Skip to content

What is a solar panel and how does it work?

In this article we will discuss What is a solar panel and how does it work?. Environmental pollution has reached very high levels in recent decades. Due to the increase in the use of vehicles —as well as the number of vehicles per family unit—, the overproduction of plastics and many other factors, the indicators are becoming more worrying. Electric power, for example, is one of the main sources of pollution, since it comes mainly from the burning of fossil fuels in thermal power plants and nuclear power plants —in which CO2 is generated and released into the atmosphere, in addition to radioactive waste from nuclear power plants—.

What is a solar panel and how does it work?

The consumption of electricity as such does not polluteNevertheless, its production does. Solar panels emerged as an efficient alternative for the use of non-polluting and renewable energy obtained from the sun. Solar panels are devices that are used to take advantage of solar energy, this is used through solar radiation and, depending on the type of solar panel in question, the energy can be used in one way or another, as we will see. right away. Below, we take a look at everything to do with solar panels and their different types — solar thermal panel and solar photovoltaic panel — how they work, and how much a solar panel costs today.

What is a solar panel?

A solar panel is a device that harnesses energy obtained from the sun to generate electricity or heat. The solar panel is a device that can be used in large industrial complexes, for the production of electricity needed by machinery —for example—, as well as for personal use. Currently, the production of solar panels for homes has improved considerably, finding models that provide energy in all types of homes, even if they are isolated.

What types of solar panels can we find?

We can find two types of solar panels. These are:

  1. thermal solar panels: These panels are used to generate thermal energy by heating water, mainly. Its operation is very simple. They are made up of a transparent glass in a dark tone that allows solar radiation to pass through and heat the heat-carrying liquid, which passes to the heat exchange area where the water is located. In this way it exchanges the heat to the water and the heat transfer liquid recovers its usual temperature.
  2. photovoltaic solar panels: Photovoltaic solar panels are those that take advantage of solar radiation to generate energy. This energy is obtained through the cells made of silicon glass —semiconductors— that the photovoltaic solar panels have. Likewise, each cell has two semiconductor layers —positive and negative—. When these come into contact with solar radiation, and are heated, an exchange of electrons takes place, generating an electric field —photoelectric effect—. This is what is later translated into electricity and can be used by any home, factory, industrial complex or discharged directly into the electricity grid. Solar panels, likewise, can be of two types depending on the type of installation that is carried out.

How does a solar panel work?

The operation of solar panels varies depending on the type of solar panel in question. Thus, each panel has its different types, as is the case with the flat collector solar thermal panels and the vacuum tube solar thermal panels. In the case of photovoltaic solar panels we can meet the photovoltaic solar panels on grid either insulated photovoltaic solar panels. Solar thermal panels work mainly by heating a heat transfer liquid that subsequently transfers its energy to the water. Photovoltaic solar panels work through the photoelectric effect, generating an electric field through their photovoltaic cells.

The most recommended solar panels for homes are, above all, photovoltaic solar panels. These allow you to save up to 50 or 60% of the total electricity consumption. In addition, when the installation is carried out on the network, the amount of surplus energy obtained can be poured directly onto it —obtaining a bonus or discount on the next bill from the electricity supply company—. In the case of homes that do not have access to the general network, they can make use of solar panels for houses with isolated installations. In this case, what is needed is a battery that stores the amount of electricity generated during daylight hours to be used at night or at times when it does not receive solar radiation.

How much does a solar panel cost?

When calculating the price of a solar panel A number of features must be taken into account., since the price of thermal solar panels is not the same as that of photovoltaic solar panels. In general, thermal solar panels are cheaper than photovoltaic solar panels. The reason for this is due to the materials with which they have been manufactured, since photovoltaic solar panels have silicon glass that is very difficult to obtain. Likewise, depending on the type of glass that has been manufactured —whether it is monocrystalline or polycrystalline—, the price will be higher or lower. For reference, you should know that the price of solar panels varies depending on the square meters of the solar panel. However, the price per square meter tends to decrease when the total size of the solar panel installation increases. Now, answering the initial question.

How much does a solar panel cost? In general, the price of photovoltaic solar panels is usually around €600 and €800 per square meter. To this should be added the price of the batteries, the charge regulators and the inverters, in the event that it is an isolated installation. You can also search for complete kits that include all the necessary materials. In the case of thermal solar panels, the price depends on the type of panel. Thermal solar panels with flat collectors are cheaper than those with vacuum tubes. In general, a complete kit of a flat collector thermal solar panel is usually around €3,300, approximately.