Understanding PV Cells: How Do Solar Panels Work?

You may be thinking about transitioning to solar. However, you may not be sure about its stability, especially in the event of cloudy weather. However, a solar panel system has advanced technologies that maximize energy output.

How do solar panels work?

Solar panels separate electrons from atoms and create electricity. The photovoltaic process changes the sunlight to electricity.

The panels convert the electricity into viable energy for households and businesses. Solar batteries also store energy, allowing you to use stored energy when clouds block the sun.

This article will provide an overview of solar panel operation. Let’s explore.

Photovoltaic Cells

Solar panels comprise photovoltaic cells. Deriving from semiconductive materials, the small cells absorb the light and convert the sunlight into energy. This conversion is possible when the semiconductor changes the light photons into electrons.

Then, it turns the electrons into electricity. Further, the electricity emanates from the semiconductor and provides power to the user.

The semiconductors stem from metals and insulators. There are three main types of semiconductive materials: thin-film, organic, and silicon.

The thin-film variety consists of metal, plastic, or glass. Cadmium telluride and copper indium diselenide are two main types of thin-film materials.

Manufacturers can lay the thin materials on both ends of a module. In terms of quality, copper indium diselenide has superior electrical capabilities. Cadmium telluride is one of the most common materials compared to the silicon alternative.

Silicon is the most common type you’ll find on the market. Comprised of crystalline silicon cells, the material will convert sunlight into electricity more effectively.

Silicon materials are popular among manufacturers because they last longer and come with lower manufacturing costs. The modules can last over 25 years and can still generate 80% output after two decades.

For organic materials, makers incorporate carbon-based polymers to enhance the cell’s sensitivity to certain forms of light.

The organic choice isn’t as efficient as silicon, but it’s cheaper to manufacture. Also, its flexible nature allows to manufacturers use it with other materials.

Regardless of the semiconductor’s composition, the cells turn the sun’s energy into DC electricity.

AC Power and DC Power

The solar panel will convert DC power into AC power. DC stands for direct current, and AC stands for alternating current. AC is the primary current that energizes your home.

Take note of the following differences:

  • Direct Current: DC currents flow in a single direction, or it will flow in no direction. DC usually permeates through semiconductors and insulators. You’ll see DC power used in the battery cells of flashlights.
  • Alternating Current: AC flows in reverse directions repeatedly. AC power is common in appliances and electronics.

With that, the primary device that turns DC power into AC power is the solar inverter.

Solar Inverter

There are several different inverters, such as:

  • String Inverters: String inverters are common in residential and commercial structures. Within the solar system, string inverters contain strings that convert DC energy into AC energy.
  • Central Inverters: Central inverters are similar to string inverters because manufacturers bundle the strings together. Installers reserve central inverters for large buildings or solar farms. The DC power flows to a bundle box, where the inverter converts it to AC.
  • Microinverters: Microinverters eliminate the need for string inverters. They convert DC electricity into AC electricity through the panel itself. Microinverters also monitor the output of each panel.
  • Battery Inverters: Battery inverters function as a solar battery and as an inverter. The batteries also regulate battery charges and performance.

With that, inverters have become more advanced in recent years, monitoring data and implementing utility control measures.

More importantly, inverters pinpoint the maximum operating power of the modules. Plus, they can regulate energy production if a defective module is present.

Inverters also interact with the grid, mitigating voltage irregularities to stabilize output. Advanced inverters will also shut down if an energy disturbance lasts too long.

Overall, inverters allow owners to track the energy performance of the solar panel system. Quality inverters will make your life easier, but they are prone to wear as makers infuse more responsibilities into the devices.

Solar Arrays

The inverters convert AC, but the solar arrays generate electricity. The sunlight contacts the panel, allowing the panel to produce DC electricity. Connected to the array, the inverter system transitions the DC power into AC power.

The term ‘solar arrays’ typically refers to the solar panels. However, experts may also label solar farms as solar arrays. In other cases, the array may refer to a group of solar panels.

When it comes to solar panel numbers, the number depends on how much electricity you consume. If you’re unsure about future energy usage, you can add more panels in the future. With that, you should plan for more space if you need more panels in the future.

  • Note: If the arrays are facing different directions, use a microinverter to ensure solar panel efficiency. Microinverters (and power optimizers) are the best choices for complex panels.

To know the appropriate number of panels, talk to a solar panel installation expert. They can also recommend the best solar panels for your home or business.

How Do Solar Panels Work Overall?

If you’re wondering, “How do solar panels work?”, the main takeaway is that the photovoltaic cells turn sunlight into electricity. Manufacturers use such materials as silicon, glass, or polymer to make the cells.

At the heart of the solar panel is the inverter, which converts DC electricity into AC electricity. AC is the primary electrical source needed to power homes and businesses.

Interested in solar panels for your house? Click here to learn about the advantages of residential solar consumption.

Subscribe To Our Newsletter