Every time one hears of solar energy, they visualize a rectangular navy blue-black panel stretched across the roof. We all know that these panels are responsible for converting solar energy to electricity. However, as easy as it sounds, the science of solar panels is much more complex.

Underlying principle

The conversion of sunlight to consumable, domestic electricity is a complex and multi-layered process. However, the whole complexity of the process may be narrowed down to the principle of the photovoltaic effect. It refers to the tendency of certain materials to emit electrons when sufficient energy is provided to their atoms.

Solar panels

To understand the science of solar power generation, we need to understand the engineering and working of solar panels.

  • They are consolidated units of many photovoltaic cells.
  • These numerous cells are made up of semiconductors.
  • Such choice is useful as the material helps to conduct electricity and also maintains an electric field.
  • The photons from the sunlight striking the panel help to excite the electrons.
  • The free electrons drift linearly in the electric field created by the opposite semiconductors sandwiched together.
  • The electrons flow towards the conductive metal plates along the cell’s body.
  • This linear flow of electrons constitutes an electric current.

This flowing current enters the wires through the metal plates as regular electricity.

The current is however direct; it needs to be leveled up to a form consumable by appliances that work on alternating current. An inverter is attached to the setup which changes DC to AC, making it accessible to be used for domestic chores.

Breaker box and solar battery

Once the current is converted from DC to AC, it is transported to a breaker box. It is also known as the electrical panel and serves as the outsourcing station.

  • The electricity is distributed to various areas of the building from this panel.
  • The crude form of solar energy is changed into a suitable form to be used by appliances and devices.
  • An additional solar battery stores the power for emergencies.

Solar grid

When electricity is generated from solar energy, there might be a possibility of surplus power. You may not use the total energy generated by your system. Solar power systems come with a facility of selling off this surplus electricity back to the power grid through a utility meter. You are paid according to tariffs set by the state authorities.

The utility meter measures the amount of electricity consumed by you over a period. When electricity is produced in excess, the meter runs backward and compensates you accordingly through a process of net metering.

In case you switch to a complete off-grid option, your system might draw power from the grid during non-sun periods. It rarely happens as your power system produces sufficient solar electricity to take care of your needs regardless of day or night.

This is a simplified version of the science of solar power. A lot of math and science goes into engineering an efficient PV system. It can help you save bucks in the long run, as you have a greener alternative to thermal electricity.

For more information on solar power and panels, contact Waaree Energies Limited, one of the top manufacturers of solar panels in India

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