You keep thinking about ways to shrink your carbon footprint and your next project is to join the 2.7 million homes in America that have solar power systems. Why not harness the power of the sun to power your home?
Before installation, many homeowners think “how do solar panels work?”. The good news is that you don’t need a degree in engineering to understand the basic concepts.
We’ve put together a quick guide to explain everything you need to know about solar panel systems. Keep reading to learn how solar panels convert solar energy into power you can use at home.
How Much Does Solar Power Installation Cost?
Several factors go into an estimate to install solar panels on your roof. There’s no one size fits all answer to this question. But, you can get a savings estimate from quality installation companies where they help find rebates and grants to lower your initial cost.
Different Kinds of Solar Panels
There’s more than one type of solar panel on the market today. These are the 4 main types of solar panels you can buy.
- Crystalline solar panels- the most efficient home solar panels
- Monocrystalline panels – most efficient crystalline panels
- Polycrystalline panels – least expensive panels
- Thin film solar panels – best for unique roofs and the most durable
Make sure to discuss what kind of panel would work best for your setup with the solar installation company. They can give you valuable insight to help you make the best choice.
What Is Solar Energy?
The rays of the sun contain photons which heats things that they touch. Photons are tiny particles of energy given off by the sun that convert into other forms of energy. These photons are what trigger the process in a solar panel and generate power for your home.
Sun’s Rays Hit the Solar Panel
When the photons from the sun rays hit the surface of the solar panel, the energy production process begins. When the photons bonbard the panels, it knocks loose electrons suspended in the silicon atoms in the solar cells.
Electric Current Created
Those electrons form a current with positive charge on one end and negative charge on the other. This electron current then begins to flow through the many layers within the solar panels. The electrons gather together as they flow, forming a kind of electron river that runs through the solar panels.
Energy Current Flows to the Inverter
As the electron current moves through the panels, it gathers at one corner of the solar panel array where a conductive wire leads to the power inverter. The inverter is often located off the roof or even inside your house. Every solar power system needs an inverter between the panels and your appliances or battery bank or the system won’t work.
From DC to AC
Inside the inverter is where the electron current gets converted from direct current (DC power) to alternating current (AC power). DC power flows in one direction and never stops while alternating current will reverse its charge and direction from time to time.
Your home cannot use the DC power in its raw form straight from the sun. You must convert DC power to AC power so you can use it in your home or store it in a battery bank. AC power is more safe to use than DC power and is more efficient when traveling through conductive power lines.
Some homeowners choose to sell the solar power they generate back to the electric compnay. To do this, the company adds an energy meter to the solar energy system after the inverter. When solar energy gets converted, it goes through the meter which then spins backwards to show how much energy you’re selling back to the company in a given month.
Without an energy meter, you cannot sell the solar power tot he electric company. But, you still save money by not using as much traditional electricity if you use up your solar energy batteries first.
How Do Solar Panels Work in the Rain?
Did you know that solar panel technology works in cloudy weather too? It’s true!
Though the panels will produce more energy in direct sunlight, they still generate power from indirect sunlight when the weather gets wetter. Some of the sun’s rays and the photons they carry manage to find their way through the clouds and land on the solar panels.
If you don’t have a power bank to store excess energy, you may need to tap into traditional power sources during long periods of unfavorable weather. Otherwise, you may need to cut down on energy usage during these times.
Creating a Brighter Future by Using Solar Power
If you own a home with a decent roof, using solar panels to generate household electricity is a great way to benefit the environment. It can even help save you a ton of money on your electricity bills!
Keep this article in mind if you’re considering adding solar panels to your house. That way you know how the system works and can explain it to interested friends and family.
We hope you enjoyed reading this article and that you learned everything you needed to know about solar panel science and no longer need to ask “how do solar panels work?”. If you’re looking for more fascinating articles about technology, lifestyles, and more, check out the rest of our blog today!