The Function of Silicon in Solar Systems

Without silicon solar just doesn’t happen – this is primarily because solar cells are made up of silicon that is 100% pure.  

Silicon has been an important component of electricity for aeons, with solar technology being created in the 1950s. At present almost all solar cells are made from pure silicon. 

What you should know about silicon and its role in solar 

  • Pure silicon is a rather poor conductor of electricity. This is because the material is a semi-conductor  
  • To circumvent this issue, the silicon in solar cells contains impurities to improve conductivity, with atoms deliberately combined with the silicon atoms to improve the function of capturing the sun’s energy, thus transforming it into electricity 
  • Electron-rich layers are created by placing arsenic atoms between silicon atoms ensuring that there is a surplus of electrons in solar cells 
  • When gallium atoms are used in silicon cells there will be too few electrons – therefore, in solar cells, the cells are placed alongside each other (the cells with gallium and the cells with arsenic) to form an electric field 
  • As sunlight hits solar cells, the field is energised thus generating electricity  

There are three main types of silicon solar cells 

Monocrystalline solar cells which are also referred to as singlecrystalline cells 

These are easily identifiable as they are black in colour and comprise pure silicon which results in an efficient conversion of sunlight into electricity 

Additionally, monocrystalline solar cells enjoy longevity and are spaceefficient 

Monocrystalline cells are the most expensive solar option 

Polycrystalline solar cells 

Polycrystalline solar cells are often referred to as multi-silicon cells 

Polycrystalline cells were the first solar cells introduced into the solar industry in the early 1980s 

These solar cells do not undergo the same intense process of cutting (as the monocrystalline cells do), thus making them a lot less expensive 

During the manufacturing process, the silicon is melted down and poured into square moulds 

The polycrystalline cells are far less efficient and require plenty of space  

Polycrystalline do not function as efficiently as monocrystalline cells 

Amorphous solar cells 

Amorphous silicon cells have no shape – they are neither crystallised nor structured in any way whatsoever 

Amorphous cells have been used for smaller applications such as solar clocks, torches and calculators as their power is extremely low in relation to other types of solar cells 

When numerous amorphous solar sells are stacked one on top of the other, they can perform surprisingly well 

Solar and silicon are like a horse and carriage – the one without the other simply cannot function properly. 


Deep Cycle Batteries & How They Work

Deep cycle batteries: what role do they play in solar systems? In today’s world of renewable energy deep cycle batteries are synonymous with solar. 

These batteries store energy, and this is where chemical reactions occur resulting in electricity. Deep cycle batteries are made to recharge and discharge numerous times, therefore, are not disposable, unlike singleuse batteries.  

Battery backup is connected to the photovoltaic solar panels – these need single batteries or groups of deep cycle batteries to store solar energy (energy from the sun). The group of deep cycle batteries is referred to as a battery bank. 

During sunlight hours deep cycle batteries are recharged so that there is stored energy when there is low sunlight, on cloudy days and during nighttime hours. This is the main reason why batteries are essential to solar power; they are vital for stand-alone as well as alternative energy tied to the grid, thus determining the DC power of a photovoltaic solar arrangement. 

Because deep cycle batteries can be charged and discharged, they are often referred to as being “secondary batteries”. Additionally, these batteries are called “secondary” because chemical reactions that produce and store electrical power on the lead plates are reversible (this is different to the way that standardised batteries operate that are disposable once the energy is depleted). 

A good example is a car that requires short bursts of energy; a deep cycle battery provides a continuous supply of power over a longer period. 

There are numerous deep cycle batteries such as gel batteries, lithium-ion batteries, flooded batteries and AGM batteries, although flood batteries are the most commonly used type. Gel batteries have a gel substance and the AGM batteries contain acid suspended in a glass mat separator. 

There has been an upsurge in the amount of lithium-ion batteries being installed in households that are opting for solar, although AGM and flood batteries are most often used for those wanting to go off the grid. 

These different types of deep cycle batteries are used in a variety of applications and are manufactured differently. 

Battery Backup Systems

Battery backup goes by numerous names – these are UPSUninterruptible Power Source, Standby UPS and On-line UPS 

When selecting your backup power systems, whether they are generators (either diesel or petrol), an Uninterruptible Power Supply, alternative power sources such as solar or wind power, or an inverter, backup battery and charger configuration which lasts longer than the average UPS system, each one has a positive and a negative component. Naturally individual needs will gauge what kind of battery backup systems you would need to invest in. 

Most of the world out there – commercial, industrial and domestic – is plugged directly into the AC power grid, which could prove to be problematic if you live and work in a DC environment where electricity is often unavailable. In a DC situation where most devices and electrical appliances use DC, inverters are used and generate power. 

A good example is ambulances and the military. Medical equipment can be used directly from the hospital if the ambulance has an adequate inverter, for example, which usually has 1 000 Watts capacity. Heart monitors and incubators for babies are other applications where inverters are required when not plugged into the grid. 

Inverters and battery backup systems have revolutionised how we live in a technologically advanced world. We are now able to enjoy mobile power systems that provide AC electricity that is clean and silent anywhere, anytime. The inverter changes the DC electricity that is stored in backup batteries into standard AC power. The best part of all is that you no longer need to rely on finding DC appliances that are powered by DC or generators that are noisy. 

You can enjoy the convenience of being powered in ambulances, out in the field, on a boat or anywhere else where power is required. Battery backup systems that power inverters are effectual and dependable devices that come in a plethora of sizes, offering a broad spectrum of power ranges to meet all power needs 

Whether you need backup systems to power your television and fridge or high powered hardwire units that provide electricity for large vehicles and boats – battery backup has you covered.