How Does a Solar Panel Work?

The glass on a solar panel is designed to protect the solar cells but at the same time let the light pass through efficiently and effectively hit the solar cells without reflecting it.

When we ask, "how does a solar panel work", the tempered glass which is the material used on the actual panels, must be a part of our discussion. The reason for this is simple, it does not break easily and when it does, it does not produce sharp pieces of glass that can cause harm to a person when it shatters. A tempered glass is more like the glass material in your car's window. The tempered glass also helps in providing rigidity to the panel. If you have experienced holding and carrying a broken panel, you will feel that it is unstable and may break entirely if not handled with some form of support at its middle, bottom, and side areas. Now why would you carry such a panel? Here is more info. Well, you need to transport broken panels and send it back to the manufacturer for warranty purposes hence the need to make sure it's not damaged further.

Although the solar cells already have built-in anti-reflective coating to prevent the inner layer of silicon from reflecting the light, the glass fitted to the panel can still improve the energy conversion by using an extra clear non-reflective material. But this anti-reflective coat on the glass may not last a long time or may not keep up with the life-cycle of the panels and can reduce the performance of the panels in several years’ time. An alternative method to solving this problem is to texture the glass surface, thereby reducing reflection and although this may work, the rough texture can become a means for dirt or dust to attach to the surface and may not be easy even for strong winds or rain to dislodge them from the glass. This is where the tempered low-iron content glass comes into place where it provides long-term protection for the panels from external harmful elements such as dust, water, chemicals, objects, or any other biological factors that can deteriorate the inside of the panels. This specialized type of glass is also stable under prolonged ultraviolet (UV) exposure, highly transparent, impervious to water and gases and is self-cleaning. The iron content of the PV glass is significantly reduced during manufacturing to primarily improve transmittance.

Of course, if you are building your own solar panel, you have the choice of using high quality specialized glass however, if you are just starting out, a very good glass material is Plexiglas which has similar characteristics of a tempered glass. Plexiglas is actually a brand name and is also called safety glass. Knowing these facts about the glass used is just the first step to answering the question of, "how does a solar panel work".