Function Of Solar Panels
Solar panels are leading the way in renewable energy and they are at the forefront of the government’s campaign to cut down on rising carbon emissions. The rise in the number of people installing systems at their home or business in the UK is largely due to the numerous benefits that they provide; the main benefit being their ability to save owners money on heating bills which can amount to hundreds of pounds each year. The function of solar panels is important in their ability to provide energy to the home.
There are two different types of solar panel that can be purchased, these are solar photovoltaic (PV) and solar water (thermal) heating. Both have different functions and work in individual ways to produce renewable energy.
Solar photovoltaic panels
The function of solar panels of the photovoltaic kind is to generate electricity to power appliances in the home or business. This is done by utilising the free energy from the sun. Solar PV panels are made up of a number of individual cells, each cell is made up of two layers of semiconducting material such as silicon which are create and electric field upon contact with sunlight. The electrons are then transferred into electricity which can be used around the home or place of work. The use of solar PV panels can provide up to 100% of electricity needs depending on the amount of usage; a general system will provide around 40% of electricity which will amount to savings of around £200 per year on energy bills and a reduction of carbon emissions by up to one tonne.
There four main types of Solar PV panel, each has the same function but differs in efficiency and cost, types include:
Hybrid and monocrystalline solar panels are the most effective in terms of how much of the suns energy is harnessed and turned into electricity; however, they are also a lot more expensive when compared to polycrystalline and amorphous silicon.
- Amorphous silicon
Solar water heating panels
Solar thermal panels
The function of solar panels for heating water is different to that of solar photovoltaic panels. Solar thermal systems are the most widely used in the UK and they are also the cheaper of the two types of panel to install. There are two variations of solar thermal, flat plate or evacuated tubes, both provide the same end result but work in a different way.
The function of solar panels when purchased as flat plates work in a similar way to a radiator with a glass covered insulated absorber. Flat plate systems are cheaper to install than evacuated systems but are also less effective. Evacuated tube systems work by allowing water to pass through tubes backed by an absorber plate, this system can heat the water to much higher levels.
The function of the solar panels that heat water can lead to helpful savings in water bills with an average saving of £70-£90 on heating bills.