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Solar Photovoltaic System Design Basics for Beginners

Learn the basics of solar photovoltaic system design for beginners. Explore key components, types of solar panels, and steps to create an efficient PV system.

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    Welcome to the dynamic world of solar energy! If you’re DIY homeowner a PV installer, an EPC, or a construction company looking to delve into the realm of solar, we, at SolarPlanSets, are here to make things easier. Our core expertise lies in offering top-notch solar drafting services, providing PV-Only Plan Sets, Solar + Energy Storage Plan Sets, and Standby Generator Plan Sets to help streamline your business operations.

    Understanding Solar Photovoltaic Systems

    The solar photovoltaic system design basics entail understanding the system’s key components and their role in converting sunlight into electricity. The primary components include:

    • PV Modules: PV modules, commonly referred to as solar modules, are interconnected solar cells encapsulated and packaged for ease of installation and use.
    • Charge Controller: It controls the voltage and current coming from the solar panels and prevents overcharging of the batteries.
    • Battery Bank: This is where the generated electricity is stored for use when sunlight is not available.
    • Grid Tie Systems: Also known as grid-tied systems, these solar systems are connected to the local electric grid. They allow for the use of solar energy during the day and electricity from the grid during nights or overcast days.
    • Inverter: This device converts the stored DC electricity into alternating current (AC), a form of electricity used by most household appliances.

    Solar Panels

    Solar panels, the backbone of any solar photovoltaic system, contain numerous solar cells that convert sunlight into usable power. With an average lifespan of 25-30 years, they offer long-term, sustainable energy production. Solar panels:

    • Harness sunlight and convert it into direct current (DC) electricity
    • Comprise silicon cells, metal framing, and glass casing
    • Require little maintenance and offer high durability

    PV Modules

    PV modules are a step up from individual solar cells. They provide enhanced efficiency and easier installation. Assemblies of PV modules are weather-resistant and designed for outdoor use. Notably, PV modules:

    • Consist of interconnected solar cells
    • Are encapsulated and packaged for optimal durability and convenience
    • Facilitate quicker and easier system setup

    Charge Controller

    The charge controller is a key component that regulates the power going from the solar panels to the battery bank. It’s a crucial element in protecting the longevity of the system. The role of the charge controller:

    • Control voltage and current from the solar panels
    • Prevent overcharging, which can damage and shorten the lifespan of batteries
    • Facilitate efficient battery charging by providing the appropriate charge levels

    Battery Bank

    A battery bank stores the electricity generated by the solar panels for use when needed, such as during nighttime or cloudy days. It ensures a continuous supply of energy even when the sun is not shining. Battery banks:

    • Store surplus energy produced during daylight hours
    • Supply power during periods of low solar production or high energy demand
    • Are sized according to the system’s energy needs and days of autonomy

    Learn more about our solar plus energy design plans.

    Grid Tie Systems

    Grid-tie systems provide the best of both worlds – the reliability of grid power and the sustainability of solar energy. They offer a practical and flexible solar solution, especially in urban areas. Grid-tie systems:

    • Connect directly to the local electric grid
    • Allow the use of solar power during the day and grid power at night
    • Feed excess solar power back to the grid, potentially earning credits


    The inverter is an indispensable part of the solar PV system. It converts the DC electricity generated by the solar panels or stored in the batteries into AC electricity used by standard appliances. An inverter:

    • Converts DC to AC, making solar-generated electricity usable for everyday appliances
    • Is selected based on the system’s total power output requirements
    • Ensures the safe and efficient operation of the solar PV system

    Want to learn more in-depth about solar? Check out these further readings:

    The Step-by-Step Designing of a Solar PV

    Creating a solar PV system is more than just an assemblage of solar panels. It involves precise planning, with a careful steps in designing the system to achieve optimal power output. Here’s a brief guide:

    1. Assess Energy Needs: The first step is to assess your client’s energy consumption, helping you decide the system size.
    2. Choose a Suitable Solar Panel: The type and number of solar panels are based on the electricity requirements and available space.
    3. Decide on the Battery Bank Size: The battery bank should be capable of providing days of autonomy, i.e., the number of days the system can meet energy needs without sunshine.
    4. Select the Appropriate Charge Controller and Inverter: These should be compatible with the chosen solar modules and battery bank.
    5. Draft the Solar PV System Design: This is where we come in, providing expert solar system design basics with all the load calculations.

    PV Basics FAQ

    Here are the top questions we get asked about photovoltaic (PV) system design. Don’t see your question answered? Feel free to reach out to our support team.

    What is photovoltaic (PV) technology?

    Photovoltaic (PV) technology refers to the process of converting sunlight into electricity using solar cells. These cells are made from semiconductor materials that absorb photons and release electrons, creating a flow of electricity.

    How do PV solar panels work?

    PV solar panels work by capturing sunlight and converting it into electricity. They contain solar cells made of semiconductor materials, which generate an electric current when exposed to sunlight. This current is then used to power electrical devices or stored in batteries for later use.

    What are the different types of PV solar panels?

    There are three main types of PV solar panels: monocrystalline, polycrystalline, and thin-film. Monocrystalline panels are made from a single crystal structure, while polycrystalline panels consist of multiple crystal structures. Thin-film panels use a thin layer of semiconductor material on a substrate.

    What are the advantages of using PV solar energy?

    Some advantages of using PV solar energy include:

    • Renewable and sustainable energy source
    • Reduces dependence on fossil fuels
    • Lowers greenhouse gas emissions
    • Low operating and maintenance costs
    • Can be installed in remote areas without access to the grid

    How much do PV solar panels cost?

    The cost of PV solar panels varies depending on the type of panel, the size of the system, and the location of the installation. On average, residential solar panel systems can range from $15,000 to $25,000 before incentives and rebates.

    How long do PV solar panels last?

    PV solar panels typically have a lifespan of 25-30 years. However, their efficiency may decrease over time due to factors such as weathering and degradation. Most manufacturers offer warranties for 20-25 years, ensuring that the panels maintain a certain level of performance during that time.

    Can I install PV solar panels on my roof?

    Yes, you can install PV solar panels on your roof, provided that it has enough space, the right orientation, and can support the weight of the panels. It’s essential to consult with a professional solar installer to determine if your roof is suitable for a solar installation.

    What factors affect the efficiency of PV solar panels?

    Some factors that affect the efficiency of PV solar panels include:

    • Sunlight intensity
    • Temperature
    • Angle of the panels
    • Dust and debris on the panel surface
    • Age of the panels

    Are there any incentives or rebates available for installing PV solar panels?

    Yes, there are various incentives and rebates available for installing PV solar panels, depending on your location. These can include federal tax credits, state and local incentives, and utility company rebates. It’s essential to research and take advantage of these programs to reduce the cost of your solar installation.

    How much electricity can a PV solar system generate?

    The amount of electricity generated by a PV solar system depends on factors such as the size of the system, the amount of sunlight it receives, and the efficiency of the solar panels. On average, a 5 kW residential solar system can generate approximately 6,000-8,000 kWh of electricity per year.

    Read More: Factors to Consider When Designing a PV Design


    As the world shifts towards greener energy sources, being equipped with solar photovoltaic system design basics is a significant advantage. However, effective solar PV system design requires expertise and precision.

    At SolarPlanSets, we offer expert solar drafting services, providing comprehensive plan sets that make the process seamless. If you are a business owner aiming to streamline, reduce costs, and make scalability pain-free, look no further. Reach out to us today and let us guide you on this solar journey. Let’s harness the power of the sun together, one plan set at a time.

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