In this post, we find out how solar panels convert light into electricity for your outdoor space. The idea behind the solar panel is simple but not cheap. Look at the explanations below.
All direct sunlight produces heat when it hits an object. Feel your car when it is sunny outside and it will be quite a bit warmer on the sunny side. This heat is what causes the action in a solar panel. We will explain why this happens.
A solar panel is made of flat panels called semiconductors made with crystals of silicon material. These are called Photovoltaic cells. The heat from the sun makes the electrons inside the atoms in the crystal move. Instead of just moving in place, the silicon material will have an electric field to make sure they will move in a guided direction of the crystal. This will create a conveyor of electrons moving inside the panel.
This movement induces current much like turning on a switch at your house. The size and number of layers of silicon will dictate how much electricity is made by this movement. Each cell or layer will have an entrance and exit point for the current. These will be series together to make the amount of current that is required by the system.
Once you have electricity made it will go to a battery or directly to something that will only work when the sun shines. Somewhere in the line will be a diode. This diode will only let the current flow in one direction. This will keep the battery from discharging to the solar panel after dark.
The cost of producing Silicon crystals has gone down in recent years. This has made it more economic for use in the outdoor lighting and pond pumps.
Plain English version
The sun produces heat that produces electrical current inside the solar panel. The solar panel charges batteries that store electricity. Solar systems that do not have batteries will only operate during the time they have sufficient sunshine.
Keeping your solar panel clean and properly aligned to get the most of the daily sun will give you the best results.
After the initial cost of the solar panel, your power will be dependent on the amount of sunshine your location receives. Your items that are powered by the solar panel will depend on the storage of the electricity that you have produced.
Rechargeable batteries will last several years. Some items like a solar pond pump will only operate when there is sufficient sunshine, as they do not have a battery backup.
Most of what is talked about here are for solar lights and solar pond pumps. The larger whole house solar panels work on the same principle.
Any questions or comments, use the form below. Any subjects that you would like covered in this area please leave a comment.
I like how you included the scientific version and the plain english version! Wikipedia should be structured the same way. Great article!
Have been interested in building a solar panel for some time now. Always wanted to know how they actually work. Once I find the time I’m gonna build one!
I love how you have a technical and layman’s version. LOL
Keep up the great work
Not every one understands the technical versions of things. Putting a solar panel together for a whole house is not that difficult these days.
great information, thanks! I’ll be watching for more!
Great info and easy to understand. If only I could use Solar Panels. I’m sharing this info on Twitter. It is good to know and may be useful for someone.
Thanks for posting,
Hey thanks for the information. It’s easy to follow and understand. I was hoping you knew a bit more about how much it costs to buy them, or which companies to contact about installing a such a system.
I will be pointing to some places to buy as I review these items. For whole house or bigger items I will refer to other websites for this information as I only use lights and pond pumps that are solar powered.