It’s still quite magical how we can harness energy from the sun’s rays alone. Let’s turn that magic into science by explaining the process. Here are the 4 stages to how solar panels work.
We all know the sun’s light contains energy. We’ve been burned by it at the beach. it’s made our eyes tear up when we stare at it for too long. Certain materials such as crystal and silicon can actually absorb this energy. This is a property known as the photoelectric effect that causes them to absorb photons of light and release electrons.
Stage 2 – Solar cells
For most of us, this next stage is most easily explained as “magic.” A solar cell is a thin semi-conductor wafer specifically treated to form an electric field.
Its positive on one side and negative on the other and electrical conductors are attached to either side to form a circuit. This circuit then captures the released electrons in the form of an electric current.
Stage 3 – photovoltaic module (AKA solar panel)
A module is a collection of cells that are electrically connected to one another. These cells are then mounted into a support structure or frame.
Stage 4 – creating usable solar power
Photovoltaic panels produce direct-current (DC) electricity, but most of us need AC (alternating current) to power our everyday gadgets and lights. An inverter is therefore required to convert DC to AC. Don’t worry it’s not a catch. Once set up, a solar system can cleanly and renewably power something as small as light built to as large as a house.