How Solar Panels Work

If you are one of those individuals who aren’t buying anything unless they know exactly how one thing works, then you probably do not own solar panels yet. There has been a lot of talk regarding solar energy for the past few years now and almost every fifth grader, as well as any average, reasonable person, knows that using solar energy is good for the environment. It reduces the use of fossil fuels which emit harmful greenhouse gases. 

But how exactly does it turn radiation into useable form energy?
Converting solar radiation to electricity uses the photovoltaic process. In a nutshell, the radiation energy which solar panels capture, which is in the form of photons, is used to create electricity which is measured in volts. Semi-conductor cells which are usually made up of silicon absorb radiation from the sun. Upon the absorption of solar rays, photons collide with and displace silicon electron. The electron that is knocked off is what generates electric current. The current is then converted from direct current (DC) to alternative current (AC) with the help of an inverter. The inverter is connected to an electricity grid or the main power of the house.

Types of Solar Panels

Crystalline Silicon. This kind of solar panel is made up of layers of refined silicon and glass sheets with a metal frame surrounding every panel. Crystalline silicon solar panels are the most popular and majority of the houses and structures that make use of solar energy make use of this kind of solar panels. This type of solar panel was developed around fifty years ago and was first utilized to generate electricity in satellites deployed in space. Crystalline silicon solar panels have a photovoltaic efficiency of 18 percent in that it can convert 18 percent of the solar radiation that it absorbs into useable form of energy. Because this type of panel was developed during the infantile stages of solar energy technology, crystalline silicon panels are bulkier and more expensive than its newer counterparts.
Thin Film. The newest type of solar panels is the thin film variety. Less bulky and more affordable, thin film solar panels work the same way as crystalline silicon solar panels only that they do not require as much space as the latter. A subtype is the amorphous silicon with shapes that can be reconfigured so that they can be used on roofs as well as walls. While homeowners are afforded a lot of options, aesthetic-wise, should they use thin film solar panels, this type only has a photovoltaic efficiency of 8 percent.

Author Bio:
Jamie Press is an active environmentalist who believes in the power of renewable energy sources. He writes several interesting articles about commercial solar power.
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