Have you ever wondered how solar panels made of glass placed on your roof generate electrical and heat energy from the rays of the sun? It’s a pretty long process that I will attempt to simplify in this write-up.
Solar power is used all over the world for energy generation. Over one million homes have a solar system in the U.S. and many more millions all over the world use it, especially in countries where electric supply is still epileptic. Solar energy endeared itself to many environmentalists because it produces a safe, clean and renewable source of energy.
The Photovoltaic Effect
A solar system consists of a silicon cell, a metal frame, a glass casing, and wires for current flow. The mechanism of power generation can be explained using the photovoltaic effect.
- The silicon cells are photovoltaic in nature; they absorb the radiation from the sun.
- The radiation from the sun sets off a series of chemical reactions in which electrons gain momentum and begin to move.
- The movement of the electrons leads to energy generation which is captured and transported by the wires in the panel.
- The electric current is supplied to the inverter as direct current (DC) and later converted to alternating current (AC) by the inverter.
- The electrical energy generated is fed into the electric grid.
The solar panel comes with a gas casing which protects the silicon cells and gives durability. Under the glass casing is a protective sheet. This sheet increases the durability of the silicon cells and also protects it from humidity and heat which can greatly affect the productivity of the panel. Solar panels have an anti-reflective coating which prevents sun rays from being reflected. This helps to increase the day absorption of the panel.
The silicon cell is either monocrystalline or polycrystalline. Monocrystalline allows for better electron mobility even though polycrystalline is much more expensive.
Solar panel system and the grid connection
Your home has a utility meter which measures the amount of electricity consumed in your household. Your solar system can also be connected to this meter and, the energy generated from the solar panel system can be effectively measured by the utility meter. Some homes have a net metering system. This system transfers excess energy produced by your solar power system to the grid in exchange for electricity when your solar power is under producing due to little or no sunshine.
When shopping for your solar panel:
- Be sure to explore all of your options. Ask for quotes and cost estimates from as many companies as possible. Pick the most pocket-friendly one.
- Smaller companies mostly offer cheaper rates than a large conglomerate. Do not be fixated on patronizing the big names. The small companies may be able to offer quality products at a more affordable rate.
Shopping for your solar panel system can be a bit taxing. Take your time, consider your options, and ask for a solar quotation from different sources. You can also approach your neighbors or friends who have solar panel systems installed to ask for their opinion and reviews.