System Components & Configurations

All Photovoltaic systems require electrical equipment to conduct, control, convert, distribute, store, and utilize the energy produced by an array. The primary component common to all PV systems is the PV array. An array consists of individual PV modules that are electrically connected to produce a desired voltage, current and power output. Modules and arrays produce Direct Power (DC) power, which can be used to charge batteries, directly power DC loads or can be converted to Alternating Current (AC) power by inverters to power AC loads or interface with the electric utility grid.

Any power-generating system, including a PV system, faces the problem of matching energy supply with demand. Demand can fluctuate considerably and changes occur within minutes or seconds throughout the day. When this occurs excess energy, must be stored for later use. And then recovered when it is needed at high demand. The utility grid will work as an energy storage bank when excess energy is produced by the PV system and recovered in late night hours or in times of higher demand.

In order to convert DC power to AC power inverters must be integrated into the PV array. An inverter is a device that converts DC power to AC power from the PV array for AC loads or export to the utility grid. Inverters are characterized by power source, power ratings, input and output voltages, waveform, power quality, and power conversion efficiency.