How Does Solar PV Work?

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Solar PV – or Solar Photovoltaics – refers to the generation of electricity using energy from the sun. Modern solar panels are able to produce electricity from just daylight, although more electricity is produced during sunnier days.

By installing Solar PV panels, homeowners are able to generate their own electricity. The installation of Solar PV often leads to decreased energy bills due to less reliance on the grid, and also lessens a homeowner’s carbon footprint.

A lot of emphasis is placed on the benefits of Solar PV installation in the home, but how does it really work? Below we will explain the science behind Solar PV, and how these simple devices are set to change how we generate electricity.

The History of Solar Power

Solar energy has been used in a multitude of ways since the 7th Century BC. The Ancient Greek and Roman empires have been documented as using the sun’s rays and ‘burning mirrors’ to light ceremonial torches, as well as using reflective devices to set fire to attacking armadas.

As technology advanced, so did invention. In 1767, Swiss scientist Horace-Benedict de Saussure discovered the world’s first solar collector cell. He constructed an insulated box using three layers of glass, and when placed into the sun he found the box generated a heat upwards of 230 degrees Fahrenheit.

Since the dawn of modern technology, harnessing solar power has been an ongoing pursuit. By 1954, the first practical application of the photovoltaic cell was developed and solar power became more commercially available. Solar power is now more popular than it has ever been, and it is common to see houses with Solar PV panels installed.

How Does Solar PV Work?

As the panel receives sunlight, a device within the panel called an inverter changes the energy absorbed by the panels into useable electricity. This electricity can then be used to power your home, and any excess power generated can be saved a battery unit for later use or fed back to the National grid.

A typical solar panel consists of a number of photovoltaic cells grouped together, that are then layered on top of one another. The top layer of the panel features cells that are more unstable than the other layers. When an energy source reaches the surface, electrons within this layer are displaced.

These electrons are then pulled downwards towards the other layers of photovoltaic cells. This movement causes a current of energy in the cell, which then travels from the panel into a circuit where electricity is produced. This current in Solar PV panels is referred to as direct current or DC current.

However, the DC electricity produced in solar panels is not suitable to power our homes, and so the electricity produced must be converted. The DC electricity is converted to AC electricity – or alternating current electricity. For this to occur solar panels must be linked to an inverter, whereby the electricity converted becomes suitable to power our homes.

Why Choose Solar PV

There are numerable benefits to installing Solar PV in your home. Having Solar PV installed significantly reduces a homeowner’s carbon footprint due to the generation of completely clean energy. As well as this, using solar power in the home leads to a considerable reduction in a homeowner’s energy bills. This is due to the home using less energy from the National grid, and the reduction can be even greater when excess energy is stored in a solar battery unit.

The benefits of installing Solar PV are extensive. By harnessing all of the sunlight on Earth for just one hour, we would be able to use that energy to power the entire world for one whole year. As fossil fuel reserves continue to deplete, harnessing renewable and clean energy has never been more imperative.

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