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How do Solar Panels Work?

July 8, 2021

Solar panels are those flat rectangular panels or sometimes cylinder-shaped objects that capture solar energy. You see them mounted on the rooftops, and you may even have used energy from them in your house.

But do you understand the science behind solar panels and how they work? How these devices take in the solar energy and convert it to usable energy? Let’s see in detail.

Solar Panel Structure

In the earlier period, solar panels production was for providing energy in space. Scientists tried to find ways to make them both lightweight and durable, but that was unattainable then. It was challenging to cut the selenium waffles into just the right size because there was no laser-cutting technology.

Fast forward to the present day, the primary material that makes up solar panels is silicon. Not only is it easier to handle, but it also converts the energy into electricity efficiently. Modern photovoltaic cells comprise

  • Front and back electrical contacts
  • Glass
  • Anti-reflective coating
  • P-type layer
  • N-type silicon base
  • P-N junction
  • Back surface field
  • Aluminum contact
  • Polymer back sheet

Silicon is the perfect material for constructing solar panels because it is naturally available, lasts long, and converts light into electricity.

How solar panel works infographic

Absorption

The main component of the sun’s light that is essential for electricity production is called a photon. Photons are minute particles that have electromagnetic radiation waves. Light is made up of photons, which is why you place solar sheets in the open space.

When the sun shines, the photons hit the panel’s surface. The board then absorbs the energy into the PV cells. Manufacturers have to use silicon that has been treated using a nanoengineered reflective coating to ensure that a minimum of 96.21% of the sun’s rays that shines on it is absorbed. Failure to do so results in less energy absorbed.

This technology also reduces the need to use automated panels that move slowly during the day to face the sun. Panels absorb the light from any angle regardless of the time of the day.

Once the light is captured, the anti-reflective layer keeps it from bouncing back out, allowing it to move into the solar cell.

Energy Production

The material within the panels has electrons that are essential for activating solar energy into electricity.

Once the semiconducting silicon material absorbs the rays, the photons begin moving within the panel. The electrons in the silicon facilitate this process. Each cell within the panel has two silicon layers that are positively and negatively charged.

As soon as the movement begins, the panels start producing direct current.

While you can choose to use one module, which will only be efficient in producing electricity that can light your bulb and charge your phone, you can opt for multiple modules. These will capture more light, which means that you will harvest more electricity that you can use to power your entire home.

The technician can use parallel and series arrangements, depending on the current combination and voltage you want to achieve for your home.

Conversion

An inverter is essential for the completion of this step. This device makes it easy to convert the direct current, which is raw and untamed, into an alternate current. AC is the processed energy that is used in the home.

Using the direct current before it is converted can damage your appliances and other gadgets at home. Your provider will do some special wiring that will facilitate the conversion from DC  to AC.

Usage

You can use solar energy in your home for multiple functions. You can power up your devices, use them to heat water, light bulbs, and even cook your favourite meal in the oven. However, the amount of energy you produce is directly proportional to what you can it the power for. If you do not have a high voltage, the electricity will not support some gadgets that consume a high power voltage.

On a bright, sunny day, you will enjoy high amounts of energy production. It is advisable to use high-voltage machines on such days because the energy production is at its highest. However, you may need to scale down on your electricity consumption on cold and cloudy days.

Electricity Monitoring

One of the items that come with electricity installation is a meter. It enables you to monitor how much energy you consume weekly or even monthly. A meter helps you manage your expenses because you learn how to conserve energy in multiple ways.

Now, if you have a solar panel that produces limited energy, a meter will work the same way.  It helps you monitor the days you consume a lot of it and those when you skim on your electricity usage.

And on those days when the electricity production is surplus, and there is no one to use it, the solar electricity produced goes back into your utility company’s grid. The net meter helps you track how much energy went out and what was used. This helps you get free units from your utility company, a system that’s known as net metering.

Conclusion

Solar is one of the cleanest sources of energy. The only stage in the solar energy creation cycle that produces waste is the production stage when the panels are being assembled. PV systems are expensive to install, especially when you want high-grade, long-lasting ones.

However, they reduce your electricity bill, especially if you install powerful ones the churn out high voltage power. Before installing solar panels, you have to consider a few things:

  • How much open space do you have for solar installation?
  • How much sunshine coverage do you receive annually?
  • Are there any other clean energy options that would thrive better than a solar panel?
  • How much shade surrounds your home?
  • How much money are you willing to spend to install the system?

Are you planning to install solar panels on your property? Once you have accurate answers to these questions, you can successfully set up your panels and begin enjoying cheap

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