How Solar Works

We all know that solar panels draw energy from the sun, but how does that energy power your home? It’s actually quite simple. In this article, we’ll explain the ins and outs of solar energy and how solar works. From how energy is absorbed through your panels, to how the energy is converted into usable energy for your home.

 

What is solar energy?

Solar energy is essentially an infinite resource. There will never be a day where the sun doesn’t shine (hopefully). Our sun is able to supply about 173,000 terawatts of solar energy to the Earth at any given time¹. The sun’s rays contain tiny particles called photons. Your home’s solar system will then convert these photons and turn them into usable energy.

 

What’s in a home solar system?

A home solar system typically includes the solar panels, solar panel mounting racks, an inverter (string inverters or micro inverters), and potentially a storage battery for excess energy.

 

How solar systems work

Solar panels are made up of a layer of silicon cells, a metal frame, and a glass casing. Each cell is a thin semiconductor comprised of two layers of silicon. One layer is positively charged, the other is negatively charged, creating an electric field. When the sun’s rays hit solar panels, the individual cells capture the energy. The sun’s energy then causes the electrons in the cell to activate, creating an electrical current to send to a system’s inverter.
 
Once the inverter has received the energy (direct current or DC electricity), it converts the solar energy into energy that can be used in your home. This energy is known as alternating current (AC) electricity. From there the energy can be used to power your appliances, lights, and devices. Amazing!

 

What powers my home at night?

On cloudy days or during the night, your system may not operate at full capacity and provide enough energy for you to use. This problem is solved through net metering. Net metering is used when your home is still connected to your utility company’s grid. When your home needs energy or produces an excess amount of energy, it can be pulled from or sent to your utility company. When your system overproduces energy, you will receive credits from your utility company to use when your system has not produced enough energy. Or if you don’t use the credited energy, then you will receive this as cash back when you receive your utility bill. This is great for those in year-round sunny areas.

However, you can avoid being tied to the grid with your own battery storage unit. Having a battery makes your home completely energy-independent. Your home will be able to operate during neighborhood-wide blackouts, and you can protect yourself from increased prices from your utility company.

 

See, solar is simple! Now that you’re an expert in the basics of how solar works, you can take this knowledge with you when shopping for solar and choosing a solar system. If you’d like to learn more, check out our related posts below. Or if you’d like a free quote, contact us.

 

Photo Credit: stock.adobe.com

1. https://news.mit.edu/2011/energy-scale-part3-1026

 

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