Learn About Solar Panels.

What are solar panels? 

Have you ever seen shiny metal plates attached to roofs of houses or towers? These plates, or solar panels, look like a collection of flat blue squares with a silver border, typically facing the sun. Solar panels are increasingly increasingly popular, and have the potential to the planet. So, what are solar panels anyways? What do they do, and how do they work? Let’s explore the science of solar panels.

How do solar panels collect power? 

Solar panels are conductors of energy – they take in sunlight, and turn it into electricity. Encased in each solar panels are solar cells, which capture sunlight particles that travel through the sun’s rays. These sunlight particles are called photons.

Electrons live inside a solar cell. Photons will knock out electrons from the solar cell, and the remaining electrons will start to move around.  Electrons begin to move through the solar cell’s electric field, and into thin, metal rods at the end of the solar cell. The travel of photons into the cell and electrons into the metal rods is the solar panel’s electric circuit.

After the solar cells have provided enough electricity for the day, the electrons move back into place. This means that the materials in solar panels are never used up or worn out, and can be reused over and over again for decades. 

A few solar cells can power something small, such as an electric toothbrush or a cell phone. Around 500 solar cells are needed to power an entire house.

Are there pros and cons of solar panels?

Pros of solar energy: 

  1. Clean Energy: Solar panels use natural energy from the sun, so we don’t have to burn fossil fuels. Fossil fuels cannot be reused, but solar panel’s electrons can! Therefore, solar panels are completely renewable.
  2. Low Maintenance: Solar panels are long-lasting, are extremely safe, and don’t make any noise.
  3. Inexpensive: Although solar panels are expensive to buy and install, people can end up saving money because sunlight, like wind power, is free.

Cons of solar panels:

  1. Cloud Cover:Sunny places will benefit the most from solar panels because sun rays provide photons. However, solar panels will not work at night, and they will not provide as much energy when it is rainy or cloudy. Therefore, people will need an extra source of energy.
  2. Low Energy:When sunlight hits metal, its rays are sometimes reflected elsewhere. This means the photons are not absorbed into an object, such as solar panels. Without photons being absorbed into the panels, the electric circuit cannot begin. More research is needed to better this process.
  3. Expensive Investment:Developing countries without electricity are the most in-need of reliable energy. It just happens that most developing countries are in sunny areas, and can use solar power. Although, people cannot obtain solar panels without having enough money to begin with.
Are solar panels the future?

If less than 1% of the world was covered in solar panels, everyone would have all the electric power they would ever need. Scientists are hard at work trying to figure out how to make solar panels more efficient, and are experimenting with projects such as floating solar panels in the ocean. Earth conservationist, or people dedicated to saving the world’s resources, are working with governments to provide funding for people who obtain solar panels for their homes.   

While there are still obstacles for solar-panel dependency, its creation makes us one step closer to making this world a better place.