Building Blocks of Solar Part 3

Hack My Solar Blog Post

How do Solar Panels work?

Solar, or Photovoltaic, Panels work by converting light energy from the sun, or photons, into electricity through the “Photovotaic effect.”  Interestingly, a French physicist built the first ever photovoltaic cell at 19 years old, in 1839.  The first practical photovoltaic cell was demonstrated by Bell Laboratories in 1954 and early on they were primarily used in space.

A Solar Panel is a collection of solar cells that are made up of semiconductors.  Semiconductors absorb the photons–through a process I wont describe in detail–and cause electrons to be excited and break free to be converted into usable DC electricity.  Solar cells are arrangements of silicon “sandwiches” where one layer is activated with boron and the other activated with phosphorus.  This helps the charge to be created and directs the free electrons to the wiring that leads to your charge controller.   Continue reading “Building Blocks of Solar Part 3”

Building Blocks of Solar Part 2

Hack My Solar Blog Post

Types of solar installations


There are a variety of ways to harness the power of the sun. Today we are going to define the ways and discuss them:


  • Grid Tied
  • Off Grid
  • Hybrid
  • PV Direct
  • Solar Thermal
  • Photosynthesis


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Building blocks of Solar Part 1

Hack My Solar Blog Post

Energy vs. power

This short series is to help build some foundational knowledge that will help you understand the building blocks of Solar.


Energy is the capacity to do work.  Measurements for energy include calories, BTUs, Joules, and Watt-Hours.  We would use the term energy when discussing how much capacity you have in your battery bank.  If you are on grid you will get a utility bill from the power company and that will normally provide you with the number of kWh or Kilowatt-Hours you used last month.  A Kilowatt is 100 watts and a watt hour is one watt being used for one hour.

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