This is Version 0.17 of the PV FAQ, written and maintained by H.E. Taylor,
last updated July 8, 2002.
The original document is archived at
The document is posted irregularly.
A FAQ is a question which gets asked in a newsgroup (in this case
often enough to be annoying or which is so controversial that it tends
to foster argument and thus stifle useful conversation.
A FAQ document is one way to maintain a tolerable signal to noise ratio.
Note that this document is divided into a FAQ [Frequently Asked Questions]
and a FQA [Frequently Questioned Answers].
In general I have opted for a 'storm of questions' format rather than an extended essay, because it is more interesting to me (Socratic dialog) and because it more closely matches the usual newsgroup interaction. Because this is an internet document, it is liable to be read by people of widely varying levels of knowledge, capability and perspective. My aim is to have a document which will be useful for everyone, but this makes defining scope difficult. It might therefore be useful to consider what this document is not. This FAQ does not cover Solar Thermal, generic Renewable Energy or Free Energy. Further, it is not my aim to teach all the background material necessary for a complete understanding -- material, such as basic electronics or quantum mechanics. Where these topics are covered by other FAQs or documents, I have supplied pointers to those other documents, if I know about them. Defining scope can also be difficult, because 'things are deeply intertwingled ', which I think one must take as a blessing, not a curse. It means however that certain topics are mentioned but not extensively explained. eg. the periodic table. Linking helps this somewhat.
Where there are matters of controversy I have indicated them so.
There is a section on acronyms and they are so convenient, that I have felt free to use them liberally. 'Photovoltaic' can get to be a mouthful, for example, so I usually alternate it with 'PV'.
I am not an engineer; I am not a physicist; I am not a lawyer; I am not an electrician; I am not in the photovoltaic industry; and I am not in the building trades. I cannot be responsible for what you do. If you're at all uncertain about what is correct or safe, contact someone qualified -- a licensed electrician, or a local electrical inspector. Where electricity is concerned, safety comes first. For the record, I am just a guy; but as Snoopy said, 'on the internet nobody knows you are a dog.'
It is entirely possible that this document contains errors. If you think that is so, I would appreciate your telling me 1) the error and 2) a reference to further and/or correct information on the matter. Disagreements on controversial topics should be posted to alt.solar.photovoltaic .
Certain particulars of photovoltaics depend greatly upon country. However, the aim here is to make this a globally useful document. I live in Canada and so my perspective may be (unavoidably) somewhat North American. If you have relevant information pertinent to other jurisdictions, please forward to the address in the footer.
Copyright (c) 2002 H.E. Taylor
Copyright on quoted material reverts to the original authors.
Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.1 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Section, with no Front-Cover Texts, and with no Back-Cover Texts. A copy of the license is included in the section entitled GNU Free Documentation License .
Last modified July 8, 2002
Questions about or problems with the document (eg. broken links) may be sent to -het
Disagreements or questions about PV are best posted to alt.solar.photovoltaic