As we all know, the sun is the center of the solar system and a source of great power and energy. Humankind has been using the sun’s energy for over thousands of years for cooking, drying anything from food to clothing. Its energy is free, clean and limitless.
The sun gives us enough energy if we can only use them properly. So now our scientists and engineers are on their toes to harness the sun’s energy to generate power as an alternative environmental friendly energy source we can use in our homes.
So how does solar power work?
Let us go back to our elementary science class. Do you remember how plants produce food?
Green plants with the help of chlorophyll collect sunlight and convert them into carbohydrates which become the usable form of food in plants. These are also the same processes employed in thermal conversion of solar energy we use today to heat and warm homes and buildings or generate electricity – collect and convert. I promise this is as hard as this lesson will get so let’s move on.
The simplest way to collect solar energy, in the form of sunlight, is by using photovoltaic cells (PV). The PV cells contain pure and clean silicon semiconductors that are arranged in arrays inside the solar panels. These panels are housed in boxes and painted black to efficiently absorb sunlight.
When the sunbeams reach the solar panels, the positively charged photons act like hammers that pound the negatively charged silicon. Small wires in the silicon are connected to the panels that trap the neutrons that then lead to the circuit that will produce an electric current.
But how does solar power work to generate electricity that we can use?
The reaction between the photons from the sunlight and the solar panels creates a direct current (DC). These are the same current produced by car batteries. To be able to utilize it for our homes, these current should pass through an inverter to convert it to an alternating current (AC) which can now be used to power different electrical appliances.
Solar generated power can heat water or your pool. If you have an ample space in your roof, you can install several solar panels that you can now use to power your home’s centralized heating system. Position and location of the solar panels are essentials to generate power efficiently. They should not be installed in shaded areas or in locations where it cannot receive ample amount of sunshine.
A simple tilt can produce a great loss in the collection of sunlight thus decreasing the efficiency of generating electricity. The roof is an ideal place to install your solar panels since they are greatly exposed on a great sunny day. Installation of solar panels does not come cheap.
Silicon, which is its most important component, makes this technology very expensive for now. Acquiring this system requires an up-front expense on the part of the owner. But since there are no moving parts, it is almost maintenance free. Once you got your solar system up and running, it can save you thousands of dollars on your electric bill for the next 40 years. Not to mention, the government are giving tax rebates to those who use solar power in their homes. Now, don’t you think that’s a lot of savings?