Learn more about the fascinating mechanisms that are making solar panels a widespread phenomenon.
Nov 02, 2019
How Sunlight Converts to Energy to Fuel Homes
The sun is a constant presence and scientists have started to harbor its power through solar panels. The technology is constantly improving to give consumers a sustainable and low-cost way to fuel their homes.
Simple and Effective
Believe it or not, the first solar panels were invented in the late 1800s. They were made from selenium and of course were not as effective as the panels that are being manufactured today. Modern panels are constructed from silicon and can convert four percent of the energy from sunlight into electricity.
The components of a panel are surprisingly simple. There are only two layers. One contains boron to create a positive charge and the other contains phosphorus for a negative charge. When the two layers touch then a steady stream of electricity is produced.
Types of Solar Panels
Solar panels are comprised of individual cells that alone make only a few watts of electricity. Many cells are grouped together to make the panels that are installed on rooftops. Scientists have designed three types of cells that are popular among consumers.
Single-crystal cells are the most energy-efficient of the three. Certain models have a 23% efficiency rate, which is way above the average. They also require a lot of materials to engineer, however, which makes this type of cell expensive.
Polycrystalline cells have up to a 20% efficiency rate and a lower cost of production. They are currently present in about half the solar panels on the market. Thin film cells are the most affordable and the least effective. Most consumers chose a higher-grade cell type for their residence, but they are occasionally preferred by budget-conscious homeowners.
Installing Solar Panels on Homes
Convenient solar panel installations are on the rise. The electrical grid of many cities and towns doesn’t make every home eligible, but more homes are making use of the innovative technology than in the past.
Panels that were once delegated to off-grid properties deep in the woods are now appearing in suburban communities.
An expert has to examine a house to determine the potential energy output and create a custom design. Permits also have to be obtained from a utility company and city municipality. Fortunately, a team can complete an installation in a few hours and explain how to turn a system on and off.
A final check by a utility company or representative of the city may be required before obtaining the green light to enjoy solar power in all its glory.
Integrating Solar Technology With Electrical Grids
Homes are not built for solar panels. Installing a project on a roof requires changes to an electrical system, but nothing drastic enough to change a homeowner’s day-to-day living routine. Solar panels supply the needs of a residence and any extra electricity goes back to the grid.
A great thing about solar panels is that they contribute to a community during peak consumption times. In most regions of the country, air conditioners are on full blast during midday when the sun is blazing and the panels perform strongly. The panels help meet electrical demand without the use of expensive and polluting power plants.
Advancing Solar Technology Through Science
Solar panels are fueling over 11 million homes. They have become much more efficient since their early days thanks to scientists and engineers. They provide about one percent of America’s total electricity, but that’s expected to increase dramatically over the next 20 years.
As panels become better at converting sunlight, the price is expected to go down. The batteries that store electricity for use at night or on cloudy days are also improving to give consumers peace-of-mind about their efficacy. It’s truly exciting to contemplate how solar panels can change a society dependent on fossil fuels and sustainable practices.
The sun isn’t in danger of dying any time soon. Learning how solar panels work can help homeowners decide if they want to be a part of the trend that is sweeping the country.