How Do Solar Panels Actually Function?

solar houseEveryone has a general sense of how solar installations work. The sun gives off energy that solar panels on your roof then convert into electricity for your home or office. But what is the actual process? Is it overly complicated and so scientific that only experts will understand? The answer is no. Without confusing you, this post will get more technical than the obvious explanation and give you a better insight into the process of creating electricity from the sun.

To start, you should know a little bit about the actual solar panel. Solar cells, also known as photovoltaic (PV) cells, are the small devices that are actually converting sunlight into electricity. A solar panel is made up of many solar cells and can produce large amounts of power. The solar array you see on a roof is many of these solar panels working together to harness the most energy possible.

Now lets focus more on those PV cells. These PV cells are part of the scientific process that allows the sun’s light to generate electricity. The units of light shining from the sun, or photons, react with the PV cells on solar panels to harness energy and produce direct current (DC) electricity. DC electricity isn’t actually the type of electricity used in homes and offices so another conversion step is required.

The DC electricity that the solar panels just produced is then sent to the inverter. The inverter’s job is to convert this type of electricity into alternating current (AC). AC electricity is used in homes and offices and is what powers your appliances.

There are two other parts to a solar installation that are worth mentioning. The first is the electric meter. This meter monitors how much electricity is produced. If more electricity is produced than your home or office needs then it gets fed into the national grid and you can receive credit from your local utility. This is contingent on where you are located and your agreement with your local utility company. Producing all this electricity is great but how are you measuring how much you actually produce? This part of a solar installation is called the performance monitor and it enables you to view your production and usage online.

We hope this explanation gave you more insight into how solar installations work without getting caught up in the confusing scientific terms.

More questions? No problem! Contact us today and we can tell you more about how your solar installation will work.