The sun provides crucial energy to the planet, and you can benefit from its power by utilizing its natural resources through solar panels. But how do solar panels work?
What is a Solar Panel?
Each solar panel contains photovoltaic (PV) cells which divide electrons from atoms by using photons, which are light particles. This process creates the electricity used to power your lights, TV and other household items, and it was discovered in 1839 by French physicist Edmund Becquerel. Since 1958, spacecrafts have used the sun for their operations.
In a larger grid system, you can generate a solar array with a significant capacity to power homes and larger buildings and equipment. PV cells are connected to each other in a supportive frame known as a photovoltaic module, also called a solar panel.
How Do Solar Panels Collect Light?
PV cells take in light in the form of photons, which release free electrons that the solar panels catch and transform into direct current (DC) electricity. As light strikes the PV cell, electrons get knocked loose from atoms inside the semiconductor material. Electrical conductors attached to negative and positive sides, as an electrical circuit, capture the free electrons inside an electric current.
At night, solar energy is stored in battery banks. This power is used at night when the sun is not available.
How Do Solar Panels Power Your Home?
How much light hits the solar panel determines the current. Homes and offices, and their appliances, usually run on an alternating current (AC) power. So, solar panel systems come with a string inverter to convert the DC electricity generated by solar panels into AC power.
The electricity runs through the home’s net meter and powers your home. If hooked onto a grid, and the solar panels don’t cover all your needs, you can still use other forms of energy.
What Happens to Leftover Solar Energy?
It goes back to the grid. You receive energy credits for surplus power from your utility company and you can accrue these over time to cut the overall cost. Your net meter measures energy going in and out of the home from the grid, but it measures power from two directions.
In the summer months, more sunlight produces more energy, so the bill may seem initially high. Over time, the credits will reduce the amount compared to traditional energy.
When you decide to go solar, the provider will look at how many kilowatt-hours of energy you used in the last year, the size of your roof and how much solar energy you want to power your home. This will determine how many solar panels go on top of your home, boat or other structure. If you need help determining this, feel free to contact us for more information on going solar.