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Understanding How Solar Energy Works

Many people want to know how solar energy works. The concept is basic, and the idea has been around longer than anyone can really remember. The power of the sun is used to produce certain desirable actions. In the not so distant past, people would use the sun to dry harvested plants and skinned hides for future use. Without that potential, food would spoil and people would go hungry.

However, a problem arose when the sunlight was hidden behind a mountain or the day was cloudy. Thanks to modern day technologies, that sunlight is harnessed and stored allowing it to be converted with the aid of specialized components. This process then results in a useful source of power for a multitude of purposes not even imagined by those ancestors of generations past.

The sun provides an infinite and massive power source. It is also very clean, especially when compared to the once popular use of fossil fuels. The seemingly inexpensive fossil fuels contaminate and pollute the environment, and this type of power does not produce renewable energy, meaning once it is depleted, it is gone forever. As more people become aware of the reality that many of today’s common fuels will one day be gone completely, the question arises as to how solar energy works.

Photovoltaics were first discovered by Edmund Becquerel in 1839. He found that there were some materials that could generate an electric spark when it came into contact with sunlight.  A primitive type of selenium solar cells were initially used to generate this affect. It wasn’t until the 1950s that silicon replaced the selenium, and folks at Bell Labs found that those cells could convert a massive four percent of the sunlight energies into a usable form of electricity. PV cells would eventually be powering numerous satellites within just a few short years.

Knowing how solar energy works means understanding more than the history of a PV cell. There is a lot that goes into developing an entire system capable of providing power to a residential, commercial, or industrial property.

Two layers of silicon crystals make for a good semiconductor. Generally, silicon is not a good conductor. However, impurities are purposely added to the crystalized silicon to create the necessary electrical current. This process is often referred to as “doping”. Boron is often used to dope the bottom layer, and generates a positive charge. Phosphorous is a common doping agent for the top layer, and generates a negative charge. When sunlight is added to this two layer cell, electrons from both layers come loose, and electricity is produced.

This is just the beginning on figuring out the intricacies on how solar energy works. Companies such as Solux that provide the necessary equipment realize that the possibilities are endless and limited only by the human imagination.

Photovoltaics, parabolic concentrators, and thermal concentrators are three popular ways to use the sun to generate power. Most people are familiar to some degree with photovoltaic systems. However, by knowing how solar energy works, the consumer can ensure that the best system is purchased for the particular need. Even a small collector can save the owner hundreds of dollars annually, whether heating water for laundry or a swimming pool, or providing power to run the appliances and air conditioning.

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