Recently, the awareness about green and renewable energy has increased dramatically, and more and more people are now looking to install green energy features in their homes. There are many different ways to produce clean and green energy, but the most effective and popular method is solar panels. Environmental education has played a crucial role in increasing awareness about how solar panels and how to use them efficiently.
Solar energy has a lot of advantages; first of all, no fuel has to be burned to produce energy through solar panels, which means that they are considerably more environment friendly. Also, solar energy is a renewable form of energy, which means that it doesn’t deplete any of the world resources and reducing various types of pollutions. Solar panels are also quite advantageous financially, they can help you save a considerable amount of money from your bills, and some people even sell electricity back to the grid through solar panels.
People who install solar panels also get a relief off their taxes and the value of their homes is also increased significantly. All and all, there are almost no disadvantages to installing solar panels if you have the right environment for it. However, you might be wondering, how do these solar panels actually work?
Well in today’s post, we will be discussing the operation of solar panels. So, stick around if you want to learn how the sunlight can actually be converted to electricity and energy.
Firstly you should know that there are three basic kinds of solar panels, Photovoltaic solar panels, thermal solar panel systems and concentrated solar panel systems. We will discuss the operation of all three types in this post.
1. Photovoltaic solar panels
Even the name of these panels indicates the way that they work. The word photo means light and voltaic means electricity, so photovoltaic solar panels actually use the light of the sun to create energy.
The main idea of creating energy from light was discovered by Einstein, and the first photovoltaic cell was made multiple decades ago, but the technology has been really refined now to make it super effective.
To understand the working of photovoltaic solar panels, you need to have a basic understanding of what current or electricity is. In simple words, you could say that current is the flow of charges. So, what actually happens in solar panels is that the particles of light strike the surface of the solar panels and they pass some of their energy to the electrons on the surface which start to flow, this results in the creation of electricity.
The electricity is then stored in batteries in the form of direct current. The direct current is then converted to alternating current using an inverter.
Photovoltaic solar panels are the most commonly used kind of solar panels as they are easier to install and don’t take too much space either. Photovoltaic solar panels are best for using at home or at a small office building.
In the recent five years, we have seen a lot of advancements in the technology of solar panels. Researchers have actually produced, super thin and flexible solar panels, which are actually only 1.3 microns thick. These flexible panels are actually 20 times lighter than an average sheet of paper, but still, these panels can produce electricity, with almost the same efficiency as a full-sized glass-based solar panel.
In a recent study, scientists suggested that these flexible solar panels can have many applications in modern architecture and aerospace technology.
2. Thermal solar panels
The basic operational features of these panels can also be recognized from their name. Thermal solar panels use the heat of the sun to create energy. These panels are used to heat up water or some other liquid like oil, which is then used for the production of energy. Thermal solar panels work by directing the heat of the sun on a small point.
Solar thermal panels or as they are also called solar collectors are mounted on your roof to absorb the heat of the sun. The primary advantages of these panels are water heating and internal heating of your home. Thermal solar panels are also quite popular for swimming pool heating.
There are basically two main types of solar thermal panels available in the market.
The first kind is Flat-plate collectors, which look a lot like photovoltaic panels. They are made from a dark surface that ensures maximum absorption of the sun’s heat. The absorber can be made from different materials. Usually polymers, aluminum steel or copper are used for the absorption surface of the panels.
These panels also have a fluid that actually transfers the heat from the absorber to the water tank. The second kind of thermal panels are called evacuated or vacuum tube collectors. These panels are actually made up of several glass tubes. The transferred fluid takes the heat of the sun to the actual water tank, it flows through these tubes.
This system of thermal solar panels is actually more efficient and useful than flat-plate panels. But they can sometimes show issues in extremely hot areas as the vacuum tubes don’t allow heat to be dissipated. These panels are suitable for colder environments because of the vacuum tubes.
3. Concentrated solar panels
Concentrated solar power systems are another effective way to convert the sun’s rays into energy. In these systems, large reflective surfaces like mirrors are used to concentrate the sunlight from a huge area. The concentrated heat of the sun is used to operate a steam turbine to produce electricity.
Though this is an effective way to produce renewable energy, it is only applicable on large scales. This system can’t really be used as a home solar energy system, but it is very beneficial if it is utilized in large deserts and unoccupied areas with a lot of sunlight.
So, this was a small guide to solar panels, their types and their operation, we hope that you got to learn a lot about solar energy. We hope the information will help you implement the right and most efficient system in your home.
Solar energy has wide applications and thus can be used in variety of ways. Electricity generation is just way of harnessing solar energy whereas heating is an equally useful way of using it. By using solar power one can do their bit in reducing environmental degradation. The price of solar panels have decreased drastically in last decade which makes the use of photovoltaic solar panels most lucrative and feasible for household use and as well as industrial use.
Related: Reasons to Install Solar Energy for Cost Efficiency, Urban Development and Climate Change Relationship