How Do Solar Panels Work: Understanding The Workings Of Solar Panels

The main question non-technical people have about solar energy is ‘how do solar panels work?’ Engineers make the process look simple, but the technology behind solar power is quite clever, and an increasing number of people are interested in utilizing it to produce green energy.

There are two kinds of solar power conversion: one is thermal, the other is photovoltaic. Photovoltaic energy is turned into electricity. Thermal energy is used to heat water. This water can in turn be used to heat a home or commercial building.

Special panels are constructed to collect and convert the sun’s energy, which is natural and constant, into whichever power you want, but the panels differ from each other quite a bit. With a PV panel, the sun’s DC rays need to be converted into a form which the user can apply to his or her electrical system. This system runs on AC power. New panels are being made which make this conversion automatically, whereas many older systems require a special inverter.

Panels for solar thermal collection require no batteries or inverters. Numerous pipes run across the panel for water to run through. These are heated and returned to the household or business to fill a tank with hot water, or to provide warmth through walls or heating pipes under your floor.

In either case, the sun’s energy can be captured using a large panel or even in roof tiles specially constructed for this purpose. To get the most from the sun, a moving system is installed onto a foundation using wheels and a computer program which tells panels to follow the sun’s direction throughout the day.

The sun’s position and your location are the two critical factors you need to consider when installing solar panels. Your exposure must be significant throughout the year to make these systems work. Chart the amount of sun you get each day in the preferred location for your panels. Also, make sure there are no obstructions to the collection of direct sunlight. This is especially important for PV systems which rely on direct light to work.

Solar thermal has the advantage over PV solar because it does not require as much direct sunlight to work. ‘Thermal’ refers to heat, meaning it is temperature you are concerned with. If you can get enough exposure to capture heat from the sun efficiently, then you can have cloudy days and still make a thermal collector work.

The other advantage of solar thermal is that it does not rely on batteries, which is good news for environmentalists. Batteries are among the most environmentally dangerous items the industrial world creates.

As for the cost of collecting solar energy, this can be tempered with some knowledge on your part. If you know the answer to the question, ‘how do solar panels work,’ then you can also take part in their installation. As technology progresses, systems become less complicated and more user-friendly, meaning you could install a do-it-yourself (DIY) panel or collector without much trouble if you are at all technically inclined.

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