Photovoltaics, more commonly know as solar power, literally means sun (photo) voltage (voltaic). The energy that is released by the sun is measured by photons which are direct current electricity. Photovoltaic cells capture the photons that the sun naturally releases by way of emitting light. Think way back to your introductory physics class and remember that energy is neither created nor lost it is just transferred. Solar energy is the process of capturing the transfer of the suns energy as it is displaced.
Solar panels are the device that we utilize to capture the sun's photons. Each panel is constructed of numerous photovoltaic cells. Each photovoltaic cell is constructed from hyper silicon which is a highly light absorbent material. Hyper silicon is derived from beach sand. Beach sand has a very high silicon concentration and is processed into an extremely absorbent form of silicon called hyper silicon. This process is very expensive and time consuming which is why solar panels tend to be expensive. Although the initial cost can be surprising, keep in mind that the average solar panel works for at least 25 years.
Solar modules, commonly referred to as solar panels, are composed of numerous solar cells. The size of the module directly relates to the amount of voltage the module will create. Each cell in a module creates about 1/2 volt of energy and therefore a cell with about 32 cells will produce approximately 16-18 volts of energy. This is certainly not enough energy to run an entire office, home, or supply any large energy demand. Therefore, most solar energy users combine many solar modules to create an array. An array refers to any solar system that contains more than one solar panel. By combining multiple solar panels you increase your total voltage supply.
In order to get optimal efficiency from your solar panels, it is important that they receive direct sunlight. For example, on a cloudy day when the sunrays are still shining through the cloud layer and it still appears bright outside, your solar array will produce voltage at about half efficiency. Due to the importance of direct sunlight, many solar systems integrate trackers on their panels. These trackers move the solar panels throughout the day positioning them to receive the optimal amount of sunlight and allow the panel to collect the most photons. Trackers are so efficient that solar systems with more than eight modules that are in locations with dawn to dusk sun will produce more wattage with trackers on each module than by adding more modules to the system.
After the solar panels have done their job and collected the energy, it is time to utilize the power you just generated. Solar energy is collected in direct current (DC) voltage, while most homes and energy consumers utilize alternating current (AC) voltage. Therefore, the power that you collect from the photons must be transferred into AC voltage before they can be utilized. An inverter is a circuit which converts the DC power into AC power. Once you have converted the energy and supplied your needs, you can either sell the energy back to a utility company (grid tied homes) or store the energy for future use.
BD Batteries - A Broomfield-Designers Company
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