How Solar Cells Work
Solar cells are one of the proposed solutions to the energy problem as the amount of naturally occurring fossil fuels continues to dwindle. This means that finding something which will help to bridge the gap and then take over becomes vital for future generations.
Solar power from the sun, wind energy in the form of windmills, and electricity from wave motion are just some of the suggestions that have been popular in the past as the movement fades from nuclear energy sources.
The popular outcry for different forms of energy has forced many governments to turn in another direction as they continue to search for viable methods of powering the world’s societies. It is unfortunate that traditional methods won’t be around for too much longer. But since solar power is essentially free, it is important to understand the technology behind solar cells and the amount of energy that can be produced through their implementation and usage.
These are commonly known by several other names, including photovoltaic cells; which are able to convert rays of light into usable energy. The silicon wafer is currently the material of choice, being the most popular model currently available. Most of the units that are currently employed for business and residential use are composed of these types of cells. When arranged together into a group, they form solar arrays which are the units that are that comprise a solar panel. It is important for solar panels to have a large capture area on its surface, since this is how these cells work and they convert this into electrical energy for consumption.
Small electrical units called Photons actually are the carriers of the energy that is produced by the sun’s rays. The process begins when the sunlight strike the surface of the solar array at the right frequency and are thus absorbed by the silicon material. The material then shakes loose an electron as a result of this reaction which is actually how the process works.
The electrons en masse create an electric field that can be used to carry current. These fields can be set up quite readily when the solar cells are arranged properly in a grid pattern. For the engineer who understands this method, both the current and voltage levels can be manipulated depending on the configuration that is set up to capture the sun’s energy. The field can create a direct current which can be used to charge storage batteries, or with an inverter, used for household items.
Since their inception, solar cells have undergone many adaptations as designers struggle for greater efficiency. This has also caused the price to come down as well, since mass production methods have streamlined this process, making it easier to finish. While they are becoming more popular as an alternate means of powering a home, some savvy homeowners are installing a bank of solar arrays on their roof as a result of a government grant which helps to defray the cost. And any surplus power has to be bought back from the homeowner by the local power company.