How do solar panels convert sunlight into electricity?
A solar panel is a collection of many solar cells (photovoltaic abbreviation PV) and is covered with protective glass and fixed together with an aluminum alloy frame. These photovoltaic solar cells are made of the semiconducting material silicon, which is sliced ultra-thin.
Each photovoltaic cell has a negative layer and a positive layer. The negative electrode has excess electrons, and the positive electrode has holes to accommodate these electrons (you can imagine the state where the octopus balls have not been placed in the pot). The electrons are moved by the built-in electric field and at the same time there is a voltage difference, so for a solar panel we just need some energy to break the electrons out of their current confinement so they flow from the negative layer to the positive layer.
Yes, this source of energy is the sun. The photons from the sun that hit the Earth’s surface all the time are the key to solving the problem of how solar panels work.
The energy from these photons frees the electrons in the negative pole of the photovoltaic cell from the magnetic field and moves them, which means we now have an electric current that can flow, which is called the photovoltaic effect.
This is just the beginning of understanding how solar panels work, as these electrons need conductors to travel through and act on electrical equipment. So, how did this happen?
The paths we create for electrons are called circuits. As they leave the negative side of the cell, we want them to flow through our loads (like our LED lights and appliances) so that the electrons can power those loads by the time they reach the positive layer of the cell.
The flow of electricity is important
Solar photovoltaic panels generate direct current (DC), but we use alternating current (AC) in our homes. To solve this problem, an inverter is added to our PV system to convert DC power to AC power.
Inverters are a key factor in determining how a solar panel will work because without an inverter in our photovoltaic system, we cannot do much with the electricity generated by our solar panels.
The main types of inverters are centralized inverters, string inverters, and micro inverters.