Solar energy can be gathered through the use of photovoltaic cells. What does “photovoltaic” mean? Photo means “light” and voltaic means “having to do with voltage.” A volt is a unit used to represent a quantity of electrical force. A photovoltaic cell or is one which uses light in order to create electricity.
When a semi-conductor is placed between a protective sheet of glass or plastic, to form a solar cell, it can create electrical power from the sun. Because of its electrical qualities, a semi-conductor is able to generate electricity when struck by the rays of the sun.
How a Solar Cell Works
The semi-conductor has two sides, both of which consist of a different metallic element. When hit by the rays of the sun, one side becomes positively charged, and the other side becomes negatively charged. This causes a small amount of electricity to flow between the two sides. By connecting several solar cells together inside one unit, one can increase the amount of electricity produced.
Several solar cells connected to each other in this way are referred to as a module or a solar panel. You can increase the amount of electricity produced even more, by connecting several modules or panels together. Once this is done, you have what is called a solar array.
Changing DC to AC
There is, however, another element that needs to be taken into consideration. Solar panels produce Direct Current (DC). Electricity supplied by the electrical company is always Alternating Current (AC). So if you want solar energy to power your home you will need to convert it from DC current to AC current.
This is easily done, using a device called an inverter.
What is an inverter? An inverter is a device which changes Direct Current into Alternating Current, so that it can be used to power household appliances.
Setting up Home Solar Panels
The use of solar panels does not make it unnecessary to be connected to the regular electrical grid. In fact, solar panels are usually set up alongside the regular power supply. Sometimes you will have higher energy requirements than will be supplied by the solar panels. Your electrical system will be set up in such a way that in times of higher demand, it will automatically pull power from the electrical grid.
Solar Energy and Your Future
The above article covers the basics of how solar panels work to create electricity.
Solar panels are a sound investment. They pay for themselves within a few years, through savings on electrical and/or heating bills.
Perhaps more importantly, solar energy is an investment into your future, the future of our children, and the future of the planet we live on. Solar energy has no harmful by-products (such as nuclear waste or CO2 emissions).
The use of solar powered in electronic devices or homes is not going to change the world overnight. But by getting the devices in use, you can assist in setting a trend toward a greener and cleaner environment.
What You Can Do About Solar Energy
While you might not be able to convert your home’s electrical system to solar right this instant, you can help by setting a trend through the use of smaller solar devices – such as a solar charger for batteries or a solar phone charger. In fact, there are a multitude of small electronic devices which can be run or powered by small portable solar chargers.
Aside from being nifty gadgets, these devices may become an important part of our first steps to getting solar energy in common use, which will benefit everyone.