All You Need To Know On How Solar Panels Work

How Solar Panels Work

The solar panels that you typically see on residential homes are known as Photovoltaic Solar Panels. “Photo” stands for light, and voltaic which is associated with electricity. PV or Photovoltaic panels are what convert light into an electrical energy.

About The Photoelectric Effect

The PV solar panels are able to produce electricity using what is known as the “photoelectric effect.” This “photoelectric effect” was noted for the first time by Edmund Bequerel, a French physicist in the year 1839. He found that certain types of materials were able to produce small electric currents when they were exposed to light.

PV solar panels use the same principal. The first of the practical applications of these PV solar panels were utilized in the 1960s on a space craft. The years that followed, this technology improved with the panels becoming cheaper and smaller. Today the solar panels have become efficient and affordable enough to be used domestically in pretty much any home, business and of course large commercial buildings according to Brisbane Solar Panels.

Solar Cells

A solar cell is a small device that is able to convert sunlight into a form of electricity. A single cell only provides a small power amount. But when several cells are connected together and then fixed into a frame they make up a module or solar panel that is able to produce a useful and larger power amount. When a number of these panels are connected, it results in what is known as a solar array.

How Does A Solar Panel Work?

In simple terms solar cells work in the following way: inside solar cells are 2 wafer-thin silicon crystal layers. They are positioned on top of one another to form a type of silicon-sandwich. The layer on the top is specially treated making the atoms unstable, featuring an additional electron that it wants to get rid of. The layer on the bottom, is also treated but this layer features atoms with empty spaces for electrons.

The top layer is designed to lose electrons, while the bottom layer is designed to gain electrons. This particular set-up is designed for the production of electricity. However, the electrons inside the silicon crystal are unable to move freely until they have been exposed to sunlight.

When sunlight exposure hits the first silicon layer, the electrons are activated and provided with enough energy so that they can move. This cause the electrons in the top layer to flow down to the bottom layer. As these electrons begin to move in one direction they produce electricity. When 2 metal contacts are placed on each side of this silicon sandwich, electricity starts to move through the circuit.

The last step involved in this process involves: electricity which is generated from the PV solar cells are known as DC or direct current. While electricity inside the home is AC or alternating current. This means currents produced from a solar-panel system needs to travel though what is known as an inverter, so that the electricity can be converted from DC to AC. This process needs to occur before the electricity can flow through into a home and used for purposes such as running appliances.

Types Of Solar Cells

• Single-Crystal Cells

These cells are manufactured in cylinders and then cut up into very thin wafers. While these processes use a lot more materials and are energy-intensive they produce cells of the highest-efficiency. Modules constructed out of single-crystal cells are able to produce efficiencies of around 23{c68fa5c1063e1dc392164121c92ecf5f8b618906daf82352e5fca61c95565856}.

• Polycrystalline Cells

These cells are made up of molten silicon that is cast into an ingot and then cut up into squares. Production costs may be lower, but the cells efficiency levels are also lower, with the top modules producing around 20{c68fa5c1063e1dc392164121c92ecf5f8b618906daf82352e5fca61c95565856}.

• Thin Film Cells

This involves depositing or spraying materials such as cadmium-telluride or amorphous silicon onto a metal or glass surface in a thin film, which results in an entire module in one go. This approach offers a lower efficiency but far lower costs.

In previous years, the majority of PV panels were utilized for off-grid purposes to power homes located in a remote location, water pumps, road signs and cell-phone towers. However, in more recent years the technology of solar-power has gone onto experience significant growth in countries like the U.S, where power flows into the electricity-grid.