As the cost of electricity and other fossil-fuel-based energy sources continues to rise, people are slowly trying to find new, renewable sources to replace them. Out of all such energy sources, solar energy is definitely the most popular and common, and many people have begun installing solar panels and changing the way they live completely. So, how do solar panels work?
We will give you a rundown of all the most important information you must know before switching to solar energy.
Solar energy is a renewable energy source, which means that it comes from natural resources. In this case, it comes from the sun. Renewable energy sources are great for the environment since they don’t rely on fossil fuels.
How do Solar Panels Work? A Step by Step Guide
Now that you know solar energy is renewable, it is time to see how it actually works.
Step 1: Sunlight Hits the Panels
A thin layer of silicon cells makes up each solar panel. The cells are encased in a metal frame glass casing surrounded by a special film, and it’s all connected by wires. Then, the panels are put anywhere in direct sunlight, most commonly on roofs. The sun’s rays interact with the solar cells in the panels, which absorb them.
Step 2: Producing Electricity
Every solar cell in a solar panel consists of a little semiconductor wafer, and these wafers are in turn made out of two layers of silicon. One of the layers is charged positively, while the other is charged negatively, which means that together, they form an electric field.
When sunlight hits these solar cells, energy bursts into them, freeing electrons from the atoms in the wafer. The loose electrons then go into the nearby electric field around the wafer, and their fast motion creates an electrical current, or, put simply, electricity.
Step 3: AC/DC Conversion
Though it may seem like simply creating electricity is enough, that isn’t the case. While the panels do create electric energy, that energy is only direct current (DC) energy. DC energy is not the kind of energy that actually powers most homes.
So, you need a device called a solar inverter to fix this issue. The inverter turns DC energy into alternating current (AC) energy, which can power your home. You can put up these inverters in two ways. One inverter can be responsible for your entire energy system, or you can install several smaller inverters, so each one powers a different part of your home.
Step 4: The Powering of Your Home
As soon as solar energy goes from DC to AC electricity, it is ready to power your appliances. It works exactly the same as the electricity you get from an electric utility company. And, since your home remains connected to that company, they can offer any additional electricity you need when there are solar shortages, usually during the winter.\
Step 5: Net Metering
It might happen that your panels generate the most energy during the day when you don’t need it. Still, that doesn’t mean that all that energy will be lost. Thanks to net metering, your utility company allows you to use the energy whenever you want and need to and not just when it is generated.
So, how do solar panels work? As you saw, it isn’t a simple process. But, if you do opt for it, you will be able to say you’re protecting the environment while getting all the power you need, which is a win-win situation.
If you are still unsure if going solar is the right choice, doing even more research is your next step. We offered you a short introduction to the basics of solar energy, which should be just enough for you to know enough to explore further. Good luck!