One of the reasons why some people still don’t trust solar panels is that they don’t know how it works. They also thought that the solar industry was just another business. How, then, will they pay for something they don’t know anything about? As we all know, people fear what they don’t understand. Although it has been going on for quite a while, solar energy is still relatively new and developing. Solar energy is indeed a scary concept.
One of the common misconceptions about how solar panels work is that they can generate electricity on their own. It simply doesn’t work this way, and the solar panel only acts as a conduit for converting sunlight into solar energy.
In this article, we will discuss how a solar panel works. We will also talk about its different types and their economic and environmental benefits.
In this post, we'll discuss:
What is a solar panel?
A solar panel is a device that transforms sunlight into direct current (DC) electricity. It uses light as a power source to generate DC electricity. Commonly known as a photovoltaic module, a PV panel consists of an assembly of photovoltaic cells encased within a frame. When arranged in an array, these modules generate solar power for electrical devices.
You can define a solar panel, also referred to as a solar photovoltaic (PV) module, as an assembly of interconnected solar cells encapsulated in a weather-resistant frame.
Conversely, a solar cell is a single unit in a photovoltaic system that produces a direct current voltage from sunlight. Typically made from silicon, it conducts electricity when exposed to light and pairs with other photovoltaic cells to create a solar panel.
The solar inverter handles the energy stored in the battery and converts it into alternating current (AC) electricity. This AC electricity powers our appliances when we plug them in.
What are the Different Types of Solar Panels?
Solar panels can be categorized into three separate types. They are:
Polycrystalline solar panels
This type of solar panel is made using annealed thin silicon crystals that are melted into a cast mold. An advantage of using polycrystalline silicon panels is their structure allowing more sunlight to pass through them, enabling more electricity production.
Monocrystalline solar panels
The production process used for this type of solar panel is the same as the multi-crystalline method. However, monocrystalline cells are created from a single large silicon crystal instead of many small ones. This design results in higher efficiency and energy yields than other types.
Thin-film amorphous silicon PV panels
This type of solar panel has thin-film layers that are made up of amorphous silicon, which is positioned between the glass covering and the back sheet. Although cheaper, its disadvantages are that it doesn’t have a high-efficiency rate or high-temperature tolerance. Furthermore, this product does not last as long as others since amorphous silicon deteriorates quickly when exposed to heat or moisture.
What does it do?
Solar panels work by absorbing sunlight. The generated energy becomes electricity to power the devices. A photovoltaic system requires two conductors separated by an insulator (usually glass). One conductor will lead the generated current into your home or building while another collects electricity for battery storage or the grid.
Through a solar inverter, the stored solar energy becomes AC electricity, which can be used to power devices such as cell phones, tablets, WiFi routers, Bluetooth speakers, and small appliances such as refrigerators, televisions, and radios.
How do solar panels work?
A solar panel is made up of many solar cell units. There are three main parts to a solar panel. These are the front sheet, back sheet, and the PV cells in between them. There are also three different types of solar panels – monocrystalline, polycrystalline, and thin-film. When sunlight falls on these solar cells, electrons get kicked loose from their atoms due to photons hitting them.
Simply put, solar panels generate energy by converting sunlight into electricity by allowing photons to knock electrons free from atoms, producing a flow of electrons. (Photovoltaic is the term for converting sunlight into power.)
What are its options?
Solar panels come in different sizes and shapes. They can be installed on rooftops or other surfaces, while some are portable enough to carry around anywhere you go. Most of us think these photovoltaic systems should be placed at an angle facing south, but this isn’t always the case. As long as there is sunlight, it will produce electricity no matter how you position your solar panels.
What are its benefits?
Solar panels provide clean and green electricity, which is good for the environment and beneficial to everyone involved. Additionally, these systems can last up to 20 to 25 years, making them a one-time investment that will definitely pay off in the long run.
Here are the top five benefits of knowing how solar panels work:
- Reduces the utility bills. This will depend on how much energy you use and the efficiency of your solar panels. According to the US Energy Information Administration, each 1kW of solar photovoltaic power can save around 164kg of carbon dioxide emissions per year, which is equal to about 24 trees.
- Provides sustainable home or building energy. Living in a house powered by solar panels means creating as much as possible without worrying about how it may affect the environment later on. When the sun shines bright, this saves money and prevents brownouts or blackouts when everyone uses electricity for various reasons.
- Creates an income source from selling excess electricity into the grid. If you have excess energy than what your household needs, there’s no reason why you can’t sell it to others. That is how PV panel owners earn extra income without working for someone else.
- Tax rebates. In the United States, the federal government offers tax rebates as an incentive for people who use solar panels to generate electricity. There is currently a 30% federal tax credit for those who have solar power in their homes. This is how more and more homeowners are getting involved in using renewable energy sources such as sunlight to power up their homes instead of relying on non-renewable energy from fossil fuels.
- It helps the environment. One of the biggest perks of solar panels is how they do not emit any carbon dioxide into the atmosphere like how other energy sources work such as coal and gasoline. This means that there will be no more acid rain, holes in the earth’s ozone layer, or global warming – all benefits that we can get from using this type of energy source.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are solar panels a scam?
Solar energy is a tried-and-tested, clean, and inexpensive source of power for your home and business. The development of photovoltaic cells used in the transformation of free, limitless solar energy from the sun has made home solar power a viable option for many customers around the globe. Solar power technology is not a scam.
Do I still need to pay for electricity if I have solar panels?
Yes and no. The answer is a little complicated.
If you are living off-grid, which means you are not connected to the utility line, the electricity that your solar panels will generate is yours – for free. Your energy consumption will be based on the amount of energy that your panels will produce. You may not be able to sell your excess energy, but it will still remain in your battery.
But if you have a grid-tie system or net metering, meaning you have solar panels but you are still connected to the grid, and you have exceeded your normal monthly energy consumption, only then will you pay for the excess that you have consumed.
How long before I get the return of investment for my solar panels?
The costs and benefits of going solar are determined by several elements. For most homeowners, the combined expenses and benefits will take between 6 and 10 years to pay off solar panels.
But the good news is that the energy done by the work of solar panels is free of charge.
Are solar panels worth getting?
Powering your home with solar energy stands as one of the most cost-effective and eco-friendly options. Generating solar power costs only 5 to 6 cents per kWh, making it a smart decision to use solar energy for as much of your household needs as possible. It’s undoubtedly a worthwhile investment! If there’s any unused electricity produced, it feeds into the grid. Your energy provider then gives you a small compensation for this contribution.
Can I live through solar technology alone?
It is possible to operate a home entirely on solar power. However, completely going off the grid necessitates a significant financial and time commitment for regular updates of solar technology. The more energy you consume, the greater number of solar panels you’ll need. This is how solar energy works and you need to live by its rules.
Understanding how solar panels work is crucial, given their significant impact on our current electricity usage, despite the lack of physical contact. PV cells not only aid in cost-saving but also inspire global efforts towards alternative energy sources without excessive greenhouse gas emissions.
If you’re keen on saving money and protecting the environment, learning about solar panels and investing in them is an excellent starting point.