Since the beginning of the solar power industry, the cost of solar energy has fallen in recent years alongside major improvements in the technical efficiency of solar energy and the manufacturing quality of solar panels, a lot of homeowners across the United States are starting to look at solar-powered systems as a legitimate alternative to fossil fuel energy. As solar power enters the mainstream energy markets, the number one question that most homeowners who are considering solar panels have is ‘how do solar panels work?’ Most homeowners understand the basics of how solar-powered systems take the sun’s solar power and use it to power their home, but they don’t understand how exactly the solar panels produce solar energy for your home and just exactly how practical getting a solar-powered system installed on their rooftop is.
Solar panels work by absorbing the sunlight with photovoltaic cells, generating direct current (DC) solar energy to the usable alternating current (AC) solar energy with the help of the solar power inverter technology. AC solar energy will then flow through the home’s electrical panel ins distributed accordingly. These are the main steps for how solar panels work for your home:
- The photovoltaic cells absorb the sun’s solar power and convert it to DC solar electricity.
- The solar power inverter converts the DC solar electricity from your solar panels to AC solar electricity, which is used by most of the home appliances.
- The solar electricity will then flow through your home, providing solar power to electronic devices.
- Excess solar electricity that is produced by solar panels is fed to the electric gird.
How Home Solar Ties to The Grid
The solar electricity generation with solar panels makes sense to some people, there is still a lot of people who are confused about how their home solar ties to the grid. Any home that is connected to the electrical grid will have something that is called a utility meter that your energy provider uses to measure and provide power to your home. When you get solar panels on your rooftop or are ground mount on your property, they are eventually connected to be your home’s utility meter. The production of your solar-powered system can be measured and accessed by this meter.
Most of the homeowners in the U.S. have access to net metering, a major solar incentive that significantly improves the economics of solar energy. If you have net metering in your area, you can then send any excess solar power that your solar-powered system is producing excess amounts of solar power in exchange for credits on your electric bill. Then, during the hours of low solar electricity production, you can then use your credits to draw extra energy from the grid and meet your electricity needs. It is like net metering provides a free storage system for those who get have solar-powered systems, making it a solar energy an all-in-one energy solution.
When it comes to getting solar panels installed on their property, a common disdain that people have is the issue of what to do at night or on days with bad weather, a storage solution as efficient as net metering is a game-changer in terms of adopting solar panels. Their kinds of solar incentives, in addition to the fact that the cost of solar energy has fallen by almost 70 percent in the last decade, can explain why the solar power industry is seeing massive growth.
How Solar Panels Create Solar Electricity
Standard solar panels are comprised of a layer of silicon photovoltaic cells, a metal frame, glass casing, and various wiring to allow electrical current to flow from the silicon photovoltaic cells. Silicon is a nonmetal with conductive properties that allow it to absorb and convert sunlight into solar electricity. When the light interacts with a silicon cell, it causes the electrons to be set into motion, which then initiates a flow of electric current. This is known as the photovoltaic effect, and it describes the general functionality of the solar panels technology.
The steps to the process of the photovoltaic cells go as follows:
- The photovoltaic cells absorb the solar radiation
- When the sun’s rays interact with the photovoltaic cells, electrons begin to move, creating a flow of the electric current.
- The wires capture and feed the direct current solar electricity to a solar power inverter and it will then be converted into alternating current solar electricity.
Additional Parts to Solar Panels
Aside from the photovoltaic cells, solar panels also have glass casing that offers protection for the photovoltaic cells and makes the solar panels more durable. Under the solar panels is a protective back sheet that provides insulation, that protects against dissipation and humidity that is inside the solar panels. The insulation is a viable part because the hotter it is out the lower the efficiency of solar energy is, which will result in lower solar panel performance.
Solar Panels are also equipped with an anti-reflective coating that increases the sunlight absorption and allows for the photovoltaic cells to receive the maximum sunlight exposure. The photovoltaic cells are generally going to be manufactured in two cell formations: monocrystalline or polycrystalline. The monocrystalline photovoltaic cells are made up of single silicon crystal, and the polycrystalline cells are made up of fragments of silicon. Mono formats give more room for electrons to move around providing more efficiency of solar energy than polycrystalline, though they are going to be a bit pricey.
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