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How Do Solar Panels Work

By January 14, 2015Blog

The idea of “solar revolution” gained huge popularity, especially in the context of the current fluctuating prices of the conventional energy sources. What makes the solar power so preferred is its abundance and relative permanence. The sun is one of the most reliable energy providers among the renewable sources.

In addition, you produce your own energy. The electricity will cost you less because it doesn’t get overpriced when sold by your local utility. Installing solar panels will not only cut your electrical bills, but it will also increase the value of your property. In a broader picture, it reduces the environmental pollution and serves as a hedge against the inflation of the electric costs. Of course, this type of energy production has a downside – it cannot be used when the sun sets down and it requires regular cleaning of the panels.

The Process

A solar powered home can generate almost all the energy to satisfy its needs with the help of solar photovoltaic panels. At the most basic level, the PV technology converts the solar energy into electricity.  All panels are covered with multiple layers of photovoltaic cells. They capture the photons emitted from the sunlight and transform it directly into electricity. The cells are semiconductor devices that incorporate a PN junction. This is a junction between negatively charged material with excess of electrons and a positively charged material that lacks electrons. When the speeding photons from the sunlight hit the junction, they free up the electrons and create an electrical current in the solar panel.

The Photons

The sunlight is composed by small elementary particles called photons. They are created in the Sun’s core. It takes millions of years to get to the surface of the star, but after that they reach the Earth for roughly eight minutes.

The Material

The most common semiconductor material is silicon. Generally, thicker layers provide the cells with higher electrical potential, but it also makes it difficult for the light to penetrate.  The silicon and crystalline in particular have specific chemical qualities that enhance the electrical current.  Its properties are due to the structure of its atom that fourteen electrons organized in three shells. The outer shell has only four electrons and will always try to fill the void by sharing electrons with four other atoms. This is how the crystalline structure is developed.

The downside is that silicon is not a very efficient conductor of electricity, because of the steady state of its electrons that cannot move freely. That is why the silicon atoms are mixed with other atoms, usually phosphorous ones. 

Maintenance of the Solar Panels

This is the key to keep the solar panels efficient and properly functioning for a longer time. Luckily they don’t require any huge efforts. Cleaning on a regular basis is a must. You can use standard cleaning products or purchase cleaners that are specifically designed for solar panels. Avoid sprinkling cold water over the solar energy system. Use a typical garden hose for cleaning the face of the panels.

Now when you know the process works, you can pick the proper solar system that will fit your lifestyle. Although, the technology bares improvements, the solar energy  provides huge possibilities for the energy production in the future.

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