How do solar panels work?

Solar panels create electricity using solar radiation and silicon cells.

Each solar panel is made up of a collection of silicon cells and a system of wiring which allows the produced electricity to flow from the cells to the solar inverter. The solar panel features a metal frame and a glass casing to protect the cells and wiring from degradation and weathering.

The ‘PV’ or photovoltaic part of the term ‘ solar PV system’ refers to the photovoltaic process of converting sunlight to electricity. The silicon cells linked together in the solar panel are sometimes referred to as photovoltaic cells.

Each photovoltaic cell comprises of two very thin slices of silicon, one positively charged and one negatively charged. Together these two pieces of silicon create an electric field which generates electricity.

When the sunlight enters the solar cell it causes electrons within the silicon atoms to move, creating a flow of electricity. Metal plates placed on either side of the cell collect these electrons and transfer them to connected wires along which the electricity travels to the solar inverter. Once at the inverter the electricity is converted from DC or direct current to AC or alternating current to be used effectively throughout your home.

TED-Ed presentation – How do solar panels work?

Fact – it is light not heat which generates electricity in solar panels. Extreme heat can actually reduce the effectiveness of the panel.

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Solar PV system basics

  • Photovoltaic cells in the solar panels absorb energy from the sun and generate DC electricity.
  • The solar inverter changes the DC electricity to AC which is the form used to power appliances and systems around your home.
  • During daylight hours this AC power is distributed directly from the inverter throughout your home where ever electricity is needed.
  • Any electricity that is not used in the home is fed back into the mains grid, helping to produce power for use in your area. Electricity retailers pay homeowners a feed-in tariff for the excess electricity their solar power system produces.
  • Alternatively, if you have a solar battery the excess power produced by your solar panels and system can be stored in the battery for use in your home during times the sun doesn’t shine (night or cloudy/rainy days).

If you would like to start using the free, abundant energy from the sun to create green power for your Brisbane or Gold Coast home contact the solar specialists at Fallon Solutions at 1300 762 260 today.