Did you know that half of US homeowners are now considering switching to solar energy? For the most part, Americans choose to go solar to save money on utility bills or to help the environment. Still, few people can answer the question, how does solar energy work? So, today, we at Atlantic Key Energy will shed some light on the topic.
The Basics of Solar Radiation
Before we explain how solar power works, we first need to say a few words about solar radiation. By doing so, we will help you gain an understanding of solar energy and its origin. Don’t worry, though; we will keep things simple, and we won’t bore you with technical terms.
What is Solar Radiation?
Usually, the word “radiation” does not have a positive connotation. However, the radiation that is emitted by the Sun is quite beneficial. In fact, without it, our world would not exist.
For starters, solar radiation (or resource) keeps the surface of our planet warm. Also, it provides plants with energy. What’s more, solar resource makes us feel happier by increasing our vitamin D levels. But how is that possible?
Think of the Sun’s radiation as moving energy. It comes in the form of different types of light (e.g., visible, infrared, or ultraviolet rays). So, by capturing solar resource, we can turn it into useful energy, like electrical power. A few decades ago, that would have been impossible, but now we have the technology for it.
How Does Solar Energy Work and How Can We Turn it Into Electricity?
Today, there are many ways to capture solar power and to transform it into electricity. Still, solar power systems are the most effective one.
Components of a Solar Panel System
Solar energy systems vary in design, but most of them feature solar panels. Those consist of solar cells, glass, and back sheets. Thanks to this combination of components, the system can draw energy from sunlight.
Another key part of solar systems is the inverter. In essence, it turns direct current (DC) into alternating current (AC).
Aside from capturing and converting solar energy, solar power systems also distribute it. The technology relies on service panels and breaker boxes to achieve that.
Of course, there are secondary components that make up a solar panel system. In most cases, those include:
- Utility meter
- AC combiner box
- Solar generator
How Does Sunlight Become Electricity?
As we mentioned, the process of creating solar power starts in the solar panels. They absorb the radiation emitted by the Sun. Then, the solar cells in the panels start to interact with the accumulated energy. That process produces electrons, and they, in turn, produce a direct current.
Since we can’t use DC to power our appliances, the system sends the current to the inverter. There, the electricity turns into AC, and it then goes to the main panel of the system. From there, the power flows to the circuits of our property. Finally, the breaker box distributes the AC electricity to the outlets.
When there is excess electricity, the system can store it in a generator or a battery. Also, it can feed it back into the electric grid. If you choose the second option, you will get paid for the power you export. So, going solar will help you reduce your electricity bill in more than one way.
A Few Final Words
Hopefully, we have managed to answer the question How does solar energy work? If this article has inspired you to go solar, Atlantic Key Energy can offer you a FREE solar estimate today. Of course, you can also count on us to provide you with other information related to solar panel systems. So, give us a call if you want to save some money and the planet all at the same time.