You may have come across the term “Photovoltaic (PV) Energy” before but never knew exactly what it meant.

We’ve all heard about solar panels and what they do. But, what exactly is photovoltaic energy?

What Are Photovoltaics?

Photovoltaics is the direct conversion of sunlight into electricity. Solar cells are the physical devices that convert sunlight into electricity.

They are often made of silicon, and they work by absorbing sunlight and releasing electrons.

The released electrons flow through a circuit and create an electric current. This current can then be used to power electrical devices.

The term photovoltaics (PV) was first used in 1890, and it is derived from the Greek words: photo, “phos,” meaning light, and “volt,” which signifies electricity.

Related: Solar Panels – How Do They Work?

So What is PV Solar Then?

Solar PV energy is the conversion of light into electricity, which occurs in photovoltaic devices when a solar cell receives sunlight and generates an electrical current.

Solar thermal technologies, on the other hand, use sunlight to warm a fluid (water or another substance) and produce heat.

Related: Photovoltaic Vs Solar Thermal Technology

What type of energy is solar photovoltaic?

Solar energy is a form of renewable, inexhaustible, and non-polluting energy that can be generated in a variety of settings, from little generators for self-consumption to huge photovoltaic plants. It is based on the photoelectric effect and converts sunlight into electricity.

Related: Photovoltaic Panels Vs Solar Panels (ANY DIFFERENCE?)

How much energy does a photovoltaic cell produce?

Most current silicon-based solar cells can convert around 20% of the light that strikes them into useful solar energy, resulting in panels with a power rating above 400 watts.

Higher efficiency = more energy generated, thus high-efficiency solar panels will produce more electricity for your house.

Related: The History of Solar PV

What is a PV plant?

A PV plant is a solar power station that uses one or more photovoltaic (PV) panels to convert sunlight into electricity. PV plants are also sometimes called solar farms or solar parks.

Are Solar Panels and Photovoltaics the Same?

Solar panels and photovoltaic systems are not the same. Solar panels are made up of photovoltaic cells, and photovoltaic systems are made up of solar panels.

Solar panels convert sunlight into electricity, while photovoltaic systems use solar panels to generate electricity.

Solar cells may be connected in two ways: series and parallel. When solar cells are connected in series, the current (measured in amps) remains the same, but the voltage (measured in volts) goes up.

When you connect solar cells in parallel, the voltage stays the same, but the current goes up. The power output of a solar cell is measured in watts.

A photovoltaic system is made up of many photovoltaic modules (or panels). Solar panels generate direct current (DC), but with a solar inverter, it can be converted to alternating current (AC), which is used in household appliances.

Related: The Promises And Challenges Of Perovskite Solar Cells

What’s the Difference between Solar Radiation and Thermal Energy?

The distinction between solar PV and solar thermal technologies is quite simple, despite the science and technicalities. A solar PV system is one in which light energy from a solar panel is converted to electricity. A Solar Thermal System, on the other hand, absorbs sunlight and converts it to heat for your business or water.

The most essential thing to understand about solar power is that it may help us in two distinct ways. It can:

  1. Generate electricity using the photovoltaic phenomenon
  2. Generate thermal energy using collectors and liquids (usually water)

The first technique entails putting solar PV panels on your roof to capture sunlight and turn it into usable power for your home. The second approach is to use sunlight energy to heat a substance, usually water, that is stored in solar thermal panels. This is a solar water heating system that may meet your family’s water demands.

What Are the Advantages and Disadvantages of Solar PV Panels?

As you would expect with such complex technology, there are advantages and disadvantages of solar PV panels to consider before you make the switch.

The Advantages of Solar PV Panels?

  • Solar power is a renewable resource that doesn’t produce greenhouse gases or other pollutants.
  • Solar panels have no moving parts, so they require very little maintenance.
  • Solar PV systems can be designed to meet your energy needs, whether you’re off-grid or connected to the grid.

The Disadvantages of Solar PV Panels?

  • Solar power is intermittent, meaning it’s not available at night or on cloudy days.
  • Solar panels require a lot of space, so they may not be suitable for everyone.
  • Solar PV systems can be expensive to install, but the costs are coming down as technology improves.

Related: How Much Do Solar Panel Systems Cost?

The Different Types of PV Modules

There are four main types of photovoltaic modules:

Monocrystalline Solar Panels

Deemed to be the most popular and efficient type of solar panel, monocrystalline solar panels are created from a single crystal structure. However, they are also one of the most expensive options.

You can read more about them here.

Polycrystalline Solar Panels

Polycrystalline solar cells are made from silicon that has been melted and cast into a block. The block is then cut into wafers, which are the basis for the solar cell. Polycrystalline solar cells are less efficient than monocrystalline solar cells, but they are less expensive to manufacture.

You can read more about them here.

Thin-Film Solar Panels

Thin-film solar cells are made by depositing a thin layer of photovoltaic material on a substrate. The most common substrates are glass, metal, or plastic. Thin-film solar cells are less efficient than other types of PV cells, but they are cheaper to manufacture.

You can read more about them here.

PERC Solar Panels

Perc solar panels are a type of monocrystalline solar panel that uses a Passivated Emitter and Rear Cell (PERC) technology. PERC solar panels have an additional cell on the back of the panel that improves the efficiency of the panel.

PERC solar panels are more expensive than other types of PV cells, but they are more efficient.

You’ll find that they aren’t as popular as the other three panels because it is a relatively new technology.

You can read more about them here.

Grid-Connected vs Off-Grid Systems

You can categorize solar power systems as being either grid-connected or off-grid:

Grid-Connected Systems

A grid-connected system is one that is connected to the electricity grid. These systems are usually used in homes and businesses.

The main advantage of a grid-connected system is that you can sell any excess electricity that you generate back to the grid.

The main disadvantage of a grid-connected system is that you will still be reliant on the electricity grid, so you will be affected by power outages.

Off-Grid Systems

An off-grid system is one that is not connected to the electricity grid. These systems are usually used in remote locations where it is not feasible to connect to the grid.

The main advantage of an off-grid system is that you will not be affected by power outages.

The main disadvantage of an off-grid system is that you will have to generate all of the electricity yourself, so you will need to have a backup power source.

How Long Do Photovoltaic Modules Last?

Solar panels often called photovoltaic or PV modules, are designed to endure for more than 25 years. In fact, many solar panels installed in the 1980s are still functioning at expected levels today.

It’s worth noting that solar panels degrade very slowly over time, so even after 25 years, they will still be producing electricity, just not as much as when they were new.

How Do I Maintain My Solar PV System?

Solar PV systems are relatively maintenance-free. The main thing you need to do is keep the panels clean, as dirt and dust can reduce their efficiency.

You should also check the panels regularly for any damage, such as cracks or loose connections. If you find any damage, you should contact a qualified solar PV installer to repair the panel.

Solar Panels Vs PV Panels

Solar PV panels are used to change thermal energy into electricity and Solar Panels to convert sunlight into heat.

As a result of this, these technologies don’t compete with each other. Instead, they may work in tandem.

Is solar thermal better than PV?

Solar thermal is more space-efficient than solar PV. They are 70% more efficient in absorbing heat from the sun than solar PV.

The mechanism used to harvest heat from sunlight is simpler than that of solar PV. A great option for heating water

The Future of Photovoltaics

The future of solar PV energy is very bright (pardon the pun). The cost of solar panels has decreased significantly in recent years, and the technology continues to improve.

Solar PV systems are becoming more efficient and easier to install. The number of solar PV installations is increasing every year.

It’s estimated that by 2050, solar PV will be the dominant source of electricity generation worldwide.

With the continued advances in technology and the increase in global awareness of the need for renewable energy, there is no doubt that solar PV will play a major role in meeting our energy needs in the future.


Is solar renewable or nonrenewable?

Solar energy is renewable, sustainable, and a green energy source since it does not contribute to global warming as fossil fuels do. Because solar power does not create carbon dioxide gas, it is also environmentally beneficial. For billions of years, the sun will continue to generate electricity.

Solar panels only work during the day. How do you generate electricity at night?

Solar PV systems are usually combined with other types of power generation, such as wind or hydro, to provide a constant supply of electricity. You can also store excess solar electricity in batteries for use at night.

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Passionate about helping households transition to sustainable energy with helpful information and resources.

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