Solar panels are seen as a revolution in the way that we generate electricity. As the fossil fuel industry continues to lose revenue and support every year, and as more companies and individuals begin to invest in solar alternatives, the overall cost of installing a solar array and plugging it into the main grid has never been cheap.
Fossil fuels are finite, amening that there will come a time within the next few decades where we won’t be able to rely on them to meet our ever-growing need for energy. The sun, however, is a stable and consistent source of heat and light that’s expected to carry on burning for the next 3 or so billion years, making it a uninterruptible way of always having energy available.
Here we will look at how solar panels take the energy from the sun and transform it into something that we can use.
The Basic Functionality of Solar Panels
The average, modern solar panels consist of a few different layers. These layers not only provide the support for the panel, as well as a means of protection from the elements, but also house the vital silicon cells that sit inside the casing, along with a number of wires that take the generated current away from the panel.
Silicon cells are the stars of the show: they’re a non-metal that has the unique ability to absorb sunlight and convert it into electricity which we can then use.
When a photon of light comes into contact with a silicon cell, electrons are at in motion, allowing for a current to be produced and pushed through a wire. This powerful effect is known as the, “photovoltaic effect” and it’s a term that’s extremely commonly used within the solar panel industry.
The cells themselves are almost always produced in two forms: polycrystalline and monocrystalline. The matter is made of a single silicon crystal, while the latter consist of many shards of silicon.
The mono type tends to be more efficient at generating electricity as the electrons tend to be able to move around more, but it also means a steep increase to the overall cost of production and might mean turning to totes betting to cover the cost.
The silicon cells are not extremely durable and need to be housed in a special case to keep them from breaking down over time. This is why it’s common for a layer of glass to be placed over the cells, giving the ability to absorb and convert sunlight without being exposed.
The glass on top also has a special coating that allows the maximum amount of sunlight to come through in order to increase productivity to its upper limit.
The bottom side of the panel is made out of a lighter metal, which helps keep the panel warm, as if it gets too cold too quickly, the efficiency of the panel can be reduced and lower the overall performance of the panel and how much power it is able to produce.