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How Solar Works

Photovoltaic (PV) cells are made of special semi-conducting materials. High purity monocrystalline or polycrystalline silicones are the most prevalent materials used today. A collection of cells comprise a module (solar panel) and a collection of modules comprise an array.

Basically, when light energy (photons) strike the cell, a certain portion of it is absorbed within the semiconductor material. This means that the energy of the absorbed light is transferred to the cell. The light energy knocks electrons loose, allowing them to flow freely within the cell. PV cells have electrical fields that act to force electrons freed by light absorption to flow in a certain direction.This flow of electrons is a DC electrical current.

By placing metal contacts on the top and bottom of the PV cells, we can draw that current off to be converted and put to use. This current, together with the cell’s voltage (which is also a result of its built-in electrical field or fields), defines the power output (or wattage) that the solar cell can produce. Having enough of this PV hardware working together converting enough light energy into the desired amount of usable electrical wattage creates the end result… free electricity!