How Do Photo Voltaic Cells Work?
As ground breaking as advancements in solar panel technology appear, the idea of harnessing energy from the sun is by no means new. Solar power has been of interest to the scientific community since the late 1800’s. In fact the first working solar engine was built and demonstrated in 1897.
Think about the first time you saw a solar powered calculator. Now realize that the same solar power that made your calculator work is being used today to power homes and businesses. An increased understanding of solar energy, and the materials needed to use it has lead to the development of the solar panels that we see today. So how do they work?
Solar Panels or Photo Voltaic Cells utilize sunlight or solar radiation to create electricity. The solar radiation is composed of photons and light that carry a lot of potential energy as they speed towards earth from the sun. The panels themselves are built specifically to utilize the energy in these speeding photons to generate electricity.
The solar panel itself is composed of two major silicon parts, on top is a negatively charged silicon semiconductor, and the bottom of the panel is a positively charged silicon semiconductor. The placement of these two oppositely charged plates creates an electrical field between them. This field encourages electrons to flow in one direction from the positive silicon layer to the negative layer. The flow of electrons in one direction produces an electrical current. When the high-energy protons from sunlight strike the solar panel they facilitate an even greater disruption of electrons creating an even stronger current. The current in concert with the voltage from each cells electrical field results in the production of power. This power is encouraged by conductive plates to leave the solar panel in the form of a DC electrical current.
The DC electricity is then run through an inverter. The inverter converts the electricity into usable AC electricity. Many solar power users choose to have their switchboard changed to bi-directional when they are producing solar power. This is done because if the solar panel or panels produce more energy than a home or business needs, a bi-directional switchboard allows the excess energy to be sent in reverse to the power grid. Power companies will buy this excess energy from the home or business owner and re-distribute it to other electricity users. So that not only is the solar panel making free electricity, but it can also produce electricity that the system owner gets paid for!
123SolarPower wants to help you with all your solar needs. To see what switching to solar power can do for you today try using our solar savings calculator, or speak with one of our solar representatives for a custom analysis.