How Solar Energy Works
Discover how solar energy is made from the sun!
How Photovoltaics Work
Everyday the earth is bombarded with free energy in the form of sun rays. In fact, the sun radiates more energy in a single second than people have used since the beginning of time!
Solar power conversion is all about converting the sun's rays into electricity we can use.
Actually, it's been done since the caveman days when they would use makeshift magnifying glasses to produce fire, cook their food and stay warm. I wonder what the cost of solar power was back then?
Solar power is created when the sun's radiant energy (speeding photons) hits the surface of a semi-conducting material such as silicone (commonly used in solar cells). As a result, electrons are knocked loose from their atoms, which allows them to flow through the material in the solar cell to produce electricity. This is how solar energy works to create usable electricity by combining nature (the sun) and man made objects (pv cells).
This process whereby light (photo) is converted into electricity (voltage) is known as the photovoltaic (PV) effect. Click here to learn more about the history of solar energy and how it all started.
How Solar Panels Work
Solar panels work by collecting solar energy from the sun. How well they work depends on how much light energy they get via the solar cells.
Solar cells are typically combined together to make solar panels, otherwise known as PV panels, solar modules or PV modules. One or more of these panels grouped together constitutes a PV array or solar array.
Solar panels are used to convert solar photovoltaic energy into DC (direct current) electricity. A power inverter is then used to convert that DC electricity to AC (alternating current) electricity, which is what we use in our homes. Click here to learn more about how solar cells work to make clean and practical energy.
How Solar Works In Your Home
Your solar panels gather energy from the sun and send it to your photovoltaic components (inverter), which convert it to AC power.
AC power then enters your home through the utility panel and is distributed to appliances or lights in the house.
If you don't go through your breaker panel, you can also access the power by plugging appliances directly into the inverter's power sockets.
However, if your system is connected through the utility panel, all the excess electricity created after your battery bank is full (provided you are using a battery bank) can be exported back into the utility grid and credited to your electric account. If you used a big enough solar system, you could make your utility meter spin backwards.
This is how solar energy works in your favor when you hook up to the grid and actually make money (in the form of an energy credit) from your utility company. You can learn more about grid tied solar energy systems by clicking here to be taken to the solar system types section of our website.
Storing Solar Power
Deep cycle solar batteries are needed to store any solar energy not being used. This power reserve can then supply your home with electricity at night, in times of cloudy weather or in the event of a blackout or power outage.
Using Solar Power
Solar power can be used to power your lights, your appliances, your central heating, your hot water heater or any other household loads.
An efficiently solar powered home can make about 75 to 100% of it's own power and with the option to feed "surplus electricity" back into the grid can accumulate an energy credit from their power company, meaning the occupants may never have to pay for electricity again! Click here to learn more about all the advantages of solar energy and how you can benefit from using it to power your home or business.
How Solar Power Works - Summary
Solar power is a renewable energy source that can be collected from the atmosphere and converted into the type of power we need to run our homes and our lives. It's efficient, affordable and easily harvested, which in a nutshell means it works great!
With the advancement of solar power technology it's sure to work even better in the future and as a result, more households will be able to benefit from this free form of energy with much fewer technical or financial obstacles.
Now that you have learned a little more about how solar power works and how solar panels work, it's time to build your own solar panels at home...