How Solar Panels Work

There is a limitless amount of solar power for the earth, a hundred and seventy-three thousand terawatts. This is so much energy than the planet’s population uses. Solar panels take advantage of the powerful and free source of energy – the sun. It converts the energy into clean electricity which is much more cost effective. The more the light received by the solar panels, the more the electricity that can be generated. This is how solar panels convert solar energy to electricity which is used to power our homes, businesses, and lifestyles.

Solar panels are comprised of smaller units called cells. Silicon, which is a semiconductor, is used to make up most of the common solar cells and is the second most abundant element on earth. Silicon is put between conductive layers of the solar cell. There are four bonds in the Silicon atoms which attach themselves to each other that keep the electrons in place so that no current can flow. Here is the key, there are two different layers that a solar cell uses: an N-type silicon which has extra electrons, a P-type silicon that has extra room for electrons referred to as holes. These two types of silicon meet across a P/N junction where the electrons drift across, leaving negative and postitive charges on either side. Light can be referred as the flow of tiny particles called photons, dashing out from the sun. When the silicon cell is struck with enough energy from the photons, it can strike an electron from its bond, leaving a hole. This makes the positively charged hole and the negatively charged electron, be free to move around. But they will only move one way because the P/N junction has an electric field. The N side draws the electron while the P side draws the hole. At the top of the cell, there are thin metal fingers that collect the mobile electrons. They then flow through an external socket doing electrical work such as powering a light bulb and then returning through the conductive sheet at the back. Every silicon cell makes up half a volt, but you can strain the cells together into modules to receive more power. Twelve photo-voltaic cells produce enough energy to charge a cell phone. Many more modules are required to power an entire house. In a solar cell, the only moving parts are the electrons which return from where they came from. Solar cells do not get used up or worn out, hence can last for decades.

Of course, there is much more.  This article serves as a quick overview. Watch the video for more;