Solar energy is becoming a more and more popular topic of conversation every day. However, even with so much public interest, there is still a lot of misinformation and unanswered questions going around. One such question is: how fast does electricity travel when it comes to solar energy? If you want to find out the answer, read on.
What Is the Speed of Electricity?
Electricity refers to the movement and flow of electrons through a conductor in a particular electrical field. In the case of most home appliances, the conductor is a copper wire.
Now, when talking about the speed of electricity, we could be referring to two things. Firstly, we have the speed at which the electricity moves through the conductor. In this case, the answer is that electricity moves almost at the speed of light itself. To put it in numbers, it travels at 670,616,629 miles per hour.
Alternatively, we could also be talking about the speed of electrons in a particular electrical field. Though you might think that this speed must be the same as electricity itself, that is not the case. In fact, electrons actually move somewhat slower, and this concept is known as drift velocity.
Different materials allow for different speeds and movements of electrons. Some of them keep electrons more bound, disallowing them from moving around freely outside of their atoms. Others allow the electrons to bounce around faster, and these materials are known as electricity conductors. Copper is just one of them.
As the electrons move inside a conductor, they are slower because their energy is quite chaotic. To make it more directed and fast, an electrical force is introduced. This force focuses all the energy into one direction, which is why the speed of the electricity coming out of the conductor becomes far greater.
The Speed of Electricity and Solar Panels
A lot of people believe that the electricity created by solar panels travels at a lesser speed than the one they get from the electrical power grid. However, this is simply a myth. Their speeds are completely the same, as the source of the energy has absolutely no impact on its speed.
Solar panels generate DC electricity which travels close to the speed of light. However, you cannot use this electricity to power your appliances. For that to be possible, you need a solar inverter that will turn DC energy into AC energy.
Though it might seem logical that converting the electricity from one current to another would cause a loss of speed, that is not the case here. In fact, you lose nothing at all. Your inverter simply allows you to power your home, and the speed of electricity remains the same.
If you generate more energy than you can spend (in the summer, for example), you have two options. One is to give the excess energy back into the power grid. However, there are also ways in which you can store the electricity and use it later on thanks to net metering.
The energy you save thanks to net metering also has the same speed at all times, no matter how long it takes for you to use it. Thus, your electricity will always travel at the speed we mentioned above, regardless of its source.
A Few Parting Words
As you have read, the answer to the question how fast does electricity travel is quite simple. Its speed is similar to that of the speed of light and it does not depend on the energy source. Thus, your solar panels will generate electricity just as fast and strong as the one you’d get from your utilities company.