How Do Solar Panels Really Work?

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Although solar panels have become ubiquitous on roofs across Phoenix and surrounding cities in recent years, most homeowners know little about how they exactly work. As an energy source that is versatile enough to power both homes and spacecraft, the technology behind solar panels is truly fascinating.
Solar panels enable particles of light, called photons, to knock electrons free from atoms. This produces a flow of electricity. On a single solar panel, there are many smaller photovoltaic cells that link together. Each photovoltaic cell sits between two layers of semi-conducting material, such as silicon.

Photovoltaic cells need to establish an electric field to work. To produce this field, solar panel manufacturers layer silicon with other materials, giving each layer a positive or negative electrical charge. For example, phosphorus may be added into the top layer of silicon to increase electrons with a negative charge. The bottom layer might include boron with fewer electrons which produces a positive charge. When combined, this creates an electric field where the layers meet. When a photon of sunlight knocks free an electron, the electric field phases that electron out of the silicon layers.

To turn these electrons into usable energy, metal conductive plates on the sides of each cell collect them and transfer them to wires. Then, the electrons can flow like other sources of electricity.

Advances in solar technology are enabling cells to become thinner and thinner. In fact, there now are cells that are only 1.3 microns thick. This is about 1/100th the width of a human hair. These cells are also incredibly light which opens up many new opportunities for their use in architecture, aerospace and even consumer electronics.

Want to learn more about solar panels and how they can power your home or business? Contact the experts at Cool Blew Solar. You will be amazed at the benefits that this amazing technology offers.