What is Photovoltaics?
Photovoltaics is the conversion of naturally occurring light to electricity. The photoelectric effect is the property exhibited by certain materials to absorb photons and release electrons. These electrons can then be used to generate an electric current. This is the main principal behind the working of solar panels where a photoelectric surface is made to absorb photons from natural light in order to induce an electric current. Solar electricity may even be generated at and for your own home.
Working of photovoltaic (PV) cells / solar cells
A PV cell is made up of a series of semiconductors made of a material like silicon. These semiconductors generate and storage of electricity that can be used by your home. The solar panels absorb light and create an electric field as a result of the electrons which are freed in the process.
Electricity is made to slow by using two conductors to form two terminals - negative (low potential) and positive terminals (relatively higher potential).
Combining silicon with other elements makes this possible, since two silicon plates would not have any positive or negative charge on their own, making it impossible for a current to flow. An example of such an element (metal conductor) is phosphorus is used for the the negative terminal since when combined with silicon it has an extra electron and an element like boron can be used for the positive terminal given that it has a deficiency of electrons (or a positive charge)
Solar-power your home
Getting solar panels to work properly for domestic electricity generation can be tricky. Your roof may not be inclined at an ideal angle to capture an optimum amount of the sunlight. Solar panels need to be inclined at an angle equal to the latitude of the location. Panels should not be in the shade of nearby trees at any point during the day. Even a single panel in the series of panels being shaded can lead to bad results.
Efficiency of solar panels depends on the amount of electricity generated as a ratio to the surface area of the panels. Solar insolation is the measure of how much radiation a solar panel can receive, greater the insolation, more the energy that the panel can generate.
Energy consumption needs also dictate technical factors like energy density of the panels. Dynamic mounts to follow the sun can be installed to improve efficiency. It is an incredibly clean source of energy with household savings of up to 1 tonne of CO2 or even more possible by using your own solar panels to power your home.