Solar Cells

Solar cells are used to make solar panels to provide solar energy to homes and businesses. These are also called photovoltaic cells, which are now available to power not only entire homes but also some new and interesting solar gadgets as well.

How Do Photovoltaic Cells Work?

picture of solar cell

Solar cells use energy from the sun or light to create electricity. This process is referred to as the photovoltaic effect.

Photovoltaic cells convert photons to electrons. These cells are normally made from silicon, a semiconductor. When sunlight shines on the cell, some of it is absorbed into the cells in the form of energy.

This energy frees the electrons, which flow in a certain direction; this flow is a current of electricity. The current produced along with the voltage of the cell determines how much power the cell will produce.

Photovoltaic Cells Become Solar Panels

Solar energy cells are used to make solar panels to provide solar energy to homes and businesses as well as other applications.

Solar cells are put together into modules and then those modules are connected together into an array, which is better known as a solar panel. Connecting the modules together creates more energy.

The number of cells contained within a panel determines the amount of energy produced by each panel. Larger homes or businesses require larger panels or a greater number of them to produce the energy needed to power the appliances, heat, cooling, and more.

The arrays or panels are covered by glass on the side facing the sun so that the photovoltaic cells can receive the sunlight and produce energy, but also be protected from the harsh elements like rain, snow, or sleet.

These panels are used to produce enough power for homes and commercial applications where larger amounts of energy are needed, such as businesses or schools.

A commercial solar power cell consists mainly of silicon. The silicon is processed and cut into different shapes and sizes and made into a photovoltaic cell. This is a long and rather expensive process, which explains why commercial solar panels are so expensive.

Researchers are looking for ways to make this process less expensive and more efficient in order to make solar power a more affordable and attainable option for home users. Nowadays, as more options become available, it is even possible to build a solar cell yourself.

Solar power is used in many applications. Most of us have owned a solar calculator at one time or another. Solar yard lights are a common item in most discount stores, as well as home and hardware stores. Solar energy cells also provide power to satellites, which in turn provide us with satellite television, cell phones, Internet, GPS and much more.

Solar Cells - Past and Future

A French physicist first discovered the photovoltaic effect in 1839. It was not until 50 years later that Charles Fritts made the first photovoltaic cell. The cell was constructed of selenium as a semiconductor and coated with a very thin layer of gold. These early cells were very inefficient. Solar cells manufactured today will produce enough energy to provide power for an entire household.

The popularity of solar power as an alternative and clean energy solution is growing. There are many solar powered gadgets on the market, such as solar radios, flashlights, battery chargers, solar water pumps, solar toys, cell phone chargers, solar security cameras, holiday lights, whimsical items like solar coasters, and more. You can find instructions on the Internet for making your own solar cells, panels, ovens, and other things.

Researchers are working to find even more efficient and cheaper ways to make solar power. This would enable more people to use the free energy from the sun for power on a regular basis. Developing more cost effective ways to produce this energy is a big step toward a cleaner earth and cheaper energy that can be used by all, not just the ones who can afford it.

Can Solar Panels Benefit You?

The solar panels need to be mounted on the roof at the proper angle. The panels should face the southern sky if used in the north hemisphere and should not be shaded by surrounding trees or buildings, as this will decrease the efficiency of the panels considerably.

Some house structures simply aren't built for solar panels, so it's important for you to check with a professional before deciding to make an investment. The slope of your roof and the direction it faces makes all the difference!

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