Solar Energy Basics
Solar energy basics are fairly simple: All light contains energy, including light from the sun. Usually, when light hits an object, the energy turns into heat, like the warmth you feel while sitting outside on your patio. But when light hits certain materials, the electrons in that material are activated and start “jumping around” which generates an electrical current instead. And that electric current can be harnessed for power if you can collect it and store it.
That’s where solar cells come in. A solar cell is a manufactured device containing semiconducting materials that take the energy of sunlight and convert it into electricity. This process is known as photovoltaics. The word has two parts: photo, a stem derived from the Greek phos, which means light, and volt, a measurement unit named for Alessandro Volta (1745-1827), a pioneer in the study of electricity. So, photovoltaics can be literally translated as light-electricity. And that’s just what photovoltaic materials and devices do: they convert light energy to electricity using photovoltaic cells. The PV panel – which is what you see on the rooftops of homes and businesses – is actually comprised of hundreds of these small photovoltaic cells that convert sunlight into electricity.
Simply put, a PV panel works by allowing photons, or particles of light, to knock electrons free from atoms, generating a flow of electricity. Each photovoltaic cell is basically a sandwich made up of two slices of semi-conducting material, usually silicon — the same stuff used in microelectronics. A couple of other components of the cell turn these liberated electrons into usable power. Metal conductive plates on the sides of the cell collect the electrons and transfer them to wires. At that point, the electrons can flow like any other source of electricity. These photovoltaic cells work together to create a photovoltaic system to power your home or business.
Solar Energy Basics Drive Innovation
The basics of solar energy continue to fuel research and advances in solar technology. Scientists are always working on new materials to incorporate into PV cells to make solar energy even more efficient and cost effective. And, they are also exploring new ways to construct and install the PV panels and batteries required to generate and store solar energy. Their success is evident: According to the US Department of Energy, solar power is more affordable, accessible and prevalent in the US than ever before. Since 2008, U.S. installations have grown seventeen-fold from 1.2 gigawatts (GW) to an estimated 30 GW today, enough to power the equivalent of 5.7 million average American homes. Since 2010, the average cost of solar PV panels has dropped more than 60% and the cost of a solar electric system has dropped by about 50%.
To find out the latest in solar energy technology, and to get on board with the “solar revolution,” you need the advice of solar energy professionals. That’s where Venture Home Solar can help. We know the details of our state and local solar energy policies here in New York, including the tax incentives and rebates that can make a solar installation on your home or business even more cost effective. We are headquartered in Brooklyn, and we only serve NYC and the surrounding areas. We’re the local experts who stand ready to help you evaluate the feasibility of going solar with your home or business.
Learn more by contacting one of our solar experts at Venture Home Solar. Find out how you can be part of the clean energy initiative in New York today. Call us today at 800-203-4158 to find out how you can help the planet and save money by investing in solar energy!