Simply put, a solar panel works by allowing photons, or particles of light, to knock electrons free from atoms, generating a flow of electricity. Solar panels actually comprise many, smaller units called photovoltaic cells. (Photovoltaic simply means they convert sunlight into electricity.)
Most of the solar panel options currently available fit in one of three types: monocrystalline, polycrystalline (also known as multi-crystalline), and thin-film. These solar panels vary in how they're made, appearance, performance, costs, and the installations each are best suited for.
No, solar panels don't produce energy at night or when the sun is obscured. The moon produces no photons and none of its own light so unfortunately, it is not able to charge solar panels.
On a sunny day, north facing solar panels tend to produce the most energy between 10am and 2pm. If your panels are west facing, look to use your energy in the afternoon, and morning time is best for those with east facing panels. Try to work within these time frames if you can, to get the most out of your system.
Your solar panels need to be exposed to sunlight in order to produce power. However, unless you live somewhere with high amounts of smog, dust, dirt or sand blowing around, solar panel cleaning is generally not necessary. A good rule of thumb is to arrange for a cleaning at least every six months, possibly more if you feel the panels are constantly getting dirty. If there isn't much of an issue, then one cleaning every six months should be more than enough.
Monocrystalline solar cells, also called "single crystalline" cells are easily recognizable by their coloring. But what makes them most unique is that they are considered to be made from a very pure type of silicon. In the silicon world, the more pure the alignment of the molecules, the more efficient the material is at converting sunlight into electricity. In fact, monocrystalline solar cells are the most efficient of all, and efficiencies have been documented at upwards of 20%.
Monocrystalline solar cells are made out of what are called "silicon ingots," a cylindrically shaped design that helps optimize performance. Essentially, designers cut four sides out of cylindrical ingots to make the silicon wafers that make up the monocrystalline panels. In this way, panels comprised of monocrystalline cells have rounded edges rather than being square, like other types of solar cells.
Polycrystalline solar cells, also known as polysilicon and multisilicon cells, were the first solar cells ever introduced to the industry, in 1981. Polycrystalline cells do not go through the cutting process used for monocrystalline cells. Instead, the silicon is melted and poured into a square mold, hence the square shape of polycrystalline. In this way, they're much more affordable since hardly any silicon is wasted during the manufacturing process.
However, polycrystalline is less efficient than its monocrystalline cousin. Typically, polycrystalline solar PV system operated at a 13-16% efficiency - again, this is due to the fact that the material has a lower purity. Due to this reality, polycrystalline is less space-efficient, as well. One other drawback of polycrystalline is that has a lower heat tolerance than monocrystalline, which means they don't perform as efficiently in high temperatures.
Most manufacturers test and certify their solar panels to withstand hail up to 25mm in diameter falling at 80km per hour. ... In addition, the aluminum and glass casings that hold a solar panel's solar cells are highly waterproof, even during extreme rain.