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Inside a Solar Panel: How Does it Work?

May 11, 2016

It wasn't too long ago that the idea of generating electricity from the sun was a scifi dream, when it did become a reality it was mostly seen in small appliances, such as the humble desk top calculator. The sheer cost of solar panels for generating an alternative electricity supply for the home put the idea way beyond the reach of most home owners. But today, as solar cells are easier and cheaper to produce, solar panels are more popular. Of course, this interest is driven by a steady increase in the cost of National Grid power and a growing awareness of the damage traditional methods of power generation does to the environment.

Solar panels are created from multiple solar cells, the more energy we want to generate, the bigger the panel and the more cells we need. A solar cell is usually made from slices of silicon, the same as used in a CPU, which are mounted underneath a non reflective base, usually glass. Each solar cell generates a small current. However, if we link a sufficient number of these cells together we can increase the current proportionally. In this way we can increase the wattage to a level high enough to at least partially support an average household's electric usage, or even end their dependency on the local cable electricity supply.

So in short, when light strikes silicon it creates a small current, this current can be increased by linking many cells together in a panel. A solar panel. If you want more electricity, you simply add more panels.

There is a mathematical formulae for calculating the amount of watts generated so installers can easily estimate how many panels you want once they know your electricity consumption.

There are a couple of ways to have solar energy run your house, one is by installing ready made panels, bought from a hardware shop. You can have a trades person install them or do it yourself.

DIY is the second alternative to connecting your power needs to the sun, with a few tools a little knowledge of carpentry and common sense. You will need to buy solar cells, but after that  you can build  your own solar panels with very little effort.

Prev: Building your Own Solar Panels from Aolar Cells

Next: Different Types of Solar Panels

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