How Do Solar Cells Work?
An introduction to how pv
solar cells work and why?
What Are Photovoltaic
Solar cells are (more or less) what solar panels are made of. They are those small
rectangular (or octagonal) shapes you see on the face of a solar panel. You can learn about the different solar panel
types available by clicking here to go to the "Types of Solar Panels" section.
But how do solar
Solar cells work by capturing the sun's radiant energy and turning it into DC
(direct current) electricity we can use in our homes. When a solar panel is making energy, it's
really the solar cells doing all the hard work.
Solar cells are often referred to as "photovoltaic solar
This is because the word "photo" comes from the Greek word for "light", and the
word "voltaic" refers to electricity pioneer Alessandro Volta. You can learn more about the history of solar
energy by clicking here to visit the "History of Solar Energy" section of our
What Are Solar Cells Made
Before we get more into how solar technology
works, let's get a little more familiar with solar cells and what they're made
Photovoltaic solar cells are flat rectangular (or octagonal) shaped pieces of
silicone (commonly made from sand). They are usually bluish black in color and have tiny wires
running through them.
Silicone is what's known as a "semiconductor". This means it can
conduct electricity, but only under certain conditions. And in this case, these conditions are
"exposure to the radiant energy that exists in sunlight".
PV Solar Cell
Solar cells are constructed of an upper layer of silicone containing negatively
charged electrons (n-type) and a bottom layer of silicone containing positively charged electrons
When the sun's light (photons) hit these photovoltaic solar cells, electrons are
released from the bottom layer of silicone and jump across to the upper layer of silicone causing
current to flow and thus creating energy.
The more light that shines on these cells, the more electrons that jump up and the
more energy that is produced. This is how solar cells work to continuously
produce energy, but only when exposed to light.
How Solar Cells Work To Power
Solar cells collect and convert energy from the
atmosphere. By using wires, the energy occurring in the solar cell is then led to a circuit
and utilized to power appliances, electronics or anything else that runs on electricity.
You can learn more about the type of wire used
in photovoltaic systems by clicking here to visit the "Solar Wire Types" section of our
Since each solar cell produces a few volts of electricity, connecting many solar
cells together can multiply the power generated by the number of cells used.
The entire collection of photovoltaic solar cells constitutes a solar
You can learn how to make your
own solar panels by clicking here to go to the Make Solar Panels section of our
Solar panels are then connected together in a similar way to multiply (increase)
the energy production even more or to the desired level of current and voltage sufficient to power
household loads. You can learn more about how
to connect solar panels and the different effects created in terms of watts, volts and amps by
clicking here to visit the "Solar Panel Wiring" section of our website.
Although one cell only produces a tiny (but usable) amount of power, joining many
together can potentially power your entire home, your whole block and even entire cities.
So how do solar cells work?... Pretty darn well I'd say!
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