An Overview of Solar Panels

by | Mar 15, 2023 | Renewable Energy, Solar Energy

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What Are Solar Panels?

Solar panels are a grouping of photovoltaic or solar cells that transform solar energy, or sunlight, into electrical energy. The photovoltaic process is the method of directly obtaining power from sunlight. As a PV detector, a photovoltaic cell or a self-generating barrier layer cell converts radiant flux directly into electrical current.

Though it has recently acquired popularity, the idea of creating energy dates back to a century ago. Henri Becquerel discovered the photovoltaic phenomenon and successfully transformed sunlight directly into electricity. Moreover, NASA is also employing this method of energy production because it produces no noise and no pollution.

How Are Solar Panels Made?

1. Purifying silicon from quartz sand is the initial step in producing solar panels. After being refined, silicon is gathered and formed into rocks. Afterward, these rocks melt together to produce cylinder-shaped ingots. It takes a steel and cylindrical furnace to develop the object into the appropriate form. All atoms must align in the proper orientation and structure when manufacturing occurs. Boron is used in the procedure to give silicon positive electrical polarity.

2. The cylindrical ingot is finely split into thin discs to create wafers. One at a time, using a cylindrical saw, is done. Manufacturers can use a multi-wire saw to cut numerous pieces at once. Shiny thin silicon reflects light because it is polished. Other materials may also create the anti-reflective coating, typically formed of titanium dioxide and silicon oxide.

3. Manufacturers go through several stages to turn silicon wafers into functional solar cells. Each wafer receives treatment, and metal conductors are added to the surface. The additional conductors cause a surface look that resembles a grid. They guarantee the conversion of sunlight into electricity. The silicon wafers’ covering prevents sunlight from reflecting, increasing the amount of solar energy absorbed and resulting in higher production.

4. The producers use metal connectors to join the solar cells once they are created. Several solar cells make up a solar panel arranged in a matrix-like pattern. A thin glass casing is attached to the side that faces the sun after the manufacturers have assembled the solar cells. The back layer is made of a highly resilient polymer-based substance as well. This stops substances like water, soil, and other things from reaching the solar cells. After completing this phase, the producer adds the frame, giving the cells more security. All of the pieces are joined together with ethylene-vinyl acetate.

5. At the final stage, the solar panel is tested to ensure it performs as planned.

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Types of Solar Panels

According to their usefulness, many types of solar panels are used by individuals. One must consider several aspects before purchasing a solar panel, including the location of the installation, the intended use – commercial or residential, and the budget. These can be divided into the following types:

1. Polycrystalline Silicon Solar Panel

It is built on multi-crystalline silicon and polysilicon. After being melted, the unprocessed silicon is then placed into a square mould, cooled, and then sliced into exactly square wafers.

They are between 120 and 150 Watt meters square efficient. As a result of the crystal gain boundaries’ ability to trap electrons, the efficiency is noticeably low. Polycrystalline panels exhibit slightly lower high-temperature ratings due to their lower heat coefficient.

2. Monocrystalline Silicon Solar Panel

The monocrystalline silicon solar panel is formed by cutting it from ingots, which results in a consistent design. Due to their rarity and high cost of recrystallization, these crystals of astronomical size are difficult to make. It has a solid power-to-size ratio with an efficiency of 135–170 Watts per square meter.

3. Amorphous or Thin film Solar Panel

Vapor deposition involves spraying silicon onto the substrate. A layer of silicon water that is 1 micron thick suggests that it is less efficient than mono- or polycrystalline and requires less energy to create. Compared to the other two panels, it works admirably in hotter settings but takes up more space. The embodied energy automatically decreases as no aluminum frame, and less silicon is used.

How Does A Solar Panel Work?

Step 1: Capture solar energy from solar panel

Sunlight striking the tiny layer of semiconductive material causes silicon atoms to release their electrons. The positively charged side of the cell is subsequently drawn to the negatively charged electrons. The solar panel’s free-flowing electrons cause this “photovoltaic effect” to develop. Electric current is produced by the traveling electrons and is then used to generate power via the wire attached to the solar panels.

Step 2: Convert DC to AC

Direct current (DC), which only flows in one direction, is the form of power that solar panels generate. Yet, the electricity that powers your household equipment is alternating current (AC), which means it goes both ways. This implies that for solar electricity generated by your panels to be used in your home, it must be converted from DC to AC. An inverter is required to convert DC electricity to AC power.

Step 3: Electricity distribution

The electricity produced by solar panels is often not connected directly to your appliances or other electronic devices. To understand how solar panels function, it is essential to know that they supply electricity to the electrical panel, which divides the home solar power into different circuits that flow to every part of the house.

Step 4: Consumption and production

Going solar reduces the amount of electricity you draw from the grid by using electricity generated by your solar panels. Your electric meter records significantly less consumption, and you save money by not having to pay the utility provider for that electricity. Most solar-powered homes have smart meters installed, tracking your home’s precise electricity usage. Your local utility provider receives real-time usage data from smart meters for invoicing, customer support, and research purposes. Because a smart meter measures actual electricity usage, eliminating the need for projected bills.

Step 5: Usage of batteries for excess energy storage

Solar battery storage installation is necessary to maximize the long-term advantages of switching to solar. You can store excess solar energy produced by your solar panels in a solar battery if it is more than you can utilize. In this method, rather than using the electrical grid, you will have access to electricity when it is dark outside or raining.

The Bottom Line

Solar panel installation aids in residential areas to help prevent the harmful greenhouse gas emissions contributing to global warming. Solar panels are clean and do not cause any pollution. Additionally, they lessen our dependency on conventional power sources and finite fossil fuels. These days, solar panels are utilized in various electrical devices, including calculators, which run as long as there is sunlight. Solar panels’ sole significant disadvantage is that they are relatively expensive.



  • Dr. Tanushree Kain

    Tanushree is a passionate Environmentalist with a Doctorate in Environmental Sciences. She is also a Gold medalist in Master of Science (M.Sc), Environmental Sciences. She has 6 years of experience as a guest faculty in Environmental Sciences. With her combination of technical knowledge and research expertise, she can create clear, accurate, and engaging content that helps users get the maximum information regarding environmental topics.

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