Solar energy is the most effective form of renewable energy available to humans. Solar panels are designed to absorb the sun’s rays and convert them into electricity. But, do you know who made solar panels? There’s an interesting backstory that we’ll be covering in this guide.
But, first things first – solar panels are helpful for various applications, including making telecommunication equipment, remote sensing, and commercial and residential purposes.
Cutting back to the chase, Charles Fritts made solar panel in 1884 for the first time and brought forth a revolution in the field of solar energy. This is the one milestone discovery which we continue benefiting from even today.
Let’s help you discover a lot more about solar energy and solar panels in the upcoming sections!
What is a solar panel?
Silicon wafers-made solar panels are layered with dopant materials. This layering creates a p-n junction that helps generate electrical current when exposed to sunlight.
Solar panels convert light from the sun – which contains photons – into electricity.
Charles Fritts first made solar panel by using the photovoltaic effect. This process produces an electrical current when exposed to a light source.
However, it was not until 1954 that Bell Labs made solar panel, at least, the modern version of solar panels that is used today.
The first solar panel made of selenium cells was ¼-inch-thick and produced only 0.5 volts of power. The modern-day solar panel is made up of 20 layers of electrodes and produces 200 volts of power.
How Does A Solar Panel Work?
The amount of energy that hits the Earth’s surface is enough to power the entire world. Solar panels convert this powerful solar energy into electrical energy.
Ready to learn how solar panels work? Let’s help you:
Solar energy is also called electromagnetic radiation. A solar panel captures this electromagnetic radiation and converts it into solar power.
Photovoltaics is present in solar panels. These cells absorb the sun’s energy, creating electrical charges that cause electricity to flow.
A solar panel consists of many PV cells. Silicon is placed below a non-reflexive glass. PV panels collect photons from the sunlight and convert them into electricity.
What’s initially generated is DC power. It takes a solar inverter to transform this DC power into AC power.
Types of Solar Panels
- Monocrystalline Solar Panels– These are the oldest types of solar panels. Making solar panels of these types requires a single layer of crystalline silicon. Most of the companies have made solar panel of this type by cutting pure silicon into wafers.
- Polycrystalline Solar Panel- Manufacturers have made solar panel of this type by combining several fragments of silicon crystals. These solar panels are less efficient when it comes to creating electrical energy in comparison to monocrystalline ones.
- Thin-Film Solar Panels– These solar panels are thin and flexible. They have thin layers of silicon and cadmium telluride cells. They need more space and showcase lower efficiency while producing electricity.
Power Generation From a Solar Panel
Many factors affect the energy produced by solar panels on a particular day. A 1 KW solar panel can produce nearly 4 kWh of energy daily.
Did you know that one 370-watt solar panel can produce anywhere between 1.4 kWh and 1.9 kWh of electricity on average in a day.
This much electricity can run televisions and phone chargers efficiently. The quality of the solar panel and the sunlight available influence the amount of power generated by a solar panel.
How are Solar Panels Made?
Solar panels are made in a solar panel factory and solar plate factory with the help of gigantic machines and aid of laborers.
Solar panels are made using silicon which is used for making photovoltaic cells. Photovoltaic cells create sunlight into electricity.
Making a solar panel requires silicon wafers and a series of steps performed in order.
The first step
It involves cutting silicon into thin wafers. You can also add a dopant or a material that limits silicon’s ability to conduct electricity.
Finally, you can add phosphorus which is the most widely used dopant, while making solar panels. Phosphorus has 5 electrons in its outer orbit.
Silicon has four electrons for bonding. Upon adding porous to silicon, a covalent bond is formed.
The second step
This step is all about expelling the bonding electrons of silicon through heat treatment. Finally, you can deposit a thin layer of metal over the thin silicon wafer. It’s done to create a covalent chemical bond between silicon and the metal.
The third step
It aims at adding aluminium to check corrosion. Always add a thin layer of silicon to prevent corrosion due to exposure to water and oxygen.
Finally, a thin layer of plastic is added on top of all the layers. This plastic covering acts as a protective layer.
Pricing of Solar panels
The price of solar panels depends on their type. The most expensive ones are monocrystalline panels. They are expected to cost around Rs. 47/Wp for 17 percent efficiency.
On the other hand, polycrystalline solar panels with an efficiency range of 13 percent cost around Rs. 52/Wp.
Please note: Price of solar panels is not fixed. It fluctuates from manufacturer to manufacture.
Pros of Solar Panels
- Reduction in Electricity Bills– The most significant advantage of solar panels is that they help cut down the electricity cost.
- Environmentally Friendly- Solar energy is environmentally friendly. Solar panels are powered by sunlight, and solar energy is a clean form of energy. It is not associated with pollution and helps reduce the carbon footprint.
Cons of Solar Panels
- Installation costs can be high- The installation costs of solar panels can be very high.
- Dependence on the weather- Since solar panels rely on the sun to produce energy, they may produce less electricity on a slightly less sunny or cloudy day.
Why is Solar Energy Not Popular?
The reasons why solar energy is not as popular as it should be are-
- – It’s somewhat weather dependent
- – The technology is in its infancy stage
- – Upfront installation cost is very high
However, the pros outweigh the cons. Solar energy is gradually catching up.
Charles Frutter made solar panel when the world was unaware of the marvels of solar energy.
A solar panel is a futuristic technology that can use the sun’s energy to create electricity and help bring down electricity bills. It’s about time you switch to using solar energy too.
Q. How do solar panels work?
Solar panels absorb the sun’s energy and convert it into electricity or direct current. This DC is then converted into AC or alternating current.
Q. How do I know if a solar panel will fit on my roof?
A roof with no shade is required for installing a solar panel.
Ideally, 100 sq ft of shadow-free area is needed to install a 1 KW rooftop solar system.
You can ask a professional to know whether your roof is strong enough and big enough to install a solar system.
Q. For how long will a solar panel last?
A solar panel can last for about 25 years. In addition, solar panels are durable and can withstand heavy snowfall, wind, and hail.