Solar panels convert sunlight into electricity by taking energy from the sun. How can something so simple and common-looking transform sunlight into electricity that can power your TV or appliances? How do solar panels produce energy? Let’s start by looking at the materials used to make a solar panel.
What Is a Solar Panel Made Of?
Solar panels are somewhat like sandwiches. They can be made up of different materials that are then layered together to make something more than the sum of its individual parts.
When you combine layers of different materials, magic happens.
Solar panels, however, are not made of bread, meat, or vegetables. Instead, they are comprised of six layers:
- Solar Cells
- Aluminum frame
The panel’s top layer of glass protects the delicate layers below. Although it may sound absurd, a glass barrier is an ideal material for protecting your panel.
Solar panels are made of durable glass that can withstand severe impacts. Many solar panels can withstand 1-inch hailstones at 50 miles an hour. This glass is not invincible but it can take a beating.
A layer of the encapsulant is found beneath the glass. This binds the glass with the solar cells below. This encapsulant has been specially designed to withstand extreme temperatures and UV exposure. Clearness is also important to allow sunlight to reach the layers below. EVA (ethyl Vinyl Acetate) is the most common type of encapsulant used in solar panel manufacturing.
The solar cells are the next star of the solar sandwich and their “meat”. These are the solar cells you will see when you look at a panel’s front. These cells are usually blue or black and look like small rectangular or octagonal squares (monocrystalline) or small rectangles/polycrystalline panels. These cells make up each solar panel.
These solar cells are composed of semiconductor silicon crystals. Continue with the “cheesy sandwich” comparison. Monocrystalline cells would look like fresh-roasted turkey breasts, while polycrystalline cells would look similar to bologna.
Monocrystalline panels have one silicon crystal per solar cell. However, polycrystalline panels are composed of multiple silicon crystals that have been fused during manufacturing. Monocrystalline cells are generally more efficient but polycrystalline panels can be more affordable.
A solar sandwich, however, has “double meat.” It is made up of silicon cells that are stacked one upon the other.
A backsheet lies below another layer of encapsulant. This is what creates the lines of a solar panel’s white or black colors. The backsheet is visible below, as each solar cell is spaced.
The backsheet protects everything and keeps it together, just like bread. Backsheets can be made from a mixture of polymers. They keep out moisture and any other unwanted materials.
The edges of the entire solar panel are then covered with an aluminum frame. This protects all layers.
How Does a Solar Panel Generate Power?
After we have examined each layer of a solar panel, we will take a look at how they can convert sunlight into electricity.
The silicon solar cells do most of the heavy lifting, as we mentioned above.
These silicon cells have two layers, as you’ll remember. The top layer is given a negative charge by adding phosphorus (which gives it more electrons). Boron is added to the bottom layer. This decreases electrons and gives them a positive charge.
Here is where the solar magic happens
An electric field is created by the positively and negatively charged solar cell. Photons, which are particles of sunlight, hit the panels and knock out electrons. The electrons attract to the metal conductive plates at the sides of the cells. The electrons are then pushed through connecting wires, and voila!
It is important to remember that electricity generated by a solar panel produces direct current (DC) electricity. The majority of electricity we use is alternating or AC electricity. The solar inverter is another important component of solar energy systems.
Through secure wires, DC electricity is carried to the inverter. The inverter then converts the DC electricity into AC power. It’s then sent to your distribution panel for use in your home, business, or farm.
Grid-tied systems will transfer any electricity that is not being used immediately to the electric grid. You will receive a credit of kWh from your utility company if you live in a state that has net metering. This means you can get as much power as you need from the grid at no additional cost.
Solar Panels Are Simple in Design But Can Do Big Jobs
Solar power is far safer than other forms of electricity generation. Also, solar panels produce renewable energy that emits little or no carbon dioxide and has a minimal impact on the environment. The six main layers of material are combined so that clean electricity can almost be produced anywhere the sun shines.
One of the key benefits of solar panels is that they are a clean and renewable source of energy. They do not produce any greenhouse gases or other harmful emissions, and solar panels can produce energy as long as there is sunlight available. Solar panels are also becoming increasingly affordable and efficient, making them a viable option for a wide range of applications. Whether you are looking to power your home, business, or other structure, solar panels can be an effective and sustainable solution.
Make the Switch to Solar – Start Generating Your Own Electricity Today!
Take the first step towards a cleaner, more sustainable future with ESD Solar! Our team of experienced professionals is here to help you make the switch to solar power and take control of your energy needs. Whether you are looking to power your home, business, or other structure, we have the expertise and resources to make the process easy and hassle-free. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to save money on energy costs and reduce your carbon footprint – contact ESD Solar today to learn more about our solar services and how we can help you achieve your energy goals.