SOLAR PV PANELS: THE BASICS

Solar PV Panels or photovoltaic cells have the ability to transform captured sunlight into electricity. The term ‘photovoltaic’ comes from the process of changing light photons into voltage currents. This transformation is referred to as the PV effect. This special capability was revealed by scientists at Bell Telephone in 1954. They determined that silicon was able to create an electric charge if it is was exposed to the sun’s rays. Soon afterward, solar cells became commonplace in powering watches, calculators and even space satellites.

What are solar PV panels made from?

Typical solar cells are constructed from silicon. They are flat as this shape is the most effective. Second generation cells, also called thin-film cells are made using non-silicon or amorphous silicon such as cadmium telluride. Thin film cells are very flexible because their thickness is just a few micrometers. They can play double duty as rooftop tiles and shingles, skylight glazing or building facades.

What are the latest solar panels made from?

Current solar panel models, also called third generation cells, can be constructed with a variety of materials such as solar inks, conductive plastics, and solar dyes. Some newer solar cell technologies utilize plastic mirrors and lenses to focus sunlight on small pieces of high efficacy PV material. Although very expensive, since only a small amount of light is needed, it is very cost effective.

solar pv panels

How do solar panels operate?

Solar panels work by enabling light particles (photons) to hit electrons out from atoms. This generates an electricity flow or current. Solar panels are made up of many small components called photovoltaic cells. These are responsible for doing the conversion between sunlight into electrical currents. When many solar cells are connected, they are referred to as a solar panel.

What are photovoltaic cells made from?

Each and every photovoltaic resembles a sandwich; two slices of a semi-conducting material such as silicon. The top portion is layered with phosphorous which adds electrons to the negative charge. In the bottom layer, boron is added which has fewer electrons and has a positive charge.

How do photovoltaic cells work?

For solar cells to work, an electrical field needs to be established. Similar to a magnetic field, electric currents are established when opposing charges are divided. When a unit of sunlight (photon) frees an electron, the electric field in the silicon junction created by negative and positive charges (phosphorous and boron) will push out that particular electron.

A few other components within the solar panels such as metal conductive plates will collect these free electrons and transfer them onto wires. From here, the electrons will flow like electricity.

Where are solar panels used?

Today, solar panels are being increasingly used as environmentally-friendly, alternative, the source of energy. They have frequently seen crowning road signs, rooftops and even powering space crafts.

What are other types of solar power technology there?

Other solar power technologies that harness the power of the sun include concentrated solar power (CSP) and solar thermal. Both work differently from solar photovoltaic panels, but they need sunlight to create electricity.

To learn more about solar photovoltaic technology, contact PS Solar Systems.