Solar panels aren’t a new concept, but more homeowners than ever are investing in solar as the technologies have advanced, costs have lowered, and there’s greater awareness when it comes to the carbon footprint of our households. With that in mind, Emmons is here to help you find out exactly how do solar panels work.
The Fundamentals of Solar Panels
In order to understand how solar panels work, it’s necessary to appreciate what solar energy is. The sun is constantly emitting solar radiation as it shines on us, and that is a type of energy. What separates solar power from many other energy sources we use is that sunlight is renewable whereas something like coal or natural gas isn’t. Sunlight is also clean and abundant. With the right tools, we can capture it, convert it to a form we can use more readily—electricity—and store it.
Solar panels are the medium through which we capture the sun’s rays. The system then converts that energy into AC power, which can then be distributed to your home to run your lights, water heater, HVAC system, and so forth. The electricity doesn’t have to be used as soon as it’s created, either. It can also be stored in batteries to be distributed over time.
How Solar Power Works
When explaining how solar panels work, it’s important to note that there are different technologies available, and they all have differences in how they function. The most common systems for residential applications use photovoltaic cells, which are those flat, dark panels you see on roofs. PV cells are made from silicon, which is a semiconductor material. When sunlight hits the cell, electrons within the material activate, and electricity flows. That electricity is direct current or DC. Our homes need alternating current or AC, and so an inverter is used to convert it before sending it to your electrical panel.
What Happens to Excess Electricity
Many residential systems have batteries that are able to store electricity for use later. Even then, however, residential solar systems tend to make more in a given period than a home can use or store in that period. Therefore, it’s common to send excess power to the grid for use by the community. Your electric company will give you credits, which you can use to buy electricity when your system isn’t making enough.
Are You Ready to Go Solar?
Solar technology is a wonderful investment in your home, and Emmons can help you upgrade to solar as we have for so many homeowners throughout the region. Call 1-856-885-6677 or contact us online to set up a consultation or with any additional questions about how solar panels work.