How Do Solar panels Work

The basics of Solar PV Panels explained

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Solar panels are made up of a collection small solar cells which are spread over a large panel area and combined together to produce power. These cells are small discs of  semiconductors similar to silicon. As light hits the semiconductor, it is converted into electricity which passes through the circuit attached to the solar cells. 

Solar panels NI

The volume of power produced depends on the amount of light that makes contacts with the cell. For example, spacecraft technology functions by pointing directly at the sun because they are designed using solar panel sheets.

The solar concentrator uses Fresnel lenses to extract a large proportion of the sunlight and bending the rays to beam on a particular area; similar to using a magnifying glasses under sunlight to generate heat. These solar concentrators are placed on top of each solar cell. 


Some of the terminology involved:

Solar Cell: A semiconductor device which concerts light into electricity.

Module: A module consists of PV circuit cells which are sealed within protective laminate.

Solar Panel: Made up PV modules assembled, wired and installed into the unit.

Array: The complete power sourcing unit, made up of PV modules and panels.


Who Can Benefit from Solar Panels?

Solar panels are used in a range of residential and commercial premises. They are most common in new builds; however, they can also be added to existing premises.

In comparison to other sources of electricity, solar panels are have a longer life. Solar panels are generally rated for a period of 25 years, which is longer than the guarantee of a home roof and their effectiveness only decreases by around 1% each year.

How efficient are Solar Panels?

Solar panels convert up to 20% of their available energy from the sun into electricity. Manufacturers can provide datasheets which detail tested standards of efficiency. The amount of energy used by the home and the size and quality of the system will determine the savings made on the purchase of a solar panel. Solar panel systems begin paying themselves off immediately after installation. Additionally, solar panel systems also increase the value of an individual’s home.

What Factors Effect the Efficiency of Solar Panels?

The volume of power produced by a solar panel depends on the amount of sunlight surrounding your premises, the quality of the solar technology including the materials used to construct it, the cleanliness of the panels and the amount of time that the technology has been in operation.

When purchasing a solar panel, it is not advised to purchase on the basis of size as this does not reflect the efficiency or performance of the solar panel’s ability to conduct electricity. Instead, it is recommended to consider the €/£ to wattage ratio. Owners should look at the kWh produced from the solar panels to calculate their overall return of investment.

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