Essay by EssaySwap ContributorHigh School, 10th grade February 2008

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How Solar Panels Work How do solar panels work? Do people just take a sheet of metal and point it to the sun and get energy? That's not how it works. It takes a lot of work to get solar panels going. How are solar panels made, how do solar concentrates work, and how do solar panels convert electricity? Those are the main questions asked about solar panels.

First, how do people put together solar panels? Solar panels are made out of gallium arsenide (GaAs). GaAs is made out of a cylinder that is sliced into cells. These solar cells then connect to the rest of the power network. Solar concentrators, which are made of clear plastic, are placed above them to focus the sun's rays.

Second, how do the plastic solar concentrators actually work? The concentrators use lenses, called Fresnel lenses, which take a large area of sunlight and direct it towards a certain spot.

They do this by bending the rays of light and focusing them. It's the same principle as using a magnifying glass to start a fire. Fresnel lenses are shaped like a dartboard, but the lenses have concentric rings of prisms around a lens that's a magnifying glass. These features focus scattered light from the sun into a tight beam. Solar concentrators put a Fresnel lens on top of every solar cell. More focused light comes to each cell, which makes the cells more efficient. When there is only a single source of light and the concentrator is pointed right at it, the concentrator works best.

Third, How do the solar panels take the sun's energy and turn it into electricity? Solar panels are made of solar cells. A cell is a small disk of semiconductor like silicon. The cells are attached to a wire by a circuit. Light is converted into electricity that flows through the circuit, as light strikes the semiconductor. The solar cell stops producing power as soon as the light is removed.

How solar panels are made, how the solar concentrators work, and how solar panels convert energy into electricity is all part of how solar panels work. We get electricity from all this, and most people wouldn't be able to live with out it. I know I couldn't.