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Putting CPD into action: FutureTech: Renewable technologies module 3: Renewable energy applications

Solar PV house and solar PV roof 1

Components of a photovoltaic system

The Photovoltaic panels or array (1) are best mounted facing the sun so they receive minimum time in the shade. Electric connections from the panels are made to the Junction Box (2), through which electricity is fed to the Inverter (3). It is through the inverter that electricity is fed to the Import/Export meter (4) and into the grid through the electricity connection board. The load (6) is connected to the Import/Export meter. With this arrangement electricity from the panels can be used to feed the load or, when the load is low and during sunny periods, to export electricity to the grid.

Installation types

Photovoltaic panels are most cost effective when angled to gain the maximum solar radiation (south facing in the northern hemisphere). PV panels can be mounted:

  • Externally on buildings (see above right ) or on mounting rails;
  • Built in to pitched roofs (on new builds this saves the cost of roof tiles over the panelled area);
  • On flat roofs, with frames angled towards the sun; or
  • On the ground, mounted on frames angled towards the sun usually in large arrays, sometimes called PV solar farms.

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Solar PV mounting