How Do Solar Panels Work?

Posted: July 9, 2020 Author: zach
How Do Solar Panels Work

Solar energy has become much more accessible and affordable in recent years. At the same time, both technical efficiency and manufacturing quality of solar panels has improved, which gives home owners a higher return on investment then in previous years. As a result, many homeowners are installing solar panels as a way to reduce their carbon footprint and save money while doing it.

But how exactly does a solar panel generate energy? This article will explain how solar energy is created using a solar panel and how the sun’s energy can be harnessed to power your home.

When exposed to sunlight, a solar panel will absorb the sunlight using its photovoltaic cells made of silicon. Photovoltaic cells form the backbone of a solar panel. On top of this layer of silicon cells sits a metal frame and the glass casing.

When these silicon cells get hit by direct sunlight, its electrons are set in motion, and this will ultimately initiate the flow of electric current. The process is referred to as the Photovoltaic effect. So the mechanism of energy production using solar panels generally revolve around the photovoltaic effect. The discovery dates back to 1839 by Edmond Becquerel. The process follows the following steps.

  • Absorption of solar radiation by silicon photovoltaic solar cells
  • Setting of electrons into motion which consequently produces an electric current.
  • The direct current is captured by the wires and fed into the solar inverter to get converted into alternating energy.

Besides the silicon cells, the glass casing as a component of the solar panel also plays a significant role. It offers protection to the silicon photovoltaic cells. This will make them more durable. Beneath the glass exterior of the panel, there is an insulation layer as well as a back sheet these acts as a protective barrier against heat dissipation and humidity which may occur inside a solar panel. If the outside temperature decreases, the efficiency of the solar panel will reduce, and this is why insulation is essential.

There is also an anti-reflective coating on the surface of the glass exterior of the solar panels. This helps in absorbing the maximum amount of sunlight allowing the silicon cells to generate the highest amount of electricity.

Generally, silicon cells are offered in two options—polycrystalline and monocrystalline cells. Monocrystalline cells are made from a solid and pure form of silicon which makes them very energy efficient. Polycrstalline solar cells on the other hand, are produced using fragments of silicon melted together. It presents a more affordable option to the homeowner, but the energy efficient and longevity of the panel is far inferior to monocrystalline cells.

Once you have settled on the best solar panel for your budget, you’ll have to find the best place to mount your panels. The roof of your house will usually be the best place for installing your solar panel in terms of generating the most amount of energy. It provides a wide surface area above the tree line, allowing it to gain maximum sun absorption throughout the day, allowing for higher energy production.

The performance will also depend significantly on climate. Homeowners in Northern regions see significantly less sunlight throughout the year, leading to lower energy yield. During rainy seasons, there will be much less sunlight reaching your solar panel. This will, in turn, reduce the rate of energy production.

So you can only expect maximum energy production during sunny days. It would help if you also took notice of the placement of the sun in the sky. During summer, the sun will be high in the atmosphere; hence more rays will be reaching your panel as compared to winter. Try to place your panels with a clear view of the southern sky in order to generate the most amount of energy throughout the year.

Besides the environmental factors, the performance of a solar panel will dramatically depend on the owner. If you happen to possess one, you should appropriately choose a place where you can easily access it, and it can have maximum sunlight as possible. Click here for more information about solar energy.