Solar photovoltaic (also known as solar PV) systems convert energy from the sun into electricity. Solar PV systems can be relatively simple, with their main components being solar panels or modules. Solar panels are made of a thin layer of semi-conducting material between a sheet of glass and a polymer resin. When exposed to daylight, the semi-conducting material becomes 'energised' and this produces electricity.
Solar panel modules and maintenance
- The more panels you can fit on your roof, the more electricity you will produce and in return will save you hundreds of dollars on your electricity bill.
- Panels are pretty much maintenance-free and have a minimum 25 year performance warranty. If your roof has a fairly shallow pitch or is flat, it may accumulate bird droppings, leaves or dirt, so the solar panels will need occasional cleaning which you can do yourself.
The rest of the solar PV system
- The electricity produced by the PV panels is direct current (DC). Before it can be used in the home it has to be converted to safer alternating current (AC), using a box called an inverter, often placed near your meter box.
- It is worth noting that the inverter doesn't have the same lifespan as the panels themselves, the standard warranty on a micro inverter is 10 years.
- For safety, isolator switches are also placed before and after the inverter.
- A PV generation meter is connected inside your home, in a visible location, so you can see a real-time display of how much electricity the system is generating. The meter also measures the amount of electricity exported to the grid, and provides the basis on which you will get your feed-in tariff payment.