Auld folks used to treat the sun as a god – and rightly so. Sunlight is essential to nurture all forms of life on Earth. And if you’re one of those people who often look up at the sky and wonder how sunlight can be used to power homes, gadgets, and even cars, then you’re not alone. Solar power and its uses fascinate many people.
Harnessing electricity from sunlight has become a reality now – all thanks to the incredible technology of solar cells. Solar cell working is quite fascinating since solar cells are the building blocks of solar panels.
Solar cells work together to transform sunlight into electricity. These devices may be small, but their impact is enormous.
As rightly said by Samuel Bodman, “As the technology for solar cells gets better and better, this form of clean, renewable energy will find more applications that take up less space and produce more electricity, to meet the energy needs of our homes, schools and businesses”. Solar power is indeed one of the most important renewable energy sources, and solar cells are the best ways to harness electricity from sunlight.
If the potential of solar power piques your interest, this guide will be a delightful read. Dive in and explore the exciting world of solar cell working – how solar cells work, how they are made, their types, uses, and more.
What is a Solar Cell?
A solar cell is a device that converts sunlight into electricity. It is also known as a photovoltaic cell or PV cell. The basic principle behind the solar cell working is the photovoltaic effect. Today, solar cells are made from semiconductor materials, such as silicon, which have unique electrical properties that make them perfect for converting sunlight into electricity.
One of the basics of solar cell working is that a single solar cell produces a voltage of about 0.5 to 0.6 volts.
How is a Solar Cell Made?
Now that you know what a solar cell is, it’s time you also get the basics of how it is made. It will help you understand the solar cell working process in great detail.
Solar cells are made from thin layers of semiconductor material – the most popular material is silicon. The manufacturing process for solar cells typically involves the following steps:
- Wafer production: The first step is to produce silicon wafers. These are thin, circular slices of silicon that are used as the base for the solar cell.
- Doping: The next step is to dope the silicon wafers with impurities, such as boron or phosphorus. This changes the electrical properties of the silicon and allows it to conduct electricity.
- P-N Junction: The doped wafers are then layered together to form a p-n junction. This is where the magic happens – when sunlight hits the p-n junction, it creates an electric field that causes electrons to flow.
- Electrical contacts: The final step is to add electrical connections to the solar cell. These contacts allow the electric current generated by the solar cell to be harnessed and used to power devices.
Types of Solar Cells
Now that you know how solar cells are made, you must have got a hang of the solar cell working too. The next important thing is to understand that all solar cells are not the same. Silicon solar cells are generally of two types – polycrystalline and monocrystalline. Explore what these types are and their differences below.
|These are made up of many silicon crystals. Hence, they are also known as multi-crystalline solar cells.||These are the purer forms as they are made up of one single silicon crystal.|
|Their efficiency ranges between 16-17%.||Their efficiency ranges between 19% to 20%.|
|Since they are less efficient than mono solar cells, they are inexpensive.||They’re more expensive than poly solar cells.|
|The cost of polycrystalline solar cells is ₹25.5 per watt.||The cost of mono cells is ₹31 per watt.|
Uses and Applications of Solar Cells
You know the details of the solar cell working, its types, and how it’s made. Let’s now walk you through the most practical applications of solar cells that are used to make solar panels.
- Residential solar panels: Many homeowners are installing solar panel systems on their roofs to generate their own electricity and reduce their reliance on the power grid.
- Portable solar chargers: Solar panels can be used to power small devices like smartphones, tablets, and laptops. Portable solar chargers are perfect for camping trips, outdoor events, and other situations where you need to charge your devices on the go.
- Solar-powered lights: Solar panels can power outdoor lights, such as pathway and garden lights. These lights are a great way to add ambiance to your outdoor spaces while saving energy.
- Solar-powered cars: While still a relatively new technology, solar-powered vehicles have the potential to revolutionize the automotive industry. These cars use solar panels to generate electricity to power the vehicle’s motor.
We hope our guide on solar cell working gave you a broad idea about the uses of solar cells. Solar cells are a critical component of the clean energy revolution. By harnessing the sun’s power, you can reduce your reliance on fossil fuels and create a more sustainable future. Solar cells are made from semiconductor materials like silicon and convert sunlight into electricity using the photovoltaic effect.
There are two types of silicon solar cells, each with its advantages and disadvantages. As technology evolves, the cost of solar cells is coming down drastically. It’s about time that you, too, adopt the solar way of living and reap the multiple benefits of going solar.