybrid systems are grid-tied systems with a battery backup. It’s ideal for people who are already on the grid and they want to have a battery backup. You should go for such a system if your areas are prone to power outages and you want to be prepared for power outages.
What are Components of Solar PV System?
Even though solar cells or solar panels are essential components without other components, a solar PV system may not work as efficiently as it should. The components of solar PV system are as follows:
Solar Panels generate direct current (DC) which cannot be used to run appliances as most of them run on alternative current (AC). Inverters do the job of converting direct current produced by panels to the alternating current that is then supplied to your house. Also, excess of this power is fed into the national grid.
2. Monitoring systems
To know the accurate amount of kWh generated by solar panels, a meter or such system is required.
3. Mounting system
Solar panels are mounted on steel or aluminum frames that are either grounded on the roof of buildings or hung on walls. Either way, it is placed at such an angle and inclination that the maximum amount of sunlight is received by solar panels. It also prevents electrocution by electrical bonding and grounding solar panel systems.
a) Types of Rooftops Racking System
- Flat roof system: It is the most common and includes weighted ballast that uses gravity to uphold solar panels. After learning about types of solar PV systems understand their components too.
- Ground-mounted system: It uses either ballast or mechanical anchors to fix solar panels to the ground. A tracking system with motors and sensors to track the sun during the day for maximum power generation is also installed in the ground mounting system.
- Pitched roof system: In this system, racking is mechanically anchored to roof structures.
- Photovoltaic solar panels: There are basically 3 types of solar panels, each differing in their efficiency, look and cost. However, the type of solar panels defines the output of your solar PV system.
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4. Other Components
a) Circuit Breakers: Also called breakers, they protect electrical systems from over surges and over-current situations. A circuit breaker triggers automatically whenever the current crosses a predetermined limit. Manually operated breakers are also used; however, an automatic one is preferred.
b) Combiners: They combine two or more cables to make 1 large cable. Also, they are accompanied by fuses for protection and all medium to large as well as utility-scale solar arrays use combiners.
c) Disconnects: To manually disconnect an electrical wire, a disconnect is used which is like a gate or a switch. Typically, it is used on either side of an inverter and named DC disconnects and AC disconnects. It is also used while installing or replacing inverters as it provides electric isolation too.
d) Meters: It is used to measure the amount of energy passing through it and this calculated amount is used by utility companies to prepare the bill. For a solar PV system, a special bidirectional electric meter is used. It measures electricity transferring from both ends, that is, electricity supplied by utility providers and outgoing energy from solar panels in the grid.
e) Wiring: These are essentially required for the supply of electricity between different components of the system. The size and thickness of wires are determined by the amount and type of power supplied through them. Also, wires exposed under direct sunlight must have protection again UV and metal sheathing for additional protection is required for wires carrying direct current.
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What is Solar Photovoltaic System Working?
Among different types of solar PV system, the main solar photovoltaic system works include generating electricity from solar energy. Energy from the sun in form of photons is captured by photovoltaic cells and the semiconducting material in 1 or 2 layers of the cell is usually made up of silicon.
Absorbed light vibrates electrons, and they run freely generating current, that is direct current. The amount of electricity generated depends on the efficiency of solar panels and the intensity of light received by them. More power is generated with more intensity of sunlight. The efficiency of photovoltaic cells is measured in terms of kilowatt peak (kWp). With this, you have understood solar photovoltaic systems working. After this, let’s learn about the application of solar pv system.
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What is the Application of Solar PV System?
There are numerous ways of application of solar PV system that are adopted on the government level as well as individually.
1. Building: It includes residential applications where a solar panel system is installed on the roof or ground to fulfill electricity requirements. Nowadays, photovoltaic materials are also integrated into the structure of a building like windows, cladding, or roof tiles. Additionally, parking structures and awnings are covered with solar panels that serve the dual purpose of shading and powering.
2. Military: Soldiers can carry lightweight thin-film PV to charge electronic equipment at the base or in the field. These panels are flexible, portable, and rugged, thus withstanding harsh situations.
3. Remote locations: Developing nations can use PV systems as a solution for electricity requirements for rural homes, villages, desalination plants, remote health clinics, and offshore oil platforms. It is more cost-effective and time-saving than extending power lines.
4. Solar farms: PV systems spread over acres can provide large-scale utility supply. Energy production can range from 10s of megawatts to more than a gigawatt. Fixed or sun-tracking PV panels are used to feed regional or municipal grids.
5. Space: Types of solar PV systems have been a primary source of power for artificial satellites orbiting Earth. International Space Station and surface rovers on the moon and Mars receive power from high-efficiency photovoltaic systems. It is and will remain an essential part of planetary and space exploration.
6. Stand-alone power: Here stand alone refers to the use of PV systems for one specific purpose and not for powering various appliances at the same time. PV can power tools, meters, and other devices in remote or urban areas where the metered connection is not common. It is also used for meeting electricity requirements for emergency phones, roadway lights, water irrigation pumps, radio transmitters, remote guard posts, and temporary traffic signs, along with various such stand-alone applications.
7. Transportation: Solar panels can be fixed on cars and boats to provide auxiliary power. To cater to onboard battery charging needs a lightweight photovoltaic system that can be used on sunroofs of automobiles.
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What are Advantages of Solar PV System?
The advantages of solar PV system are as follows-
- Highly reliable as PV systems can withstand harsh weather conditions.
- Independence of power production and from utility providers.
- Low maintenance cost because self-cleaning is sufficient with regular inspection and occasional repairs.
- Low noise pollution as the only sound produced is from inverter that too is minimal.
- Persistent because solar panel system lasts for 20 years minimum, and the manufacturer warranty covers defects for the same period.
- Photovoltaic supervision can be manually done by adding more modules to increase efficiency and does not include heavy costs.
- Strong security in terms of operation after installation.
- Zero fuel consumption.
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What are Disadvantages of Solar PV System?
The disadvantages of solar PV system are as follows-
- Costly startup due to high production costs leading to expensive solar panels and their installation.
- Excess storage requirements in terms of battery backups which in turn increases carbon footprint, complexity, and overall cost.
- Lack of knowledge among people regarding various terms related to the photovoltaic system.
- The low efficiency of some panels requires the installation of more panels or expensive panels with higher efficiency.
- Unstable as production is affected largely by changes in weather, location, and climate.
So, different types of solar PV system serve the same purpose of converting sunlight into electricity. However, there is a difference in the ways they are installed. But you can decide which type of system you need depending on your electricity needs and budget. Among the components of a solar PV system, you can decide after consulting with the provider to ensure safety and ease of use after installation. By the way, which one do you prefer?
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