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Solar technologies harvest the suns energy to create heat or power. The most commonly applied technology is Solar photovoltaic (PV).
Solar PV systems convert energy from the sun into electricity through semi-conductor cells. This system consists of semi-conductor cells connected together and mounted into modules. Modules are connected to an inverter to turn their direct current (DC) output into alternating current (AC) electricity for use in buildings. Photovoltaics supply electricity to the building, with unused energy either sold onto the grid, or stored in a battery for use in the building later.
PV systems require only daylight, not sunlight to generate electricity (although more electricity is produced with more sunlight), so energy can still be produced in overcast or cloudy conditions.
These systems use energy from the sun to heat water systems, rather that generating electricity. The panels or solar collectors heat water which transfers to your hot water cylinder, generating free hot water to supplement a heating system like a boiler or heat pump.
Solar PV-Thermal panels are combine PV and thermal technologies to provide a hybrid system that generates electricity and heat.