Just after the start of the 20th century, Albert Einstein offered an explanation for a phenomenon that brought him the Nobel Prize in physics. This laid the groundwork for an understanding of what we call the "photovoltaic effect".
To observe the photoelectric effect, light was shined on a metal surface, and an electric current could be detected coming off the metal. Einstein explained the observed phenomenon by capitalizing on the recently introduced idea of "quantized" energy levels, and described light itself as being made of a flow of minuscule "photons" or particles of light energy. When photons impinge on a metal, some "knock out" electrons from metal atoms, much like a billiard ball will knock another ball away when the two collide.
With the advent of the transistor and accompanying semiconductor technology, the efficiency of photovoltaic power increased dramatically. This has made Photovoltaic power more practical. Over the years, many companies, including Shell Solar, have worked to increase the efficiency of photovoltaic power to commercially acceptable levels. Today, commonly available solar panels are 12% efficient, which is four times greater than only a few years ago.
Today privately owned solar electric systems are becoming common place around the world. The following web pages are an attempt to provide a good sampling of the available hardware required to construct a modern Solar Photovoltaic system for home or business use. It is by far not a complete list of products available. If you do not see a product you are looking for please feel free to ask.
BuildMartStore.com can provide engineered solar systems, complete with drawings, for your specific Solar Photovoltaic project.
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