Photovoltaic cells

Photovoltaic cells Img01

Photovoltaic cells are the elements of a solar PV panel that actually generate the electricity from them. The science is relatively simple – but the technology is more complex and should be carefully considered when making your choice of solar PV panels.

The science

A photovoltaic cell is essentially a silicon semiconductor cell, which produces an electrical charge when it is struck by daylight. The electricity generated is in DC form, which is then converted via an inverter into AC form in either or both single phase or three phase, for use in your home or commercial premises.

Contrary to popular belief, a photovoltaic cell does not need bright sunshine in order to operate. It will generate power even on cloudy days, as daylight rather than sunshine is the key ingredient to success. However, it does remain the case that electrical output will be significantly higher on a sunny day than on a cloudy or rainy one.

The technology

Technological advances have meant that solar PV panels are now offered with a choice of three types of photovoltaic cells – mono crystalline, poly crystalline, and hybrid.

Poly crystalline photovoltaic cells is the original technology. The panels consist of cells made from many crystals, giving them something of a ‘shattered glass’ look. There are small areas where the crystal fragments meet that are not perpendicular to light hitting the surface, so some efficiency is lost. However, panels using poly crystalline photovoltaic cells are cheaper to buy and are still sufficiently efficient for most installations.

Mono crystalline photovoltaic cells are from a single ‘ingot’ of silicon crystal.  This means the surface of the crystal is flatter and is perpendicular to the light striking the panel.  This increases efficiency, meaning more power from a smaller area, and also more power from less light. However, they are more expensive to buy.

Hybrid photovoltaic cells combine mono crystalline cells with another cell technology, called thin film, to produce the best overall performance in all levels of lighting. However, while they are the most efficient, they are also the most expensive.

We will help you choose

We can provide you with detailed quotations for photovoltaic systems using each type of photovoltaic cell, and we will advise on the exact benefits of each for your project.

We will help you make your choice, and we will then proceed to installation. You’ll soon be enjoying the use of electricity you produce yourself.

Kavanagh Engineering is a registered contractor under the SEAI Better Energy Homes programme. We will assist you with your Solar Panel Grant application process.

Just contact us to start benefitting from our expertise today.