Free Electricity! This is what everyone thinks of when they hear the word ‘solar’. While partly true, with solar panels on your house, you may be eligible for essentially free electricity. But how exactly do solar panels work? What is the technology behind something that has revolutionized the electrical world?
A Brief History of the Solar Panel
The history of the solar panel is quite an interesting one. Over the years, it has gone from a French physicist realisation that there is a creation of voltage when a material is exposed to light to the age of solar power, where now over 21% of Australian homes have some form of solar panels located on their roofs.
As mentioned above, French physicist Edmond Becqueral discovered that light can create voltage when it was projected on a material in 1839. From there, the evolution of solar energy was ever constant. Bell Labs in the United States are credited with the first photovoltaic solar cell 1954, which pushed the conversion efficiency from 4% to 11%. During the next century, the efficiency of solar panels has continued to improve, with the most powerful models on the market claiming to produce upwards of 23% efficiency.
Okay, so how do they actually work?
The basic premise of how a solar panel works is the same as when it was first discovered over 120 years ago. Sunlight is projected onto a material which then converts into energy. But how the modern-day solar panels work is a true testament to how technology has evolved over time.
Solar panels absorb the sunlight using photovoltaic cells, which generates a direct current (DC) and then converts it to a usable alternating current (AC) energy. All this is done with the help of some form of inverter technology. This inverter technology is what separates the premium solar companies from the rest. The reason for an inverter is because most household electricity runs on AC, meaning that if there wasn’t an inverter, you would not be able to use the energy that was absorbed and stored.
What are Solar Panels made of?
Most photovoltaic solar panels are made up of a host of solar cells in various types of glass packaging. These solar cells are made of silicon, or some other semiconductor material. When they are constructed, they are layered with a positive layer then a negative layer, which together create an electric field, just like in a battery.
How can you benefit from installing solar panels?
Most people know the financial benefits of having solar panels installed:
- You save money on your electricity bill by not only using your absorbed energy for your own household, but by feeding unused energy back into the electricity provider’s grid.
- There is also the chance of making money from your solar panels, depending on how much electricity you use and how much your feed-in tariff is. A feed-in tariff is how much an electricity provider is willing to pay you per kilowatt.
But there is also the environmental benefit of installing solar panels:
- Using solar energy as your main source of electricity reduces greenhouse gas emissions as you are not burning fossil fuels to produce energy.
- And better still, solar energy will never run out, where coal and gas (which are the primary fossil fuel sources) will.
So basically, solar power is better for your hip pocket and better for the environment.
Already have solar but it’s not as efficient as it once was? Call Dawson Electric today
Over time, solar panels start to gather a bit of wear and tear and don’t perform as efficiently as they once did. That is why it is imperative to regularly maintain and service your systems. But given where solar panels are located (your roof most likely), solar panel maintenance is probably best left to the professionals.
Here at Dawson Electric, we have a team of highly trained, licensed electricians who are experienced with working with all types of solar systems. Contact Us today to talk to one of your team members who can help you with your solar enquiries.