Solar panels are now everywhere from house roofs to different establishments around us. It is considered as one of the world’s cheapest energy source. You may also have learned that installing a solar system of your own reduces your energy bills by a huge amount. That happens to be true.
But do you know what they actually are? Have you ever wondered how solar panels turn sunlight into electricity?
Solar Panels isn’t just the right choice for the environment but can also be a smart choice for your wallet. Here are the things you need to know before setting up one. Because you know, it’s fun to be smart.
How do they work?
Solar panels work by allowing photons or particles of light to knock electrons free from atoms generating a flow of electricity. In other words, it works by absorbing sunlight with photovoltaic (PV) cells, which generates direct current (DC) energy and then convert it to usable alternating current (AC) energy with the help of inverter technology. AC energy then flows through the home’s electrical panel and accordingly distributed.
What are they made of?
Most solar panels available in the market are made of monocrystalline, polycrystalline, or thin film (“amorphous”) silicon. Photovoltaic (PV) solar panels are made with a number of components most important of which are silicon cells. These cells are made of silicon, like semiconductors. They are constructed with a positive layer and a negative layer that creates an electric field, like a battery.
Types of Silicon Cells:
Mono-crystalline solar panels are produced from one large silicon block and are produced in silicon wafer formats. They are more efficient than polycrystalline or amorphous solar cells but is more labor-intensive and more expensive to manufacture than polycrystalline cells.
Polycrystalline solar cells are also silicon cells they are produced by melting multiple silicon crystals together. Many silicon molecules are melted and then re-fused together into the panel itself. They are less efficient than monocrystalline cells but are less expensive.
Amorphous silicon cells create flexible panel materials that are often used in thin film solar panels. They are non-crystalline and are attached to a substrate like glass, plastic or metal thus, they are lean and bendable, unlike a standard panel. They are very inefficient compared to mono or polycrystalline cells.
How do they generate electricity?
PV solar panels generate direct current (DC) electricity. Electrons flow in one direction around a circuit. The electrons move from the negative side of the battery, through the lamp, and return to the positive side of the battery.
With AC (alternating current) electricity, electrons are pushed and pulled, periodically reversing direction. Generators create AC electricity when a coil of wire is spun next to a magnet, it is less expensive to transmit over long distances.
What does solar inverter do?
A solar inverter takes the DC electricity from the solar array and uses that to create AC electricity. They are like the brains of the system. They also provide ground fault protection and system stats, including voltage and current on AC and DC circuits, energy production and maximum power point tracking.
Central inverters have dominated the solar industry since the beginning. Micro-inverters are one of the biggest technology shifts in the PV industry which optimizes for each individual solar panel which enables every solar panel to perform at maximum potential.
How does a solar system work?
First, sunlight hits a solar panel on the roof then solar panels convert the energy into DC current, which flows to an inverter. Lastly, an inverter converts the electricity from DC to AC, which you can then use to power your home.
Do solar panels work on at night, cloudy, rainy or cold days?
They are most effective in direct sunlight but still works just fine and still generate power at night, cloudy, rainy or even on cold days. There are also solar panels that are powered by light, not heat which are effective in cooler temperatures. A typical grid-tied PV system, during peak daylight hours, frequently produces more energy than one customer needs, so that excess energy is fed back into the grid for use elsewhere. The consumer gets credit for the excess energy produced and they can use that credit to draw from the conventional grid.
Consider battery storage solutions too as it stores excess daytime solar power for night time use.
How much does it cost?
The approximate cost of 1 kW solar panel is $10,000 but will depend on how big the installation is. Some PV system is still heavily subsidized by the Australian government-run solar rebate scheme.
How long will it last?
It will last long for years as parts do not wear out easily. Crystalline panels are usually guaranteed for 20-25 years. Film panels are generally guaranteed for only 2-5 years. PV solar panels regular warranty lasts 25 years.
What maintenance is required?
It requires very little maintenance since there are no moving parts but inspect for any dirt or debris. For general cleaning use a standard garden hose to wash the face of the panels early morning or in the evening. Avoid spraying cold water onto hot panels. There are also automated cleaners that work similarly to sprinklers which can be programmed to clean your panels as needed especially for the dusty area.
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