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Solar Panels

Solar Batteries

Tesla

 

History[edit]

In 1839, the ability of some materials to create an electrical charge from light exposure was first observed by the French physicist Edmond Becquerel.[1]

Though these initial solar panels were too inefficient for even simple electric devices, they were used as an instrument to measure light.[2]

The observation by Becquerel was not replicated again until 1873, when the English electrical engineer Willoughby Smith discovered that the charge could be caused by light hitting selenium. After this discovery, William Grylls Adams and Richard Evans Day published “The action of light on selenium” in 1876, describing the experiment they used to replicate Smith’s results.[1][3]

In 1881, the American inventor Charles Fritts created the first commercial solar panel, which was reported by Fritts as “continuous, constant and of considerable force not only by exposure to sunlight but also to dim, diffused daylight.”[4] However, these solar panels were very inefficient, especially compared to coal-fired power plants.

In 1939, Russell Ohl created the solar cell design that is used in many modern solar panels. He patented his design in 1941.[5]

In 1954, this design was first used by Bell Labs to create the first commercially viable silicon solar cell.[1]

Theory and construction[edit]

From a solar cell to a PV system

Photovoltaic modules use light energy (photons) from the Sun to generate electricity through the photovoltaic effect. Most modules use wafer-based crystalline silicon cells or thin-film cells. The structural (load carrying) member of a module can be either the top layer or the back layer. Cells must be protected from mechanical damage and moisture. Most modules are rigid, but semi-flexible ones based on thin-film cells are also available. The cells are usually connected electrically in series, one to another to the desired voltage, and then in parallel to increase current. The power (in watts) of the module is the mathematical product of the voltage (in volts) and the current (in amperes) of the module. The manufacturing specifications on solar panels are obtained under standard conditions, which is not the real operating condition the solar panels are exposed to on the installation site.[6]

A PV junction box is attached to the back of the solar panel and functions as its output interface. External connections for most photovoltaic modules use MC4 connectors to facilitate easy weatherproof connections to the rest of the system. A USB power interface can also be used.[7]

Solar panels also use metal frames consisting of racking components, brackets, reflector shapes, and troughs to better support the panel structure.

Arrays of PV modules