How do Solar Panels Work?
Solar energy has undeniably taken the world by storm. As manufacturing quality has improved and technical efficiency increased, the price of solar-powered products has dropped, making solar energy a hot ticket item for homeowners. However, with this influx inaccessibility, the question “how do solar panels work” has never been more relevant.
A Bit of Solar Panel History
Before solar panels landed on rooftops, their use was limited to billion-dollar spacecraft, due to their high cost and difficulty to manufacture. Their functionality involves utilizing sunlight to generate electricity. Particles of light, or photons, produce a flow of electricity by knocking electrons free from atoms—a process known as the “photovoltaic effect.” This was discovered in 1839 by Edmond Becquerel, who noticed that platinum and silver electrodes in an acidic solution create electricity when exposed to light. Years later, in 1954, scientists would harness this technology to create the first practical “solar cell.”
The Science of Solar Panels
Solar cells, otherwise known as photovoltaic cells, can be compared to sandwiches: They are made of two layers of materials such as silicon, which have conductive properties that enable the absorption and conversion of sunlight into electricity. When light interacts with these materials, electrons are set in motion, initiating an electric flow.
In order for photovoltaic cells to turn electrons into usable power, however, they must establish an electric field. Thus, manufacturers will give each “slice” or layer a negative or positive electrical charge, so the juncture between them becomes an electric field that pushes electrons out when photons knock them free. Conductive metal plates on the sides of each cell transfer these electrons to the wires of the solar panel.
How Solar Panels Work On Your Home
Standard panels are comprised of metal framing, a layer of silicon cells, wiring that permits current flow, and a glass casing. The panel’s wiring captures the direct current (DC) electricity and delivers it to a solar inverter, where it will be converted to usable alternating current (AC) electricity. This alternating current energy will flow through the electrical panel and be distributed throughout the home, powering most appliances and electronic devices. Any excess electricity produced during the process is fed to the electric grid.
Humless Southern Africa Can Help!
With a rise in environmental concern and their affordable cost, solar panels continue to gain momentum. In considering them as a viable energy solution for your home, it is important to first understand how solar panels work and the science that fuels them.
If you are looking to learn more about the function of solar power and solar products, contact Youth Power today!