How Do Solar Panels Work?

Considered a promising energy source for decades, solar panels can be found on everything from rooftops and roadside signs to stadiums and spacecrafts. Solar energy works by taking energy from the sun and changing it into electricity for homes and businesses.

The sun is basically a nuclear reactor. It releases tiny bits of energy called photons. These photons then travel 93 million miles from the sun to Earth in about 8.5 minutes. The sun emits enough photons in one hour to generate enough power to meet global energy requirements for an entire year. That is an amazing statistic.

How Solar Panels Work

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solar panel broken down by layer and functionality
Phosphorus is seeded into the top layer of silicon, which adds the extra electrons needed to get a negative charge. The bottom layer is treated with boron, which subtracts electrons, giving it a positive charge. This creates an electric field at the junction of these two silicon layers. When a photon of sunlight hits the photovoltaic cell, an electron is knocked free. The electric field pushes the electron out of the silicon junction, creating energy.
Each photovoltaic cell is made up of two slices of semi-conducting material, usually silicon. The cells have a positive and negative layer that together create an electric field, much like a magnetic field or battery that needs both a positive and negative charge to work. To get this electric field, additional materials to each “slice,” giving them either a positive or negative electrical charge.
Solar panels work by letting photons released by the sun knock electrons free from atoms, and thus generate a flow of electricity. Solar panels are composed of many smaller photovoltaic cells linked together. The more panels you deploy, the more energy you generate.
Solar panels work by letting photons released by the sun knock electrons free from atoms, and thus generate a flow of electricity. Solar panels are composed of many smaller photovoltaic cells linked together. The more panels you deploy, the more energy you generate.
Each photovoltaic cell is made up of two slices of semi-conducting material, usually silicon. The cells have a positive and negative layer that together create an electric field, much like a magnetic field or battery that need both a positive and negative charge to work. To get this electric field, we add other materials to each “slice,” giving them either a positive or negative electrical charge.
Phosphorus is seeded into the top layer of silicon, which adds the extra electrons needed to get a negative charge. The bottom layer is treated with boron, which subtracts electrons, giving it a positive charge. This creates an electric field where these two silicon layers meet. When a photon of sunlight hits the photovoltaic cell, an electron is knocked free. The electric field pushes the electron out of the silicon solar cell, creating energy.

State-of-the-Art Roofing Technology

Currently, solar power provides only 2 percent of the power used in the United States. But as solar technology improves and the cost of switching to solar drops, our ability to capture and use the sun’s abundant energy is increasing.

In fact, the International Energy Agency Renewables Report showed that solar power has become the fastest growing energy source – makinig up about two-thirds of net new enerfy capacity globally. This was the first time solar energy capacity surpassed any other fuel as a source of power. In the coming years, we all will be using solar power, whether we realize it or not. This also means that the time is right to invest in solar power for your home.

diagram of how solar energy works a diagram of how solar energy works

How Does Solar Energy Work?

Once solar panels are installed on your roof and begin to create energy, there are a few steps required to turn it into energy your home can use. As the sun hits the solar panels, they generate direct current (DC) electricity, where the electrons flow around a circuit in one direction. In order for your home to use this energy, it must be converted from DC electricity to alternating current (AC) electricity, where the electrons are pushed and pulled. When you have solar panels installed on your home, you will also have a solar inverter installed. The solar inverter changes the DC output of the solar panels into AC electricity that your home can use.

How Does Net Metering Work?

When your solar panels produce more energy than your home needs at any one time, you may wonder where that energy goes. That energy is sent back to the power grid and you get credit for it on your utility bill. This process is called net metering, and it’s one of the great things about solar. In essence, your roof is producing energy and sending the excess back into the utility grid through the meter on your home. This allows you to benefit from all the energy your home produces. When your home needs more energy than your solar panels are producing, you can use the energy credits from your excess energy to reduce your energy bill.

diagram explaining how net metering works a diagram explaining how net metering works

To simplify all this, here is a step-by-step guide
to how solar energy works:

Step 1
Sunlight reaches the solar panels, and they start working to generate an electric current (DC).
Step 2
The electric current (DC) starts to flow into the inverter, which is responsible for changing DC electricity into AC, which is the most common form of electricity.
Step 3
The AC electricity moves from the inverter to the breaker box. Then, the current moves into any appliance in the home/building using electricity.
Step 4
Unused electricity moves back to the utility meter and into the grid. You get a credit for that on your power bill. When your home needs more energy than what is produced by your solar panels, electricity will be drawn from the grid.
black solar panel illustration
Step 1
Sunlight reaches the solar panels, and they start working to generate an electric current (DC).
Step 2
The electric current (DC) starts to flow into the inverter, which is responsible for converting DC electricity into AC, which is the most commonly used form of electricity.
Step 3
The AC electricity moves from the inverter to the breaker box. Then, the current moves into any appliance in the home/building using electricity.
Step 4
Unused electricity or excess electricity moves back to the utility meter and into the grid. You get a credit for that on your power bill. When your home needs more energy than what is produced by your solar panels, electricity will be drawn from the grid.

What Is a Solar Inverter?

In the beginning of the solar industry, there were central solar inverters, and since their introduction, they have pretty much dominated the industry. However, the introduction of power optimizers and microinverters created a big technology shift in the solar industry. Power optimizers and microinverters optimize production for each solar panel while central inverters optimize for the entire system. By optimizing for each panel, every panel performs at its maximum potential. In the long, run, this “smart” technology makes your entire solar panel system more efficient.

POWERHOME uses power optimizers with its solar panel installations because of their superior technology. The power optimizers condition the DC energy and then send it to your central inverter to finish the conversion to AC electricity. Power optimizers allow your solar panels to communicate with each other and deliver as much power as possible under all conditions. If one solar panel is having an issue with shade or dirtiness, the rest of the panels still perform at maximum efficiency.

How Do Solar Panels Work on Your Home?

What Happens to Excess Energy?

How Do Solar Panels Work with Grid Connection?

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