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What Are Solar Panels?

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What solar panels really are?

You might have heard about global warming and how renewable energy can save everything. Diving deep into renewables, the most common term used nowadays is solar energy which solar panels are a part of. So what are they? A solar panel is a device, and like any device, it also has a function; to convert solar energy (light from the sun) into electricity. 

If you look further into what makes a solar panel, you’ll discover that it is made up of smaller solar cells. These solar cells are arranged in an orderly manner in a metal frame and covered by a strong piece of glass. These solar cells are connected to your home through wiring to power any devices or lights with the electricity produced by the solar panel.

Solar Panels Composition

Silicon is a common material found on Earth and only stands second in line after oxygen as the most abundant element. Most of the solar panels you see are comprised of silicon, as it likes sunlight a lot.

If you look under a magnifying lens, you’ll find that this silicon is made up of silicon crystals arranged in a grid. This arrangement makes the solar panel efficient in converting solar energy into electricity.

Silicon is not just a material that was found out of luck. Scientists researched and experimented for countless years to find the material that could most efficiently transform sunlight into electricity. The research for better materials is ongoing.

The Working

Think of solar panels as having dual layers. We’ll name one layer “N Side” with a negative electric charge and the other “P Side” with a positive electric charge. If you’re confused about the definition of an electric charge, consider it a force between tiny bits of material (called “subatomic particles”).

This force can either pull them away from each other or push them closer toward each other. Negatively charged material wants to move away from other negatively charged material, and positively charged material wants to move away from other positively charged material. 

Therefore, we say “like repels.” However, if positive and negative are placed together, they’ll be attracted to each other. Therefore we say “unlike attracts.” These opposite charges are attracted together, and when they combine, they form something neutral.

A solar panel is designed in such a way as to let energy travel from the P Side to the N Side. There is a gap left intentionally between the two layers that stop the flow between them. Photons are small packets of energy and light that make up sunlight. When they hit anything, they transfer their energy to it.

So, when these excited photons hit a solar panel, they excite the electrons in the silicon on the N Side. These electrons move to the P Side since the N Side cannot hold them. This movement generates electricity and is termed the “photovoltaic effect”.

The Need For Solar Panels

Solar panels are needed for this planet so we don’t produce pollutants using harmful energy sources. These pollutants ultimately hurt the planet. Solar energy is also called “clean energy” because it prevents making the planet dirty when utilized.

A good way to use clean energy is to use solar panels. This is because the sun always shines in the day, even if it’s cloudy on Earth. It will never stop shining, and we can extract that energy without harming the planet or the Sun. This is why we can use many solar panels; the more we use them, the less we’ll rely on dirty energy sources like fossil fuels.

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