How Do Solar Panels Work and What is the Basic Science Behind Them?

Solar panel systems are growing in popularity but many people do not entirely understand the science behind solar photovoltaic (PV) systems. Learning about the basic science behind solar panel systems will help individuals make informed choices about choosing and installing solar PV systems for their home and business.

Solar photovoltaic (PV) cells are built from a group of cells connected together and then held onto an individual solar panel. PV cells are created from semiconductors that react when the sun hits the cells, which conducts the light into energy. The energy current then moves into an inverter to turn the energy from a direct current into an alternating current, which is the type of power used to create energy. The alternating current is then stored or immediately used as energy for the home or business.

Note that there are some technicalities necessary in order to successfully install and utilize solar PV cells for a home or business. For example, solar cells should point in the direction of true south and be installed at an angle as closely aligned to the area’s precise latitude as possible. This allows for maximum absorption of the solar energy into the cells. In addition, no part of the solar PV cells should be covered by shade, as this significantly reduces the amount of solar power created.

Since the sun does not shine 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, most homes and businesses need a backup power system to work in accordance with the solar power cells. One option is a backup generator and another option is the use of batteries. Solar PV batteries require a well-ventilated area in a non-metallic material and should be deep-cycle batteries. Deep-cycle batteries are capable of storing energy while discharging energy as well and consist of lead-acid or nickel-cadmium.

Another important factor when it comes to the science of solar PV systems is the use of a charge controller. The charge controller monitors the solar deep-cycle batteries and stops the PV current from entering the batteries once the batteries are fully charged. Likewise, if a solar battery is almost done draining, the charge controller stops additional drainage until the battery refills with new energy.

Note that most areas have regulations and rules to govern the installation and use of solar PV cells on a home or business, so contact your local government before starting down the path of solar power installation. In addition, get several quotes from various solar power system companies regarding the cost to install the complete system and the timeframe required to complete the project.

Moreover, many state and national governments offer rebates for solar panels in Kahului, so check into potential installation or energy rebates that may help reduce the overall cost of installing and running a solar power system.