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A solar panel is composed of multiple solar cells (also known as Photovoltaic or PV cells). PV cells can be thought of as small batteries, a typical PV cell produces Direct Current Electricity (DC) at approximately 0.5 Volts and, depending on cell size, about 4-7 Amps. The PV cells are then connected in combinations of series (+ to -) and parallel (+ to + and - to -) to form solar or PV panels with a larger total DC voltage and current, usually ranging from 12-50 Volts.
Photons (the type of enrgy commonly called light) strike crystalline structures in the Photovoltaic (PV) cells, pushing electrons out. The electrons are collected and channeled into a wire, creating an electrical current.
PV systems that are connected to an electrical utility grid are called Grid-tie Systems. Grid-tie systems provide your house with the electricity it uses and feed any additional electricity produced into the grid of your electrical utility provider. Usually, in a residential system you feed electricity into this grid during the day when most irradiance (insolation, or sun hours) occurs and little electricity is used at home. A utility or production meter keeps a balance of the electricity you feed into the grid; at night, when your solar system is not producing energy, you draw electricity from the balance you’ve created with your electrical utility provider. The majority of systems installed on residential homes are Grid-tie Systems.
These are Grid-tied, PV Systems with batteries and a connection to a electrical utility provider. When power outages occur, your system will automatically switch to run on the battery backup.
PV systems that are not connected to an electrical utility provider and rely solely on batteries to store energy are called Off-grid Systems. These systems are used in situations where an electrical utility is not available. Remote locations are often good candidates for an Off-grid system.
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