Photovoltaic system
Published:2013-11-26 20:29:45    Text Size:【BIG】【MEDIUM】【SMALL

photovoltaic system (informally, PV system) is an arrangement of components designed to supply usable electric power for a variety of purposes, using the Sun (or, less commonly, other light sources) as the power source.

PV systems may be built in various configurations:

  • Off-grid without battery (array-direct)
  • Off-grid with battery storage for DC-only appliances
  • Off-grid with battery storage for AC and DC appliances
  • Grid-tie without battery
  • Grid-tie with battery storage

A photovoltaic array (also called a solar array) consists of multiple photovoltaic modules, casually referred to as solar panels, to convert solar radiation (sunlight) into usable direct current (DC) electricity. A photovoltaic system for residential, commercial, or industrial energy supply normally contains an array of photovoltaic (PV) modules, one or more DC to alternating current (AC) power converters (also known as inverters), a racking system that supports the solar modules, electrical wiring and interconnections, and mounting for other components. Optionally, a photovoltaic system may include any or all of the following: renewable energy credit revenue-grade meter, maximum power point tracker (MPPT), battery system andcharger, GPS solar tracker, energy management software, solar concentrators, solar irradiance sensors, anemometer, or task-specific accessories designed to meet specialized requirements for a system owner. The number of modules in the system determines the total DC watts capable of being generated by the solar array; however, the inverter ultimately governs the amount of AC watts that can be distributed for consumption. For example: A PV system comprising 11 kilowatts DC (kWDC) worth of PV modules, paired with one 10-kilowatt AC (kWAC) inverter, will be limited by the maximum output of the inverter: 10 kW AC.

A small PV system is capable of providing enough AC electricity to power a single home, or even an isolated device in the form of AC or DC electric. For example, military and civilian Earth observation satellites, street lights, construction and traffic signs, electric cars, solar-powered tents, and electric aircraft may contain integrated photovoltaic systems to provide a primary orauxiliary power source in the form of AC or DC power, depending on the design and power demands.

Large grid-connected photovoltaic power systems are capable of providing an energy supply for multiple consumers. The electricity generated can be stored, used directly (island/standalone plant), fed into a large electricity grid powered by central generation plants (grid-connected or grid-tied plant), or combined with one, or many, domestic electricity generators to feed into a small electrical grid (hybrid plant). PV systems are generally designed in order to ensure the highest energy yield for a given investment.

In the United States, the Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ) will review designs and issue permits, before construction can lawfully begin. Electrical installation practices must comply with standards set forth within the National Electrical Code (NEC) and be inspected by the AHJ to ensure compliance with building code, electrical code, and fire safety code. Jurisdictions may require that equipment has been tested, certified, listed, and labeled by at least one of the Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratories (NRTL). Despite the complicated installation process, a recent list of solar contractors shows a majority of installation companies were founded since 2000.

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