With the price of solar panels constantly decreasing, many households are switching to solar energy. After all, who wouldn’t want to save money on the electricity bill while also doing their share to help the environment? But even though there’s a lot of talk about solar panels, many people still wonder — how do solar panels work?
In this step-by-step guide, we will shed light on the process of how the sunlight becomes electricity.
1. Sun Reaches the Panels
Each solar panel consists of two thin layers of silicon cells. It also has a metal frame and a glass casing, surrounded by a special type of film. All these parts are connected by wiring.
It’s crucial that the panels are placed in spaces where they can get a lot of sunlight, which is usually on rooftops or in large outdoor spaces. Thus, when the sun reaches the panel surface, the solar cells absorb the sunlight.
2. The Cells Convert Sunlight Into Electricity
Alright, the panels absorb the sunlight, but how do solar panels work on the inside? Well, they contain silicon, which is a semiconductor. That simply means that it can generate electricity. For that reason, every cell in a solar panel consists of a wafer made from two layers of silicon.
One of these layers is positively charged, while the other is negatively charged. That means that together, they form an electric field. So when light from the sun hits the panels, it frees the electrons from the atoms within the wafer. The loose electrons are then moved by the electric field which surrounds the wafer. This motion, in turn, creates an electrical current.
3. Electrical Energy Conversion
The solar panels are now efficiently transforming sunlight into electricity. However, the electricity they generate is direct current energy (DC), and that is not the type of electricity that supplies homes with power. The electricity we need for powering your appliances is alternating current (AC) electricity.
Luckily, there is a device that converts DC energy into AC energy — a solar inverter. You can install one inverter to power your entire house, which is the most cost-effective option. Or, if you only want to use solar power in some parts of your home, you can install several small inverters for each part.
4. Powering Your Home
Once the solar energy has been transformed from DC to AC electricity, it is ready to provide your home with electricity. The way it works is exactly the same as the electrical power supplied by your utility company. That means that you don’t need to worry about additional installations within your home. As soon as the solar panel installation is over, your house is ready to produce energy.
Net metering: Saving the Extra Energy
Thanks to the billing mechanism called net metering, extra energy will not be wasted. When you don’t use the energy that is generated, the panels will collect the extra energy. With net metering, your electricity company has all the data — the amount of energy coming to and from your house. They will give you credit for the extra energy your home generates, which you can then use whenever you want.
For example, since solar panels generate more energy during the summer months, you can get credit for that extra energy. You can then arrange to transfer that credit to the winter months when there’s less sunlight. That way, solar panels are working for you all year long.
So, we hope that you now have an answer to the question “How do solar panels work?”. The process is not simple, but it is certainly a significant one. Fortunately, even if you don’t completely understand the science behind it, you can still enjoy its merits. So, all there’s left to do now is explore solar power options in your town and see when you can start producing your own energy.