How Do Solar Panels Work?

Electromagnetic radiation comes in many different forms. Visible light, radio waves, microwaves and X-rays are all examples of it. Sunlight is one form of electromagnetic radiation. We call sunlight “solar energy” because the sun emits solar radiation throughout the day to heat up our planet and provide us with light.

Discovering solar energy

While solar energy may seem like a relatively new concept, it’s power was discovered nearly two centuries ago. Solar cells, or photovoltaic (PV) cells, are one of the most important inventions of the 20th century. They were first discovered in 1839 by Edmond Becquerel and later perfected by three scientists: Alexander Stoletov, Charles Fritts and finally Heinrich Hertz.

Solar panels generate electricity

A regular solar cell is made of two layers of semi-conducting material, usually silicon. One layer is treated with phosphorous, giving the layer a negative charge, while the other is treated with boron which gives it a positive charge. It’s imperative to have these opposite charges to create an electric field. When sunlight hits the solar cell, it causes electrons to move out of their normal position in the atoms. This movement creates a voltage between the positive and negative sides of the solar cells that depends on how much light hits them. The higher the intensity (lumens and watts) of the light, the greater the voltage produced in the solar cells.

The direct current (DC) electricity created in this way needs to be converted into alternating current (AC) which is the electricity most commonly used by appliances today. A solar inverter will automatically transform DC into AC electricity. The current is then sent to the breaker box which will distribute the electricity to power appliances in your home. 

Solar is renewable energy

While there are many sources of energy, most have some sort of negative impact on the environment. Coal is one example with its high carbon dioxide emissions. When coal and natural gas are burned to generate electricity, carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere causing harmful air pollution. The burning of fossil fuels are one of the leading causes of climate change. Solar panels produce clean and renewable energy that does not contribute to 

The process is completely sustainable as well because sunlight is unlimited. Solar panels ability to absorb sunlight and utilize the sun’s energy to eventually create ac electricity is indeed one of the most important discoveries we’ve come across, and the solar industry is just getting started in a world of endless possibilities.

What’s a solar panel made of?

Solar panels are made up largely of silicone. While solar panels themselves will need to be replaced periodically since they become less effective as they age, silicon is one of the most largely abundant resources on earth. Plus, an entire solar array can last up to 25 years before needing replaced, so it’s not like a home is burning through a bunch of solar panels every few years. The frame of solar panels is typically made out of aluminum, and there is also a thin glass sheet used to protect the solar cells.

Solar technology in future generations

Solar energy is one of the most promising resources in the world with approximately $25 billion dollars invested privately by Americans in 2020. A 6 kW system could save you tens of thousands of dollars over 25 years and offset more than 80% of the carbon emissions that fossil fuels would produce for a typical home. So, while solar energy may have been discovered more than two centuries ago it is still the future of electricity today.

Contact Us Today

If you’re lucky enough to live in South Florida then you love the sun as much as we do but it’s time to get more than a tan from it in return. We don’t just sell panels. We talk to our customers about their needs, their power usage, their curbside appeal requirements, their building exposure, elevation, and potential for power generation.  We explain the costs and the savings of each of any number of combinations of power systems including off grid and grid-tie.  Then we can get to work to build a better future, but for all that to happen first you need to call us.  So call us today.

Solar South Florida, FL