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Standalone systems

Main article: Stand-alone photovoltaic power system

Solar powered parking meter.
A standalone system does not have a connection to the electricity "mains" (aka "grid"). Standalone systems vary widely in size and application from wristwatches or calculators to remote buildings or spacecraft. If the load is to be supplied independently of solar insolation, the generated power is stored and buffered with a battery. In non-portable applications where weight is not an issue, such as in buildings, lead acid batteries are most commonly used for their low cost. A charge controller may be incorporated in the system to:[citation needed] a) avoid battery damage by excessive charging or discharging and, b) optimizing the production of the cells or modules by maximum power point tracking (MPPT).[citation needed] However, in simple PV systems where the PV module voltage is matched to the battery voltage, the use of MPPT electronics is generally considered unnecessary, since the battery voltage is stable enough to provide near-maximum power collection from the PV module. In small devices (e.g. calculators, parking meters) only direct current (DC) is consumed. In larger systems (e.g. buildings, remote water pumps) AC is usually required. To convert the DC from the modules or batteries into AC, an inverter is used.[citation needed]

A schematic of a bare-bones off-grid system, consisting (from left to right) of photovoltaic module, a blocking-diode to prevent battery drain during low-insolation, a battery, an inverter, and an AC load such as a fluorescent lamp

off-grid PV system with battery charger
Solar vehicles
Main article: Solar vehicle
Ground, water, air or space vehicles may obtain some or all of the energy required for their operation from the sun. Surface vehicles generally require higher power levels than can be sustained by a practically-sized solar array, so a battery is used to meet peak power demand, and the solar array recharges it. Space vehicles have successfully used solar photovoltaic systems for years of operation, eliminating the weight of fuel or primary batteries.[citation needed]

Small scale DIY solar systems
With a growing DIY-community and an increasing interest in environmentally friendly "green energy", some hobbyists have endeavored to build their own PV solar systems from kits [4] or partly diy.[5] Usually, the DIY-community uses inexpensive [6] or high efficiency systems[7] (such as those with solar tracking) to generate their own power. As a result, the DIY-systems often end up cheaper than their commercial counterparts.[8] Often, the system is also hooked up into the regular power grid to repay part of the investment via net metering. These systems usually generate power amount of ~2 kW or less. Through the internet, the community is now able to obtain plans to construct the system (at least partly DIY) and there is a growing trend toward building them for domestic requirements. The DIY-PV solar systems are now also being used both in developed countries and in developing countries, to power residences and small businesses.[citation needed]

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