Photovoltaic Effect

March 26th, 2024

What is the PV Effect?

The photovoltaic (PV) effect is the physical process that takes place as solar panels convert sunlight into electricity.

How Does the PV Effect Work?

Without getting too technical, particles of sunlight known as photons, enter the solar cell and strike silicon, a semi-conductive material that can absorb and transfer energy. After the sunlight is absorbed, its energy is transferred to electrons. In gaining this energy, the electrons break free from their atoms and create an electrical current.

How fast is the PV effect?

The PV effect occurs almost instantaneously (one quadrillionth of a second) to our human eye. This process occurs on a larger scale within every solar cell of each solar panel in a solar array and contributes to the promising potential of the solar industry.

What determines how powerful a solar system is?

A solar system’s power is determined by various factors including the capabilities of the solar panel, environmental conditions, system size, and array layout.

Solar Panel Specs

Every solar panel has a power capacity and an efficiency rating. At Isaksen Solar, we are installing 425-watt panels, which means they are capable of producing 425 watts of energy at any given moment under ideal conditions.

Separate from the panel’s instantaneous power generation capability is its efficiency. Efficiency measures how effectively the panel transforms the solar energy it receives into usable electricity. Our 425-watt panels are 21.8% efficient. This means that 21.8% of the sunlight it receives is converted into power. This may seem like a small proportion but it’s actually one of the highest efficiencies in the solar industry as of 2024. As technology improves, the efficiency and power capacities of solar panels is expected to increase.

Environmental Conditions

Panels exposed to more sunlight will produce more energy through the PV effect. Therefore, solar systems that are partially shaded will not be able to produce as much energy as a system that is exposed to sunlight all day.

System Size

Larger solar systems will be able to produce a greater amount of power as more panels undergo the PV effect and simultaneously produce energy. Smaller systems can still produce a significant amount of power but it’s more critical to use a high capacity panel.

Array Layout

The position and angle of the system is a determinant factor of its power potential. Systems that directly face the sun and are steep enough to shed debris on its own will often produce the most power.