How Do Solar Panels Collect And Store Energy?
Solar electricity is magical. Have you ever wondered how it all works? Do you know how a solar panel converts sunlight into electricity? In today’s blog post, we will discuss how solar panels work to convert sunlight into electricity and other related things.
How Solar Panels Work?
Before we get into the nitty-gritty of the inner workings of a solar panel, let’s first discuss what these panels contain. Traditionally, solar panels have been made from silicon crystals. However, constant innovation in this space has resulted in a variety of materials being used for making these panels. Some of these materials include Amorphous Silicon, Cadmium Telluride, Gallium Arsenide, and Copper Indium Gallium Selenide.
When you go out in the sun, sunlight transfers energy to electrons in your skin which makes these electrons jump up and down producing heat. That’s when your body starts sweating in order to cool down your body. In the case of silicon and these other materials, when the sunlight hits the atoms, the electrons start to move. The electrons do not jump around and when electrons move, it produces electrical current instead of heat.
Each solar panel consists of a number of cells. A typical solar panel has anywhere from 60 to 72 solar cells. These solar cells have tiny wires which act as a highway for electrical current and all these wires feed power to a solar power inverter. The electricity produced in this manner in a solar panel is direct current but appliances in your home require alternating current. Inverters perform this conversion of direct current to alternating current.
Solar panels available today are not capable of converting all the sunlight into useful solar electricity. Their efficiency generally ranges anywhere from 15 to 21%. As far as the solar output is concerned, it is measured in terms of watts. Typical solar PV panels available today have an output ranging from 250 to 400 W.
How Solar Panels Store Energy?
If you’re wondering how energy is stored inside the solar panels, you should know that solar panels only generate electricity but do not store it. This is why solar energy can only be produced when the sun is shining and you have to return to grid power once your rooftop solar stops producing electricity. Thankfully, there is a way to get solar electricity continuously with the help of solar batteries.
There are basically 2 types of solar batteries: Lead-acid batteries and Lithium-ion batteries. Both these batteries have their own pros and cons.
Lead Acid Batteries
This is the type of battery you would see in your vehicle. These are the most prevalent batteries around and cost less compared to lithium-ion batteries. However, these can’t match lithium-ion in terms of performance.
A lead-acid battery is rated for only 1,000 to 3,000 discharge cycles before you’ll have to throw them away. Also, they have a depth of discharge rating of just 50% which means you can’t use all the energy stored inside a lead-acid battery. These have an effective service life of 2 to 3 years as they lose their recharge capacity after this period. These also require constant maintenance.
These are the batteries you will find inside your mobile phone as well as in a typical electric vehicle. These offer a number of advantages over lead-acid batteries.
One of the biggest advantages is a higher number of discharge cycles. These batteries can undergo anywhere from 10,000 to 15,000 discharge cycles which means they have a much longer service life compared to lead-acid batteries. Also, they have a depth of discharge rating of more than 80% which means you can safely use almost all the energy stored inside these batteries without negatively affecting their lifespan. Also, these do not require any maintenance and are not easily damaged when exposed to excessive heat.
The main disadvantage is their higher price compared to a typical lead-acid battery. However, lithium-ion batteries turn out to be cheaper in the long run due to the exceptionally higher number of discharge cycles and the ability to safely discharge almost all the stored energy.
If you are looking for a trusted local solar company in Hervey Bay, please contact us today at GCR Electrical Systems on (07) 4120 7004 or leave an enquiry if you would like more information about our solar installation services.