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PV Sizing Info

The first step to sizing a PV system is to determine the Watt hours (Wh) of electricity you use per day. You can determine the wattage of your appliances by looking at the device for a label that gives you watts consumed. If it does not tell you the watts, it will tell you the ampere draw and input voltage, and simply multiply these together to get the Watts it consumes.

Next, you need to determine how long each device runs every day. For some devices you can just use a timer. Another good way of determining Wh for AC devices is a nifty little product (one popular version is known as the KillaWatt) that plugs inline with the device to tell you how many hours a day it runs and how many watts it draws.

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About Photovoltaics

The subject of Photovoltaics (PV) is also commonly referred to as "solar power" or "solar electric," but for simplicity's sake, we will refer to solar power as PV in this article.

Solar Module Basics

A solar panel or module is compromised of PV cells arranged in different series and/or parallel configurations to provide different voltage and current outputs. These cells form modules, commonly referred to as panels. The modules are typically rigid, but thin-film modules can be incorporated into flexible designs. The front of the module uses glass or another composite to protect the precious cells from the elements. The back of the module can be plastic, wood, metal, glass or composite. The frame can be composed of metal, plastic, composite, wood and there are even some frameless designs. PV modules can be arranged together to form PV arrays. These arrays are usually mounted to rooftops, ground mount systems, the tops of poles, orbiting satellites, or anywhere else they can receive precious photons.

Read more: About Photovoltaics