Solar Energy: How Photovoltaic (PV) Systems Work


Solar energy has indeed become a reliable source of energy.

This is all thanks to the help of energy storage devices and people knowing about its benefits. These days, it wouldn’t be surprising to see a lovely dwelling with a solar panel on their roofs or yards.

Who wouldn’t like using PV systems, though?

It’s efficient, effective, and sustainable. Nevertheless, for those who are still planning to get solar panels for the first time, they always wonder: can solar panels store solar energy? And how much can they store?

The answer, in fact, is no. They can’t store energy; however, they can convert light into electricity. But you don’t have to worry, though. You can still store solar energy with the help of energy storage devices.

This article explores how photovoltaic (PV) systems work and the viable energy storage devices you can set up to store solar energy.

What is a PV system?

PV systems are power-generating systems with a unique set of equipment. Regardless, there is no difference in the operating methods and interfacing. The standards and codes that apply to other conventional generating systems also apply to them.

To understand PV systems better, you must know about cells, modules, and arrays, first.

  • Cell - The cell is made of two semi-conducting Silicons. They enable light particles called Photons to knock Electrons out of atoms. This creates a flow of electricity.

  • Module - The photovoltaic panel or solar panel is made of a module, a series of prewired cells.

  • Array - A set of PV modules and panels. It’s the complete power-generating system.

How do photovoltaic cells work?

For photovoltaic cells to work, an electrical field has to establish. For an electrical field to occur, two opposite charges must separate. To make the electrical field happen, producers mix or “dope” Silicon with other elements like Phosphorus and Boron.

A single photovoltaic cell is made of a thin layer of Phosphorus-doped Silicon placed on top of a thick layer of Boron-doped Silicon. An electrical field happens on the top surface where they are in contact. This is called the P-N Junction. Once sunlight hits the cell’s top surface, the electrons then gain momentum and direction. This triggers the flow of current to the electrical load.

So, how do we store solar energy?

With the help of energy storage devices, you can store solar energy generated by your PV system.

  • Lithium-ion batteries - a cost-efficient storage option that tolerates a deeper discharge, which allows more compact battery banks. Compared to lead-acid batteries, lithium-ion have longer service lives and better round-trip efficiency.

  • Hot water tank - another feasible medium of solar energy storage. In the hot water tank, you can store solar energy in the form of heat. If you want to store more heat, you can add a heat pump.

  • Ice tanks - with ice tanks, you can store solar energy and use them for refrigeration and cooling. With busy properties that require more than 200 tons of cooling output, you can instead use a lighter chiller with an ice tank. This will significantly reduce demand charges.

It's Solar Time!

It is now high time to invest in solar power system either for residential or commercial use. The cost associated in switching towards solar power system has drastically decreased through time. And as technology has improved in producing more efficient solar PV systems, solar power system will be even more feasible and convenient for all.

Want to start saving with solar? Schedule your free assessment today or get a free customized quote!

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