Solar electric systems, also known as solar photovoltaic (PV) systems, convert sunlight into electricity through the use of PV panels. At its most basic a solar electric system consists of PV panels to convert sunlight into electricity, racking to mount the PV panels, and an inverter to convert the electricity from direct current (DC) into alternating current (AC). This electricity can then be used just like the electricity that you get from a utility company.
PV panels are the workhorses of your solar electric system. They convert sunlight into electricity via the photovoltaic effect. The electrical output of a PV panel is given in watts and PV panels are generally grouped together into an array of connected panels. This means solar electric systems have the flexibility to provide whatever amount of electricity you require. To determine how much electricity an array generates you simply add the wattage of all the panels in the array together. For example, this 5.0 kW system sold by Simple Solar consists of 20 250 watt modules. Add up all 20 modules and you end up with 5,000 watts or 5.0 kW.
The mounting hardware for PV panels is called racking and allows you to mount your panels on the ground, on a wall, or on a roof. Because PV panels only function with sunlight they should be mounted so that they face south and have an unobstructed view of the sun year round.
Inverters convert the DC electricity generated by your PV panels into AC electricity which is useable by your business or household. At Simple Solar we prefer the use of micro-inverters which attach to each individual PV panel. This simplifies installation, enhances safety, and saves on labor and material costs.
Most solar electric systems are tied to the utility company’s electricity grid and this allows the landowner to sell any excess electricity back to the utility company. Connecting your solar electric system to your utility company is easy. Once your system is installed there are no other technical requirements, however there may be regulations that you will need to follow in order for your utility company to allow you to generate your own electricity. The Canadian Electrical Code has safety standards that need to be met in order for you to generate your own electricity and to feed any excess back into the utility's electricity grid. Rest assured though, all solar electric equipment sold by Simple Solar meets the safety standards of the Canadian Electrical Code.