How Solar Works

As the popularity of solar power increases around the nation, many homeowners and commercial businesses are considering adding solar power to their homes or offices. But many are still unsure how it all works. This is an overview of how solar power works. Perhaps it will help you make the decision to go green! Solar panels contain “photovoltaic cells.” These cells are responsible for absorbing sunlight and then, producing direct current energy. That direct current energy (or DC) is converted to alternating current (or AC) energy via inverter technology, which can be used in the home or business. The converted AC energy is distributed through your home or commercial building by way of the electrical panel and can be used to power electricity.

Here’s the process of how solar panels work:

  • The sun’s radiant energy is absorbed by the photovoltaic cells, and then it is converted to DC electricity.
  • Inverter technology then converts the DC electricity into AC electricity using solar modules, which powers most electrical loads.
  • The electricity converted is distributed through your home or office to power electronic devices and equipment.
  • Any overflow of electricity produced is then directed back to the electric grid, where you receive electric “credit” that lowers your utility bill.

How Do Solar Panels Work
to Generate Electricity?

A solar module or solar panel has many layers of silicon cells, a glass casing, metal framing, and wiring to help the electricity flow via the silicon cells. Silicon is an atomic element with conductive properties.

Those conductive properties allow the absorption and conversion of sunlight to electricity. When the sun’s rays interact with the silicon cells, it sets electrons in motion.

That motion ignites a flow of electrical current activity. This activity is called the photovoltaic effect and is the cornerstone of solar panel function.

The Photovoltaic Effect

The photovoltaic effect was explained in 1839 by Edmond Becquerel and is generally known in the industry as semiconductors that allow electric current generation when combined with direct sunlight.

The process of photovoltaics:

  • Silicon photovoltaic solar cells work by absorbing the sun’s solar radiation.
  • When the sun’s radiation combines with silicon cells, electrons are set in motion, which creates a current of electricity.
  • Wires are used to feed and capture the DC (or direct current) electricity to a solar technology inverter where it is converted into alternating current (or AC) electricity.

How Do Grid Connections & Solar Panels Work?

Sometimes people can get the gist of how the solar panels work, but they don’t quite understand the factors related to the grid and how they translate to a home solar process.

A home connected to an electrical grid will have an individual utility meter used to measure how much energy is being supplied to your home or property. When either roof or ground mounted panels are installed, they are connected to the utility meter, where the solar system output can be measured and assessed appropriately.

Most homeowners have net metering, which helps to improve the advantages of their solar system. When you have access to net metering, whatever energy is being overproduced by your solar panels is sent to the grid, which is exchanged for credits to an electric bill.

During days where electricity is low, those credits can be cashed in to meet your home or property’s electrical needs. Net metering acts like free storage for the solar power generated, so you get extra savings throughout the year.