Frequently Asked Questions

General Questions

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Solar energy is, simply, energy provided by the sun. This energy is in the form of solar radiation, which makes the production of solar electricity possible.

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A photovoltaic (PV) solar system is comprised of solar panels, racks for putting the panels on your roof, electrical wiring, and an inverter. From sunrise to sunset, the solar panels generate electricity (DC) which is sent to an inverter. The inverter converts the DC electricity into alternating current (AC), which is type of electricity required for household use.

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photo, a stem derived from the Greek phos, which means light, and volt, a measurement unit named for Alessandro Volta (1745-1827), a pioneer in the study of electricity. So, photovoltaics could literally be translated as light-electricity. And that's just what photovoltaic materials and devices do; they convert light energy to electricity, as Edmond Becquerel and others discovered in the 18th Century.

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photovoltaic cells are comprised of a semiconductor material such as silicon. Added to the silicon are the elements phosphorous and boron which create conductivity within the cell and activate the movement of electrons. The electrons move across the cell when activated by the sunlight’s energy into the electrical circuit hooked up to the solar panel.

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A PV system that is designed, installed, and maintained well will operate for more than 20 years. The basic PV module (interconnected, enclosed panel of PV cells) has no moving parts and can last more than 30 years. The best way to ensure and extend the life and effectiveness of your PV system is by having it installed and maintained properly. Experience has shown that most problems occur because of poor or sloppy system installation.

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A photovoltaic (PV) system needs unobstructed access to the sun's rays for most or all of the day. Shading on the system can significantly reduce energy output. Climate is not really a concern, because PV systems are relatively unaffected by severe weather.

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1. Polycrystalline cells are square shaped, monocrystalline cells are square with missing corners. 2. Polycrystalline cells are blue-ish in colour and have a characteristic ‘metal shard’ pattern on the surface. Monocrystalline cells are black and even in colour. 3. Polycrystalline cells are of lower efficiency than monocrystalline cells. 4. Polycrystalline cells are more sensitive to heat, losing efficiency more quickly as temperatures rise, and so produce slightly less energy each year. 5. Monocrystalline panels are more expensive, polycrystalline panels are cheaper.

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A charge controller limits the rate at which electric current is added to or drawn from electric batteries. It prevents overcharging and may protect against overvoltage, which can reduce battery performance or lifespan, and may pose a safety risk. It may also prevent completely draining ("deep discharging") a battery, or perform controlled discharges, depending on the battery technology, to protect battery life

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The two types of charge controllers most commonly used in today’s solar power systems are pulse width modulation (PWM) and maximum power point tracking (MPPT). The PWM controller is in essence a switch that connects a solar array to a battery. The result is that the voltage of the array will be pulled down to near that of the battery. The MPPT controller is more sophisticated (and more expensive): it will adjust its input voltage to harvest the maximum power from the solar array and then transform this power to supply the varying voltage requirement, of the battery plus load. Thus, it essentially decouples the array and battery voltages so that there can be, for example, a 12 volt battery on one side of the MPPT charge controller and a large number of cells wired in series to produce 36 volts on the other.

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