How Does A Solar Panel Work

I have been looking into how solar panels work so that I can understand how energy is transformed into electrical current. If my installation is going to go down this route of renewable energy, I think it is important to fully understand the process.

I found this simplified explanation of how solar works:

A standard solar panel (also known as a solar module) consists of a layer of silicon cells, a metal frame, a glass casing, and various wiring to allow current to flow from the silicon cells. Silicon (atomic #14 on the periodic table) is a nonmetal with conductive properties that allow it to absorb and convert sunlight into electricity. When light interacts with a silicon cell, it causes electrons to be set into motion, which initiates a flow of electric current. This is known as the “photovoltaic effect,” and it describes the general functionality of solar panel technology.

The general photovoltaic process, as described above, works through the following steps:

  1. The silicon photovoltaic solar cell absorbs solar radiation
  2. When the sun’s rays interact with the silicon cell, electrons begin to move, creating a flow of electric current
  3. Wires capture and feed this direct current (DC) electricity to a solar inverter to be converted to alternating current (AC) electricity


infographic explaining how solar panels and solar cells work



Now that I kind of understand the process in the simplest of ways I can see that it could be quite interesting to take in a live data feed of how much energy is being stored/ how much radiation is being absorbed. I can see that if just using a regular light meter would work fine as I have done a similar thing in MAX MSP but I have a feeling it might be a harder processes to collect that kind of data and transform that into sound.

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