Solar panels are manufactured by assembling photovoltaic (PV) cells. Photovoltaic cells are made by compressing together layers of semiconductors, usually silicon. Each layer will have varying electronic properties. When sunlight strikes the layers of semiconductors, they get energized, which in turn creates an electric field. This is because sunlight contains photons. The process in which electricity is created by photons is known as the photoelectric effect. It is from the photoelectric effect the electricity you need, comes from. Solar panels will typically be made in different sizes, according to the application. Obviously, the larger the panel, the more photovoltaic cells it will have and also the more wattage. In order to get maximum potential out of each panel, it needs to be pointed directly at the sun, without any interference.
From DC to AC
Now that you understand how solar panels work on a basic level, the next thing to understand is about the type of current it makes. Even though solar panels come in different sizes, volts and wattage, one thing that remains the same is that solar panels produce what is known as direct (DC) current. Most electrical appliances we use today operate on alternating (AC) current. Without going too much into the weeds regarding why most of humanity uses AC,the reason is that alternating current is more practical for the utility companies to generate to customers. Therefore, in order to make the DC current extracted from solar panels palatable, a device known as an inverter needs to be used. The job of the inverter is to convert DC into AC. In some instances, consumers will use batteries to charge with solar panels and attach the inverter from the battery. Either way, the idea is the same.
Advantages of Solar Power
The first and obvious benefit is that once everything is set up, you get electricity for free if there is sunshine. Solar panels are relatively small and quiet, compared to other sources of power generation. In fact, as far as sound pollution is concerned, solar panels are the best. They will just sit there without making a sound. This combined with their size makes them excellent neighbors. Since they are usually installed on rooftops, they will be out of sight and out of sound.
The next two advantages on the list are safety and low maintenance. Since the panels do not have any moving parts, they are virtually maintenance-free. All that will be required is to clean them occasionally. Since the panels are made with non-toxic materials, they are safe.
The future of solar power is looking better every day. This is true on the micro as well as on the macro level. On the micro level, there are a lot of people who have chosen to go “off the grid” by making their homes solar powered. The technology that is available today is making it possible to accomplish this, especially on the battery front. However, what is exciting on a macro level is large-scale power storage. Once this technology comes to fruition, any excess power that is created can be stored, rather than being dumped.