Solar panels convert solar energy to electrical energy… that’s it. Yup that’s the big secret! You probably already knew this but maybe you wanted to get an idea of the actual process, so read on!
In order to get a better idea of how solar panels work we have to look into the pieces that make up a solar panel. So, let’s dive straight into learning what pieces make up a solar panel!
A solar panel is a panel composed of smaller units called solar cells. These solar cells are arranged into groups on the solar panel. In most solar panels it is common to see groupings of 12 solar cells per one panel.
Solar cells are also made up of different parts, three to be exact. These three parts are two glass crystals and a piece of silicone. Altogether they form the perfect sandwich for capturing photons from the sun. As soon as photons hit the surface of the panel, the silicone acts as a semiconductor and creates an electrical field between the two pieces of crystal.
In a solar cell, crystal and silicone is sandwiched between conductive layers. Solar cells are arranged to split one side of the solar panel into holding a positive charge, and the other holding a negative charge.
When the photons strike the surface of the panel they cause the electrons hanging out in the electrical field to move away from their home (the silicone). Usually the electrons move out towards the end of the cells. The electrons are then collected by thing metal wires at the top of the cell. From there they flow through an external circuit which is used to power things in your solar powered home.
As of now each silicone cell puts out 1/2 a volt, this is actually why we combine so many into a solar panel, to get more juice with as much space as we can. Because there are no moving parts, solar cells can last for decades. With advances in solar panel technology, the life of solar panels will continue to expand for years to come.
To learn how solar energy arrives on Earth, check out our previous article here ==> Solar Energy