Photovoltaic solar panels use solar cells to convert sunlight directly into electricity. Photovoltaic is abbreviated PV for short. PV is one of two main methods used to make use of solar energy. The other method is known as solar thermal. Solar thermal is used in concentrating solar power plants where electricity is created by using the sun's radiation and heat. The heat created from solar thermal collectors is then used to warm up a fluid that produce steam and in turn moves turbines to generate electricity.
Here is a quick overview of the way a photovoltaic solar panel works:
1. The sunlight strikes the surface of the solar cells.
2. The light knocks loose electrons, creating an electron imbalance.
3. The electrons then flow from the backside of the solar cells to the front side.
This flow of electrons is what we know and use as 'electricity'. Multiple solar cells can be connected in what is known as a 'module'. Multiple modules are created to form an 'array'.
A PV system is suitable for both northern and southern climates since it depends on the amount and intensity of sunlight, not the amount of heat like its' counterparts which make use of the sun's heat. Although the intensity of sunlight does increase as you get closer to the equator, there are many people that get great use from photovoltaic systems in more northern latitudes. Even people in England where it is always rainy and cloudy have created large PV systems that manage to produce enough electricity to supply their entire homes or businesses.
PV systems are very popular for residential solar power. Another great trait about PV systems is that they are 'modular' meaning that you can start with a smaller, basic system and easily add on to it. You may just start with one or two panels and get the main controls setup and then add on more panels a few months down the road as you have more time and money. While you can start off small, you may also create a complete solar energy system right from the beginning if you have the money, time, and will to do so. It will take several PV solar panels to make a complete system large enough to power your entire home.
Another renewable energy source that you may be able to get good use from is wind power. Wind may be a little less predictable than the sun and some areas don't receive enough wind to provide 100% power, but wind power is still a great supplement to solar. The power of sun and wind together can make for a great, clean renewable energy source combination. Even if when you get started with just a few PV panels, you could be producing enough electricity to cut your electric bill by 30% - 40% and that could be a lot of money off your electric bill every month.
If you are searching for a way to design and build your own photovoltaic solar panels then feel free to check out my website, http://www.makesolarenergy.net. On my site I share with you my personal story and energy struggle as well as several excellent resources for you. I also have done a review of what I believe to be the top 3 DIY solar energy guides currently available online. Good Luck and Go Green!
Autor: Scott G. Young
http://www.makesolarenergy.net Scott Young describes how solar energy works. Scott is an independent renewable energy contractor and entrepreneur. Scott gives away the resource that he used to learn solar energy basics at his website.
Added: December 8, 2009