How do Solar Panels Work? Check Out These Science Behind Solar
Solar panels are an essential invention that helps reduce our dependence on fossil fuels. They work by absorbing sunlight and converting it into electricity. The solar panel design determines how much energy it can produce. But there’s more to know about them than just efficiency. Would you please read this blog post for a detailed explanation of how solar panels work and why they’re such a fantastic technology?
How do Solar Panels Work?
It’s the perfect time of year to learn about Solar power, with all that blue sky and sunshine. It just feels good to unplug for a while and go green. Plugging back in is an easy thing if only we didn’t need wires for electricity. Something with some limitations that won’t work as well when the sun goes down, or clouds roll? That’s where science comes into play. Solar PV cells are like little electric puzzle pieces .they’re made from silicon that can absorb sunlight and convert it into energy by pushing electrons through metal contacts on them. Scientists have long known this conversion process works. But how exactly do these solar panels convert light into electrons?
The Science Behind Solar PV Cells
The material inside most standard solar panels is made of silicon, which is abundant, cheap, and very reactive. Electrons in the material can absorb photons (the particles that makeup sunlight) from the sun. The power of the photon knocks an electron loose in the silicon, freeing it to move around within the atom’s ‘orbit’ like a marble inside a maze. The electron will usually quickly seize an available slot in an existing wire but occasionally leave its old position and go down into another open hole at random. Leaving behind a spot for another electron to fill its vacancy.
While there are many different ways, scientists work on getting electrons out of their atoms to be helpful. Solar panels use “photovoltaic” cells, which split light into electrons and holes. A single photon of light isn’t enough to set it in motion. But when several photons hit a cell at once. They can together liberate enough electrons to power something as insignificant as a TV remote or as necessary as an electrical grid. That serves many homes.
Solar photovoltaic cells have an efficiency of about 15–20%, meaning that for every 100,000 sunlight photons hitting the surface of the solar panel technology. Only 1,500 can generate one electron capable of powering something. That’s impressive considering how much more energy that we can find in other wavelengths like infrared light. We can’t even detect with our eyes.
So why not just use infrared? The challenge is getting electricity from solar panels on a semi-permanent basis. Once the electrons from your solar PV cells get knocked loose, they need to find somewhere to go. Batteries are essentially chemical stores for an electric charge so that you can use the electricity collected when it’s sunny outside at night when it’s dark and cloudy out. Clever people have even figured out how to connect multiple solar panels in series, increasing their voltage and allowing them all to light up something more demanding like a television or microwave oven.
Whether building a small DIY project or making an effort to live a greener, learning about how solar panels work is an easy way for curious kids and adults alike to begin to understand the science behind our energy sources.