Photovoltaic Panels - PV Cells Connected in Series

A PV panel is nothing more than a series of one or more individual photovoltaic cells linked together in series. As each one generates it's own electricity through the photovoltaic process, the current is gathered and directed to one point. This exit point for this electricity may be directed to a power inverter so that the DC current can be changed into usable AC electricity, or it may even connect to another identical panel. A series of solar panels hooked up together is known as a solar array.

Home Solar Rooftop PV Panels

A nice advantage to owning a linked solar panel system is the ability to add or subtract from your solar array as your needs change. Panels can be popped on and off their mountings to be replaced or repaired. Individual PV cells can also be replaced when broken or damaged, with a minimum of electrical experience required. And although home solar panels can be purchased as standalone products, they can also be built cell by cell by soldering the connections together so that the electric current flows continuously in the proper direction. Many do-it-yourself solar kits come with complete instructions on how to develop, construct, and install your own solar panel systems. Some kits even include information on how to connect the panels to your existing household electrical system, but in some cases this job might best be left to a qualified or licensed electrician.

Types of Photovoltaic Solar Panels for Home and Residential Use

When most people think of solar energy they usually picture giant silver panels attached to rooftops and angled by steel scaffolding. Those are the solar products of yesterday. Today's modern PV panel systems are often stylish and decorative, and give homeowners many options not associated with rooftops at all.

Freestanding Solar Panels - Although the tops of homes are the most common places to install PV panels, many people don't realize that they can be placed away from the residence by way of freestanding solar arrays. This type of installation requires sturdy hardware to withstand the elements and extra wiring to connect the panels to the home, but there are also significant advantages to such a system. Freestanding PV arrays can be installed in the most sun-drenched part of a home's property, and can be angled to maximize sun exposure without the limitations of roofing angles. They can also be made adjustable to allow for different seasonal changes in the sun's pathing, and the quantity of panels is limited only by the amount of available property. The downside to these structures is that they're not popular with close neighbors. Depending upon the height of the unit and it's proximity to neighboring property lines, freestanding solar panels are probably best suited for larger and more remote plots of land where one or more arrays can take full advantage of year-round sunlight while staying out of sight and mind.

Solar Window Shades

Solar Shades - There are solar shades that don't provide any electricity at all, but rather they can be drawn down to block the sun's rays in order keep your home cool in summer months. This saves you on utility bills outright, by keeping your home cooler and making it so that your air conditioner has to work much less. But then there are solar shades, louvers and awnings made up of PV cells and panels to gather such energy for home use. Solar shades installed this way can be customized to fit windows facing into direct sunlight, with adjustable closures similar to everyday blinds. The more advanced solar systems can even include sensors to detect higher levels of sunlight, closing the shades to keep rooms cool while exposing themselves to maximum amounts of the sunlight and absorbing as much of the sun's photon emissions as possible.

Alternative Home Energy

Rooftop Home Solar Panels - Your roof is of course the best place on your home for the installation of solar PV panels. Homeowners lucky enough to have a south-facing rooftop will have an advantage over those who do not, because they'll be able to receive the most direct sunlight year round. Two-story houses built on hills or away from tall trees will also have an advantage over homes whose rooftops see shade from adjacent trees or structures.

Roof mounted solar panels are usually affixed flat against the roof's surface, to minimize exposure to the wind and elements. Mounting brackets are drilled through plywood surfaces and the surrounding holes are then sealed with tar or waterproofing materials to keep moisture out of the attic. Rails are affixed to the brackets, and the solar panels are attached to the rails. The number of panels you can install is limited only by your roof space (or your wallet!)

Sometimes these home-installations can include mounting PV panels on adjustable stands or brackets. This allows the homeowner to change the angle of incidence as the pathing of the sun changes from season to season. Solar products are even sold that don't look like panels at all - instead they're designed to look like ceramic or clay roofing shingles. Each one is it's own tiny solar panel made up of smaller PV cells, linked to its neighbor in series. Amazing progress has been made aesthetically to make these solar shingles look very similar to modern roofing tiles or surfaces.

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