How does a solar panel work?

Between the sun hitting the panels and the energy being used at home, do we know how a solar panel work? Solar panels have increased their popularity due to ease of use and the numerous benefits they serve. This is why solar panels are considered one of the best sources of alternative energy in recent years, It would be helpful and enlightening to finally shed a light on the process of solar energy!

The Photovoltaic process

Energy is produced through the process of photovoltaics (PV). It allows matter to emit electrons when exposed to sunlight. Here’s a simple, step-by-step look at the science behind solar panel technology.

STEP 1: SUNLIGHT HITS THE SOLAR PANEL SURFACE

Solar panels are made up of silicon photovoltaic (PV) cells. When sunlight hits solar panels, the solar PV cells absorb the sunlight’s rays and electricity is produced via the Photovoltaic Effect. The electricity produced by your panels is called Direct Current (DC) electricity, and which is not suitable to be used in your home by your appliances. Instead, the DC electricity is directed to your central inverter (or micro inverter, depending on your system set-up). 

STEP 2: ELECTRICAL CURRENT IS PRODUCED BY SOLAR CELLS

Your inverter can convert the DC electricity into Alternating Current (AC) electricity, which can be used in your home. From here, the AC electricity is directed to your switchboard. 

STEP 3: THE ELECTRICITY IS CONVERTED AND POWERS YOUR HOME

A switchboard allows your usable AC electricity to be sent to the appliances in your home. Your switchboard will always ensure that your solar energy will be used first to power your home. It also ensures you are only accessing additional energy from the grid when your solar production is not enough. 

After the inverter converts the solar energy from DC to AC electricity, it runs through your electrical panel and is distributed within the home to power your electronics and appliances.

It works the same way as the electricity you get from your utility company through the power grid. Since you remain connected to your traditional electricity provider, you can draw additional electricity from the grid in the event of an emergency, or sell your unused solar energy back to the grid — which is much more common among solar owners. 

STEP 4: A UTILITY METER MEASURES YOUR ELECTRICITY USAGE

When you install solar panels on your roof, they’ll be connected to your home’s utility meter. The amount of electricity your solar panels produce can be accessed and measured by this meter.

Because solar energy relies on the power of sunlight, it makes sense that your panels may not be able to capture enough light on cloudy days or at night. 

However, a solar panel system is a true workhorse and will most often generate more electricity than is necessary to consume during daylight hours. This is why a meter is used to measure the electricity flowing in both directions — to and from your home.

Contact us to learn further!

Learning the basics of how does a solar panel work is the first step. If you wish to take the commitment up a notch and decide to use the technology, our professional team at Evergreen Solar will be more than happy to assist you along the way. 

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