HOW DO SOLAR PANELS WORK?
Solar panels and solar roofing are an incredible technology that is helping us to harvest clean energy that we use every day, and though most of us know that a home solar panel can turn sunlight into electricity for daily tasks, like charging your computer, washing clothes, and even watching your favorite movie, do you know how they really work?
Solar panels produce energy through the photovoltaic effect – which makes certain materials emit electrons when exposed to sunlight, but how exactly does that work? Let’s take a look at the step by step science behind solar energy!
STEP 1: SUNLIGHT HITS THE SOLAR PANELS
The solar panels for home or business are made up of a few key layers that help them to convert solar energy into electricity. The key part to this conversion are the photovoltaic cells, aka solar cells, which make the main layer in the panel. These cells are built from 2 layers of silicon in a thin semiconductor wafer, which is what ultimately absorbs the solar energy and will allow it to become converted into electricity after your solar panel installation! These panels are held together by a metal frame, topped off with glass, and connected to wiring to direct the energy out of the cells to where you need it!
Your solar panel installer will set these individual panels in an array, and place them in a spot with lots of sunlight, which is almost always the roof.
STEP 2: SOLAR CELLS CREATE AN ELECTRICAL CURRENT
This step is when the 2 layers of silicon come into play. One layer is positively charged while the other is negatively charged, which creates an electric field within your solar panel. When sunlight hits your home solar panel it gives energy to the cell and sends electrons from the semiconductor wafer along the electric field, and creates an electric current. This process is called the “photovoltaic effect.” The more sun, the more energy, hence why the solar company will install your solar panels for home, or your business, on the sunniest side of your roof, to maximize the electricity you can produce.
STEP 3: THE ELECTRICITY IS CONVERTED
This electricity being produced is what is known as direct current (DC), which must now be converted into alternating current (AC) to be used in your home, but this is easily done. The solar panel installer also installs a solar inverter to do this important job. The solar company can offer one inverter or multiple microinverters based on your needs. With these inverters installed, electricity can be used directly in your home for all appliances and electronics.
So to quickly summarize the photovoltaic process:
- Solar cells made of silicon absorb solar radiation
- The sunlight causes electrons to move around and produce an electric current
- The wiring in the solar panel captures the current and direct current (DC) gets converted into alternating current (AC) by a solar inverter.
STEP 4: CONVERTED ELECTRICITY FROM THE SUN POWERS YOUR HOME
Now that the solar radiation has been converted to ACl you can use it exactly as you do when connected to the traditional power grid. Additionally, you will still be connected to the power grid, so in the case that you need a bit extra energy, maybe after a few very cloudy days, you can still use power normally. The even better news is, any excess energy you have can be sold back to the grid! This little fact makes investing in solar panel installation an even easier choice!
STEP 5: A UTILITY METER MEASURES YOUR ELECTRICITY USAGE
The solar company will also connect your panels to your electricity meter, which will help measure how much energy your solar panel produces, and how much energy you use.
Since your solar power relies on daylight, there may be days or times of the year where they produce less electricity, but we think you will be pleasantly surprised by how much your business or home solar panel will produce! This is why the meter will measure both how much you consume, and how much goes from your solar panels back to the grid.
Here is where the best part comes in. Thanks to net metering, a special utility billing arrangement, you will be able to sell surplus power to your energy provider. Normally the energy company will give you credits, so you can reduce or totally cover any energy usage that you may need when your solar panel produces less electricity. This way, you never remain without power, and you greatly reduce any costs associated with powering your home or business.
LET OUR TRUSTWORTHY INSTALLERS HELP YOU JOIN THE SOLAR REVOLUTION
So now that you understand how a solar panel works, you can feel even better about the investment to make the switch to clean and virtually self-reliant solar energy. Next, you need to make sure you hire a reliable professional solar company to carry out your solar panel installation – and for that, there is Solarwerks.
Since 2008, Solarwerks has been the leader in solar design, solar panel installation, and solar roofing in Chicago. Our team of experts work in both commercial and solar panels for home, and can help you get the perfect setup for your needs.
Contact us today and we would be thrilled to offer you a free solar consultation. Our professional staff will review your properties potential for solar generation, your current energy bill, and get you set up to have a solar panel installer at your property as soon as possible! Don’t hesitate to ask us any questions, we are happy to help you on your journey to cleaner energy today!