Solar PV System Components 101

Home Solar PV System Components 101

In simplest terms, solar power is a way of converting solar energy into consumable electricity. However, it is more complex than that. The system consists of several parts that each play a specific role. It collects, transports, and subsequently converts solar energy into electricity. To fully understand solar energy as a system, it is essential to comprehend the functions of all major components involved.

The photovoltaic system (PV system) uses photovoltaics to convert sunlight into electricity. A reliable green energy solution can be obtained by using photovoltaics, also known as solar panels.

A solar PV system is an excellent sustainable, low-maintenance option for anyone wanting to contribute to a greener environment since it emits no pollution. Its numerous advantages also make it an attractive option.

In this article, you will know more about the solar PV system components and their advantages.

How does a solar PV system work?

The solar energy collected by photovoltaic cells is then converted into direct current (DC) electricity by the photovoltaic cells. During the day, the sunshine will reflect across photovoltaic systems, creating an electric field, which will cause electricity to flow.

AC power will then be generated by an inverter, which will take the DC electricity and convert it into an alternating current (AC). Your home uses AC power to power its electric appliances, frequently referred to as AC load.

Main components of Solar System

We have listed various solar panel parts and components below-

Solar Panels

Solar technology was first manufactured in 1954, and it has been rapidly expanding since then. Alternatively known as photovoltaic panels, solar panels are constructed from many individual solar cells. In general, the more solar cells there are, the more effective the solar panel will perform.

One of the main aspects of solar panels is that they capture sunlight and convert it into electricity. It can be used for various applications (heating systems, street lighting, machine installations, cameras, signage, charging of phones, and many other devices that utilize electricity). During the night, energy generated by the solar panels is stored in special solar batteries, or it is fed directly into the grid at convenient times.

Types of Solar Panels

A variety of solar panels are readily available for photovoltaic systems, including

Monocrystalline Solar Panels

In monocrystalline panels, crystals are uniformly distributed throughout the entire panel. They can be manufactured from various materials, such as gallium arsenide, amorphous silicon, copper indium gallium selenide, germanium, cadmium telluride, and organic polymers.

A monocrystalline solar panel has the highest efficiency rating to date and performs better in low-light conditions than any other type of panel. Moreover, its efficiency declines more slowly as it gets older. Monocrystalline solar panels are made of silicon ingots and are incredibly expensive to manufacture. Initially, monocrystalline panels cost the most; however, they may be worth it in the long run through energy savings.

Polycrystalline Solar Panels

There is a unique speckled blue color to polycrystalline silicon solar panels, which varies with the level of shade. As the silicon used in these panels is not homogeneous, the crystal structure of the silicon can differ in different parts of the panel. Therefore, polycrystalline solar panels have a lesser efficiency than monocrystalline panels.

Due to their higher temperature coefficient, polycrystalline solar panels are less effective at operating temperatures higher than those of monocrystalline solar panels. Since the conversion efficiency is reduced, a greater number of panels are required to produce the specified power.

Since polycrystalline silicon solar panels are not homogeneous, they cost less to purchase and many customers prefer them due to this.

Amorphous Thin-Film Solar Panels

A thin-film solar panel’s efficiency is lower than one with monocrystalline or polycrystalline material, and its lifetime is shorter as well. Due to the simpler manufacturing method, their costs are significantly lower than crystalline panels. Unlike crystalline solar panels, thin-film solar panels are moldable, but crystalline solar panels can crack if bent.

The use of thin-film panels in residential photovoltaic systems is not recommended due to their lower efficiency. Thin-film panels require more space (and therefore more panels) to produce the same amount of electricity as crystalline panels. Thus, utility companies are more commonly used these solar panels than homeowners.

Solar Inverter

Regardless of the type of solar energy system, an inverter is a vital component. Direct current (DC) is converted into alternating current (AC), which is helpful for several residential, commercial, and industrial purposes, such as providing energy to commercial and domestic appliances such as TVs, refrigerators, and microwaves, as well as huge industrial equipment. Inverters play a key role in making solar PV systems environmentally friendly.

Types of Solar Inverters

String inverters

Their power system is directly connected to the grid and they rarely have a battery backup system. Inverters of this type are the most popular for both business and household use. The design life of these products is 25 years, and the warranty is typically five years.

Grid-tied inverters

The grid-tied inverter converts solar energy into electrical energy by matching the phase and frequency corresponding to the input. As the inverters are connected to the utility grid, they can also shut down automatically for safety reasons.

Central inverters

Despite being extremely efficient, they are compatible with distinct grid-like features, such as fluctuation management and balancing. Solar inverters of this type are usually very large and have their own storage area, exhaust system, etc. Most of them have a capacity of over 400 KW.


Compared with string inverters, they are generally smaller and less powerful and have a capacity of between 200 and 350 watts. They are more expensive than string inverters but have greater efficiency in partially shaded areas. Each one is mounted on the back of a specific panel, so the DC to AC conversion only takes place for that panel.

Off-grid inverters

Stand-alone inverters or Off-grid inverters are also known as independent inverters because they require no syncing with a solar panel to operate. They obtain energy by converting photovoltaic energy into electricity. A solar inverter of this type is typically installed in remote areas, where people prefer to live entirely off the grid.

Battery-based inverters or Hybrid solar inverters

A solar inverter of this type is like a mix of both grid-tied and off-grid inverters by allowing you to be independent of the grid while still syncing with the grid when there is insufficient sunlight or high power consumption. The battery is interconnected with the inverter using a technique known as DC Coupling.

Solar PV system

More Solar Parts and Components

DC Disconnect Switch

Connectors that complete or interrupt DC electricity flow are called DC disconnects. A solar PV system involves a DC disconnect situated between the solar panels and the power inverter, which can be thrown easily if you (or the fire department) want to cut off solar power. DC isolator switches in PV systems manually disconnect solar panels during installation, maintenance, and repair.

Rapid Shutdown Device

Following the National Electrical Code (NEC), solar panel systems must have a rapid shutdown feature. In simple terms, it allows a rooftop solar panel system to be quickly de-energized.

To ensure the safety of firefighters, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) included rapid shutdown requirements in the NEC. If your house catches on fire, and you think that rapid shutdown functionality wouldn’t be useful – but it is, firefighters can quickly de-energize your system if they need to go up on your roof if the fire breaks out.

The simple act of turning off a solar inverter doesn’t always achieve this: some systems can leave wires and circuits energized even when the inverter is turned off, placing firefighters who are working on your roof or in your attic at greater risk of shock. Solar systems can be rapidly disconnected in less than a minute with a rapid shutdown device that allows quick reduction of electrical voltage.

Surge Protective Device

Electrical surges and spikes, such as those caused directly or indirectly by lightning, can be protected by surge protective devices (SPDs). They can be used as completely separate devices or as parts of electrical equipment. Solar energy can be converted into electric current through a photovoltaic system (PV). By installing an SPD, you can prevent damage to the installation, avoiding high maintenance costs and losses due to production interruption.

DC Fuse Holder

Solar DC fuses are used primarily to protect a system’s wiring from being overheated and catching fire. Its second function is to prevent devices from catching fire or from sustaining serious damage in the event of a short circuit.

Charge Controller

Battery charge controllers regulate the DC coming from solar panels so that the batteries do not overcharge. Using a charge controller, you can determine whether your batteries are fully charged, and block the current flow to prevent permanent damage to the batteries.

Generally speaking, charge controllers are divided into maximum power point tracking (MPPT) and pulse width modulation (PWM).

PWMs are standard types and are ideal for smaller battery banks and photovoltaic systems, since they range between 4 and 60 amps, depending on the size. Alternatively, MPPT charge controllers are better suited to photovoltaic systems with a high voltage, usually up to 160 volts DC.

There is not always a need to include a charge controller in your photovoltaic system since not all solar panels have solar battery banks. Therefore, you should only use a charge controller when you have a battery bank. Also, if your PV array puts out about 2 watts per 50 battery amp-hours or less, you might not need a charge controller.

Combiner Box

The combiner box is often overlooked in most solar electric systems, but it plays a crucial role. Combiner boxes are electrical enclosures that allow multiple solar panels to be connected simultaneously. If you are wiring two 12 Volt panels together for your 12 Volt system, you will connect their outputs directly to the terminals of the combiner box.

To connect the next component of the system, the charge controller, you need only run two wires (in a conduit) from the combiner box. Additionally, it will contain a series of strings of fuses or breakers. The boxes are usually rated for outdoor use and are meant to be placed right next to solar panels or arrays.

Advantages of Photovoltaic Systems

  • High reliability

Although photovoltaic systems are subject to harsh weather conditions, they are still highly reliable. With photovoltaic arrays, critical power supplies can operate continuously and uninterruptedly.

  • Strong persistence

Solar panels are typically covered by warranties of 25 years or more, and most remain operational for many years.

  • A clean energy source

PV cells provide clean and green energy which is the most significant advantage. There is no concern about the panels emitting any harmful greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

  • Free raw materials

It is also advantageous because there is no need to purchase raw materials! Solar cells rely on the sun to produce electricity, which is abundantly available around you. Choosing solar energy is an excellent choice. The system will require an initial investment; however, it is free, natural, and abundant for a long time. Once you use the energy generated by PV cells, you end up saving on electricity costs.

  • Low maintenance costs

Photovoltaic systems require only occasional inspections and repair work compared to conventional fuel systems.

  • Zero fuel consumption

Unlike conventional systems that require fuel, photovoltaic systems do not require procurement, storage, or transportation costs.

  • Noise pollution is small

Despite minimal mechanical movements, the photovoltaic system can operate quietly.

  • Photovoltaic supervision

PV systems may need to add some modules to improve their energy efficiency.

  • Easy to install

Residential solar panels can be installed just on the ground or on roofs without disrupting your lifestyle.

  • Strong security

Photovoltaic systems are safe not only for the environment but also for you. They have modifications that protect your house in case of natural or mechanical disasters.

  • Strong independence

Many residential areas are adopting this new technology because of its independent energy production and independence from utilities.

Rooftop Solar Panels

Key Takeaway

The installation of a photovoltaic system in your home improves the quality of your everyday life and reduces the impact of your electricity generation on the environment. We hope this article gave you enough information about the components of a Solar PV system.

However, choosing the right photovoltaic system for your house can be challenging. A lot of factors should be considered when considering an investment in photovoltaics. A photovoltaic system is designed based on the amount of power needed for the particular application. Depending on the power requirements, storage capacity, and grid connection, the number of panels needed will vary. You need to examine your options thoroughly and the available suppliers to make the right decision.

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