How Do Solar Panels Work for Kids – A Child-Friendly Explanation of Solar Power
As residential solar power systems increase in popularity and more of people become concerned with their own carbon footprint, it only makes sense that plenty of parents and teachers are seeking out child-friendly ways to explain solar power to kids.
To help you get your children excited about solar power, we have provided this simple and fun explanation of how solar power works. By breaking down solar power in a way that a child can actually understand, you can encourage your child to start thinking about the importance of reducing emissions and protecting the natural world.
If you want to start teaching your child about solar panels, renewable energy, and protecting the environment, we can help!
A Kid-Friendly Explanation of How Solar Panels Work
What is Solar Energy?
Our solar system is an amazing place! All of the planets in our solar system revolve around the Sun. This includes our own planet and home - the Earth.
The Sun plays an incredibly important role, as it is the primary source of energy for our entire planet! Without energy from the Sun, our small planet would freeze over and no plants or animals could survive. Not only does energy from the Sun keep our planet warm, it actually helps plants produce their own food.
For a plant to grow, it needs three things – water, sunlight, and carbon dioxide, which is the invisible gas that we humans breath out when we exhale. The plants use a process called photosynthesis to create their own food. When plants absorb sunlight, they are able to use that energy to transform water and carbon dioxide into the sugars they need to survive.
What is Renewable Energy and What Does Solar Power Mean?
Just like plants, humans can also use the Sun’s energy for power. If you have ever stood outside on a sunny day, you have probably noticed how warm the sunlight can make your skin feel. The heat you are experiencing on your skin is actually just energy that is being transferred to the surface of the Earth through the Sun’s rays.
Thanks to science and ingenuity, humans have now invented devices that can capture the energy in sunlight and turn it into electricity that we can use to power everything from televisions to refrigerators. When we are able to transform sunlight into electricity, we refer to that captured energy as ‘solar power’.
The good thing about turning sunlight into electricity is the fact that the Sun’s energy will never run out. This is because energy that is sourced from sunlight, which, again, we refer to as solar power, is actually a type of renewable energy.
Renewable energy is a term we used to describe energy sources that are natural and do not run out, like sunlight, wind, and ocean waves. No matter how much of this energy we used to power our electronics, it will continue to be there each and every day.
Unlike other fuel sources, like oil, gas, and coal, which all have to be burned to produce energy, renewable energy sources are better for the environment because they do not produce dirty emissions and unhealthy gases.
These other energy sources, which we often refer to as ‘fossil fuels’ or ‘non-renewable energy sources’, will also run out some day, which is another reason why it is better to rely on renewable energy sources, like solar power, for our electricity.
How Do We Turn Sunlight into Electricity?
To harness the energy in sunlight and turn it into electricity that we can use, we use solar cells. Solar cells, which are also called photovoltaic cells, absorb sunlight and turn the energy within the sunlight into useable electricity.
Sunlight is actually made up of tiny particles of light energy, known as photons. When sunlight hits the surface of a solar cell, the energy, or photons, attract small pieces of matter and energy that are trapped inside the solar cell to rise to the surface. These particles of charged matter inside the solar cells are called electrons.
When the electrons move inside the solar cell to meet the photons, an electrical circuit is formed across the top and the bottom of the cell. We then capture this electrical current, so we can convert it into electricity that we can use!
What is a Solar Panel?
A solar panel is a device that contains a group of solar cells. While they might just look like large panels of tinted glass, they actually contain the solar cells that we use to turn sunlight into electricity. Since the solar cells work better when more sunlight hits their surface, we always position them in a way that they can absorb as much sunlight as possible. This means you always want to keep them out of the shade and pointed in a direction where the sun will be shining most of the day.
So, What Have We Learned?
Just like plants, we can also use the energy inside sunlight. Where plants use sunlight to make their food, we can use sunlight for electricity. Unlike other electricity sources, electricity we harness from sunlight will not run out and it does not produce any pollution, which is why it is considered a type of renewable energy.
To absorb sunlight and turn it into electricity, we use small solar cells, which capture the electricity that is produced when sunlight photons make trapped electrons rise upwards. Since the solar cells are small and delicate, we put them inside solar panels, which we then position in places where they will be exposed to as much sunlight as possible.
By using solar power for our electricity needs, we are protecting the environment and using a power source that will not run out. Since solar panels are now much less expensive than they once were, families, schools, businesses, and governments can all use their own solar panels, so they can access free and environmentally-friendly electricity that will never run out!
How You and Your Kids Can Get Started with Solar Power
Where solar panels and other pieces of solar equipment used to be complicated and very expensive, the technology has progressed to such a point that it is now possible to assemble an efficient and effective solar power system that is both affordable and easy to install.
If you are new to solar power, but you would like to install a simple system that you and your children can get excited about, we recommend taking a look at a solar panel kit. Each of these convenient and affordable kits will come with everything you need to get started, including solar panels, an efficient charge controller, a reliable solar power inverter, a deep cycle solar battery, and all of the cables and connectors that you would need to wire everything together.
Since the equipment is bundled, the components within the kits are almost always priced lower than they would be if you were to try and purchase them separately.
If a ready-made solar power system appeals to you, we strongly recommend you take a look at our Collection of DIY Solar Panel Kits. Our kits use high-quality components from some of the best brands in the solar industry.
Recommended Solar Panel Kits: For those looking for a basic kit, we always recommend the Lion Energy - 400W Beginner Solar Panel Kit. This complete solar panel kit comes packaged with a foldable solar panel, a Savanna charge controller, a 400W power inverter, and a lithium-ion battery bank, which is available in a variety of sizes. You also get solar panel cables and all of the necessary mounting brackets you need to build your first off-grid solar power system.
As your power requirements grow, you can always upgrade and expand this kit. This is a great kit you can use to introduce your children to solar power, as the foldable panel is easy to reposition, which can help children feel involved in the process.
For those that are looking for a more advanced kit, this 1,200 Watt Solar Panel Kit is capable of producing a significant amount of solar power. It contains high-quality components, including four highly efficient solar panels, a MidNite Classic 150 MPPT charge controller, circuit breakers, a solar combiner box, and all of the solar cables you need.
Individual Solar Panels:
If you are looking to expand the power capabilities of your current solar power system, or you are in the market for a replacement panel, you can always browse our Full Collection of Solar Panels, where you will find a wide variety of high-quality solar panels and PV modules.
For those looking for an efficient and reliable solar panel at a fair price, we always recommend this 200 Watt High Efficiency 12V Monocrystalline Solar Panel. It features a high transmission tempered glass surface, a plug-and-play junction box, and a lightweight anodized aluminium frame.
For more information about solar panels, you may want to read our Guide to 300 Watt Solar Panels, where we explain everything you need to know about buying and using 300W panels.
If you are looking for a way to get your children excited about environmentalism, or you just want a fun project you can tackle together, installing a solar power system is a great option. Not only can it get your children excited about science and technology, it is a great way for you to cut down on your electricity costs and carbon footprint. If you have more questions about solar power, please feel free to reach out to us. We are always here to help you get started on your solar journey!
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