Operating principle of photovoltaic solar panels

Understanding the operation of a photovoltaic solar panel is essential when one wishes to use this technology. The photovoltaic solar module is a system capable of capturing the energy sent by the sun to the Earth, and converting it into direct electric current. There are also equipment that produce hot water from solar energy.

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Operation of a photovoltaic solar panel

The operation of a photovoltaic solar panel is based on several elements:

  • A module composed of photovoltaic cells transforming energy into direct electrical voltage;
  • A mounting system, also called a roof integration system which anchors the photovoltaic panel to the frame;
  • A flashing that establishes a watertight junction between the panel and the rest of the roof.

In addition, there are electrical equipment, and in particular the inverter which transforms direct current into alternating current and supplies power to your home or the public electricity distribution network. The purchase price of a photovoltaic solar panel remains high, but decreases from year to year. In addition, financial aid is available to help you cover the cost of leaving.

How does a photovoltaic cell work?

Photovoltaic cells are electronic components capable of producing electricity from solar energy, and this thanks to the photovoltaic effect. Discovered in 1839 by Antoine Becquerel, this phenomenon is based on the behaviour of semiconductor materials when they receive solar radiation. 

Indeed, when the photons of sunlight come into contact with these particular materials, they transmit their energy to the electrons of the semiconductors which then generate an electric voltage. The semiconductor material most heavily used at present by manufacturers of photovoltaic modules remains silicon.

Can I install solar panels at home? 

To install photovoltaic solar panels, The ideal is to have a sunny roof slope with an inclination of 30 °. Photovoltaic is therefore a possible solution every sunny area. 

But beware, the installation of solar panels is a delicate operation: it is important to call on a qualified professional for installation and connection to the network. Mostly the companies and traders of solar panels provide the professionals to install solar system on the roof of your home or office or anywhere else.

How do you measure the performance of a photovoltaic panel?

The amount of electricity that a photovoltaic solar panel can produce during operation is measured by its peak power, a data provided by panel manufacturers. It corresponds to the power that a photovoltaic installation can deliver, under conditions of sunshine (1000 W per m²) and temperatures (25 ° C) optimal. 

To obtain an estimate of what this technology can bring you, depending on your personal situation and the specific characteristics of your home. 

You should know that the power actually emitted by a module will always be less than the figure indicated, since its efficiency will depend on many criteria: its location, the efficiency of its photovoltaic cells, its implementation, its orientation, its maintenance, etc. The choice of panel performance is therefore a very important criterion.

The power of solar panels

The main technical characteristic to know to judge the performance of a photovoltaic solar panel is its power (in kW). This depends on the material and the surface of the panels. The production power, on the other hand, determines the capacity of the solar panels to produce electricity under ideal conditions (inclination, sunshine, orientation, etc.).

What maintenance? 

Photovoltaic panels are reliable installations. However, a minimal maintenance is to be carried out regularly to check their good functioning, their efficiency and their power. This involves cleaning the panel modules and inspecting their general condition. This formality makes it possible to extend the life of your installation. Warning, this operation can be dangerous: very slippery modules can cause falls. It is therefore advisable to call in a qualified professional who is better able to carry out this maintenance in complete safety.

Find out more – Resell electricity or consume it on site?

It is not compulsory to resell the electricity produced with photovoltaic solar panels. You can store it on site in batteries, if you wish, and consume it directly to meet the needs of your household. 

Photovoltaic solar panels produce electricity that powers lighting and household appliancesSolar thermal panels produce heat directly that heats water (it’s called a solar water heater, and it can help heat an entire house).


Several energy specialists around the world say it loud and clear: photovoltaics has become a more reliable and profitable technique, in our climates, including for producing heat! For solar energy addicts, rather than having a solar thermal water heater on the one hand, and PV for electricity on the other hand, it is much smarter to power everything with PV, connected to the Hydro-Quebec network.


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