What components does a photovoltaic system consist of and how does it work?

A photovoltaic system, also known as a solar system, is an energy system that converts sunlight into electricity. This is the so-called photovoltaic effect or PV effect. It consists of various components: solar panels, inverter, controller, rechargeable battery, electricity meter, wiring and other electrical accessories. Depending on whether it is autonomous, mains or combined, the solar system turns some of the components on or off, but the basic operating principles are the same.

Due to their silent functioning, without emission, they have established themselves on the energy market and more and more companies, homes and farms prefer them as a source of electricity.

Components of a photovoltaic system

The PV system – components

  • Solar panels – a photovoltaic installation can consist of one or more solar panels. They absorb and convert sunlight into electricity. They are also called generators.
  • Controller – a device that serves for continuous measurement and control of the operation of the solar panels. Takes into account voltage, current, temperature and many more parameters and values.
  • Inverter – The direct current produced by the photovoltaic system is converted by an inverter into an AC power supply, which can now be used by households, farms or production bases.
  • Storage system (battery) – this is a component of the photovoltaic system that is not mandatory, since its operation does not depend on it. The batteries serve to store the energy generated by sunlight and, if necessary, the system draws electricity from them.
  • Electricity meter – in cases where the system is hybrid and uses not only the electricity produced by the photovoltaic system, but also electricity from the electricity grid. Measures the electricity used. In the case of a variant with the sale of electricity (bi-directionality), the meter measures both the external energy used and that which the system supplies for sale.
  • Connection to the electricity grid – it is needed when electricity from the grid will be used or sold to an energy company.
  • Connection to your own electricity grid – it is needed with a photovoltaic system for your own needs for home and business.

Operating principles of photovoltaic system types

Autonomous PV System or OFF GRID System

These PV systems use only the electricity they produce and are not connected to the grid. They include batteries to store the produced energy to ensure a continuous supply of electricity during the dark of the day.

How does the Off Grid system work?

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    Solar panels capture energy from the sun and convert it into electricity.
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    The inverter converts direct current (DC) into an alternating current supply (AC).
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    The battery is a kind of PV system balance device. When there is more electricity produced, the controller will transfer the excess to the battery. Conversely, when there is not enough energy produced by the PV system, the controller transfers electricity from the battery to the consumer.
    Autonomous systems are used for sites located in remote places without connection to the electricity grid: villas, houses, pumping systems, caravans and others. The cost of Off Grid PV systems is the highest because of the need for a battery.
Off Grip autonomous photovoltaic system - scheme of operation, Elsol Ltd.

Автономните системи намират приложение за обекти, които се намират на отдалечени места, без връзка с електропреносна мрежа: вили, къщи, помпени системи, каравани и други. Цената на Off Grid PV системите е най-висока, заради нуждата от батерия.

Grid PV System or ON-GRID system

An example of grid solar systems are all photovoltaic parks that are built to sell the electricity produced to electricity distribution companies. Therefore, there is no need for a battery.

The three main components in this type of solar system are: solar panels, inverter and electricity meter.

The principle of operation is similar. During daylight hours, solar panels produce electricity, it is converted from the inverter and directly supplied to the power grid.

Grid PV System or ON-GRID system, Elsol Ltd.

Combined PV systems

This type of solar systems are built for household or business users with high electricity consumption – rooftop solar systems for business or solar systems for the home. They produce electricity and use it for their own needs, and when there is a shortage, they consume electricity from the electricity grid. It is advisable to install a battery to store the produced energy when there is no consumption.

How does the combined PV system work?

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    Solar panels capture energy from the sun and convert it into electricity.
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    The inverter converts direct current (DC) into an alternating current supply (AC).
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    If the electricity produced by the solar installation cannot fully supply the needs of the consumer, the shortage is covered by the electricity grid.
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    If the PV system has produced more electricity than the consumption, the excess is transferred to the battery. When the solar system cannot power the needs of the consumer, the installed controller transfers electricity from the battery.
Combined photovoltaic system by Elsol Ltd, working principle

Combined photovoltaic systems with electricity sales

These systems have all the advantages of the other types of photovoltaic installations. Includes all the above components: solar panels, controller, inverter, electricity meter.

The basic principle of operation is no different. The electricity produced is used for its own needs. When it is not enough, the system takes electricity from the electricity grid, and if it is too much, it goes for sale to the supplier, with whom it is necessary to conclude a sales contract in advance.

* Here it is important to note that as much electricity can be sold as the connected power of the system.

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