Solar Panels, known as Photovoltaic (P.V.) cells convert sunlight directly into electricity. The first PV silicon cells were invented in 1954 in the United States by 3 men working at the famous telephone company Bell Labs.
Since that day PV cells have been used to provide power to everything from satellites in space to remote outback farms. As well as being used everyday in schools and homes larger solar power plant projects are now also underway.
The PV cells are made with silicon, which is a semiconductor. A semiconductor is a substance that is a good medium for the control of electrical current. The energy of the absorbed light is transferred to the semiconductor, which in turn creates a current. The current produced is then able to be drawn from the cell as electricity to power items as required.
Solar panels have differing levels of efficiency, that is, some turn the light they collect into energy more effectively.
There are 3 main forms of solar panel:
Thin Film Polycrystalline Monocrystalline
Generally speaking, monocrystalline panels are a more efficient form of module requiring less roof space / or panels to produce the same output as other forms.