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    Solar Energy > Solar Power Resources > How Photovoltaic Cells Work

    How Photovoltaic Cells Work

    Posted September 30, 2007


    Photovoltaic (PV) cells are made up of at least 2 semi-conductor layers. One layer containing a positive charge, the other a negative charge.


    Sunlight consists of little particles of solar energy called photons. As a PV cell is exposed to this sunlight, many of the photons are reflected, pass right through, or absorbed by the solar cell.

    When enough photons are absorbed by the negative layer of the photovoltaic cell, electrons are freed from the negative semiconductor material. Due to the manufacturing process of the positive layer, these freed electrons naturally migrate to the positive layer creating a voltage differential, similar to a household battery.

    When the 2 layers are connected to an external load, the electrons flow through the circuit creating electricity.  Each individual solar energy cell produces only 1-2 watts. To increase power output, cells are combined in a weather-tight package called a solar module. These modules (from one to several thousand) are then wired up in serial and/or parallel with one another, into what’s called a solar array, to create the desired voltage and amperage
    output required by the given project.

    Due to the natural abundance of silicon, the semi-conductor material that PV cells are primarily made of, and the practically unlimited resource in the sun, solar power cells are very environmentally friendly. They burn no fuel and have absolutely no moving parts which makes them virtually maintenance free, clean, and silent.

    Did you know?

    The average homeowner saves over $1000 a year on electricity by installing solar panels on their roof. That’s including the cost of solar panels. The most common way to go solar today is by leasing, which essentially means instead of paying the utility you pay less to produce your own energy.

    Want to find out more? We can connect you with top rated solar providers in your area who will provide you with a free consultation, usually over the phone or online.
    Find out if solar works for you