How Solar Panels Work
How Solar Panels Work
If you’ve ever wondered how solar panels work, you’ve come to the right place. Solar energy works by capturing the sun’s energy and turning it into electricity for your home or business. Our sun is a natural nuclear reactor. It releases tiny packets of energy called photons, which travel the 93 million miles from the sun to Earth in about 8.5 minutes. Every hour, enough photons impact our planet to generate enough solar energy to theoretically satisfy global energy needs for an entire year!
Currently, photovoltaic power accounts for only five-tenths of one percent of the energy consumed in the United States. But solar technology is constantly improving and as more people convert, the cost begins to drop. Because of this, going solar is more affordable and accessible than ever. By going solar, you’ll own a product that will replace a lot of the kiloWatt-hours you need, so you can supply yourself instead of relying entirely on utility power – this is all possible thanks to photovoltaic cell technology, developed in the 1840s and now advanced enough to help you save significantly on your electric utility costs.
So What are Photovoltaic Cells?
The purpose of a photovoltaic cell is to take rays from the sun and use that light to make an electric current. That current can run things in your home, like the device you’re using to read this webpage!
The materials in the photovoltaic cell allow it to do its job. Silicon is used in the cells because of one characteristic property: when light photons hit it, the atomic particles that comprise the silicon become excited at a tiny micro level, and electrons from the silicon start moving, creating a flow. Metallic connections allow the current to flow from the cells of a solar panel to wires that bring it where it needs to go. A conductive, supportive backing is usually found on the back of the cell – if it’s made of copper it will be the most durable over time.
The grid-like pattern of a solar panel is made up of individual cells, quilted together into a larger unit. Panels can be combined into an array to fill up as much of a roof or open yard as the energy user needs. The rating of a single solar panel (also sometimes called a solar module) is given in Watts, and the rating of a solar array or an entire solar project is given in kiloWatts, or thousands of Watts, to simplify the large wattage numbers involved!
As it operates over time, a complete solar energy system will produce power measured in kilo Watt-hours. This measure might be familiar to you if you’re in the habit of closely scrutinizing your electric bill from your utility company – it’s the unit they use to measure the volume of electricity your home has used during your billing period. Your electric costs without solar are typically determined by your kiloWatt-hour usage times your electric rate, plus any fixed monthly fees.
How Solar Panels work with Solar Electric (Photovoltaic) Systems
- The process of converting the sun’s rays into usable electricity is relatively simple. The sun’s rays are collected by the photovoltaic (solar) panels. The panels create DC power, which is sent to the inverter.
- The inverter converts the DC power to AC power, which is the type of power your home can utilize. The AC power is fed to the main meter panel.
- Your home consumes the AC power generated by your solar system. Any excess power is sent back to the utility producing a monetary credit. Solar systems save and earn you money!
Power Your Home With Solar
Powering your home with solar is the first step to choosing your energy future, and learning how solar panels work is the first step! If you are tired of paying continually increasing utility bills or frustrated with being forced to buy energy from coal-burning plants, then solar power enables you to take back control from your utility provider.
Frequently Asked Questions About Solar:
How exactly does going solar and a solar system itself work?
How many solar panels do I need for my home?
Roof-size/available space: When we look at the size of your roof and the space available, we gather data that tell us the maximum number of solar panels your home or site can hold and we even consider shading. We use a software “Suneye” which takes a 360 picture of your roof and we use this photo to determine if your home is a good candidate for solar.
Energy Usage: When we determine energy usage we look at your past electrical bills from over the course of a year to make sure your system isn’t too big or too small.
Your Budget: We take your budget seriously and most importantly, we want you to be satisfied with our services. We take your feedback on how much you want to spend so that we can size your system appropriately.
What is solar net-metering?
Does Duke Energy offer net-metering?
Curious about the cost of a home solar system?
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Home Solar System
The amount of electricity that a solar energy system will produce will depend on a number of factors, including the location of the home, system design, and much more. Ideally, a home with an unobstructed south-facing view will produce more than enough energy.
Installing battery backup along with your solar energy system for home or business is a smart move and can increase the value of your clean energy investment as well as peace of mind when a grid outage occur.
Electric cars – with no gas engine at all – now work for most budgets and lifestyles. With more and more models to choose from, drivers are choosing electric vehicles (or EVs) than ever before!
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