simplified explanation of how solar panels work:

  1. Solar Cells: The basic building blocks of solar panels are photovoltaic (PV) cells, which are usually made of silicon. These cells contain semiconductors that have the ability to absorb photons (particles of light) from the sun.

  2. Absorption of Photons: When sunlight hits the solar panel, the PV cells absorb the photons. The photons transfer their energy to the electrons in the atoms of the semiconductor material, causing them to become excited and break free from their atoms.

  3. Electric Field: The structure of the solar cell includes an electric field. This electric field directs the flow of electrons and creates a potential difference, similar to a battery, which allows the electrons to flow in a specific direction.

  4. Flow of Electrons: The freed electrons are then captured by metal conductive plates on the solar cell, forming an electric current. This flow of electrons creates direct current (DC) electricity.

  5. Wiring and Connections: Multiple solar cells are connected in series or parallel to form a solar panel. These panels are then connected together to create a solar array. Wiring and connections allow the current to be collected and combined.

  6. Inverter: The DC electricity generated by the solar panels needs to be converted to alternating current (AC) electricity, which is what most homes and businesses use. An inverter is used to convert the DC electricity into AC electricity.

  7. Electricity for Use: The converted AC electricity can now be used to power electrical devices, appliances, or fed back into the electrical grid. In some cases, excess electricity produced by the solar panels can be stored in batteries for later use.

It’s worth noting that solar panels are most efficient when they are directly exposed to sunlight and positioned at an optimal angle to maximize sunlight absorption. Additionally, other components like mounting structures, wiring, and an electrical metering system are needed to complete a solar panel system.