Solar cells convert the suns energy using something called the photovoltaic effect. This is why many solar panels that are constructed go by the name photovoltaic solar panel. The photovoltaic effect involves creating an electric current (or voltage) in a material because of exposure to electro-magnetic radiation.
What builds up voltage between two electrodes is the generated electrons being transferred from one material to another. In most cases the radiation is sunlight and used in solar panels. At times you would use solar panel to specify that the energy source is the sun, and photovoltaic solar panel may indicate that a light source isnt specifically the sun and not indicated.
There are a variety of different materials that use solar radiation and convert it into direct current electricity. These materials currently include polycrystalline silicon, cadmium telluride, copper indium sulfide, and amorphous silicon. The recent increase in interest in solar energy and photovoltaic arrays has advanced the technology greatly used in the renewable energy conversion business.
In the United States in 2006 investors offered free solar panel installation in return for a contract of twenty-five years. It is expected that most commercial photovoltaics installed are with a power purchase agreement. Many other cities are offering incentives to invest in photovoltaic solar panels, if you are interested in converting your home to solar energy, then you would do best to contact your local municipality and ensure you are taking advantage of any financial offsets you can. Most municipalities are allowing you the option to buy back excess energy produced by your system, this way, not only do you not have to pay your energy company, but they pay you!
At this time building integrated photovoltaics are being included in the construction of new homes and businesses, either as the primary electrical power source or ancillary. Generally you will find a photovoltaic solar panel incorporated into either the roof or the walls of a building, although it is now becoming popular to purchase and install photovoltaic roof shingles.
If a building is already built, a photovoltaic solar panel may be retrofitted to fit within the roof or walls of the building. If this isnt possible or practical, then an array can be placed outside of the house and connected to a main power supply.
When choosing to be on the grid or completely off the power grid, you will want to take a look at how close your home is to it. If you are in a remote location, having a solar power supply complete off the grid is practical, if you are closer, putting it on the grid makes best use of the system, and you are protected in case of failure.
In any case, deciding to go greener and install a renewable solar energy source for your home is a smart move. You can eventually recoup the layout costs through your energy savings, and your home becomes more attractive to future buyers.