Solar Panels - How Do They Work?
Most people grapple with the question: "how do solar panels work"? If you are considering powering your home using solar energy, it is important that you understand what solar panels are made of, how they are assembled together and how they convert solar power into electricity that you can use to power your appliances.
Solar panels are made of photovoltaic cells, (PV), which are semiconductors made of silicon elements. Semiconductors are materials that conduct electricity only after there has been energy injected into them.
The photovoltaic cells work by converting solar energy into electricity. These cells are made of a positive and negative slice of silicon placed under a thin layer of glass. When protons from the sunlight come into contact with the PV cell, they knock off neutron in the silicon material. These negatively charged free neutrons get attracted to the silicon surface. However, they are trapped by a magnetic field that is created from the opposing fields. Small wires present on the silicon material trap the neutrons which when connected to a circuit result in the creation of electric energy.
In order to create a flow of electricity, you will need to have an electric field which is realized when you place a positive layer of silicon next to a negative layer of silicon. At this point, it is important to note that silicon by itself is electrically neutral hence to create the positive and negative layers; you have to add phosphorous to one sheet of silicon and boron to the other. This will result into the silicon sheet having an overall charge of both positive and negative terminals. Upon connecting the negative and positive sheets of silicon into your electric circuit, electrons will flow through the circuit resulting into creation of electricity.
This reaction however only results into the formation of Direct Current (DC), which must be converted into Alternating Current (AC) by passing it through an inverter. It is the produced AC current that is used to power your home appliances. During the conversion process, some of the energy is lost since the inverter is only about 95% efficient. Photovoltaic cells require little or no maintenance at all since once fixed, they are not often moved from place to place. This means that solar panels can have a lifespan of up to 40 years.
So, how can you use the generated electricity to power your appliances?
You can use solar energy in several ways around your home besides just powering. You can use it to heat your hot water, warm your pool or even heat your entire home if you are generating sufficient power for this. Better still, you can get a grid system, which means that besides powering your own home, you can also sell excess electricity back to the grid!
Solar energy is without a doubt the cleanest and most renewable source of electricity that you can use to power your home. The popularity and availability of solar power in homes is a testament to how versatile this source of energy is. In order to get the most out of your system, ensure that you mount your panels in a location where they receive the maximum exposure to sunlight. This is the most important step towards answering the question: how do solar panels work?