Solar panels, also known as photovoltaic (PV) panels, convert sunlight into electricity through the photovoltaic effect. Here’s a simplified explanation of how solar panels work:

  1. Photovoltaic Cells: Solar panels are made up of smaller units called photovoltaic cells or solar cells. These cells are typically made of semiconductor materials, such as silicon.
  2. Photovoltaic Effect: When sunlight (photons) strikes the surface of the solar cells, it excites the electrons in the semiconductor material. This process is known as the photovoltaic effect.
  3. Generation of Electric Current: The excited electrons create an electric current. The solar cells have an electric field that forces these electrons to flow in a particular direction, creating an electric current. This flow of electrons is what we harness as electricity.
  4. Solar Panel Construction: Solar cells are connected together and mounted on a support structure to form a solar panel. Multiple panels are often connected to create a solar array.
  5. Inverter Conversion: The direct current (DC) generated by the solar panels is then sent to an inverter, which converts it into alternating current (AC). Most household appliances and the electricity grid use AC power.
  6. Power Grid Connection: The converted AC electricity is either used to power devices in your home or business, stored in batteries for later use, or fed back into the power grid. Many solar-powered systems are grid-tied, meaning they are connected to the electricity grid, allowing excess electricity to be supplied to the grid, and the user can draw power from the grid when their solar panels aren’t producing enough energy.

By harnessing the energy from sunlight, solar panels provide a renewable and environmentally friendly source of electricity, reducing dependence on non-renewable fossil fuels and contributing to a more sustainable energy future.