HOW DOES A SOLAR PANEL WORK?
What are solar panels?
The term solar panels is often used for a few different types of products that produce energy by collecting sunlight. We most commonly use the phrase to refer to the type that converts sunlight directly into DC electricity. Less frequently, people will use the term in reference to solar thermal collectors, which typically heats a liquid such as water, or solar air heaters, which heats air directly.
How does a solar panel work?
Rays of sunlight hit solar cells, pushing the electrons in the cell through the wires to create electricity. This electricity is in one direction, so it is called DC, for Direct Current. As opposed to AC, for Alternating Current, where the electrons are going back and forth 50-60 times (50-60Hz) per second. That is why for most installations, you need an inverter. An inverter changes the DC to AC and makes it usable with your home's appliances.
On one side of the solar cell, there's an overabundance of electrons and on the other side there is a lack of electrons. Manufacturers create this static imbalance of charges on the cell by doping each side of the silicon solar cell with different chemicals (e.g. phosphorous on one side and boron on the other). Wires or soldered leads are effectively connected to each side of the cell. The positive and negative wires go to whatever you want to charge or power.
Connecting the leads in itself to an electrical load, while closing the current path, does not allow to the electrons to flow, despite the positive and negative imbalance. It takes sunlight hitting the silicon in the solar cells to loosen up electrons. And as soon as they are freed up, they immediately start flowing through the wires to power your electrical loads. The more sunlight shines on the cells, the more electrons loosen up, the more electrical current flows and the more power it produces.
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