How do solar panels work?

Solar panels are the components of a photovoltaic system that make harnessing solar energy possible. They obtain energy from solar radiation and convert it into electricity (photovoltaic solar panels) or into thermal energy by heating water (solar thermal panels).

Here’s a simple explanation of how photovoltaic solar panels and solar thermal panels work: 

Photovoltaic solar panels transform solar energy into electricity through the photovoltaic effect of certain semiconductor elements such as silicon, which is the most common base material used in their manufacture. 

This effect allows silicon atoms to absorb a photon (a light particle) and transfer its energy to one of the atom's electrons. That electron gains so much energy that it is freed from its atom and can travel through the output wire. Yes, electricity is just electrons moving around! 

This effect occurs in each of the photovoltaic cells that make up a solar panel. A single cell doesn’t generate much energy on its own, so several cells are grouped together to form a photovoltaic module (or solar panel). One module generates a considerable amount of energy. 

The more panels you can install on your roof, the more energy you produce and the more you save. Calculate how much you could save by installing solar panels on your roof.

Thermal solar panels, however, work in a different way. With the help of the sun, they heat the hydraulic circuit inside them. That liquid can be glycol, water or a mixture of the two. The heat from this liquid is transferred to domestic water by means of a heat exchanger in the solar thermal collector.

Now you know how solar panels work. Why not take the leap and install them on your roof? You could cut your electricity bill down to €0, and even earn money with the self-consumption surplus quotas.

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