Science Explained: How Do Solar Panels Work?

Did you know that the first functional solar cell was invented in 1954?

Science Explained: How Do Solar Panels Work?

While people are becoming more familiar with renewable energy and alternative energy sources, few people are aware of the underlying physics and chemistry of this. Therefore, if you're interested in solar panel installation, it's critical to understand the underlying science of how it all works.

Keep on reading for our full breakdown of how solar energy works and the nuances of its main component, solar PV cells.

Solar PV Cells and Their Inner-Workings

Solar PV panels are made up of a large number of tiny photovoltaic cells, each of which is capable of converting sunlight into energy. To produce an electric field, semi-conductive materials must comprise these cells.

The best of these materials is silicon. It can conduct electricity while maintaining an electrical imbalance.

To generate an electric field, the solar cell contains both positively and negatively charged semiconductors. Photons are ejected from the solar PV cell when sunlight strikes the semiconductor. These photons then knock free electrons, which float about freely in the cell.

Electrons are steered into the cell's conductive metal plates by an electric field. This creates a magnetic field. The current is then guided through wires.

It enables the electrons to flow as they would in any other electric generating source. That is until they strike released metal plates. The intensity of this flow, known as the energy current, defines the amount of power that each cell can generate.

Most people rely on alternating current (AC) rather than direct current (DC) energy generated by solar panels to power their homes and other structures. The inverter's job is to convert DC power to AC for regular use. A network of cables transports the electricity generated by the solar panel to the inverter.

The electrical panel (also known as a breaker box) is where the electricity is delivered once converted into a useable form (AC power). From there, it is dispersed throughout the building as required. Solar energy now powers lights, appliances, and other electrical items.

Electricity flows into and out of your home via a utility meter. Through the utility meter, it returns unused power to the utility grid. If your solar energy system generates more power than you use on-site, the meter reverses, and you get credit for the surplus electricity produced through net metering.

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When your solar array isn't generating, you'll need to draw some electricity from the grid at night. However, most of this grid energy will be offset by the extrasolar energy generated during the day and during times of reduced demand. Consuming this meter, you can make the solar array work regularly even when using more power than it is producing.

Solar Panel Installation: Understanding How Solar Panels Work

First, sunlight activates the panels.

During daytime hours, solar cells, also known as photovoltaic cells, absorb sunlight. There are layers of silicon cells, metal frames, a unique film-coated glass case, and wiring in each panel. Professionals recommend putting the panels in “arrays” (in ordered sequence) to get the best results.

Cells Create Electrical Current

Solar cells that employ photovoltaic technology convert light energy into electricity by releasing electrons from atoms in the semiconductor wafer. You'll find two silicon layers between two layers of a semiconductor wafer in each solar cell. An electric field is created when one layer is positively charged, and the other is negative.

The electric field around the wafer causes the electrons to move, resulting in an electrical current.

Conversion of Electrical Energy

You now have solar panels operating effectively to convert sunlight into energy. But, the electricity created is known as direct current (or DC) electricity. It's not the sort of electricity that powers most houses, sadly enough.

An inverter is a device that converts DC power into AC electricity. Individual microinverters may be added to each solar panel. Your other choice would be going for a single inverter that can power the whole system.

Solar Energy Powers Your Home

Solar energy powers all of your home's appliances that have been transformed from DC (direct current) into AC (alternating current).

Because it operates in the same manner as the grid-supplied electricity, there are no modifications required on your end. You can take more energy from the grid to compensate for any solar power shortfalls since you're hooked up to your utility provider. And, you should try Blue Raven Solar if you're in Arlington, Texas.

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NET Meter Measures Your Usage

It is possible that your solar shingles or panels may not be able to catch enough sunlight on cloudy days. The same rule applies to nighttime. On the contrary, they may be able to gather extra energy during the day when no one is home, resulting in a surplus of energy for your house.

If you have extra electricity that you don't use, your energy provider may give you credit for it. Net metering is the term for this. Because of this, the meter measures the electricity going to and from your house.

Going Green: Understanding Solar Renewable Energy

When you've learned the principles of solar energy, you can marvel at how today's photovoltaic technology can harness the sun's electricity to run a house. Human creativity at its finest, even if it isn't precisely cutting-edge science. We hope that our guide on how solar energy all works has encouraged you to consider solar panel installation as part of your going green strategy.

Suppose you're still feeling shaky about the details. In that case, you should check out our technology and energy sections for all of our other tips and explainers that shed light (pun intended) on the underlying science of powering non-renewable and renewable energy sources.

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