How Solar Panels Work and What They are Made From
Solar panels are a great way for individuals to reduce their carbon footprint and take a step back from relying on fossil fuels. The sun is a resource that we will not be able to exhaust. In fact, according to The Department of Energy, the amount of sunlight that strikes the earth’s surface in an hour and a half is enough to handle the entire world’s energy consumption for a full year.
What are Solar Panels Made From?
The large black solar panels you see on homes and businesses are made of a bunch of solar cells (or photovoltaic cells) made of silicon semiconductors that absorb sunlight and create an electric current. These individual cells are connected together to make one solar panel.
Solar panels do need some precious metals in order to work. Metals such as cadmium, gallium, germanium, indium, selenium, and tellurium are important mineral materials used in current photovoltaic cell technology.
How Do They Convert Energy?
I’m sure we have all seen the big black panels on houses in our neighbourhoods. If solar panels have never been explained to you, they could seem like a blackboard made of magic squares that capture the heat of the sky globe and turn it into usable lightning. Honestly, that’s not far from the truth.
Solar technologies convert sunlight into electrical energy either through photovoltaic (PV) panels. This energy can be stored in batteries used to generate electricity.
When the sun shines onto a solar panel, energy from the sunlight is absorbed by the PV cells in the panel. This energy creates electrical charges that move in response to an internal electrical field in the cell, causing electricity to flow.
The electricity generated flows to the edge of the panel, and into a conductive wire. The conductive wire brings the electricity to the inverter, where it is transformed from DC electricity to AC, which is used to power buildings.
Another wire transports the AC electricity from the inverter to the electric panel on the property (also called a breaker box), which distributes the electricity throughout the building as needed.
Solar Panel Effectiveness:
Solar panels are an investment upfront, but they can last for decades without much upkeep. Their parts don’t wear out easily, and PV panels are well-known to continue producing clean electricity well beyond their often-lengthy warranties.
For example, a study by National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) shows that by the end of a typical 25-year warranty, the solar panels on your roof could still be operating at about 87 per cent of their original capacity.
Generally for the best results, solar panels in the northern hemisphere should face south and be installed at a 30- or 45-degree angle, depending on the distance from the equator.
Read More: Community Solar VS Rooftop Solar: Which One is Better?
Solar energy is a popular and effective energy solution. These devices are made to last for decades. They harness the energy of the sun instead of fossil fuels. Speaking of planet-friendly solutions, when the panel is at the end of its life, look for recycling programs instead of sending it to the landfill. With the rising popularity of solar, recycling programs and companies are expected to grow and become more robust in the future.