PV (photovoltaic) electric solar panels utilize the energy converting characteristics of certain materials that display the photovoltaic effect. The photovoltaic effect involves the converting of solar radiation from the sun into usable direct current electricity for a variety of applications. Typically, solar panels are made from semiconductors such as mono-crystalline silicone and cadmium telluride. When several PV solar panels are connected together they are often referred to as a photovoltaic array.
PV Electric Solar Panel Applications
Solar powered products have been in use in many parts of the world for decades and the technology in its crudest form dates back to the early 1900s. Building integrated photovoltaics or BIPV are PV electric solar panels integrated into the roofs or walls of buildings to provide heating or hot water. Portable photovoltaic solar panels are easily available for the operation and charging of laptops, digital cameras, mobile phones and outdoor lighting.
PV Solar Panel Cost
In the UK PV solar panels can cost as little as £30 for a low output solar panel suitable for charging mobile phones and similar devices right up to and above tens of thousands of pounds for a residential system designed to provide power for heating or hot water. Photovoltaic solar panels can cost even more for commercial applications. For less than £200 a PV solar panel system can be purchased for use in powering portable televisions, toasters and various appliances normally used in a caravan or motor home.
Cost Benefits of using Solar Power
PV electric solar panels can be connected on-grid to supplement existing electricity supply and any excess electricity can be sold back to the national grid. This can cut down electricity bills considerably and a PV solar panel system applied in this way could pay for itself within a few years. PV solar panels can also be configured off-grid which means that all the power used by a building will be solar powered. This configuration is the most expensive to set up as all the load requirements must be met with PV solar panels big and powerful enough to do the job. The cost savings of producing all of a buildings electricity supply with solar power is huge. The cost of setting up a PV electric solar panel system for an off-grid application would depend heavily on the geographical location of the site and the number of useful sunlight hours in that location.