Solar panels, also known as photovoltaic (PV) panels, convert sunlight into electrical energy through a process known as the photovoltaic effect. The photovoltaic effect refers to the phenomenon where photons of light excite electrons in a material, causing them to become mobile and produce a flow of electrical current.
Here’s how a solar panel works in detail:
- Sunlight strikes the solar panel: Sunlight is made up of photons which contain energy. When sunlight strikes the solar panel, the photons are absorbed by the materials in the panel.
- Excitation of electrons: The absorbed photons excite the electrons in the materials, freeing them from their atoms and allowing them to flow freely in the panel.
- Generation of electrical current: The flow of free electrons generates a flow of electrical current in the solar panel. This electrical current can be harnessed and used to power electrical devices or stored in batteries for later use.
- Conversion of DC to AC: The electrical current generated by the solar panel is Direct Current (DC), which is not suitable for most electrical devices. An inverter is used to convert the DC into Alternating Current (AC), which is the form of electricity used in homes and businesses.
- Use of electrical energy: The AC electrical energy generated by the solar panel can be used immediately or stored in batteries for later use.
In summary, solar panels work by converting sunlight into electrical energy through the photovoltaic effect. The electrical energy generated can be used immediately or stored for later use.