How Photovoltaic Solar Cells Work

Rays from the sun are a wonderful way to obtain energy, which is almost limitless. When sunlight is employed to generate energy, though, you might not be precisely certain the way it comes about. Sure, you may have seen the solar panels on the side or roof of a house or two. You could have even looked carefully once or twice at the photovoltaic cells in your calculator at home, but do you know what those panels are and how they work exactly? The following is an explanation of those cells and how they are utilized to create solar energy in everything from calculators to homes.

How do Photovoltaic Cells Generate Electricity

The panels you see when solar energy is being captured are called photovoltaic panels. Each panel is made up of a number of photovoltaic cells, which are made from a type of treated silicon. Each cell is able to produce a small electrical charge when exposed to the rays of the sun.

Because photovoltaic cells each only produce a tiny amount of electricity, they have to be used together. They are generally wired together to create the solar panels you are likely acquainted with seeing when you think of solar energy. Each panel, therefore, can be used to produce more energy and more electrical power to run household items as well as large buildings in some cases.

How are Photovoltaic Cells Made

There are actually a number of types of photovoltaic although the majority can be classified into three groups, which are –

  • Monocrystalline Cells
  • Polycrystalline Cells
  • Amorphous cells

Monocrystalline are the most efficient photovoltaic cells but they are also the most expensive. They are made up of an individual crystal, which is cut from what is called an ingot of silicon.

Slightly less efficient, but much more affordable are the polycrystalline cells. Rather than using on ingot of silicon, these cells are made slightly differently. The silicon has a number of small crystals which makes them more affordable even if they do lose a little of their efficiency.

A step down even from the polycrystalline cells in price, but also considerably less efficient, amorphous cells are made by spreading the silicon over an alternative substance such as stainless steel.

If you are going to be making use of solar power, it is important to weigh up which of these cell types will be best for you. The primary factor you should look at is just how much space you have for solar power panels. If you do not have a lot of space, you will likely need to invest in the polycrystalline or monocrystalline panels. On the other hand, if you have ample space for your solar panels, you can go ahead and utilize the cheaper amorphous cells to obtain the same quantity of energy.

The current produced from photovoltaic cells is generally Direct Current (DC) power, but with the addition of a converter, it can be changed into Alternating Current (AC). That will enable you to do practically anything you need with your solar energy.

I hope that you now understand a little more about the photovoltaic cells you see used with solar power. These are what allow folks to power their homes and businesses making use of no more than the power of sunlight. Armed with that wisdom, you can hopefully make the best choice regarding which type of photovoltaic panel will work best when you decide to make the jump to solar power.

Page Updated: February 20, 2017
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