PV systems, simply
Solar electric systems, or photovoltaic (PV) systems, are elegantly simple. The PV cells capture the sun's particles of energy (photons) and converts them into electrons to create direct current (DC) electricity. The DC current travels from the PV cells into an inverter, which converts them into alternating current, or AC power--the same kind of power you buy from your utility provider. On a basic level that is it--Sun > PV cells > Inverter > You.
When the sun doesn’t shine
But what happens at night or when there is no sun? Well, you can set your system up in one of two ways.
- Remain plugged into your local utility and stay “grid-connected”
- This common option allows you to utilize your utility for power needs at night
- Go completely “off-grid”
- This system requires a backup batteries for power storage to ensure your meet your power needs around the clock