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Lifestyle

How Do Photovoltaic Cells Work?

How Do Photovoltaic Cells Work?

If you follow alternative energy news, you might have heard that are already over 2 million solar panel systems installed just in the US. Of course, even people who follow alternative energy don’t always know everything about the technologies themselves.

For example, wind energy works by using the rotations from the blades to spin the internal workings of an electrical generator. What about solar energy, though? Solar energy depends on the work done by photovoltaic cells. Not familiar with photovoltaic cells?

Keep reading for our explanation to the question, “how do photovoltaic cells work?”

How Does Electricity Work?

Before photovoltaic cells will make sense, you need a basic understanding of how electricity works. If you dig back into those middle school and high school science classes, you’ll remember that your basic atom is made up of three things:

  • Protons
  • Neutron
  • Electrons

While neutrons and protons reside at the heart of an atom, the negatively charged electrons orbit the protons like satellite orbits the earth. With the right conditions, you can knock electrons loose from atoms and create a flow of them along a conductor. That’s electricity in a nutshell.

What is the Photovoltaic Effect?

The whole basis of solar power is that light carries energy. You typically see that energy in the form of heat as it gets warmer when the sun comes up. When light is at the right wavelength, though, it can give some of its energy to the atoms in semiconductor materials, like silicon.

Specifically, the energy goes to the electrons in the silicon atoms. The increased energy lets the electron jump to something called the conduction band. What it means in practice is that electrons can move around more freely in the semiconductor.

How Do Photovoltaic Cells Work?

Your basic photovoltaic cell is a kind of sandwich of materials. You get two layers of silicon known as P-type and N-Type, for positive and negative charges. Where these two layers meet is the P-N junction. When the light hits the top layer of silicon and makes electrons jump, they essentially jump to the P-N junction.

The cell is designed with electrical contacts that give the electrons a path to follow, which creates an electrical current. In solar panels, you get a bunch of these cells working together. For more information on how solar panels work, you can contact a local solar installer, such as Blue Raven Solar.

Solar Energy and You

The question of how do solar cells work takes you into some interesting areas of science. However, it’s really combining those cells into solar panels that make solar energy a viable energy option for homeowners and businesses.

Those solar panels let you access an energy source that otherwise goes untapped most of the time. Even better, you’re not taking anything away from nature. The energy you capture is only what would normally hit your roof on a given day.

Looking for more ways you can make your home more nature-friendly? Check out the posts in our Home/Lifestyle section.

Finance

Kick High Bills To The Curb

A few ways you could lower your bills…

Nobody wants to spend all their hard-earned money on bills. But, for the average person, high bills are just an accepted part of life: something they put up with without question. The problem with this is that paying out lots of money on bills reduces your disposable income and prevents you from doing the things that you want to do with your life.

So what’s the solution? Here we’re going to take a look at some of the interesting ways you can reduce your high bills and get your outgoings under control.

Switch Energy Providers

Kick High Bills To The Curb

Energy providers operate a kind of cartel. There are only so many providers in the market, and so competition is necessarily low. Most people don’t go to the hassle of seeing whether another provider is willing to take them on for less money because they don’t think the savings will be that great.

But the market has changed a lot in recent years. Competition among price comparison websites has actually made it beneficial for many people to switch. Not only do you end up with a lower bill at the end of the month after changing contracts, but these sites will often throw in freebies to entice new customers. It’s not unusual, for instance, to receive gift vouchers for merely logging in and changing who supplies your energy.

Stop Paying For Data You Don’t Use

There are two types of phone contracts: contracts where you pay for both access to the mobile network and the handset, and deals which pay for the network only. Network-only contracts tend to be cheaper because you’re not paying off debt on the handset, but they still aren’t necessarily an efficient use of your resources. For instance, many people end up paying for data and minutes that they don’t use, and those unused data do not get rolled over or taken off their final bill. There are, however, some companies that do pay customers back when they don’t use all of their monthly allowances, providing much better value for money than standard providers.

Install Solar

Solar energy has come down in price dramatically over the last few years to the point where it’s economical in practically every location. Although it’s unlikely that solar will provide for all your energy needs, it can take up the slack for some of them, reducing the amount you are forced to rely on the grid. Pair solar with a battery and you can build up a ready supply of energy in the day and use it in the evening when you need it most.

Stop Leaving Appliances On Standby

Although the quantity of energy electronics use while on standby has gone down to negligible levels over the past decade, many other low-tech appliances haven’t followed suit. Coffee machines, for instance, can cost up to £10 a month to keep on standby. The same goes for electrically heated towel rails. These appliances are expensive to run, so use a smart plug or meter to ensure that they only operate when you need them.

***Collaborative post***