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Harnessing the Sun's Power Through Solar Panels

What Are Solar Panels?

The world is about a revolution. Not the violent kind but the one that is good for the environment and the one that does not kill people. Alternative energy sources are on the upswing. Wind, geothermal and solar power has been used for the last 50-60 years but it's just now that people are taking notice.

Solar power has been used before on a small scale only because the materials were expensive and technology was limited. Through the years, different techniques and technologies were developed to maximize the use of solar energy and to yield large power outputs.

Solar energy is the radiant energy emitted by the sun in the form of light and heat. One primary material is used to harness the sun's light to make electricity. Crystalline silicon is used to make PVs or photovoltaic cells.

These cells are arranged in a grid like pattern on the surface of the panel. Another material used is the more expensive gallium arsenide. Solar panels that are made from amorphous silicon technology are more efficient and durable than crystalline silicon.

How Do These Panels Work?

The Solar Panels collect the sun's radiation and convert the energy to electricity. In comparison, the solar cells function like semiconductors that utilize a p-n junction diode.

The p-n junction diodes convert the energy received to electricity when the solar cells are exposed to sunlight. Electrical output will depend on the quality and quantity of the panels exposed to sunlight. Photovoltaic effect is the term used when sunlight is converted to usable electrical energy.

At present there are large scale solar power providers around the world. It helps provide additional and sustainable power to the grid. Private companies also offer small scale assemblies of panels that can be installed at home and offices.

Experiments by private individuals and colleges are being made on how to maximize the use of these panels for everyday life. Experimental solar powered cars are raced every year at the World Solar Challenge; a solar powered aircraft called 'Helios' was already made and flew successfully and lamp posts with solar panels are installed in parks and streets to conserve electricity consumption.

It would be very helpful if these solar panels would be easily accessible to ordinary people as this means saving a lot of energy coming from fossil fuels. Investing on these may seem to spend a lot of money but looking at it long term, that's definitely a big time savings.

About the Author:
Peter McKenzie is an independent solar panel reseller. He started building small scale solar panel for home use and expanded his knowledge about it. He graduated with an engineering degree. For more information on solar energy.
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By Peter McKenzie


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