How Does Solar Power Work?
As you seek to find a way to free yourself from ever-climbing utility bills, you may be asking yourself, "How does solar power work and how can I reap the benefits?" The good news is using solar power is not limited to a certain superhero flying around in a red cape and tights. Using solar power is a nice alternative to providing energy needs to your home. Converting to solar power can offer you peace of mind and a chance to laugh at your neighbors as they deal with rolling blackouts all summer while you sit in your den watching scores of movies on NetFlix.
Converting sunlight into power: There are many different ways to harness sunlight to supply power and energy. The most common method is using photovoltaic (PV) technology. PV or solar cells transform sunlight directly into electricity when it passes through the cells. When electrons within the cells are exposed to the speeding photons in the sunlight, they produce an electrical current that is captured and used to power a home or building.
Using solar panels: PV cells are grouped together in modules that form solar panels. Each solar panel is composed of two sheets of silicon, known as the N-layer and P-layer. The N-layer is constructed of silicon atoms with wandering free electrons. The P-layer has holes designed to attract free electrons. An electrical field separates the two layers. When a photon strikes either layer, it knocks loose an electron. These electrons go from the P-layer to the N-layer and are sent back through a wire circuit in the solar panel. While traveling the circuit, these electrons are used to power everything from lights to appliances.
Collecting energy: Energy collected from sunlight during daytime hours can be diverted into a battery source for later use. This is a way around the fact that the sun is not visible at night -- a natural obstacle presented by solar power. Lights operating on solar power can work throughout the night by using stored solar energy.
Benefits of solar energy: Unlike many other power resources, solar power does not produce harmful emissions or hazardous waste. It is the ultimate environmentally friendly power source. Solar power is the most renewable energy resource available. Because it literally draws on sunlight, solar power offers limitless energy resources. There is no need to grow sunlight or process it from raw materials into a refined fuel. It is all around us and is harnessed with the aid of some basic solar panel technology.