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Solar panels: How do they work? What is the photovoltaic effect?

Solar panels: How do they work? What is the photovoltaic effect?

The principle of operation of photovoltaic panels is that batteries convert electricity into solar energy. This phenomenon is called the photovoltaic effect. How does a solar panel work and does the principle of operation of solar panels on the roof differ from those installed on the ground?

Photovoltaics is currently undergoing intensive development. All because of the huge benefits it brings. Setting up a photovoltaic installation gives you a feeling of independence from the ever-increasing electricity prices. Before you decide on a photovoltaic installation, it is worth finding out what solar batteries are, how they generate electricity, and where they are best installed.

What is a solar battery? The definition in a nutshell

  • Solar batteries, which are often called photovoltaic panels or solar panels, are devices that produce electricity directly from solar energy.
  • The components of a solar battery are called solar cells or photovoltaic cells. The cell itself is made of two very thin silicon wafers, which are adjacent to each other.
  • Electric charges are generated at the contact point of these plates under the influence of sunlight. The bottom of the cell is covered with a conductive metal sheath, and on the top – a metal mesh. Their role is to discharge the direct current generated in the cell.

There are commonly available 3 types of cells that make up photovoltaics:

  • monocrystalline batteries,
  • polycrystalline batteries,
  • amorphous batteries.

Monocrystalline batteries are the most expensive, but also the most efficient: they reach even more than 15 percent. efficiency.

Polycrystalline batteries are a bit cheaper to produce, but as a result their efficiency is lower.

Amorphous batteries are used in rather small devices. The efficiency of amorphous batteries is often even half that of monocrystalline batteries.

It is worth noting that new types of photovoltaic panels are constantly being developed with a lower price and higher efficiency. When discussing the types of panels, you should also explain how solar panels work.

How does a solar battery work?

When deciding to set up a photovoltaic installation, it is worth getting to know the specificity of its operation.

First of all, you should look at how solar panels work, and also how it happens in practice that electricity from the sun goes to an electrical outlet.

Obtaining electricity from the sun is a process that takes place in stages:

  1. The photovoltaic effect – the principle of operation of cells
  2. Inverter in photovoltaics – converts energy from photovoltaic modules

Solar panels on the roof – what should you remember?

If you already know how solar panels work on the roof of our house, there are other important issues worth paying attention to.

Choosing a place to install solar panels

  • In order to optimize the performance of solar panels, a suitable place should be chosen for their installation. It is important to ensure that they are positioned in a way that will allow them to collect as much solar radiation as possible.
  • Here, the location of the panels in relation to the sides of the world plays a special role. If you want to install solar panels on the roof, the south is the best direction. Make sure that the entire installation that meets the demand will be oriented in this direction.
  • If the installation is not possible to install to the south, you may consider mounting to the east and west. Installing solar panels to the north is strongly discouraged.
  • Of course, it is best to mount the solar panels on the south or south-west side of the roof, at an angle of 30-45 degrees. If they are mounted vertically, they will generate less electricity (from 5% to 35% less).
  • It is also very important that nothing obscures the photovoltaic panels. Then they will not be fully efficient. Therefore, check that the roof surface is not shaded by surrounding trees or installations during the day. Even a slight shading of one of the panels can cause the entire installation to produce by 20-30% at that time. less energy. The place for the installation of solar panels should be well insolated on the entire surface.

Dimensions of photovoltaic panels and their weight

  • When deciding whether to mount a PV system on the roof, check that the roof can withstand the extra load.
  • The average weight of one solar panel is about 18 kg, plus the weight of the mounting system. If you are unsure that the roof can withstand the extra load, consider relocating the PV panels.
  • It is also worth considering the winter period, when there may be snow cover on the roof.

Solar panels on the ground

If the roof does not meet the requirements for installing solar panels, you can place them on the ground.

Here are the 6 most important facts about a solar plant on the ground:

  1. You can set the free-standing panels at any angle, you also do not have to worry about the weight of the structure. The most important thing is that the place for the installation of photovoltaic panels on the property should not be shaded.
  2. In some cases, it may be that the installation area available on the ground is larger than the roof area. This solution can translate into higher energy profits, which in turn translates into even greater savings.
  3. The advantage of ground-based photovoltaics is that it is easier to clean – the panels are easy to get to and the cells can be cleaned properly.
  4. However, it should be remembered that the installation of photovoltaics on the ground may require the use of additional materials (e.g. cement – in the construction of foundations). This prevents the soft ground from lowering.
  5. The system supporting the solar panels must be more solid than the one mounted on the roof.
  6. In addition, it is worth paying attention to the higher VAT for panels installed on the ground (23%) compared to panels installed on the roof (8%).

Another article on this blog that may interests you:

Solar Panel On Its 4 Main Elements

Rob Prosser

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