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Types of Solar Photovoltaic (PV) System

Solar Photovoltaics convert daylight into electricity and can be used in Grid-Tied Solar PV Systems where renewable electricity is fed directly into the properties power supply, excess electricity being exported (sold) to energy companies using the National Grid and in Off-Grid situations where electricity is generated and stored in batteries for use locally.

Below we look at what equipment is needed for each type of system and discuss how Grid Tied, Off-Grid and Hybrid Solar Photovoltaic (PV) Systems work.

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Solar PV

Clicking the picture will enlarge the image.

Grid-Tied Solar Photovoltaic (PV) Systems

If your building is already connected to the mains power network or a connection to the national grid would be easy and not too expensive to arrange, a Grid-Tied Solar Photovoltaic system is often the most cost effective PV System to install.

A Grid-Tied PV system offers the potential to make a profit on the energy you generate, whilst significantly reducing your energy bills.

Any excess electricity is automatically exported to the grid, at night and in winter the grid connection is used in the normal way. Essentially a grid connected solar PV system provides a second source of power directly into the properties consumer/distribution unit.

Solar PV Panel

Grid-Tied Solar Photovoltaic (PV) Equipment

Below is an overview of what equipment is needed in a typical Grid-Tied Solar PV installation.

  • Solar PV Panels / PV Modules - The head end of a PV system that converts daylight into electrical current. As well as traditional Solar Panels, Solar PV panels can also be integrated into building materials where you may have traditionally used glass such as into canopies, skylights and balconies.
  • A Grid-Tie solar inverter - Is used to convert DC power into AC power ready for use locally and for export to the grid.
Solar PV Generation Meter /Solar Feed in Tariff (FIT) Meter

Solar PV Generation Meter

  • Cables & Accessories - Used to safely connect the various components, cables should be specified in relation to the maximum load current and the potential operating temperatures.
  • Isolators - Used to disconnect parts or all of the system for maintenance and/or in an emergency.
  • Mounting System - There is a wide choice of mounting systems. Solar PV panels and moduless can be mounted onto roofs (bolted on top or integrated within) Free Standing Frames and Building Integrated PV solutions are also available.
  • Monitor - Used for measuring how much energy is being generated.
  • Solar PV Generation Meter - A solar PV generation meter monitors and displays how much electricity has been generated in kWhrs.

Off-Grid PV Diagram

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Off-Grid Solar Photovoltaic (PV) Systems

An Off-Grid Solar PV System is self contained and uses batteries to store and release electricity when the Solar PV Panels aren't active such as at night. An Off-Grid PV solution is ideal for remote buildings, application specific functions such as for powering machinery, temporary solutions, pumps, boats, pretty much anywhere where mains electricity isn't available and or isn't needed.

Solar Batteries

Solar Batteries

Off-Grid Solar Photovoltaic (PV) Equipment

  • Solar PV Panels / PV Modules - The head end of the system that converts daylight into electrical current.
  • Power Inverters - Used to convert DC power provided by Solar panels and stored in batteries into AC Electricity to be integrated into the buildings electrical system.
  • Charge Controller - Used to prevent damage to batteries through overcharging and reverse current.
  • Cables & Accessories - Used to safely connect the various components.
  • Isolators - Used to disconnect parts or all of the system for maintenance and/or in in an emergency.
  • Monitor - Used for measuring how much energy is being generated.
  • Batteries - Used to store and release power.
  • Mounting System - Used to install Solar panels on a roof or other suitable structure.
Sunny Backup

Sunny Backup

Hybrid Solar Photovoltaic (PV) Systems

If you were thinking that there is nothing stopping you from having both types of system installed at the same time you would be absolutely right. A Hybrid system gives you all the benefits of both systems with the added benefits from protection from power cuts and outages (from either solar or mains), coupled with the ability to live independently of whilst supplying others with solar generated electricity.

A Hybrid Solar PV System would utilise a connection to the grid enabling power to be exported and also use batteries to protect against power cuts and store power for use locally.

Please note that as with all grid connected PV systems, in hybrid systems we need to protect against islanding, this is where the PV system would continue to generate and export power to the grid even if the mains power was unavailable. For safety the PV system will disconnect itself from the grid if mains power becomes unavailable, hybrid systems will continue to supply power to the property in the event of a power cut.

Solar Water Pump

Solar & Wind Powered Water Pumps

Solar Pumps, Wind Pumps or a combination of the two can be used for moving water from boreholes, wells, lakes and streams to difficult to reach buildings and fields, for irrigation, livestock and drinking water.

Solar Powered Road Sign

Batteryless Solar photovoltaic (PV) systems

This is where energy generated is supplied directly to appliances. This kind of power system is common powering water pumps, road signs and electric fences.

From simple stand alone systems through to complicated monitored and engineered systems. Being able to generate electricity locally opens up many opportunities in the areas of security, animal management and providing power to remote areas.

Interesting solar PV panel mounting options & technologies

Solar PV Canopies

Solar PV Canopies

From entrance foyets, recreation areas and window shades through to covers for car parks, Solar PV Canopies have the combined benifits of generating electricity, using unitilised space and providing shading to sunny areas.

Solar PV Balcony System

Solar PV Balcony Systems

Generate electricity utilising the limited space available outside apartment complexes and flats. Systems are suitable for retrofit as well as new build. Available in a wide choice of sizes, styles and colours Solar PV Balconies can be designed to either make a bold statement or to blend in with the surroundings. The solar PV panels we use have the same structural properties as safety glass and the supports are made using anti corrissive aluminium.

Free Standing Solar PV Systems

Free Standing Solar PV Systems

In many cases the simpliest solutions are the best. What's simpler then mounting a series of Solar PV Panels (a PV array) on a frame or pole, facing the Solar array towards the sun and starting to generate your own electrical power?

Following the design principle of keeping things simple some of the most cost effective, best performing and most efficient PV systems are based on Free standing Solar PV Arrays. Systems range from small portable PV arrays to power machinery and tools through to ultra efficient, high power Solar PV Trackers.

Thin Film Photovoltaics

Thin Film Photovoltacs (PV)

If you have access to flat roofspace a cost effective, quick to install and fast payback energy solution is a Thin Film Photovoltaic Roofing system that generates electricity.

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Mains/Grid Isolation and Surge Protection

Mains/AC Surge Protection Solar PV Systems

A whole house surge protector is installed to provide protection from transient overvoltages originating from the mains/grid. A whole house surge protector is installed directly inline and as close as possible to the incoming mains/grid supply meter, this allows for surge protection for all circuits and equipment including solar inverters, routers, stereos and other sensitive electrical equipment within the network. The addition of a 100Amp lockable isolator also allows for safe and convenient isolation of all electrical equipment within the network including consumer units, solar inverters, battery storage units and EV chargers from the mains/grid in one place.

Surge protectors are in compliance with the recently updated 18th edition amendment 2 of BS7671.

Mains/Grid Isolation and Surge Protection


Solar PV Surge Protection (DC Surge Protection)

DC Surge Protection Solar PV Systems

DC surge protection devices (SPDs) are installed between the solar panels and the solar inverter to protect both the solar inverter and the downstream electrical equipment from transient overvoltages of an atmospheric origin impacting the electrical system via the DC side of the system / the solar panels.

DC Surge protectors are in compliance with the recently updated 18th edition amendment 2 of BS7671.

Solar PV Surge Protection (DC Surge Protection)

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Articles: Further Information, Calculators & Solar Inverter Fault Codes

Lots of articles, calculators and technical information including links for further reading. Covering a range of topics related to the installation and maintenance of solar photovoltaic and electrical systems in the UK.

/Solar PV Information Articles

Engineering Recommendation G98

Grid Connections for Micro-Generators including Solar PV Systems and Elecricity Storage Systems in the UK. Under 16Amps Per Phase, grid synchronised.

How to provide power to a house using a portable generator

In this article we show you how to power your home using a portable diesel, petrol or LPG generator. We look at changeover switches, the importance of earthing, generator loadings, how to isolate non essential loads. We ask where to locate the generator when it's in operation, how best to safely isolate the grid/mains power supply and switch to a generator supply.

Ground Faults, Isolation (ISO) Faults, RISO Low Faults and Insulation Resistance Faults with Solar PV Systems

After a number of years exposed to wind, rain, snow, ice and sometimes animals; solar panel systems can start to develop faults. The most common faults we find related to exposure are ground faults, isolation (ISO) faults, RISO low faults and insulation resistance faults. In this article we take a look at what these faults are, the possible causes and what steps are taken to identify and resolve them.

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Areas Served:

We are located in Wanborough, very close to Swindon in Wiltshire, Southern England, UK. From here we service clients within a 90 minute driving radius including the towns, cities and regions below:

Swindon: Abingdon, Aldbourne, Amesbury, Andover, Banbury, Basingstoke, Bath, Berkshire, Bicester, Blunsdon, Box, Bracknell, Bradford on Avon, Bridgwater, Bristol, Buckingham, Burford, Burnham on Sea, Calne, Camberley, Cardiff, Carterton, Cheltenham, Chippenham, Chipping Norton, Chipping Sodbury, Cirencester, Corsham, Cricklade, Devizes, Didcot, Evesham, Eynsham, Faringdon, Frome, Fleet, Glastonbury, Gloucester, Gloucestershire, Hampshire, Henley-on-Thames, Highclere, Highworth, Hook, Hungerford, Keynsham, Kingsclere, Lambourn, Lechlade, Ledbury, Ludgershall, Lyneham, Maidenhead, Malmesbury, Marlborough, Marshfield, Melksham, Minety, Newbury, Newport, Oxford, Oxfordshire, Pewsey, Purton, Ramsbury, Reading, Ross on Wye, Royal Wootton Bassett, Salisbury, Shaftesbury, Shalbourne, Slough, Southampton, Stow, Stratford upon Avon, Stroud, Swindon, Tewkesbury, Thatcham, Tidworth, Trowbridge, Wanborough, Wantage, Warminster, Weston Super Mare, Wiltshire, Winchester, Windsor, Witney, Wokingham, Worcester, Wroughton and Yate.

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