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Like the wind powering the sails of ancient mariners, the sun’s solar energy has been harnessed by man for thousands of years. Today though, when most people think of capturing the sun’s energy, we think of roof mounted ‘solar panels’ to create electricity via a process called Photovoltaic (PV).

Solar Electric or Photovoltaic (PV) systems generate electricity by absorbing photons from the Sun’s light, in turn creating energy in the form of moving electrons (direct current, DC).

Solar panels, or PV modules, are wired together in a series circuit (or “string”), similar to the way Christmas lights are wired. It is done this way because most inverters require quite a high voltage to allow them to work at optimal efficiency, and voltage is additive in a series circuit.

While solar panels can be mounted anywhere that sufficient sunlight hours are available, the solar array needs an area that does not have any shadows throughout the whole day. PV systems are EXTREMELY susceptible to shading issues. Referring to the previous analogy, imagine what happens when a single Christmas light bulb goes out. The whole string is knocked out.

Also, keep in mind that as the Sun moves across the sky throughout the day, shadows tend to “walk” across the roof and, therefore, should be considered during the system planning process. Remember, trees grow but solar arrays and wind towers do not.




Consumer’s Guide to Solar

A Great Resource on Solar Energy


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