Solar energy is a complicated science that is making its way into the common marketplace. Homeowners are looking at equipping their houses with solar panels to generate solar energy that is then used to power every item. But how do solar panels work and are they reliable enough to make them worthwhile in a residential application?
What Are Solar Panels?
Essentially these panels are made from silicon bound together with other elements to create both a positive and negative charge.
How Do They Generate Electricity?
Often phosphorus (which has five electrons) is added to silicon (which has four electrons and room for four additional) to form one panel that is negatively charged (eight stable electrons with a ninth bonded but unneeded). When the rays from the sun hit this panel, the photons in the sunlight knock off the extra electrons.
This action generates electricity in a solar panel due to the second positive panel underneath and the conductive wires that connect the two. The positive panel is made up of silicon (four electrons with room for eight) and boron (three electrons) creating an extra space that then draws the extra electrons across the conductive wires. A lone solar cell would only generate a miniscule amount of electricity, but when these panels are large, with multiple cells, a larger amount of movement occurs between the two panels, generating a larger amount of electricity.
How Is This Electricity Stored?
Most systems will store the electricity generated into a chemical battery, which can then run whatever is connected to it. Home applications can be tied back into the grid, although this requires that large amounts of excess electricity be generated.