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What Wavelength Do Solar Panels Use?

By Benjamin Strusnik June 16, 2022

When it comes to solar power, there are a lot of things to consider. One of the most important factors is the wavelength of light that the solar panels will be using. Different wavelengths of light have different amounts of energy. This means that the solar panels will be more or less effective depending on the wavelength of light they are using.

Your off-grid solar system is designed to produce electricity from sunlight. But did you know that not all sunlight is equal? The different colors of light that make up the visible spectrum contain different amounts of energy. This fact is what makes solar panels so effective at generating electricity.

In this article, we are going to look at what wavelength solar panels use and the factors that affect the wavelength in solar panels. This will help you understand how your solar system works, and how to get the most out of it.

What is a Wavelength?

A wavelength is a distance between two successive peaks of a wave—for example, from crest to crest, or trough to trough. It is usually denoted by the Greek letter lambda (λ). Wavelength is inversely proportional to frequency. This means that the higher the frequency of a wave, the shorter its wavelength.

How Solar Panels Work

Before we answer which wavelength do solar panels use, we need to understand how solar panels work

Solar panels use what is called the photovoltaic effect to generate electricity from sunlight. When photons (particles of light) hit the solar panel, they knock electrons loose from the atoms in the silicon cells. These electrons flow through the material to create an electric current. The more photons that hit the solar panel, the more electricity is produced.

Understanding the Relationship Between Solar Panels and Wavelength

The spectrum of sunlight ranges from about 380 nm (violet light) to about 750 nm (red light). Solar panels are designed to absorb sunlight in a specific range of wavelengths. This range is known as the solar panel's "band-gap."

By absorbing sunlight in a specific band-gap, solar panels can create an electric field. This electric field is used to generate electricity. The band-gap of a solar panel determines the wavelength of light that it can absorb.

Solar panels are designed to absorb light in the visible spectrum. However, they can also absorb light in the infrared and ultraviolet ranges.

The band-gap of a solar panel is usually between 400 nm and 1100 nm. The most common type of solar panel has a band gap of around 850 nm.

Solar panels are made from materials that have a large number of atoms. These materials are known as semiconductors. When light hits a solar panel, it causes the electrons in the semiconductor to move around.

The band-gap of a solar panel determines the wavelength of light that it can absorb. By absorbing light in a specific band-gap, solar panels can create an electric field. This electric field is used to generate electricity.

What Wavelengths of Light Are Most Effective?

Solar panels are most effective at using sunlight that is in the visible spectrum. This is the part of the spectrum that our eyes can see. The different colors of light in the visible spectrum have different amounts of energy. For example, blue light has more energy than red light.

Solar panels are also able to use some of the ultraviolet and infrared wavelengths of light. These wavelengths are not visible to us, but they do contain a lot of energy. Ultraviolet light has more energy than visible light, and infrared light has less energy than visible light.

Solar panels are not very effective at using X-rays or gamma rays because these wavelengths have so much energy that they can damage the solar cells.

So, to answer this question, solar panels are most effective at using sunlight that is in the visible spectrum. However, they can also use some of the ultraviolet and infrared wavelengths of light.

Factors Affecting Solar Panel Wavelength

There are a few factors that can affect the wavelength of light that a solar panel can use. They include:

Type of Material that the Solar Panel is Made from

The type of material a solar panel is made from determines many things, including how durable solar panels are, the efficiency of the panels, how many solar cells are in a solar panel, and most importantly, the solar panel wavelength.

Different materials have different band-gaps, which means that they can absorb different wavelengths of light.

The most common type of solar panel is made from crystalline silicon. This type of solar panel has a band gap of around 850 nm.

There are other panels made from thin-film solar cells. Thin-film solar cells are made from materials such as cadmium telluride, copper indium gallium selenide, and amorphous silicon. These materials have band gaps that range from 400 nm to 1100 nm.

This means that thin-film solar cells can absorb a wider range of wavelengths than crystalline silicon solar cells.

Size of the Solar Panel

Solar panel size also affects the wavelength of light that it can use. Smaller solar panels have a smaller band-gap, which means that they can only absorb shorter wavelengths of light. Conversely,

Impurities in the Solar Panel Material

The presence of impurities in the solar panel material can also affect the wavelength of light that it can absorb. For example, if a solar panel is made from crystalline silicon that has been doped with boron, the band gap will be shifted to shorter wavelengths.

This means that the solar panel will be less effective at absorbing longer wavelengths of light.

Change in Temperature

The band-gap of a solar panel can also change with temperature. For example, the band-gap of crystalline silicon increases as the temperature decreases.

This means that solar panels will be less effective at absorbing light at higher temperatures.

Solar Panel Ageing

How durable are solar panels? Well, that depends on the type of solar panel. However, most solar panels will last for about 20-25 years. Some, such as Trina Solar TSM-395-DE15H(II) 395 Watt Solar Panel from Shop SolarKits are made with enhanced module robustness and can last for more than 30 years.

The band-gap of a solar panel can also change over time. This is due to the degradation of the solar cells. As solar cells degrade, they become less effective at absorbing light. This means that solar panels will become less effective at generating electricity over time.

Presence of Dust or Dirt

The presence of dust or dirt on a solar panel can also affect the wavelength of light that it can absorb. This is because these particles can block the passage of light to the solar cells.

Whether you are using regular solar panels or EMP-proof solar panels, the effect of dirt on a solar panel's wavelength can be 350–550 nm. This is a massive shift in the wavelength of light that the solar panel can absorb. Therefore, it is important to keep solar panels clean in order to maintain their efficiency.

The Angle of the Sun

The amount of sunlight that a solar panel can use also depends on the angle of the sun. If the sun is directly overhead, then the solar panel will be able to absorb more light than if the sun is at an angle. This is because the light has to travel through more atmosphere when the sun is at an angle.

The Type of Glass on the Solar Panel

The type of glass on a solar panel can also affect the wavelength of light that it can absorb. For example, solar panels that have an anti-reflective coating will absorb more light than solar panels made from clear glass.

This is because the anti-reflective coating prevents light from being reflected off of the surface of the solar panel.

The Thickness of the Solar Panel

The thickness of a solar panel can also affect the wavelength of light that it can absorb. This is because thicker panels will have a higher absorption coefficient. This means that they will absorb more light than thinner panels.

Final Thoughts

The question of what wavelength do solar panels use is a complex one. However, we hope this article has helped to provide some clarity. Solar panels use a range of wavelengths, from ultraviolet to infrared, in order to generate electricity.

The most efficient solar panels will use a combination of these wavelengths in order to maximize their power output.

Understanding solar panel specs before purchasing it will give you a better idea of what to expect in terms of power output. Therefore, don't hesitate to ask the salesperson about the wavelength range of the solar panel before you make your purchase.

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