How do solar panels work?

Everywhere you look, you see more and more solar panels popping up. Most people already know that solar panels generate electricity and that they can be installed in homes and businesses to save money on utility bills.

But if you're the curious type and you're wondering, "How do solar panels work?", keep reading as we uncover some of the secrets surrounding solar energy in this blog.

How do solar panels work: from the very beginning

Let's look at the sun first. It is a huge nuclear reactor, 93 million miles away from us, which is hurling energy in all directions in the form of tiny packets called photons.

Enough of these photons reach the Earth's surface every hour to provide more electricity than we consume all over the world in a whole year. 

The trick is to use this energy in a useful way - which is exactly what solar panels do.A solar panel is a collection of many photovoltaic (PV) cells that are covered with protective glass and held together with a metal frame. For this reason, the official name for a solar module is "PV module". These PV solar cells are made of semiconductor material, typically silicon, which is cut super thin.

Each PV cell has a negative layer and a positive layer. The negative layer has extra electrons and the positive layer has room for those electrons. Electricity moves electrons, so all we need for a solar panel is some energy to push these electrons off so that they flow from the negative layer to the positive layer.

Keyword sun. The photons of the Sun hitting the surface of our planet all day are the key to answering the question of how solar panels work.


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