What is Solar PV?

A Solar Photovoltaic system typically consists of three parts.

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Solar modular panels.

Each panel consists of many separate photovoltaic cells connected together in one unit. Each cell uses silicon based semi-conductors to convert daylight into electricity. Silicon is the eighth most common element found in the universe and is widely used in everything from glass to computer micro-chips. A group of panels making up a system is called an array. When installed, solar panels make no noise, have no emissions and are virtually maintenance free over their life of 25 years or more. The electricity they generate could be considered both renewable and free.

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The inverter

collects the direct current (DC) produced by the solar array and converts it to alternating current (AC) which we use in our homes, and industry. The inverter additionally controls the array ensuring that it is always operating at the correct voltage and immediately shutting the system down safely if any fault is detected. The inverter displays the output of the system both locally and remotely if required. In a typical installation the system is frequently generating more electricity than you are using in your home, farm or factory in which case the surplus electricity is "exported” out of the system onto the National Grid. At night, or when your demand for electricity is greater than the amount your solar PV system is generating, you simply import the additional electricity you need to meet your demand.

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The mounting system

is the structure which supports the panel array and is often the most overlooked element in the overall project design. It may be on the roof of a building, or free standing on the ground. It must be strong enough to support not only the weight of the panels but also the weight of the maximum depth of snow envisaged as well as resisting the maximum wind loading for the location plus the additional dynamic wind loading created by the building or roof profile. Large agricultural and industrial buildings can "move” quite substantially as a result of temperature change, snow weight or high wind loading. The mounting system must be able to accommodate this movement on a daily basis without stress and the need for constant maintenance.

The mounting system must be completely corrosion resistant and capable of supporting the installation for 25 years or more.

The mounting system must also provide security against the possible theft of the high value panels through the use of innovative tamper proof fixings and similar anti-theft devices. Westflight – Security can offer additional security for both the solar installation and the wider area as required. Finally, when the installation is sited on a roof it is very important to ensure that the mounting system components and their design layout minimise the possibility of debris like leaves or branches becoming trapped underneath the panels and requiring access onto the roof for cleaning. On steep roofs Westflight can additionally fit snow guards along the lower edge of the roof which prevent large quantities of thawing snow from suddenly sliding off and causing damage to guttering, conservatories or people below.

The Westflight stainless steel and aluminium mounting system is widely acknowledged to fulfill all of these requirements and be one of the most extensively used roof mounting systems throughout Europe.

For large ground mounted systems we use galvanised steel frames and stainless steel fixings. Our ground mounted system components are guaranteed for 25 years.

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