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Solar Cells and How they Work

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Solar cells are more common than people tend to think. Many people mistake in thinking that solar power is an innovation that’s yet to be utilized in our world. Solar power is used in a lot of places; in fact, you’re likely to have seen and touched solar powered devices and just don’t realize it. Solar cells are used to power many of the following everyday items:

• Calculators
• Call Boxes
• Emergency Signs
• Parking Lot Lights

These are only a few of the many objects that prove that solar power is already here. In fact, the solar revolution started decades ago and is taking the world by storm. Now let’s look at how solar cells work.

Photovoltaic Cells

These are the most common solar cells. You’ve probably seen these on calculators and satellites. Photovoltaic cells are described perfectly by their name (photo means light and voltaic means electricity). That’s right, they convert light (photo) directly into energy (electricity). Solar cells are packaged into what are known as modules. These modules are grouped into a frame which is called a solar panel.

Photovoltaic cells consist of special materials called semiconductors like silicone and when light strikes them, a portion of the light is trapped in the semi conductive material. As a result, the energy frees the electrons and allows them to flow freely.

How does silicon make solar cells?

In order to better understand how solar cells work, it’s important to see how silicon can turn light into energy. First of all, silicon has some very unique chemical properties. One atom consists of 14 electrons which is arranged into three shells. Let’s look at each of those shells real quick.

First Shell – The first shell is completely full and holds two electrons.
Second Shell – Like the first, the second shell is completely full but it holds eight of the electrons.
Third Shell – This part is the key. It holds four electrons but is only half full.

Silicon will always look for ways to fill the third shell. In essence, it shares what it is with the surrounding atoms.

There are several advantages to powering your home with solar cells. The most obvious is that you will save money in the long run. By using the natural energy of the sun to power your home, you’ll also be helping keep polutants out of the air. Solar power is the most green solution to the environmental crisis that we face in this day and age.
Now it’s time to see how these innovative solar cells can be utilized to power a house. The first necessity is to make sure the home’s roof is angled properly in order to fully utilize the sun’s energy. The solar cells must be inclined at the angle that matches the latitude of the area. This will allow maximum energy efficiency year round.
There are a few problems that creep up, but they can be overcome. The main disadvantage is that solar cells are expensive. But if you think long-term, you’ll see that you’ll save a bunch of money in the long run.