Solar Panels – What Are They?

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Solar panels convert sunlight into electricity, offering a clean alternative to fossil fuels. You can then use that power to offset your electric bill, run a home or business entirely off of solar energy or send it back to the grid. Learn more about solar panels, how to choose the right system for your needs and why this technology is a smart choice for the future. Find out more

Solar energy has been the dream of many since Russel Ohl, on the payroll at Bell Labs, invented the first silicon solar cell in 1954. That invention opened the door to solar energy systems that can reduce or even eliminate a household’s electric bills. Solar energy can also power businesses and buildings, heat water for homes and farms and provide the steam needed to operate large power stations.

Harnessing Solar Energy: How Solar Panels Work and Why They Matter

A solar panel is a collection of solar cells that generates electricity using sunlight. The cells are typically made of crystalline silicon with additives, such as boron and phosphorus, that create an n-type layer with an excess of electrons, and a p-type layer with a deficit of them. The layers are then combined into a single-crystal photovoltaic module (also known as a PV module).

Solar panels are mounted on a support frame or rack, called a mounting system. The simplest installations use a fixed mount that is tilted toward the sun’s direction and aligned with the latitude of the location. More complex deployments involve motor-driven tracking systems that continuously reorient the modules to follow the sun’s movement across the sky and its seasonal variations.

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