How Do Solar Panels Work?

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Did you know that the world’s most ample source of energy is actually solar, not natural gas or petroleum? Surprising, isn’t it?

To put things into perspective, the sun delivers a consistent 173,000~ watts of solar energy daily. That amount of energy is much more (about 10,000 times) than what the world currently uses. 

But the concept of solar energy is a bit of a tricky one. Chances are you’ve seen solar panels on the tops of homes or buildings and found yourself wondering “how do solar panels work?”

In this post, we’ll be explaining how solar energy and solar panels work, as well as some benefits of using solar energy.

How Does Solar Energy Work?

Solar energy is one of the world’s few sources of renewable energy. A renewable energy source is any type of energy that the world can constantly use without fear of running out of resources. Some other types of renewable energy sources are wind, hydro, and geothermal energy.

The Sun acts as a continuous stream of energy for our planet. The Sun is fundamentally just a huge ball of hot, flaming gas called a star. Like all other stars, the Sun creates energy through a process called nuclear fusion.

This process then releases a huge amount of heat and light that will eventually reach our planet’s atmosphere. The heat and light produced from the sun come in tight little packages called photons. These photons reach the Earth in merely minutes, despite us being about 90 million miles away from the Sun. 

Thus, the Sun proves to be the quickest and most efficient source of energy for life on Earth.

The Structure of Solar Panels

Before knowing how solar panels can collect energy from the sun, it’s important to have a basic understanding of how solar panels are structured. Solar panels are made up of numerous amounts of small photovoltaic (PV) cells. Photovoltaic simply means that these cells convert sunlight energy into electricity. 

The most common material used to make photovoltaic cells is silicon. Silicon is a semiconductor, and one of the most widely available elements on Earth. For solar cells to work, silicon is placed between two layers of conductive material. 

The specific makeup of a single solar cell is rather complex. Simply put, there are actually two layers of silicon in a solar cell with a negative side and one positive side. When energy from the sun hits these layers, the energy flows through the negative and positive ends.

How Do Solar Panels Work

Now that you know how solar panels are made, we can now look at the science of solar panels.  First, sunlight hits the solar panel which causes an electric current to generate and for electrons in the solar cell to get knocked around.

Think of the whole solar panel as sort of a pool table. The sunlight is the white ball, and the negative electrons in the solar cells are the colored and striped balls.

The electrons in the solar cell are designed in a way to bounce to a specific direction, much like how pool balls are supposed to go in holes. This is an energy current. When electrons hit one of the metal plates, the current is directed into wires similar to other sources of electricity. 

Next, the current is funneled from the wires into an inverter. The inverter converts direct current electricity (DC) into alternating current electricity (AC). Solar energy itself creates DC, but most houses and buildings need AC to function properly. 

The AC then moves to your home or building’s breaker box and supplies energy to rooms the way any other source of electricity would. Excess energy from solar panels flows into a grid. If more energy is needed (such as nighttime), buildings and homes draw energy from the grid as well.

Benefits of Solar Panels

As a homeowner, you might be wondering if solar panels are right for you. Here are some of the benefits of solar panels that you may be interested in knowing about.

1. Solar energy is clean

Solar energy, as mentioned earlier, is a renewable resource. This means that there is no need to exploit the Earth for its resources when looking for energy. Additionally, solar panels reduce emissions of pollutants and greenhouse gases that come from power plants.

2. Solar energy is affordable

One of the primary questions people have about solar energy is whether it’s expensive or not. You’d be happy to know that recent technology has actually reduced the upfront cost of installations by about 25%! However, the overall cost of installing solar panels is different for everyone. 

3. Solar energy is reliable

When hurricanes and other natural disasters wipe out electricity, you can rely on solar energy to power your home or building. Solar energy is an efficient backup supply of energy. 

Visit here to learn more about the benefits of solar panels.

Installing solar panels

Solar panels are typically attached to roofs via stainless steel mounts and sealed with polyurethane. Did you know that installing solar panels can actually increase the strength of your current roof? 

Wires are then run through solar panels into the inverter. The inverter is generally placed right next to the pre-installed circuit breaker in your home or building.

While installing solar panels might seem like it would benefit your home, the installation of solar panels is best left to certified professionals. At Solar Compass, we’ve provided top-notch solar design and installation in Florida ever since 1998. Our team of specialists in photovoltaic solar panels will not disappoint you with their work. 

Solar Compass offers service to both commercial and residential customers. Both commercial and residential customers are eligible for our financing plans as well. Our services are compliant with federal, state, and local government regulations.  So don’t hesitate to give us a call with any questions you might have. 

A Brighter Future with Solar Panels

Now that you’re no longer wondering how do solar panels work, are you interested in installing some for your home? Solar panels are a great way to reduce harmful emissions and are a great investment.

If you’re wanting to install solar panels, then feel free to give us a call or visit our contact page to get advice from an expert today!